My central heating (supported housing communal system, out of my control), has been playing silly buggers for a couple of weeks, and now the gas supply has failed, so now we’re at the mercy of those dozy buggers at Transco (that’s assuming the engineers are right, and as they’re still working, maybe they’re not – anyone’s guess right now).
So, even though yeast doesn’t need to be very warm to ferment, actually being cold does it no favours (it’ll rise even at fridge temperatures, but very slowly – excellent if you start it a day early). I have a heater, so it’s not frigid here, but things like kitchen worktops are pretty damn cold. And hey, guess where I make my bread.
Anyway, I use a piece of a closed-cell camping mat under my chopping board, to stop it sliding around and also to quieten it, and I’ve hijacked that for my breadmaking.
Normally I sit the bulk dough, for its first proving, on a sheet of baking parchment on the worktop, and last week I slipped the foam pad under the parchment, and, for the second proving I put it under the loaf tins. I also closed the curtains, to cut out any draughts.
It worked very nicely, insulating the dough from the cold worktop as efficiently as it used to insulate my sleeping bag from the cold ground, before it was cut up (very useful stuff).
It’s getting pretty cold now (15.50), so for the second proving (the smaller quantities of dough lose heat faster), I’ve put the oven on low, with the door open, and the loaves are rising nicely, but not too quickly.
I think I can call that a result.