What should I cover bread dough with while it's rising?
If you let (bread) dough rise, the recipe always asks to cover it. Years ago, I read to cover it with a wet towel. Nowadays, I see more and more recipes that ask for plastic wrap (aka saran or cling wrap).
The towel lets air through, the wrap does not. What is the difference between the two in the end result? What is best to use and why?
I'm taking about the first as well as the second (proofing) rise. If there is a difference between the phases, please inform me.
The goal is to keep the surface of the bread from drying out.
A wet towel works fine but plastic wrap is cheaper and easier than constantly cleaning wet towels.
I have used both methods and haven't noticed a difference in the bread produced. In very dry climates, when I made bread with multiple rises I sometimes had to redampen the towel which was an added inconvenience.
Lately I have been proofing large batches of bread in a large stock pot and just use the lid of the pot as the only cover.
I'd like to add my opinion on using towels - multiple times I've had a problem using towels when fermenting / rising using sourdough - since it takes about 4 hours at its fastest, and as much as 8+ hours when fermenting at cold temps. The towel dries and after that the dough dries, creating an unpleasant skin. Using lightly misted plastic wrap instead is IMO much better. :)