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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sourdough experiments

Over the years I have cooked a lot of sourdough using two basics methods.  My dough proves in bannetons and then it is cooked directly on the floor of our wood oven or directly on a layer of terracotta tiles that live permanently in our gas oven.


I know a lot of fellow bread friends, including Celia sometimes cook their bread in various pots with a lid.  Recently I decided I needed to try this method for myself.


My pots of choice were two cast iron camp ovens which we use regularly in our wood oven for cooking almost everything.  Camp ovens are hardy enough to withstand high temperatures, they hold their heat for long periods and are perfectly suited to the sometimes unforgiving world of wood oven cooking.  They are also heavy and need to be handled with care, especially when they are hot.  Enter, welding gloves. 


On this occasion I cooked four loaves directly on the wood oven floor and placed two loaves into cold camp ovens with the lids on.  The camp oven bread and the bread that cooked directly on the floor all went into the hot oven together. 


The loaves that were placed directly on the floor cooked and rose faster than their counterparts in the camp ovens.  The loaves in the camp ovens spread out more and didn’t achieve the height of the other loaves.   The camp oven bread also developed a more golden colour.  The bases of the camp oven loaves were perfect thanks to an extra layer of protection from the wood oven floor.  Perhaps my biggest challenge with wood oven bread is preventing the bases from burning.

Overall, I didn’t find a huge difference in the taste or crumb of these loaves.  Although our camp ovens are always clean and thoroughly seasoned perhaps the loaves had a hint of lamb shanks or slow roasted goat about them.  Not altogether a bad thing.    


For anyone who is interested, the loaves on either end of this line up were from the camp ovens and the four loaves in the middle were cooked directly on the floor of the wood oven. 

Happy Sunday friends, I hope you are baking something tasty x

16 comments :

  1. I use my Le Creuset dutch oven in my electric oven and have good success with a crusty loaf.

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  2. Your bread looks impressive as usual Jane! I'm planning on making some herb and cheese sourdough baguettes to have with spaghetti bolognese this evening; if I have enough starter I might bake a loaf too.

    I tried cooking in a pot after seeing Celia mention it in November's IMK. I used a round casserole dish that was about the same size as my loaf, as one of the problems I have with whole grain flour doughs is their desire to spread out instead of up. The humidity the lid created browned my bread nicely (also hard to achieve with whole grain flours as there is less gluten/sugars) and gave the bread excellent oven spring. I love baking it in a pot now, but I also tried a new recipe the other day which now lets me bake my bread free-form without it spreading.
    I used a recipe from www.mydailysourdoughbread.com for whole wheat sourdough. I discovered I had been under kneading my bread (I was afraid of making it tough). I was only kneaded for about a minute, but this loaf I kneaded for 6 and it turned out beautifully light. I proofed it for two hours in the fridge, and two hours out of the fridge in a banneton, then baked it on a tray and when I put the loaf in the oven I did as the recipe said and threw 10 ice cubes onto baking tray I had in there. The steam affect was great, my bread browned nicely and come out looking really good.

    There is always something new to learn with baking, and so very many different methods out there I like trying new ones and finding out what works for me. At the moment my baking involves using methods I've found work combined from about 4-5 different recipes. I suppose that's why everyone's baking is different.

    Have a lovely Sunday & happy baking,
    Sarah x

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    1. Thank you for all of your bread thoughts Sarah! As you said there are endless recipes and methods out there, it is just a matter of fine tuning to find something that suits your own equipment, oven, routine and lifestyle. Your loaves sound much healthier than my white loaves :) x

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    1. Sending you a virtual slice Naomi!

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  4. I used to bake bread in a Le Creuset casserole when I was a student 35 years ago as that was my only ovenware and it turned out fine. Necessity has always been the mother of invention and I still don't own a loaf tin. Nowadays I bake my bread free form on a baking sheet. I'm on day three of making my sourdough starter and it's starting to move which is exciting. All your loaves look amazing.

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    1. Thank you and happy baking Sarah!

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  5. Interesting that the camp oven loaves look more golden. As ever, it all looks delicious. I tried baking bread in a cast iron pot but found it tricky to turn the loaf out as it stuck slightly on the bottom so have reverted to the bottom of the oven. I love the idea that your camp oven loaves may have taken on the flavour of what's gone before - sounds a good thing to me.

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    1. Thank you Anne...I am not sure if I will bother with this again at home. It might be something to try one day if we are camping.

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  6. fun to do an experiment like this - to try a new method and see how it works for you.
    i think i love best that the bread comes ready-flavoured, a la sunday roast :-) all you need is the chutney!

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  7. Sourdough bread geekery post Jane. Love it :-)
    I haven't branched out for awhile either, just maintenance loaves at the moment, get em in, get em out. Maybe over the holidays I'll play a bit more. So many sourdoughy options.

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    1. I haven't branched out in ages either Brydie, but I do love a bit of sourdough geekery every so often! x

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Hello and welcome. I will try to reply to all comments eventually because I love the conversation! Jane