Friday, April 8, 2011

C is for Cold-Oven Method

In my last post on bread-making, I promised to devote a whole blog post on the cold-oven method. And here it is.

I have made bread many different ways over the years: with a bread maker, by hand with my grandma's traditional warm rise method, and with the sexy new artisan bread let-it-rise-overnight method. My biggest problems with letting bread rise is that the oven was the only place in my kitchen that I knew it could rise quietly in peace without being licked by cats or poked at by children. In order to pre-heat the oven for the actual baking, however, I would have to take out the rising bread and leave it on the counter. This almost always resulted in the bread sagging and being unhappy.

And, then, I learned about the cold-oven method. I am in love. It is both a traditional and brand-new method at the same time. It is coming back into favor because of its simplicity, which makes it easier for busy families. It makes my bread rise perfectly every time without disturbing its magical chemistry and makes beautiful loaves.

The cold-oven method simply means that you will start the bread in a cold oven rather than pre-heating. Part of the bread's final rise happens as the oven begins to warm up. It makes the rise more pronounced and produces a lovely crumbed texture. You simply allow the bread to rise for at least half an hour in the oven and then turn it on. Some people use a lower temperature to begin with and then turn it up, but for everyday sandwich bread, I keep it at 400 for about 35 minutes.

I like to couple the cold-oven method with some other artisinal techniques, such as placing a pan of water in the oven while baking to steam the bread, and allowing the first dough rise to happen in the refrigerator overnight. This makes the perfect blend of flavors and textures.

If you're a little nervous of making bread for the first time, take your favorite recipe and use the cold oven method rather than pre-heating. It will save you time and stress and will produce a beautiful loaf. 


Marie Anne said...

I'd heard of water in the oven to steam, but the cold oven method is new to me.

Of course now I want to try this, and I'm not supposed to be eating bread (not that it's stopping me).

Loki Morgan said...

I will give this a try, thanks!

Lisa said...

What a great blog! I'm your newest follower and will be back for more! I can't wait to try the cold oven method...thanks!

Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful -- I'd never heard of this method. I have such a taste for warm bread now...

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

YUM! AND the Creative Blog Award.
Go to and pick up your award.

Karen Peterson said...

I've never baked my own bread, but this makes me want to. And this cold oven method makes a lot of sense.

anthony stemke said...

I've used the cold oven and pan of water method and it works quite well.