How to Cover Bread Dough

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There’s so much emphasis on covering bread dough when it’s rising but no one really seems to talk about how to cover bread dough. UNTIL NOW!

Paul Hollywood's Cottage Loaf with American Measurements

I’ve created a list of ways to cover your bread dough so it will rise nicely even if you don’t use plastic wrap. The common wisdom is to just slap some plastic wrap on it and be done. As I come down to the last bits of my last roll of plastic wrap (YES, I AM GIVING IT UP!) I have to start deciding how to cover my bread dough during its rise time.

ciabatta dough in tub

I know that sounds silly BUT it’s mainly what I use it for so how will cover that dough now? Well for sure I have choices because you KNOW I went digging.

Letting bread rise under a bowl reduces the need for plastic wrap.

How to Cover Bread Dough Without Using Plastic Wrap

  • A dishtowel will always work but I find my house is too cool most days for just a plain wet dishtowel.
  • A Plastic Box with Snap Lid. These boxes are so nice to use because you can use them again and again. Get several sizes and you’re covered for most bread doughs you are making.
  • Prefer glass? You can get a glass box with lids too.
  • Shower Cap. A real non-disposable shower cap will cover a bowl perfectly!
  • Disposable Shower Caps-I’ve used these and they actually last quite a long time. They don’t have ANY tolerance for heat though so if you plan to use a heat source to warm your dough be aware these melt quickly.
  • A plate. A cheap way to cover a bowl and give it a good seal use a plate!
  • Aluminum Foil. This is a nice way to seal up a bowl of dough nice and tight. But this is a one and done sort of solution. Of course, you can always save the foil and use it again as long as it lasts.
  • Turn your bowl over. Lightly grease your ball of dough, lay it on a clean counter, cover it with a bowl, and voila you’ve got a perfect place to proof dough.
  • Silicone Bowl Covers! These are reusable bowls covers meant to last and last. Here’s another style if you want something different.
  • Proofing bags. As seen on the Great British Baking Show! These are big food-safe bags you can use again and again.

As you can see from the photos I already use the “turn the bowl upside down” trick. I’ll probably invest in a set of silicone bowl covers as well that way I’m ready for whatever comes my way.

Cob Loaf

Do I REALLY Need to Cover Bread Dough While it Rises?

Generally speaking, yes, you need to cover the dough while it’s rising. Covering the dough will create a warm moist atmosphere for the dough to rise nicely in. If it’s cold or dry the dough won’t rise as well as it should.

GBBO Bread Recipe

So covering the dough while it rises keeps the moisture IN and the drying air out. And any residual heat from the warm water or milk will be held in as well. Making for that warm rainforest-like environment you want.

If you just set your dough in a bowl, or even grease it, and leave it uncovered, the rise can be arrested. The drying effect of the air on the dough can cause it to thicken up, dry out, and keep the soft tender dough underneath it from rising.

How to cover bread dough without using plastic wrap.

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