Recipe books assume that we all have an airing cupboard or somewhere similar to tend our bread dough but in modern(ish) houses finding this warm spot is a problem. The top of our inefficient old central heating boiler was ideal for dough but when it finally broke down towards the end of January I lost my "warm place". Thank goodness it was Jan 2012 not Jan 2011! With no new boiler for a couple of weeks I had to find somewhere else.
This sunny windowsill worked well, but in Freuchie in January probably not a reliable option. Photo is The Synergy Centre in May last year.
The hob above a warm oven proved a bit hard to control and not big enough for a baking class
However we do have a friendly wood burning stove in the kitchen which we surrounded with bowls of dough. The good thing about this was that we could watch what was happening very easily but adding logs to the fire was a hassle and resulted in the odd bit of wood ash in the dough. Also if the area round the stove was hot enough for the dough then the kitchen got tropical!
The arrival of a splendid efficient new boiler would fix all that, wouldn't it? Well, no. The problem is the efficiency bit. The new boiler is better insulated and so doesn't lose enough heat to keep the dough warm.
The next solution was to turn all the radiators in the house off except one in a small room off the kitchen which then worked as a warm area for dough. This was successful but probably doubled the cost of the bread.
Enter the plant propagator. We got this in the local garden centre for under £20 (just) then added a 200 watt heat lamp intended to keep lizards cosy which you can just see at the bottom (lamp not lizard). This works well though at first the bottom of metal trays or bread tins got too hot. The solution to that was two ceramic floor tiles on the shelf above the lamp to even out the heat. So I'm happy, for the moment ...