The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Variations on Themes: Covered Baking

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Soundman

Variations on Themes: Covered Baking

The themes are more "Artisan Baking" than "Sourdough and Starters" so I post it here, though it is strictly SD.

Covered baking, using "La Cloche", or a SS bowl, or an inverted catering pan, or a turkey roaster, is a topic that has received plenty of play on TFL. I wanted to try it, but usually bake more bread than I could see fitting under my largest candidate, a turkey roaster lid. I can't see baking my loaves in sequence, on account of the wasted energy of the oven and the human (me). This weekend gave me the opportunity I wanted, as I have increased my weekly bakes from one to two, and didn't need to bake the usual 3.75 pound batch of sourdough.

The recipe was a variation on Flo Makanai's 1.2.3 bread. The variation this time was the use of 30% whole wheat and 10% whole rye flour (with 60% bread flour). I figured I could get 2 loaves totalling around 3 pounds (1.4 kg) under my turkey roaster lid without worry. Therefore I settled on 720 g flour, 480 g water, and 240 g levain, and 15 g salt. (My levain is at 67% hydration, Flo's is 100%, so I need to increase the water at the end to get the proper hydration. Also, the use of 10% rye suggested an extra boost in the water department.) Notwithstanding this minor adjustment, I love the simplicity of the arithmetic of this system, as it is calculator-free. If I wanted more or less bread, I would add or subtract: 30 g flour, 20 g water, and 10 g levain, or integer multiples thereof, to get a suitable amount.

Another variation was in inverting the bannetons I proofed the dough in. (Maybe you've already done it, but this technique was new to me.) Usually I put a piece of parchment on top of the banneton, and a peel on top of that; then I lift the banneton up and in one motion invert the whole thing. This time there was a bigger distance between the top of the basket and the bottom of the inverted loaf. I didn't want to risk deflating my precious bread, so... I put the parchment sheet in my left hand and pressed it gently into the basket, until I could just feel the loaf; then I inverted the banneton so the loaf sat on the parchment in my hand. Gentle as could be!

Another minor variation was the scoring technique. I use a Pure Komachi tomato knife, which has been a real help. I had the loaves (boules) on their parchment on a counter. Usually I leave the boule in place and score two backhand strokes of the '#', then change my position and finish the last two strokes. This time I turned the parchment with each single stroke. That made the whole thing uniform, and allowed me to use my left hand to cup the loaf as I slashed, stabilizing the dough in the area of the cut.

The last trick was a variation within a variation. Maybe this is against the rules, but, I spritzed the oven with a plant mister twice during the first 4 minutes before putting the roasting pan lid over the loaves. I took the lid off around 15 minutes into the bake, and now I think I would extend that by 2-5 more minutes.

The crust takes considerably longer to develop color using a cover, but I think that's a good thing. The picture says this technique worked and I will try to use it in the future! BTW the bread tasted scrumptious. (No crumb pic, due to lack of time. It was surprisingly open for 40% whole grain flour.)

Covered Baking, L1

Covered Baking, L1

Covered Baking, L2

Covered Baking, L2

Soundman (David)