Proofing dough in a warm, humid environment can make your bread rise perfectly. You can do this easily at home with a few common kitchen items and your microwave.
Photo by Stacy Spensley
Professional bakers normally use dough proofers or proof boxes to encourage fermentation of the dough in yeast breads and baked goods. Sarah Phillips at Crafty Baking explains there's no need to buy something just for that purpose, though, if you have a microwave around.
Microwave about a cup of water, in a microwaveable glass, on high for one minute. Then turn off the microwave and place a covered bowl filled with freshly made dough inside along with the water. The water will continue to steam a little, and the inside of the microwave will stay nice and toasty. After about 35 minutes, check to see how the dough is rising. It may need a little more time, but you'll get a feel for it as you go. When the dough is ready, you can bake it in a crock pot to speed the process up even more.
Bread Proofer - Sarah's Microwave Bread Proofer [Crafty Baking]