Stage VI: Secondary or Final Fermentation (Proofing)

The second rise is an extension of yeast fermentation and is the final step before baking. From the moment the bulk dough is Divided, Rounded and Benched in Stage IV, secondary fermentationEasy French Baguettes Recipe actually begins.
SARAH SAYS: Among professional chefs, fermentation is referred to as "primary fermentation", while the second one is called "proofing". (You'll also hear proofing used to refer to the process of testing the yeast to see if it is still active. Is is a technique which is different.)

The second rise is shorter than the primary fermentation after the bread loaf has been shaped and panned; usually taking only about half the time of the first rise at room temperature, or shorter for smaller loaves and rolls. Sarah’s "Microwave Bread Proofer" can cut the time down.
SARAH SAYS: It can take a lot longer if the surface of your dough dries out, so remember to oil the surface of your dough and/or cover it loosely. A layer of dried out dough does not strech well and keep the dough from rising very effectively.

The container the bread loaf is to be baked in is where the fermentation should take place, such as a loaf pan for the Classic White Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe or the Classic White Sandwich Bread Recipe; flat baking sheets covered with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats for Fougasse Bread Recipe and Tutorial; a rimmed baking sheet for the Parmesan, Bacon and Walnut Topped Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread Recipe; or, in a springform pan for the Fluffy, Buttery Cinnamon Rolls or Buns Recipe.

For better shape and crust with Artisan breads, many bakers let the dough rise in a greased bowl first, and then transfer it into the Banneton (Brotform) for the second and final rise. (Do not use the Brotform basket for baking the loaf. This is used with the Kalamata Olive and Rosemary Boule Recipe.

Some recipes utilize multiple rising periods.

For recipes using instant active dry yeast: The bread's first rise is usually a short rest period, taking about 10 minutes, and afterwards, it is divided and shaped. The dough does utilize this final fermentation period after being shaped.

The key decision in the bread making process is ascertain when the loaves are ready to bake: The important function is to bring the dough to about 80 or 90 percent – rather than double in bulk - of its finished size, with some exceptions. The rest of the rise is expected through oven spring or oven kick, when the dough is first placed in the hot oven, especially when making freestanding loaves such as rolls or baguettes.

PERFECT: When the dough is gently pressed with your index finger, it should disappear slowly but completely within 2 to 3 seconds.

UNDERPROOFED: For imprints that don't remain for that length of time show that the dough is underproofed.

OVERPROOFED: Imprints that don't disappear mean the dough in overproofed.

SARAH SAYS: Braided challah should be fully proofed so it does not rise much after going into the oven revealing a pale portion of the dough.

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