The microwave isn't typically an appliance associated with making homemade bread. And while we won't be using it for baking bread any time soon, it just might be your ticket to speeding up the proofing process.
While professional bakers typically turn to proof boxes or dough proofers to create a warm, humid environment to encourage fermentation of the dough in yeast breads, that isn't exactly an option for home cooks. But with a microwave and a glass of water, your bread dough can reap a very similar benefit.
Turn Your Microwave into a Proof Box
Follow your yeast bread recipe as directed up until it's time to proof the bread — this is when you'll turn your microwave into a makeshift proof box. Start by microwaving one cup of water in a microwave-safe glass for two minutes on high power. Once the water is heated, place the covered bowl of bread dough in the microwave, along with the water, and close the door. As the water continues to steam in the closed microwave, it creates a warm, humid environment, similar to that of a bread dough proofer. The warmer and more humid the air is, the faster the bread should rise.
The dough is ready when it has almost doubled in size, which should take about 30 to 45 minutes. If it seems like the bread needs more time, remove the dough from the microwave and reheat the water. Return the bowl of dough to the microwave, and check after 10 to 15 minutes.