Put your proving dough in the oven too soon (underproved) and it will not realise its maximum potential as a bread loaf. Wait too long (overproved) and that dough is likely to be delicate and fragile and might just collapse down when we transfer it into the hot oven.
If we want the dough we’ve made to reach its full potential as it bakes into bread, springing open for the first few minutes in the oven heat, giving us as open a texture as possible in our finished loaves, it needs to go into the oven at the right point of proving. Knowing when is as simple as poking the dough delicately with a finger.
So, the shaped dough has had a wee while to prove before going into the oven. To get a clear indication if the dough is at the right point for baking, simply dimple the dough slightly with one finger: if the dimple springs back quickly and disappears, the dough is as yet underproved and thus needs a little more proving; if the dimple you’ve made doesn’t close up at all then the dough is overproved – nothing to do now but get it in the oven and hope for the best.
Should the dimple slowly fill and begin to disappear – hey presto! – your dough is ready for the oven.
For a short video demonstrating these different stages… coming soon!