The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

detail question

christinepi's picture

detail question

sfsourdough posted this in 2011 and I have questions about some details (my questions are below the text that I highlighted in bold):

I found that with my starter, I had to retard the dough for something like 48-72 hours to get decent oven spring.  Also, I use the Jim Leahey method: use a cast-iron dutch oven to bake the bread in.

I weigh everything and start with 100% hydration (equal weight flour to water); add water to starter first, stir to make a slurry, then add flour, and stir very well; you don't need to need it.

1) 33 g starter+33 g unbleached bread flour + 33 g filtered water (yeastie beasties have a tough time surviving in a chlorine bath); you now have 100g; let sit on counter 24 hours (our place is about 65-70 degrees, so place someplace relatively mild in temperature);
2) To 100 g of above add 100g flour + 100 g filtered water; let sit 24 hours; you now have 300 g;
3) To 300 g add 300g flour and 250g water and 1.5tsp salt; you now have 850 g (you will add another 50 g of flour in the handling at the end)
4) Stash in your refrigerator for 2-4 days...seriously.

5) On baking day, remove your dough from the refrigerator and set on the counter, then get your small (4-5 qt) cast iron (or le creuset, if you're fashion forward) dutch oven.  You may want to put foil around base of lid to form a tighter seal.  Pre-heat oven to 525 degrees F.  Put dutch oven and lid in the oven to pre-heat along with the oven for about an hour.

--I assume the dough should be allowed to come to room temperature and become active? How much time should be allowed for that?

6) While oven is preheating, take about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup flour and sprinkle it down the sides of your dough bowl to make it easier to remove while working around your piping hot oven (remember I said you'd use that extra bit of flour?);

--If I understand this correctly, the dough gets scraped form the bowl right into the dutch oven?

7) When oven and dutch oven are screaming hot, open the oven, and pour the dough into the dutch oven, cross slash the top (+) and put on the lid.
8) Reduce heat to 515 degrees F, cook covered (don't peak) for 30 min.
9) Remove lid and reduce oven to 450 degrees F and cook for another 15-20 min to brown top of crust.


Les Nightingill's picture
Les Nightingill

5. you can bake directly from the fridge if the dough was fully proofed before going in. It's actually easier to score cold dough.

6. I wouldn't say the dough is "scraped from the bowl". You are dealing with a carefully shaped and proofed dough here. It needs to be carefully "plopped" out of the bowl... vertically... by gravity... into the dutch oven. Personally I find this hazardous, due to the high temperature of the DO. I transfer the dough out of the bowl (banneton in my case) onto parchment on a pizza peel, then score, then slide the dough into the DO by pulling on the parchment to slide it off the peel. The dough is transferred onto the pizza peel by first placing the parchment and peel onto the banneton, then inverting peel and banneton. I use the Lodge Combo Cooker DO and slide the dough into the shallow side, then cover with the deep side of the DO.

richkaimd's picture

I've proofed in parchment-paper lined bowls, scoring the dough while it's still resting in the bowl, and then transferred the dough into the heated DO using the parchment paper as a sling.  The paper ends up in the DO with the dough in it baking away.  The paper is quite easy to get off the baked loaf when it's removed from the DO done.  My customers don't ever complain if I don't score the loaf, by the way.  Using this technique I've never gotten burned by the hot DO.  Hurray for that!