Tips For Rising Bread In Cooler Temperatures

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As we embarked on this month’s book of English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David the weather took a cooler turn here in Australia.  Great from the perspective that we would embrace turning our ovens on and devouring crusty fresh bread from the oven with our bowls of soup and braised casseroles.   One of the things I didn’t really think about though was how to get my dough to rise to get the deliciousness at the end.  It’s a common problem for people in cooler weather and can result in it taking all day to produce one loaf of bread if you haven’t had some bread baking experience to know what works in your kitchen.  You don’t want to over stimulate it with heat and kill your yeast, but nor do you want to end up with a loaf that is overly yeasty due to it being under worked, which results in sore tummy’s and less than happy taste buds.

These tips are not specifically from Elizabeth David.   In the era of many of the recipes that she shares the bakers would have been able to place their dough on top of their Aga stoves, or near to the open fireplaces to get the yeast going.  In an era of central heating, or no heating in our warmer climates this is not such an easy solution to use.  Because of this I thought I would share some tips that I’ve picked up along the way from various sources (none of which I can now attribute unfortunately) that I thought might help you in your bread baking endeavours.

  • Warm your flour and dough bowl in the oven for about 5 minutes before starting your baking process.  It will dry out the flour if it is holding any humidity but also give that gentle push that the dough might need.  Plus the warm oven might just rise the temperature of your kitchen enough to help the process along.
  • Wrap your dough bowl in a beach towel to create a dutch oven. This one is tried and true in my household and a trick that I’ve used for years.
  • Warm your milk/water to a tepid temperature rather than using cold straight from the tap or fridge.  Too hot and it will kill the yeast but if you put your finger into the liquid and it feels neither hot nor cold then you are spot on for getting your yeast started.
  • Knead your dough by hand.  The warmth of your body will help to warm the dough gently and just enough where as a mixer won’t.
  • Place the dough in a warmer spot in the house.  Some of the suggestions I’ve heard in the past is near a window that gets the winter sun, or perhaps even near a central heating vent if you have the heating on.
  • A trick Lady Red Specs shared is that she turns the light on in her oven and places the dough inside. If the oven has not been preheated the heat from the light warms the space just enough to help her dough to grow.

Just a few tips, but I’m sure there is many more idea’s so please share below for those of us that are just beginning on our bread baking and yeast cookery adventures.

Leah

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