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.
Angie Mohr is a Chartered Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and financial consultant. She has worked with thousands of clients over the years from mom and pop startups to rock bands and celebrity chefs. She is the author of the best-selling Numbers 101 for Small Business series of books and writes for Forbes, MSNBC, the Globe & Mail, Yahoo! Finance, Investopedia, and Motley Fool, among other financial publications. Her new book, Piggy Banks to Paychecks, helps parents teach their children how to be money smart. She splits her time between Canada and the United States and currently lives by the ocean with her husband and two children, who have finally learned that money doesn’t grow on trees.