This post is all about proving, and how we go about it. Now I think I need to qualify some of what I do, I'm self taught, everything I learnt about baking I taught myself, through books, the internet and practice. Thus, some of what I say may be a load of nonsense, this is what works for me, it may actually be bad practice. If you're a professional baker of many years and think I'm talking crap please let me know, I may not change anything I'm doing but I love to hear of other approaches.
Anyway on to proving, which is, in my mind at least, the rising of dough once it has been shaped to get it into the final state required for baking. It is not the rising of the entire batch of dough before shaping, that is rising or bulk rising or bulk fermentation or whatever you want to call it except for proving. By proving you want to loaf to be ready for the oven, which will very depending on the loaf. We could go into that now, but that's a whole other post.
What we do most often with our sourdough is prove in baskets, which is great as it gives good shape for the dough and they are quick and easy to use, particularly with long cold proving, which we do a lot of. However, they take up a lot of space and can get expensive, we have over 200 baskets, which adds up to a lot of space and money. Primeraley for us the problem is fridge space, with our baskets we get 6 on a tray, 16 trays on a rack and two racks in the fridge. That is a total of 192 loaves in the fridge, which is good but could be better.
So we have been trying some linen proving, using bakers linen to rest dough overnight, this way we can get 11 loaves per tray (at 950g dough) which means a total of 352 loaves in the fridge. For us space is critical, and this will aid our whole baking schedule and my free time greatly.
There are a few draw backs to the linen, its stickier for a long prove, the loaves need a lot of flour to make sure they don’t stick. Also the state of the linen afterwards is quite bad, its very wet and a lot of doughy residue, it needs to be hung up for the day and dried out and once its dry a good scrape is needed. It has its draw backs, but if it means we can get more dough in the fridge its something we will continue with.