I’ve blogged about it twice already and yet here’s another.
Adapted from Jude’s post here
– Made a pseudostarter (18 g flour, 9 g water and a pinch of active dry yeast) instead of using an actual starter in the biga naturale.
– Did a stretch and fold at the one-hour time point during the bulk fermentation.
– Final shape in my new plastic brotform dusted with a 50:50 mix of rice flour and AP flour.
– and here’s the kicker: I baked it on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, in a cold oven to try the method that crumb bum had described on The Fresh Loaf.
The basic idea is when the loaf has finished proofing, put it in the oven, throw a cup of boiling water on the oven floor and jack up the temperature to 500F(+) for the first 15 min or so. There’s no preheating involved at all. You’ll have to be careful because 1) don’t forget to turn the temperature back down to ~440-450F for the rest of the bake (!) and 2) the bottom of the loaves can get darker than when you preheat. I did have to keep it at 500F for longer than 15 min because my oven only got to around 300F after 15 min, nowhere close to the actual baking temperature of 400F.
What’s the point? Well, I wanted to get good oven spring despite not having a baking stone, or a cast iron pan with lava rocks to generate good steam. The pyrex bowl method wouldn’t work here because my loaf was shaped as a batard (oval) and not as a boule (round). I was also feeling a bit adventurous.
Sorry… I’m calling all of these “methods” but really just wanted to share how flexible bread baking is. There’s really no “one and only way” to mix, ferment, shape and bake. I’ve made this bread numerous times beyond the three posts on this blog, each time tweaking or trying something different, and each loaf has been wonderful in its own way. Not every loaf you bake will be something to write about of course — trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share of failures — but that’s all the more incentive to keep trying. The day that you pull out a fragrant, crusty loaf will make all the days before it worthwhile.
Besides, nothing tastes as good as homemade baked goods.
Even if the very hot loaf fell upside-down on the table while you were trying to transfer it to a cooling rack, so the top looks squished in. Not that that’s what happened here, but I’m just sayin’.
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