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Cold-weather dough raising hack: Try a lizard mat

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Chilly weather?  Dough refusing to rise??

I feel your pain.

It feels absolutely insane to be kvetching about the cold here in Israel, but the fact is, it DOES get cold here.  Not as cold as some places, but because of that, many homes don’t have central heating and you have to rely on patchy warming from air conditioners and inefficient space heaters.  Besides which, houses are built out of concrete, which not only holds onto cold, but it also feels damp—often because it is.

So the cold can be very intense here.  And that can make bread very, very grumpy.

Over the last few weeks as things chilled, I’ve noticed that breads are not so happy rising with the frigid air, especially when things dip down below 20 (Celsius). 

After a few attempts to steam dough (setting it in a covered bowl set into another bowl or basin filled with hottish water), which led to a scare at one point when the water turned out to be too hot, I was ready to try something else.  Anything else.

And then I remembered: the lizard mat.

What the heck is a lizard mat???

If you’re more into kitchen stuff than messing around with animals, maybe you haven’t heard.

I, on the other hand, used to own lizards, long ago.  Reptiles, being cold-blooded, need to be externally warmed, with lights overhead, plug-in “rocks” they can clamber up on to sun themselves on… and heat mats, flat waterproof(ish) plastic that you put under stones or another base material to warm it up JUST enough that it’s going to cozy up a lizard without hurting him.

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They also need a nice steady supply of food – in my lizards’ case, live crickets.  But that’s another story.

I bought my lizard mat on Aliexpress back at Pesach time – I chose the 7W size for a little over $3 – because I wanted to start making yogurt.  It worked great for

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