Ideal Environment for Raising Bread Dough

DAVE QUESTIONHello, Rose. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to restart my bread baking routines from 20 years ago. I don't want to use a bread machine. I like kneading and all that. I am concerned that yeast won't rise properly for me. I'm just unlucky somehow in Northern California. I did fine when I lived in San Diego. I have a gas oven but it seems like a cheap gas oven in that it may leak heat. When I put dough in there to rise -- relying on the pilot light to creat the right temperature environment -- it's usually disappointing. I've tried putting hot water in a dish on the bottom of the oven, but I don't have any instructions on how often to replenish the water and how hot to make the water. I also wonder whether it's better to cover the dough with saran wrap or a warm damp towel that won't stay warm very long. My mother told me to use a towel. I hope you can help. Thanks very much. ROSE REPLY this is an important question that several people have asked, so I'm going to address is here. When bread rises at a cool temperature, it develops complex flavors. When the temperature exceeds eighty five degrees Fahrenheit off flavors result. The pilot light of an oven usually results in temperatures of about a hundred and fifteen degrees which can actually kill the yeast. If you leave the oven light on however, it should be just the right temperature. A small container of very hot water also works well. Instead of an oven you can use a large plastic box to cover the bread and container of water. I change the water every thirty minutes.