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Where can I let my bread rise?

I'm anxious to try Mark Bittman's "No Knead" recipe recently featured in the NY Times. The key is a very long rising period, approximately 12-18 hours. The recipe calls for the dough to rise at room temperature, approximately "70 degrees." My house is usually chillier than this. Any ideas of what I can do? I'm loathe to put it in a warm oven since the essence of the rising is slooooooooooooowww, and room temperature. Any ideas?

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  1. In the stove might not be too bad of a place if it's an electric stove. My gas stove is always slightly warm, and sometimes I'll put the dough on top of it. If I'm going to use the oven, I'll put it on top of the fridge (which is right next to my stove).

    I think the important thing is to keep it in a draft free area, it will just rise a little slower if it's slightly cooler than 70 degrees.

    1. Put it in the closed oven with a bowl of hot water...put a thermo inside the oven and then you can monitor the temp. Add more hot water when needed. If you have a gas-powered hotwater heater, check the temp around it--usually several degrees warmer than other parts of the house. Try putting the covered bowl atop the hotwater heater.

      1. If you have an electric oven and it has a light, keep it turned on, it will give off some heat. Not much, but over time can help.

        You can also take a styrofoam cooler and with a low watt light bulb it turns into a great bread proofer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hummingbird

          My oven hits 110 degrees if I leave the light on for several hours. Too hot.

          But I'll have to try the heating pad idea. I like that.

        2. Well, I hope that my bread will turn out okay since I am not using any of the above methods. I don't have any equipment except for the electric oven and I can't keep the light on unless I open the door, which sort of defeats the purpose.

          I think that bread will rise if left alone long enough...I mean not outside when it's cold, etc. but in a draft-free area. Mine is going to have to rise for more than 18 hours because I realized after making the dough that I have a dentist appt. at 4:30.....so maybe almost 20 hours.

          I'm excited anyway. What will happen? oooooEEEEEooooo!

          1. How about on top of the fridge? That gives off some heat. Of course if you live somewhere that AC will be on, that won't help.

            My oven has a light I can turn on so that is why I mentioned that.

            1. In the winter I wrap my bowl in a thick towel and set it on top of the (closed) toilet in the master bath. That spot is right under a heat vent in a sunny room. In cold weather that's the warmest spot in the house. I'm willing to bet that just about every living space has a spot like that.

              1. Use a heating pad!!! This was a great trick I learned from my neighbour, a wonderful elderly woman. Just put the heating pad on low and then put the bowl with the covered dough on the heating pad!!!!!

                So easy!!!

                1. I don't like using anything that has some vibrations (like a fridge), cause that may mess up the rise, especially with how wet Bittman's dough is. Stoves are good, but here's my fav. I use a plastic storage container (about 1.5 X 1.5 X 3) upside down with a bowl of hot water in it. Since I've started using this my rises have been so much better. I don't necessarily do this for a first rise, but it's my go to method for proofing after shaping.

                  1. your dough will be fine on your counter. Make sure there isn't a draft. Even if your kitchen temp is 60, it will still work... just might take a few hours longer.

                    Dough still rises even in a 40 degree fridge. It just takes eons longer.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: adamclyde

                      Adamclyde, I agree with you. The author mentions 70 degree , but any reasonable room temperature is what he had in mind. I would think that if the dough was placed in a covered bowl with a piece of towel or cloth another from 60-80 would work fine. Yeast is just not that particular about temperatures. I like to raise yeast doughs in my basement root cellar in the summer because it is cooler and the longer rise time provides a better flavor.

                    2. I started the bread yesterday, baked it this morning and it turned out very well. I LOVE it. I am going to try a few different kinds of flour in my next dough. I was worried about the room temp as well - I live in Quebec and have two woodstoves, but not in the kitchen, hence a very inconsistent temperature in my house. It has been fairly mild the past few days and not freezing at night right now so I just left it on the counter, let the dough rise for 18 hours and otherwise followed the recipe closely - it looks and tastes fantastic.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: tartetatin

                        tartetatin--would you say the bread is as good, or better than the best you've done in the past? And did the crust come out especially nice, like it said in the article? What vessel did you put it in to bake? Is Quebec as beautiful as they say?
                        Couldn't resist that last ? !

