How to Proof Dough in Oven

Proofing bread dough is an essential part of the bread-making process, and there are two proofing periods that take place. While you can proof bread at room temperature on the countertop or in the refrigerator, plenty of bakers like to utilize their ovens. 

But how? Do you cover the dough when proofing in the oven?

Proofing dough in the oven is relatively straightforward and will render consistent results – which may not be valid for room temperature proofing. There are two ways to use the oven. 

You may add boiling water underneath your bowl of bread dough or turn the oven on until it reaches 110F (about three to five minutes).

Hello! I’m Michelle, and I have over ten years of experience baking goodies of all kinds – including delicious bread loaves! I have found that the oven is one of the best places for proofing certain types of bread (not Artisan). I’m here to share how it’s done.

Keep reading to find out the two best methods for proofing dough in the oven.

2 Ways to Proof Dough in the Oven

Proofing dough in the oven is an excellent choice. It provides a stable, warm, and humid environment that bread dough adores. It’s an especially great choice on those chilly days when your kitchen might be too cold to produce a good rise. 

There are two ways to proof the dough in the oven. Both methods work like a charm – so don’t hesitate to use either one.

Method 1:Turning on the oven

The first method involves turning on the oven until it’s reached 110 F. To get the most accurate results, you will want to invest in an oven thermometer. If you don’t have one on hand, the best thing to do is turn the oven off between the three and five-minute mark. 

Here’s how it works. 

Step 1: Turn the oven on to the lowest temperature available. For most ovens, this will be 200F.

Step 2: Allow the oven to preheat until it’s reached 110 F. Again, the best way to know whether or not your oven is preheated to 110 F is with an oven thermometer. If you don’t have one, turn the oven off between three and five minutes.

Step 3: Place the covered bowl of dough on the center rack and shut the door. You want to keep the oven door shut as much as possible. Otherwise, you will let essential heat escape.

Step 4: Allow bread to proof for the recommended amount of time. Most bread will proof in about an hour or two, although some can proof in as little as 30 minutes and others as long as three hours. Follow your recipe and keep an eye on it.

If you’re going to use this method for the second rise, you can follow the same steps listed above. However, the second rise shouldn’t take nearly as long. Most recipes state that 30 minutes is enough for the second rise. Again, keep an eye on your dough. 

Method 2: Using boiling water

With this method, you don’t have to turn the oven on whatsoever. The heat and humidity will come from the boiling water added to the oven. 

The benefit of this method is that you don’t have to fuss with an oven thermometer or guess the temperature. However, you may need to add more water during the duration of the proofing process, which can be annoying.

For this method, you will need two racks – one on the bottom and one in the middle. 

  • Step 1: Place your bowl of bread dough onto the middle rack.
  • Step 2: Place a large, oven-safe pan or dish on the bottom rack.
  • Step 3: Boil two to three cups of water.
  • Step 4: Pour the boiling water into the pan or dish and shut the oven door.
  • Step 5: Allow bread to proof for the recommended amount of time, replacing the water every 30 minutes.

Like method 1, you can use this technique for the first and second rises. The key is to keep the oven door shut as much as possible. The only time you should open the oven door is to replace the boiling water, creating the ideal environment for your bread dough.

How to Know When Bread is Done Proofing (2 Signs)

Honestly, these methods won’t do you any good if you can’t tell when your bread is done proofing – and you don’t want to accidentally underproof or overproof your dough. That said, here are the two key indicators that your bread is done.

1. Doubled in size

One of the most significant signs that your bread dough is done proofing is that it will double in size

To ensure accuracy, I recommend using a little bit more plastic wrap to outline the bread dough with a permanent marker before placing it in the oven. That way, you can judge how much it’s grown in seconds.

2. Doesn’t spring back

The other way to determine doneness is to use the “poke test.” Firmly poke your bread dough. Did the bread dough spring back slowly and leave an indent? Then it’s done. Did it snap back quickly? Then it needs more time to proof.


Using the oven to proof bread dough is always a good idea, whether you opt for turning it on or using boiling water. If you want to learn more about this interesting topic, I have added a few frequently asked questions below.

What temperature do you proof dough in the oven?

The ideal temperature for proofing dough in the oven is 80F. That’s why it is recommended to turn the oven off at 110F. When you open the door to place the bread dough inside, some of the heat will escape, leaving you with a toasty 80F environment for picture-perfect proofing.

What is the proof setting on my oven?

Some ranges come with a handy “proof” setting on the oven, which is specifically designed to create the best atmosphere for proofing bread. 

If you have this option, go ahead and use it! Every oven is different, so double-check with the instruction manual on how to use this mode properly.

Do you need to cover the dough when proofing in the oven?

You do not necessarily need to cover dough when proofing in the oven. However, I always do. I want to make sure I’m creating the warmest environment with plenty of humidity for success. If you don’t want to cover it, though, don’t feel that you have to. It’s entirely up to you!

Is proofing the same as rising?

Many people use “proofing” and “rising” interchangeably. Ultimately, both processes have the same goal – to allow the bread to ferment. However, rising typically refers to the first fermentation, while proofing refers to the second fermentation. The oven can be used for both, though!

Using the Oven for Bread Proofing is a Great Idea!

When it comes to rising and proofing bread, the oven is an excellent option. If you have an oven thermometer, I highly recommend using method number one. However, if you’re baking bread sans oven thermometer, you’ll likely get better results with method number two. Just make sure you’re replacing the boiling water regularly!

Do you proof your bread dough in the oven? Do you have any tips to share with us to achieve bread-proofing success? Sound off in the comment section!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • jkenby

    Great article. My oven has a proof feature, which doesn’t really matter, because you’ll have the same issue. My question is that when my dough is ready, I have to preheat the oven. Obviously, I can’t preheat with the proofing/ed bread in it, I need to remove it from the oven before preheating. Will it hurt the loaf to sit in my fairly cool/somewhat cold kitchen while the oven preheats? If so, what do I do.

    • Michelle

      Hi Jkenby,
      It would be best if your proofed bread sat somewhere warmer while your oven is coming to temperature. However, covering it should do the trick.