I'm making bread again. I'd stopped, for years, on the basis that I wanted to avoid getting fat. But on the, probably spurious, basis that I can offset the effect by all the strenuous labour in the garden, I've thrown caution to the winds and got stuck back into bread dough. Which is wonderful stuff!
My problem, though, was for ages that I didn't know how best to create the right environment in which to leave the dough to rise. It wasn't a problem I'd ever encountered back in catering days, when the ambient temperature of the kitchen was always perfect for leaving bread to rise (but generally lousy for tempering chocolate). 'Leave it on a shelf in the airing cupboard' suggest some books - I don't have one - or, 'it's best in the oven, with just the pilot light on', say others - fine, except I've never actually had a gas oven. Playing around with pre-heating the oven to a low temperature and then turning it off, in the hope that it would be about right, was very hit and miss...and I mean very.
And then, I thought to consult Elizabeth Luard, who is not only splendidly no-nonsense, but has loads of experience of cooking in kitchens of varying levels of lack-of-sophistication, as outlined in the period that went towards her masterwork on 'European Peasant Cooking'. She suggests putting a roasting pan of boiling water at the bottom of the oven at the start of the rising period, and then leaving the door closed (temperature off) until it's time to knock the dough back and get on with the next stage - and if you're following a method that has multiple risings, then replenish the boiling water in the pan at the start of each new rising period. It works. It's wonderful. I've tried it three times in succession, now, and had a perfect result each time...
Pan-fried Foie Gras, with Wild Mushrooms and Rocket.
Limoncello Panna Cotta, with Fresh Raspberries.