Wednesday, December 8, 2010



First of my apologies for not updating this blog for quite sometime. Today I am posting something very crucial for all the people who love working with yeast.

Yeast can be fun to work with in summer but it became a challenge for me. With the temperature dropping the yeast started taking a long time to rise and that’s when I started asking my friends what methods did they use during winter.

I got to know many options which even I was using but did not help me to my satisfaction, like keep the dough near the gas stove, preheating the oven etc. I then wrote to Katy of Food For Hungry Soul  stating my agony with yeast and she was kind enough to write back to me in great detail. Thanks so much Katy,I am copying the mail here for every one to read.

“The first thing is to turn the pilot light on in your oven, and set a steaming hot bowl of water in the bottom of your oven.  Put your covered bowl of dough on a rack over the bowl of water and close the oven door.  Enough warmth should be generated between the bowl of water (which may have to be changed a couple of times during rising time to keep it hot) to raise your dough.The dough may be a little moist on the bottom from using this method, but if it's the first rising, it should be okay as you can add more flour when you form it for the second rising.

The second method is to ever so gently warm your oven on the lowest possible heat setting and then immediately turn the oven off.  Put your covered dough into the oven and close the door.  This method can be a little tricky if you have let your oven heat too long, but generally works well if you are attentive.

The last method I use is a variation of the first method, especially for the second rise.  I set my prepared pan of bread dough over (but not in) a bowl of hot water on my stove top (or on my kitchen table in the direct sunlight), cover it so that the covering does not touch the dough (you may have to make a tent somehow.  I tend to use tall drinking glasses and a clean white dish towel). If your pan of prepared dough is too small to sit atop the pan of water, set a cooling rack over the pan of hot water and then your pan of prepared dough.”

I liked Katy’s idea of using warm water bath but since it required replacing the water again and again as it would cool down fast in winter and I am not a very patient person, so my hunt for my kind of method was still on.

A few days back I sat down to read the manual of my microwave oven. Now, I do have a good microwave oven which not only has convection but also has steaming, grilling and broiling facility too. While reading the manual I realized that the oven can be set in temperature range for a time period of your choice. I thought this should solve my problem and for trial  I set my oven in  a temperature range of 40C-50 C for half an hour and checked it’s temperature using a thermometer  after half an hour,  was extremely happy to see that it worked.

So today, I made sweet chelsea buns and after kneading the dough I kept it to rise in the oven which was set in the temperature range 40-50C for an hour and I got a raised dough in 35mins. This method is very safe and convenient as there is no chance that the oven will get overheated at the same time it does not need one to be constantly vigilant. Once you have kept the dough to rise and set the timer, one is free to complete other chores. It is a great method for people like me who do not have loads of patience.

I hope all the yeast lovers would find this method easy to try. At the same time if you have any further suggestions, please leave me a note in the comment box. Will surely update this post with more methods that I get to know.