The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

It's Cold Outside!

virginiann's picture

It's Cold Outside!

I consider my self a new baker, and I've learned so much from this forum, thank you to all who participate and share your knowledge. I don't know if this is a question or simply an observation. I have been

very fortunate to the point of down right blessed, with my baking. Every type of bread I have made has come out very well for someone who doesn't know what the heck they are doing. I figured I just had a 'doughy thumb' (smile). However, since it has gotten cold outside I haven't made one decent loaf! Remembering what I have learned from Daniel Leaders book that the room temperature should be about 74*F optimum. I figured that was my main issue all of a sudden. So what I did this last time with some French bread I made is, I made my batch according to directions (Peter Reinheart's) and when I took it out of the fridge in the AM. I immediately put it in an oven where the light had been on already for about an hour. I left the dough in the oven for about a good three hours, where I then took it out shaped it put it on my French Bread Pans and again placed it back in the oven until it 'doubled in size'. Meanwhile I managed to get my kitchen up to about 71*F for it's short sit on the counter while the oven preheated. The bread turned out beautifully. But boy did it take a lot of babysitting to get it right!. I am just now going to start a lot of my Christmas baking and I can see that I will be pretty busy for the next few days. I like to put together baskets for my extended family and this year it is going to be all baked goods! Merry Christmas everyone! May your kitchens be warm!

Virginia Cooper

P.S. Now that I have re-read this I guess I'm posting this for all those who may be having bread issues right now. I've learned how important it is to keep your dough temp warm and happy!

Also, my hubby made a 'warm home' for my Rye starter. It's a box with a small light bulb on. I have a thermometer poking in the box and it stays a happy 80*. I feed it twice daily. 

Janknitz's picture

is the right idea, but you can go lower tech.

I put a styrofoam cooler over the dough bucket with a cup of just boiled water next to the bucket. That will stay toasty and warm for hours. (I reheat the water if it's been open for a while).

Any closed environment with a heat source like a continer of hot water will do--sometimes I just use the microwve oven as my proofing box with a cup of hot water for heat again. A large plastic box you might use for storage will work just fine too--and if it's clear you can see what's going on inside.

Then you don't have to heat the whole house just to preheat your oven.

dharris's picture

I was having similar problems with my dough, because my house is normally very cool. The solution I found was in Jeffery Hammelman's Bread book which proposes using your water temperature to control your dough temperature. He has one of  his appendicies devoted to this topic, but if you want to get your dough temp up to about 76 F in a cool house, jack up your water temperature. Hammelman gives you the math for figuring how much.

Hope this helps,


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

Yes, this was (and is) dopne.

A large bowl of cold water. A basion full of dough - any kind.

Put the second inbto the former and wait.

The dough will prove and won't be affeted by the water.



Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

It should have been:

"Yes, this was (and is) done.

"A large bowl of cold water. A basin full of dough - any kind.

"Put the second into the former and wait.

"The dough will prove and won't be affected by the water."

I really must plug in that new keyboard!