                      2. I am glad I am not the only other person who puts their bread dough in the bathroom. It is a great spot. I also put it in the laundry room and do bread on laundry days. Confines spaces can allow you to trap that heat.

                        1. blue room - I can't seem to reply directly at the moment - the bread is very good, delicious, the crust came out especially well, beautiful colour and a nice thickness too. The inside of the bread was nice, but I think I will try some other flour combinations - I used King Arthur All Purpose because it is what I had and I wanted to try to stick closely to the original recipe for the first time (baseline). The combination of having a good tasting bread with the ease of the recipe makes this bread a very attractive option, though I have made better, more labour intensive breads. With some tweeking, I think it could be even better. I used a Le Creuset pot and covered the knob with aluminum foil so it wouldn't burn. I heated my oven for about 50 minutes, the pot was VERY hot when I removed it to place the dough inside. I LOVE my bread.
                          Yes, I live in a beautiful spot between Montreal and Ottawa, in the middle of the woods. I love it. Best of both worlds.

                          1. if you have a microwave, it makes an excellent proofbox. (in fact, that is all i use mime for.) put a measuring cup or glass bowl with 1 1/2-2 cups of water in it, and bring the water to a boil. leave the water in (for humidity) if there's room, and put your dough in with it. shut the door, and put a post-it note on there (in case you live with anyone else...) saying that there is dough rising in there. it is draft-free, moist and warm (both from the water) and just about as close as a pro proofbox as i have gotten.

                            1. My house has a closet in the garage where one of my heaters & hot water tank is located. When baking bread I set up a small table in the closet and have a PERFECT location for bread rising. Out of the traffic pattern and in a location where the climate is not tampered with (except when I go in/out). Dust free, draft free and cat free.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: DToland

                                I'd leave it in the kitchen and give it extra time to rise--up to a total of 24 hours in a really cool kitchen. If you can't afford the extra time, increase the yeast slightly.

                              2. On warm, sunny days, my car is a solar collector - that's where my dough rises... in the driveway.

                                1. i live in a really cold climate but like to make bread in less than 4-5 hours so it poses problems for me. A friend suggested putting my dough bowl wrapped in a hand towel on top of my pancake griddle set at warm for both rises. It's the best trick I've tried yet, although I am interested in trying the heating pad...

                                  1. I built a wooden box with a lamp socket for a small light bulb. It has a thermostat in the circuit so the lamp comes on a 75 degrees and turns off at 85 degrees. Thermostat cost a bit more than I had intended to spend but it works great.

                                    1. Just plan for a longer rising time and leave it at room temperature. I've seen bread recipes that call for a refrigerator rise.

                                      1. On a day when you are NOT baking and have time to play around, turn your oven light on (or prop the door open slightly if it turns on automatically) and measure the temp after an hour or so. If it's too high (which it likely will be), prop the oven door open (or open a little further) with a rolled or folded towel and take the temp again in an hour. If it's too cold, unfold the towel a bit to decrease the venting. If it's too warm, fold the towel over again or use another towel to thicken the wedge and open the door a little more. Trial and error when you're not in a hurry will allow you to find the temp range you're looking for.

                                        A bowl of hot water in the oven is a nice option to keep the humidity up in the enclosed space. You could actually just pour the hot water into a heavy steam pan already in the oven if you use one when you bake--small amounts of water will boil off as the oven pre-heats later and will also create some moisture in the process. Again though, BEFORE you bake, play with your water temp and the towel/door angle combination to get the temps in proper range so that you know what to do when you are actually ready to proof your dough.

                                        Look at is as a FUN experiment, and dabble with small batches of one straightforward recipe until you get consistent satisfactory results. Don't forget to WEIGH (not measure!) all of your FRESH, HIGH-QUALITY ingredients--including weighing the water--for greater consistency! The more things you can keep constant and control, the better you can tweak a little of one or the other each time to see how it affects the final product and ultimately get as close as you can to the results you are seeking.

                                        It's a quest...enjoy the journey!

                                        1. Maybe you could leave it near a lamp?