Keeping your cool in a hot kitchen

It’s 11:00 p.m. and I am standing in my kitchen, putting dough into my enameled cast iron pot for a loaf of no-knead bread. I promised my friends I would go on a bicycle ride with them at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, so why I am I staying up so late baking bread? Because even though the sun has been down for two hours, my kitchen is still uncomfortably warm, and if I had baked bread this afternoon it would have been stifling.

These lovely long days of summer in the northern latitudes often come with exceedingly hot temperatures. In the UK, a recent heatwave pushed UV readings to record levels. Popping out to an air conditioned restaurant will not be the escape for us this year, I’m afraid. So how do you keep cool and still end up with a tasty meal?

There are several strategies you can employ and my late-night baking session is one: limiting use of heat-generating appliances to early morning or later in the evening after the sun has set. Making good use of the toaster oven is another – many new models can accommodate full-size pies and medium casserole dishes (although they are not large enough for the cast iron pan I use for bread – sigh). Portable induction burners and electric skillets can be employed to keep the heat down as well, because they can be used in a cooler area of the house or even outside.

Instant Pots and other multi-cookers are also a great way to keep heat to a minimum. Many of them will do tasks that normally would take place on the stovetop, such as sweating vegetables and cooking rice, beans, and even pasta. I’ve seen several cake and cheesecake recipes for the Instant Pot popping up in my social media feeds recently, so the only limit is your imagination. Over at The Kitchn you can find five oven-free meal plans for when it’s too hot to bake. These recipes take advantage of slow cookers, Instant Pots, and grills. Speaking of grills, taking it all outside and cooking in the great outdoors is a fantastic way to keep the kitchen cool. The EYB Library is chock full of great BBQ and grilling ideas, with over 15,000 recipes available online.

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