Our house is obscenely cold. Every time we went over to Craig’s parents in the past, I would complain about how chilly they kept it (62º) as I grew up with my mother…. who used to pack as much wood into the stove as she could to see how hot she could get it. It usually ended up with windows open, tank tops, and shorts in December. Since I moved out, I’ve either split utility bills with roommates (and just payed my portion, never even seeing the bills), or lived in an apartment that got hot when I had the stove on for more than 20 minutes. Now that we’re heating an entire house, we keep the house COLD. REALLY FREAKING COLD. So cold that it’s outside of beer yeast’s optimal temperature range, so cold that the upper range of “cellar temperatures” according to Charcuterie is warmer than our ambient air temperature at any given time. In the evening, and early in the morning, the thermostat goes up to 58º, at night, or during the day, it dips down to 53º. That’s one of the reasons I like having company, we turn the heat up so they don’t freeze to death. Even Craig’s parents leave warm clothes at our house to change into when they get here. Joe has a sweatshirt and poofy socks, and Sue has slippers. And they know the locations of every strategically placed blanket. And Sue keeps reminding me about how I complained about THEIR HOUSE being cold.
Regardless, 58º is not an optimal temperature for yeast, it’s not even an operative temperature for yeast if you want to start a bread early in the morning and be eating it by 10pm. So I’ve come up with a good method to keep my breads warm. I turn the oven onto the warming cycle and let it heat up most of the way, then turn it off and let it cool down a bit. Once I can touch any surface in the oven comfortably with the back of my hand, I know it’s safe for my dough to go in. The pizza stone holds the heat fairly well and I only have to redo this process once, maybe twice through the day if I’m making a bread that requires many different rises.
On Saturday, I made 2 loaves of sourdough and a pugliese, which I forgot to take photos of, blame it on me being a nervous wreck before my grandmother came. I did however take a photo of my disgustingly dirty oven. Oh, and my pizza stone isn’t dirty, it’s “seasoned.” The sourdough is in the yogurt containers, the pugliese is in the glass bowl.