The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Cold room tempature

Alley's picture

Cold room tempature

I looked for this topic and couldn't find so apologize if I missed it.  I live in Seattle and my walkout apartment is cool - 68 tops in the winter and it tops out at 70 in the summer.  I have tried everything to find a "hotzone" to proof bread.  Inside the oven after turning on the light (63 degrees), putting it in the bedroom - warmest room (68 degrees), putting it on top of the fridge with a heater on the floor (68 degrees).  

Thing is, I have grown to love these cold temps and multi layered clothing, but my dough hates it (apparently).  I would call myself not very good baker who loves to bake and it takes half a day to make bread.  Any bread.  Any ideas?  Also, I have had issues with this long rise not drying out, even in this damp environment.  

**Thank you for all these great ideas!  I think I will try the heating pad, mug of hot water and the plastic bag idea to start.  I should have joined this forum before.  You all are the greatest!

DanAyo's picture

If you have the money, this proofer is the choice of the majority of bakers that choose to buy one.

There are other options.

  • Boil a cup of water in your microwave. After that leave the water and place your dough inside.
  • Heating pad
  • place a larger light bulb in the oven. If you hook it up to a dimmer to can adjust the heat.

How fortunate to have 70F is the summer!

harum's picture

Talking about this proofer, in the link they listed 200 watts for power wattage.  Was wondering if this was the peak wattage or something else?

From the pictures it looks like that its housing provides little insulation and it might draw quite a lot of power unless it's placed in a better insulated container or under a heavy blanket.  Could your share your experience?  Thanks!

GaryBishop's picture

I bought a BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller for less than $20 and connected it to a "Mr. Coffee" mug warmer I already had (could have been a light bulb, heating pad, etc. anything that gets warm). I put the sensor for the controller and the warmer inside a "cooler" we already had. 

It maintains 85F within a couple of degrees as the house goes from 68 in the day to 63 at night. 

pmccool's picture

Use a picnic cooler as a proofer.  Place the dough container in the cooler, then place a quart jar of hot tap water in the cooler and close the lid. 


HeiHei29er's picture

I use this.  Heating pad connected to the outlet.  Sensor inside a WalMart tote that's wrapped in some old fiberglass insulation I had laying around.  Put the tote in my basement on some pieces of styrofoam to get it off the concrete slab.  Basement temp is 68-70 deg.  Have no trouble holding 83 deg with the heating pad on high.  Have some smaller pieces of styrofoam in the tote for the bread bowl/pan to sit on so they're not right on the heating element.

DIY temperature controller

mariana's picture

Hi Alley,

When I started, I used a cheap electric heating pad from a drug store, the one people use to warm their back. It can be set to any level of heat and keeps warm or hot indefinitely, for months non-stop, if necessary. Look for one that doesn't shut off automatically, without auto-off feature, or at least for one with both auto-off and Stay On features. For example,

So, I removed the cloth cover from the heating pad, placed a rack on top of it , so that the dough doesn't touch hot surface, and on the rack - bread dough or sourdough starter and it worked for everything - for fermenting, for proofing, etc. Once you cover the whole thing with plastic or towel, or place the entire thing inside plastic bag, it's like a tent inside, warm and toasty. Perfect. 

Today, I mostly use PROOF setting in my oven (110F), or make dough, sourdough and proof something before baking in my programmable bread machine. It keeps dough at 90F and at 110F, if necessary, up to 12 hrs. I have Taylor&Brood proofing box and it is very good as well, but I don't use it that often. 

To protect dough from drying out, cover it with a shower cap. It fits perfectly over round bannetons of any diameter and over normal squarish bread pans and is sturdy enough to stay above the surface of dough, like a dome, without touching it. 

phaz's picture

That's not too cold (60s that is). My kitchen is more like 55, and I consider that warm. Ya just have to adjust for the temps by applying the principles of bread making. To get a warm spot, I've put a lamp, like a 60 or 75 watt bulb in my oven. It's a small oven and it'll keep temps around 80 easily. Oven lights are usually weak and don't generate a lot of heat, more wattage is needed. A large bowl of hot water also works, but the heat won't last as long. Enjoy! 

justkeepswimming's picture

So many great suggestions, this is just another one to build off of, in case something resonates 

I live in central AZ, and this time of year our home is often 66F at night, 68F during the day. What has been working for me is to put my dough (which is usually ~ 74F after mixing, using slightly warm water to mix) into the over-the-stove microwave with a mug of boiling hot water. I then turn on the microwave light that illuminates the stove surface. Between the cup of hot water and the heat from the bulb, the microwave interior gets to 78-80 degrees really quickly. I take the mug out after about an hour, and the dough seems to maintain a steady 76-80F after that (light stays on). My bulk ferment and proof times have gotten a lot more consistent. You may not have that type of microwave, but it makes me wonder if adding a pan of hot water inside your regular oven, combined with leaving the interior light on, would get you where things need to be for your situation? It might save you the cost of a proofing box? 

Obviously your mileage may vary with all of these ideas. The best idea will be what gets you your desired result. Good luck!!!

Beth's picture

Embrace the slow rise and let it have overnight for bulk ferment. (I put one of the silicone universal lids over my mixing bowl to keep it from drying out.) For more rustic-type loaves, I don't mind the combination of longer final proof and oven spring. For drier loaves or fancier/more refined/I'm not finding the right word, a warm spot for the final proof is useful, but that doesn't need to be maintained as long.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in bed with you.  Place your dough how you want it inside a large container and then inside a large trash bag and then tuck into a pillow case or wrap a towel around it.  Then take your dough to bed with you.  Your body temps will keep it warm enough to rise nicely, maybe even too warm!  Ha!  

You can warm starters in your pockets too under some of those layers.  Just a few hours in bed with a good dough and a good read might do the trick. 


JettBakes's picture

My husband makes kombucha and I noticed he was using this electric mat/wrap that he wraps around the jug and it has a low, medium and high setting. I began wrapping it around my starter jar and setting it at low and it warms my starter to 78 degrees. If thats too warm I just create a little space between the wrap and the jar to cool it down to 74. It was $15 on Amazon.