In the winter I have trouble getting dough to rise. Because every dough recipe out there states, "let rise in a warm place free of drafts." And finding a draft-free, warm location in my house can be difficult during the colder months.
So I turn to my oven. It makes a wonderful warm cocoon in which my dough can rise.
First I heat the oven to 200 degrees. When it's reached that temp, I turn the oven off. While the oven's warming up, I boil some water and pour a couple of inches of it into a pan. I place that in the oven right before putting my dough in. The steam from the water helps keep the dough from developing a crusty skin as it rises in the warm oven.
Then the dough goes in. I leave it in the stainless steel bowl of the mixer and cover loosely with foil. I want to leave this in the oven until it doubles in size. Usually it will take about 20 minutes.
Here's the before picture:
After 20 minutes:
Don't forget to use pot holders if when handling your metal bowl! If your dough doesn't require a second rise, you're good to go. But if it does need to be shaped and allowed to rise again, don't worry about reheating the oven. There's still plenty of warmth left. At this point, I take the pan of water out.
Shape your dough into loaves or rolls or whatever. Here I'm making bread bowls for soup.
Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Now bake as directed in your recipe! Easy, easy, easy!
Note: I always move my oven rack down before heating the oven for the first rise. My mixer bowl wouldn't fit otherwise. After the second rise, I put the rack back in place to bake the bread/rolls/whatever.
For more helpful tips on topics like cooking, budgeting, parenting and having fun, visit We are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.