Thursday, 1 May 2014

Let's Bake Bread # 4 - To the Ovens!!














Above: Crusty Rye Loaves using the pizza stone method
To the Ovens!!

Stage 4 -: Baking the dough

There are a few methods which I use regularly: loaf tin, cast iron pot or pizza stone. All taste great, and are quite easy methods. With the pot you get a classic round loaf and deep golden colour and are ensured even cooking – great for beginners. With the stone you get a nice ‘earthy’ taste and can make shapes – baguettes or even flatbreads but you do have to check the underside to make sure it cooks properly and place a pan of water in the oven to ensure a humid environment. With the tin you get a very easy to cut loaf, great for toast or sandwiches.

Method

  1. Unwrap the dough and set aside at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours, until it reaches room temperature in the middle and is fully risen and doesn’t spring back when you press it with your finger.
  2. At the same time, pre-heat your oven to 230C for around 50 minutes to an hour.
Cast Iron Pot Method
  1. Place the cast iron pot in the oven to heat for about an hour. Wearing oven mits, invert dough into heated pot that has been dusted with flour.
  2. Sprinkle a light veil of flour over the dough. Slash the dough with a sharp knife or razor to create that classic sourdough pattern but more importantly to help the dough cook. Bake, covered, for exactly 30 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and bake for a further 10 minutes till dark golden and bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  4. Remove immediately from pot and set aside in a wooden bowl or plate to cool for AT LEAST one hour. The bread is still ‘cooking’ at this stage and should not be cut for at least an hour after being in the oven or it will become tough.
  5. When you can’t wait a moment longer after the hour is up, brew a nice pot of tea and cut off a thick slice, enjoyed with fresh cultured butter.
Pizza Stone Method
  1. Place a baking pan filled with water on the floor of the oven. This will provide the necessary humidity for the bread to colour, which you don’t need when you use a cast iron covered pot.
  2. Invert dough onto heated pizza stone that has been dusted with flour. Sprinkle a light veil of flour over the dough.
  3. Slash the dough with a sharp knife or razor to create a pattern and to help the dough cook. Bake, for exactly 20 minutes.
  4. At this stage you may need to turn bread over and bake the underside for a further 10 to 15 minutes so it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. As above, remove immediately from pot and set aside in a wooden bowl or plate to cool for at least an hour before eating half the loaf in one sitting!

Left: My Country-style white loaf cooked on the pizza stone, flavoured with salt and blackstrap molasses for extra colour and nutrition.















Loaf Tin Method
  1. Proceed as for pizza stone method, above, ensuring oven has a water bath in it.
  2. Make sure loaf has proofed IN THE TIN after it has come out of the fridge. When the loaf has come to room temperature and had its final rise in the loaf tin, slash and sprinkle with flour and bake as per pizza stone method.
Note: No more dry, floury-tasting bread! When friends and family taste this bread, you may have to start making two loaves at a time, like I do. Or even more……once you’ve had real bread, there’s no going back.
Next week: Let's make a plaited Brioche.