The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting dough to rise when it's cold

freideleebs's picture

Getting dough to rise when it's cold

Hi Everyone,

We live in Israel, and in the summer it's really hot and bread rises beautifully with less yeast. But in the winter, it's too cold and I can't get things to rise.

I have a gas oven, so the trick of turning your oven on a bit to warm up and putting the dough in doesn't work.

Sometimes I keep it under the blow heater, but that doesn't work well and dries it out.

The best thing is (but only if it's a sunny day) to let the dough rise inside the car!

The funny thing is that if I have bread (specifically challah) dough rising in the kitchen while it's warm from the cooking/baking, it won't rise as well as my sourdough bread!

If anyone has any good tips to offer, I'd be really grateful!

All the best,


pmccool's picture

If you use the Search function for "box" or "proofing box", you will come up with lots of suggestions for creating a warm environment for your dough.

By the way, the quotes aren't necessary for the search, I just used those to set off the words from the rest of the sentence.

If your gas oven is an older model with a pilot light for the oven, that should keep the oven warm enough for proofing your dough.  You could also turn on the oven light for additional warmth.  If you have a newer model with electronic ignition, then you will need to find another warm location or build a proofing box.


bassopotamus's picture

The car seems like as good an idea as any. You might also scout the house to find a spot that is warmer than the rest. Our cats do this for me. My house varies by 20F from the coldest spots to the warmest. Find where the cats sleep, and it will be the warmest in the house.

gaaarp's picture

No, not inside the fridge.  On the top.  If your refrigerator is in a recessed space and has a cabinet or ceiling above it, the heat from the coils will travel up the back and to the top of the fridge, keeping it warmer than the rest of your room.

Przytulanka's picture

I have the cabinet above the refrigerator. It is the warmest place at my home.

rosiePearl's picture

I had the same problem last week, and I put my bowl (with the dough inside, that is) on top of a radiator cover.  Worked like a charm....

ericb's picture

I just put my dough in the cold oven above a pot of boiled water. Your "proofing box" will be warm and moist for several hours. If you're worried it's getting too cool, boil the water again.


Works for me.

Yerffej's picture

Another possibility is to wait and let the dough rise in the cool room.  It WILL rise and as a result of having taken much longer to rise it will have superior flavor.


bassopotamus's picture

I got a great loaf today at about 67 degrees in my kitchen. I just let it sit and sit and sit.

Patch's picture

Hello Fran,

I just started baking this winter, so my expierence is nill.  My solution to a cold house was to change games. Rather than fight the weather,  have the cool temperatures work in your favor. Butter loves the cool weather. Try a puff pastry. It's easy and fun.  I'm also looking at quick breads and tarts.  There's more than one game to play.

To fill my need for bread, I purchased a bread machine at a thrift shop. The dough proofing is temperature controlled and automatic. Not world class bread, but it will get me through the winter.

Best wishes,



Rajee's picture

That's quiet very easy. Boil water in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes. When it's very hot, then place it inside the oven next to the dough and close the oven door. The yeast will raise very happily. Hope that helps.

Rajee's picture

Pls try and let me know, Fran

eviltigerlily's picture

I have the same problem. I usually put the dough on top of the fridge, but that's mostly cause it's the only place where the cat can't get at it. Sorry, this is not helpfull.

Actually it's never quite cold here, is it? I prefer to just give it more time. You end up with better flavor and I find it easy to work slower rising time into my schedule. Anyway, it will only be 'winter' for another month or so. If we're lucky.

ivy b's picture
ivy b

Hi Fran,

As I write this, I have two challahs.. one cooling, one in the oven.  I make the dough Wednesday night, let it rise all day Thursday in either a cold oven or the fridge, then bake it Thursday night for Friday evening (Shabbos).  The taste is far superior to anything I bake in the summer, when everything gets mixed, kneaded and baked all of a Thursday evening. Good Luck, let us know what works for you, okay? :-D




HDChef's picture

My laundry room doubles as a proofing room in the winter.  The dryer heats the room just right and it stays warm for a while.  My doughs are covered with oiled plastic wrap to prevent drying.  It has also sped up a slow dough for the oven.

rosiePearl's picture

I posted these on another thread, but thought they'd be perfect here, too.




mysty's picture

Like israel our air is thin our air is dry single digit humidity and we live about a mile high.  Online I found a terrific tip for getting sour dough to rise put it on top of the refrigerator.  I put my starter in the fridge and put the bread I am rising on the refrigerator.  My house is around 60 degrees which is too cold.  This is my first time accomplishing anything with yeast I'm so happy it's finally working.


Well the sourdough was only five days old.  I don't really care about sour I just want to produce a quality product.  I was supposed to divide the starter and feed it but I didn't now i have a huge active starter that was probably underfed.  I did not adjust the temperature for high altitude in my oven.  And I'm absolutely positive I didn't knead it enough or let it rise long enough.  I've seen advice that with high altitude not to do a second kneading I think that is wrong.  I learned from my experiment will do better next time.  Oh and it tasted really good it's a bit too sweet but I think I will love this with cornmeal.

HMerlitti's picture

Is there a light in the oven that goes on when the door is open???

Chuck's picture

Another suggested rising/proofing place (search here on TFL for more details:-) that provides both some heat (and of course complete protection from drafts) and some humidity is your microwave.

Put a cup of water in your microwave, and turn it on until the water starts boiling. Then turn it off (leaving the cup of water inside), put your dough in there, and shut the door drafts, a little retained heat, a hot object (the cup of water:-), and a bit of humidity.

If the rise/proof is a very long one, you may need to "refresh" the heat. Take the dough (but not the cup of water) out, turn the microwave on until the water is boiling again, put the dough back in, and rise/proof some more.

(I've heard tell you can even leave the dough inside at all times and microwave the dough itself. As I've never done that I can't comment...)

mysty's picture

Well, my recipe said to use a bowl that's 5quarts large what I actually have is a 4.5 quart bowl don't know that It would fit in the microwave.  but I guess the loaf i'm working on can go in a much smaller bowl.  I looked on line and I should have worked the dough on the counter instead of the bowl.  and I need to oil the bowl it rises in.

AnnaInMD's picture

customer tips, one of them suggested a microwavable neck wrap. Once heated for about 1 or 2 minutes, fit it snugly around the bowl  to help the dough along.


Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

Hi there,

I use my inside window ledge under the glass facing window in winter. The glass captures the heat which the rising dough loves. Be sure to use luke warm water. The warmth helps...................Cheers ...........Pete

aytab's picture

An electric heating pad and some kitchen towels that's what I do. When it's really cold but, then again really cold here in Long Beach is 60 degrees F.


Juergen's picture

Fill a ceramic bowl of some sort with the hottest possible tap water you can get. Then cover this bowl with anyting that covers the width of the bowl and is strong enough to hold the bowl in which you proof your dough. A round pizza baking sheet would be perfect. Place it on top of the bowl and on top of that plave your bowl containing the dough. The hot water will warm the dough from below and creates a perfect enviroment for dough rising.