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Thread: Getting bread dough to rise in a cold house

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    Getting bread dough to rise in a cold house

    I live in Mexico. It's tropical, but I'm at high altitude. Winter is cold, but not so cold that people all have central heat. Most (including yours truly) do not. So I have to wear sweaters indoors. Even butter won't soften in my kitchen, but I can use the microwave a few seconds to get that.

    But what about getting bread dough to rise? I might be able to use the microwave with a glass or two of nuked water, then put the bowl of dough inside, letting the heat from the water do the job. But what do I do, then, when my hot rolls or loaves are formed? They won't fit the microwave.

    I've thought of using hot water in the oven, but I don't think the heat would last long enough. Besides, after the rolls rise, they have to just SIT there while I preheat the oven. That could affect the end result, and I can't predict how it would affect it.

    So how can I engineer a warm enough environment to get my breads to rise?

  2. #2
    Trusted Senior Member brigid's Avatar
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    What I would do is what you mentioned about heating the water and putting it in the oven. Be sure to lay a lightweight cloth across the top of the bowl to help keep it warm, PLUS you can wrap warm cloths around the bowl itself. After the proper time has elapsed for the dough to rise, take it out, heat the oven and bake the bread. Or it may solve your problem if you simply make "refrigerator rolls or bread". Look for a recipe by that name and it will rise overnight in the refrigerator and you won't have to worry about finding a way to keep things warm enough for the dough to rise. That sounds like the perfect and easiest solution.

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    I have used an electric heating pad to help raise bread & make yogurt. For bread try the lowest setting with the bread bowl (for 1st rise) & the pan (for 2nd rise) covered with plastic wrap & then a big towel over the top & tucked around the edge of the heating pad. If the lowest setting seems too hot put a towel on between the pad & dough container.

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    Trusted Senior Member brigid's Avatar
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    Faster, I hope things are working out for you. It must be a very beautiful area where you live. I hope you will let us know how the bread baking project is coming. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

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    I use an a electric wok with a towel inside. Then place the bowl on top. covered with oiled wax paper then the lid. Works perfect.

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    Moderator CM's Avatar
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    Some newer ovens have a proofing cycle. You might want to keep that in mind next time you replace your oven. Until then, there are many other ways to provide a warm environment for the dough to rise.

    In the past, I often would microwave my dough for 1 minute, then let it sit for half hour and microwave it again, etc. It worked well, but you have to be very careful not to overdo it or you'll kill the yeast. Use a 1/2 or 1/4 power setting or find the setting that's right for your microwave. Another method I've used is to heat the oven to 125°F or 150°F but you need to make sure your temperature is accurate. The oven eventually cools off, but you can heat it again in about 45 minutes if you need to.

    There are various places around the house that are warmer than others - find them! You might have a hot water heater or it might be a spot on top of your refrigerator. I would often put a bowl of bread to rise over the hot water heater. If you have a gas oven, the pilot flame might be just enough to keep the dough warm.

    There are also rubber heating mats used for propagating plants and seedlings. They're small, waterproof and not very expensive. You'll find them in gardening supply catalogs.

    Happy Holidays!

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    An electric blanket would also work. But wouldn't dare steal my husbands. Grounds for divorce

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by brigid View Post
    Faster, I hope things are working out for you. It must be a very beautiful area where you live. I hope you will let us know how the bread baking project is coming. Good luck and Happy Holidays!
    How sweet of you! You're right, Mexico is extremely beautiful. I'm so severely disabled that most tourists see more of it in a week than I have in 15 years. Good thing the scenery isn't the only good thing to be had here! The people are mostly very kind and friendly. There's a generosity of spirit that I find awesome, because I never new anything approaching it back home. There was some, though. Here, many pharmacies and food stores not only deliver, but will give you credit! And they know that many of those people are so poor they'll never be able to pay it back.

    As for the bread, I don't have a heating pad, but I do have an electric sheet that keeps me warm from beneath - I love it! I think I'll try using that - rising my dough on my bed. What a thought! But if it works... So I'll sit on my bed, with a good book, and cuddle up to it while I watch as my dough rises. More fun than watching the Oscars. I'm easy to please.

    Happy Holidays to you, too. I hope you'll get a chance to visit Mexico. If you treat people as equals, they will almost always respond well - cheerfully. There are very few who harbor hatred at the level of our own citizens. If you ever come here, just avoid the areas spoken of in the news about the drug cartels. They have broad influence in the country, but do not rule it all. The Lake Chapala area where I live is extremely nice, and many people (including Mexicans) speak English. It's a good place to start. Many other places are far more gorgeous, though. Remember to avoid any raw veggies on street foods, which are droolingly tempting. You'll only get sick if you don't know or follow the rules. And don't forget the purification drops, Microdyn and Albiosan (there are other brands, too, all good). If you purify your raw produce faithfully, you'll stay healthy. It's a shame these aren't available to Americans. They should be.

  9. #9
    Trusted Senior Member brigid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by faster View Post
    How sweet of you! You're right, Mexico is extremely beautiful. I'm so severely disabled that most tourists see more of it in a week than I have in 15 years. Good thing the scenery isn't the only good thing to be had here! The people are mostly very kind and friendly. There's a generosity of spirit that I find awesome, because I never new anything approaching it back home. There was some, though. Here, many pharmacies and food stores not only deliver, but will give you credit! And they know that many of those people are so poor they'll never be able to pay it back.

    As for the bread, I don't have a heating pad, but I do have an electric sheet that keeps me warm from beneath - I love it! I think I'll try using that - rising my dough on my bed. What a thought! But if it works... So I'll sit on my bed, with a good book, and cuddle up to it while I watch as my dough rises. More fun than watching the Oscars. I'm easy to please.

    Happy Holidays to you, too. I hope you'll get a chance to visit Mexico. If you treat people as equals, they will almost always respond well - cheerfully. There are very few who harbor hatred at the level of our own citizens. If you ever come here, just avoid the areas spoken of in the news about the drug cartels. They have broad influence in the country, but do not rule it all. The Lake Chapala area where I live is extremely nice, and many people (including Mexicans) speak English. It's a good place to start. Many other places are far more gorgeous, though. Remember to avoid any raw veggies on street foods, which are droolingly tempting. You'll only get sick if you don't know or follow the rules. And don't forget the purification drops, Microdyn and Albiosan (there are other brands, too, all good). If you purify your raw produce faithfully, you'll stay healthy. It's a shame these aren't available to Americans. They should be.
    Thank you so much for your answer. It should be a great feeling once you get that bread in a hot oven and baking. Don't forget what I said about the refrigerator rolls. You don't have to let them rise in a warm place. Just in the fridge overnight. As for where you live, thank you for sharing that information. It sounds like a wonderful place, and I appreciate all the nice tips. I would indeed like to go there someday. I went to Mexico as a very young child, but don't remember anything much. I know it is beautiful. Something else about it that I know is that the people who live there love bright colors, and it is a happy feeling to see all the color everywhere, esp. in the clothing. They have a true love for life and the good things in life. I hope your Christmas is lovely. It is snowing here and we rarely see that, so it is a white Christmas for the first time in a century.

  10. #10
    Oh how I wish I was in beautiful Mexico now. -15 and 3 feet of snow here! I had a problem getting my bread to rise also until I came up with the idea of putting my bread in the clothes dryer. I turn it on for a while to heat it up, turn off of course, and put my dough in and leave the door closed. Works great everytime. I guess you would have to be careful not to get it to hot.

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