Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book comments on cold oven baking
I decided to give serious study to my good bread books, and Laurel's floated to the top.
My favored place for proofing is in my gas oven, which I turn on until it just barely registers a temperature rise; then I turn on the oven light, and it maintains a temperature of 80-90 degrees. Of course, I don't do this when I want a slow rise, but my kitchen is typically 60-65 degrees, so this is great for the final rise or when I'm in a hurry.
On page 408 (1984 edition; I think it's the same in the revised edition), she addresses this issue: "Halfway through the final rise, the time comes when you have to preheat the oven. The bread's inside: what to do?" She then lists four options, the first of which is, "Set the nearly risen loaves in a draft-free place, turn on the oven, and don't worry about it." That's what I do. The second option is to float the loaf pans in a dishpan of warm water (covered, of course); the fourth utilizes a heating pad or a hot-water bottle.
But the third option caught my attention. People have talked quite a bit about baking in an un-preheated oven. I baked a bread once that specified cold oven - I think it was called Cuban Bread. Laurel (and her friends) say that you can leave the loaves in place and turn on the oven when the loaves are about three-quarters risen (depending on how long your oven takes to heat up - sooner if your oven heats slowly). She calls this "a daredevil technique" that won't work for breads that require a higher initial temperature for oven rise. She adds that it works better for recipes that include milk or a lot of sweetener. (And she cautions you to remove plastic and other materials that don't do well in a hot oven. I've long since learned to look in the oven before turning it on.)
How does this jive with all you breadbakers' experience?