Proofing Cabinet Buyers' Guide
Professional bakers know that the proofing process has an enormous impact on the resulting texture, flavor, crumb, and crust of their baked creations. That's why choosing a proofing cabinet capable of holding the levels of heat and humidity that allow bread to rise and develop flavor is essential to baking consistent batches of bread. Follow these tips to choose a bakery proofer that will benefit your operation.
Your first step in choosing the perfect proofer for your kitchen is to understand how many pans of bread you'll be proofing per batch. Full-size 71-inch-high cabinets typically hold 18 to 20 full-size, 18-inch by 26-inch sheet pans. If that's more than you anticipate ever needing to proof, consider a 3⁄4- or 1⁄2-size proofing cabinet, capable of holding around 12 and 8 bun pans, respectively.
You have the choice between solid, glass, and polycarbonate doors on your new bakery proofer.
- Solid doors are the most energy-efficient type. Solid doors offer the best insulation and generally the quickest recovery times because heat doesn't escape through them nearly as quickly as it does through glass and polycarbonate. The drawback of solid-door proofing cabinets is that staff can't see inside to monitor the progress of bread, which can lead to the doors being frequently opened and closed, offsetting their otherwise superior energy efficiency and running the risk of giving you inconsistent results.
- Polycarbonate doors allow staff to get a clear view of the cabinet's contents. Polycarbonate's low cost makes it an affordable alternative to glass, though the material is prone to scratching and becoming cloudy over time.
- Glass doors are easy to clean and resistant to scratching. Like polycarbonate, glass lets staff check the progress of proofing bread without having to open the doors and let heat and humidity escape. Glass is a better insulator than polycarbonate, so it's a more energy-efficient choice. With a regular cleaning, glass will also stay much clearer than polycarbonate over time.
Insulated vs. Non-Insulated Cabinets
Insulated bread proofing cabinets are built with fiberglass or foam insulation inside their walls to prevent heat loss. These cabinets have a higher upfront cost but can make up for the price difference in the long run with reduced energy costs. The exterior surfaces of insulated proofers remain cool-to-the-touch, protecting users from burns and also helping to maintain comfortable kitchen conditions by releasing less heat into the air around them.
Proofing Cabinet Options
- Removable heating and control modules: These can be taken out of the cabinet so the interior can be thoroughly cleaned without the risk of water and cleaning solutions damaging the electrical components.
- Adjustable pan slides: Economy bread proofing cabinets are built with pan slides on fixed increments, but some manufacturers build their cabinets with adjustable pan slides that be reconfigured to accommodate pans of different depths. This enables you to make the most efficient use of the proofer's interior space.
- Large casters: Five-inch casters are standard on most proofing cabinets, making them well-equipped for traveling short distances over smooth floors. For proofing cabinets that will be wheeled longer distances or over challenging terrain like asphalt or carpet, consider upgrading to 6-inch or larger casters.
- Legs: Proofer cabinets are designed to be wheeled around the kitchen and hence usually come standard on casters. If yours will remain stationary, consider ordering it with legs to keep it from inadvertently rolling when you need it to stay put.
- Travel latches: These are designed to keep proofer doors securely closed as the cabinet is wheeled around and encounters bumps and collisions