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Breadbaking in a COLD kitchen

TracyK's picture

Hey... am contemplating making Julia's rustic potato loaves... but am stymied by the fact that my kitchen (along with the rest of my house) is FREEZING and I am not certain I have a warm enough place where bread could rise for any length of time. Perhaps in the oven, with a pan of warm water? Or in the microwave?


You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

DeannaS's picture

(post #63406, reply #1 of 17)

I don't know the recipe, but there's lots of ways to improvise a proofing box. In the oven with the pilot light on. In the microwave with the door cracked (so the light comes on). In a cooler with a hot water bottle. You'd want to use a thermometer to test the various places. Bread tastes best when it's fermented at moderate temperatures (or cool temperatures for retarding). Try to get a space that's in the 70's - that'd be warm enough.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

JaneRI444's picture

(post #63406, reply #2 of 17)

What????   You've been baking yeast bread and didn't tell me??

TracyK's picture

(post #63406, reply #4 of 17)

Heh. Not quite!! But I got a KA stand mixer for Christmas, so I have grand aspirations... and I'm home sick-ish from work today, so I have a bit of time. :-)

You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #63406, reply #3 of 17)

I use the microwave for the first proof. fill a cup with water and nuke for 2 minutes. take out and replace with bowl of dough, covered with plastic wrap.
the Rustic Potato dough proofs for about 20-30 minutes. I start preheating my oven during the first proof as well. then I shape the loaves and put the shaped loaves on the counter near the oven (or sometimes on top of the stove, since the oven keeps it kinda warm) for their 2nd rise.

alternately, you could turn up the thermostat. ;)



TracyK's picture

(post #63406, reply #5 of 17)

HA! Turning up the thermostat only serves to fruitlessly attempt to heat the great outdoors, as the breezes blowing in from my crappy old windows can attest.

Perhaps I should start with a trip to Home Despot for plastic sheeting and caulk before I attempt the bread-baking?

You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

DeannaS's picture

(post #63406, reply #6 of 17)

Plastic sheeting does wonders. We broke down and used it this year. My my my, what a difference.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

MadMom's picture

(post #63406, reply #7 of 17)

Your first project should be the plastic sheeting...particularly with more bad weather forecast.  Just think how much your utility bills will drop when you stop trying to heat the whole area!

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TracyK's picture

(post #63406, reply #9 of 17)

4-8 inches of snow forecast for tomorrow... yeah, I think a trip to Home Depot is in my near future. And I should hit the grocery store while I still have a chance of buying milk, since folks around here tend to FREAK OUT if a single flake falls, much less 4-8 inches of the stuff.

Breadbaking sounds like an excellent snowy day project, anyway. :-)

Thanks, all, for the suggestions!!

You say I'm a b---- like that's a bad thing.

CANDILADY's picture

(post #63406, reply #10 of 17)

Not sure where your furnace is located, but I used to proof my bread in the furnace room. Mine was located in a small area with the water heater, nice and toasty warm.  I have also been know to dry a load of laundry and place the bowls/pans of dough in the dryer on top of the warm clothes. Works wonders. 

JaneRI444's picture

(post #63406, reply #8 of 17)

HUGE difference!!!     I grew up in a drafty old house and my mom would do it.   I squirm inside when I remember the winter my little brother and I thought it would be funny to poke holes in them w/our fingers (she was a single working mom of 5, no biggie, right?)    I don't recall getting whacked for that - I'll bet she was too tired to even hit us.

Baking bread is so cool.   You feel so .....smug?   I don't know.  Accomplished.   Like you performed magic or something.

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #63406, reply #11 of 17)

You could just let the bread rise in your cold kitchen. It will take a while longer (how long depends on how cold it is - in our house it's not unusual for it to take double or triple time), but the flavor will be fantastic.

assibams's picture

(post #63406, reply #13 of 17)

Maybe I haven't paid enough attention, but how cold is your kitchen? When I get up the mornings the temp in my kitchen and living room is around 57-60°F. It does take some time (say 2hrs) until it heats up to the 67° I consider comfortable.

You can either follow CM's advice, your bread will turn out just fine. Or you could just put the dough in the oven with just the light on - does your crappy old thing do that ;-) The heat from the bulb is enough to keep the oven's temperature at around 75-80°F.

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KyleW's picture

(post #63406, reply #16 of 17)

I'm with you! I think the "Warm, draft free place" thing is way over rated. My kitchen is generally on the cool side and I do OK with my breads. Longer, slower fermentation and proofing = more flavor!


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ghcook's picture

(post #63406, reply #12 of 17)

I use a heating pad (like for your back), set on the counter, a bath towel over that,  then a cooling rack and set the bowl on the rack with a big towel spread over the bowl and rack to keep the warmth in.  Works pretty well and the temperature is consistent every time I do it so its pretty predictable.  I use the same system for the loaves but prop the towel up with jars or something so the weight of the towel doesn't prevent the dough from rising.

Works for me.

UncleDunc's picture

(post #63406, reply #14 of 17)

I've been proofing bread in the oven for 35 years. (You should see the size of that dough ball!) I pre-warm it by turning it on for a minute and ten seconds and then turning it off before I put the dough in. I was a slow child. It took three or four incidents before I learned not to turn it on, put the dough in, and walk away in the vain hope that I would remember to come back in a minute and turn it off.

The first rising usually takes an hour, the second takes thirty minutes. If the first rising seems to be going very slowly, I'll sometimes give it another 30 or 40 seconds of heat half way through. Depending on what I'm making, I let the dough rise in the pan anywhere from 10 to 35 minutes.

I've tried both the damp towel and oiling the dough to keep it moist. Oiling seems like a lot less hassle to me.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #63406, reply #15 of 17)

I'm with CM - if you can spread your bread baking over two days, the long, slow rise will give you great results. I used to proof bread dough by putting it outside over night.

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sandermom's picture

(post #63406, reply #17 of 17)

If your sink is big enough to float your bread bowl you can fill the sink with hot water and cover the bowl with plastic wrap letting it float for its first rise.  The yeast I use is a Fleishmann's brand and looks like pellets.  I did a side by side fast rise/overnight rise and the fast rise was IMO better textured and much better flavored.  I can only get this yeast in 2 lb bags;  it doesn't look like the other grocery store styles.

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