The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Learning through Experimentation

flournwater's picture

Learning through Experimentation

Made these loaves by simply extending a wild yeast 100% hydration starter with the gradual addition (over period of 48 hours) of enough flour to create a dough of approx. 70% hydration and adding a bit of salt. 2 hours fermentation after final "feeding" to bring hydration to desired level; folded six times before 1 hour proof, baked on a stone at 500 degrees initial five minutes, (then reducing to 450 degrees) with ten minutes of steam emission from a pan of hot water and brushed with butter at 15 minutes.  Then continued baking to internal temperature of 205 degrees. Crisp crust, delicate crumb, excellent flavor.

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caviar's picture

Can you get 10 minutes of steam from one cup of boiling water in a cast iron pan? I have been trying to get the "standard" 8 or 10 or 12 minutes by using one cup and then spraying in water every 3 minutes. Sometimes water boils out onto the bottom of the oven and shuts off the oven. Maybe I should take the rocks I put in there for more heat retention. Every time I open the oven door the temp goes down and my bread doesn't seem to get as brown as it should.   Herb

flournwater's picture

I use an 8 inch cake pan, filled half way with boiling water, that goes into the oven at preheat stage.  It goes on the lowest rack, below the baking stone rack, and I've never had a problem with it running dry before I remove it from the oven.  I don't spray the oven, I  just let the gentle steam from the broad surface of the cake pan do the job.

It is not uncommon for an oven to drop twenty five degress as soon as the oven door is opened.  And the temperature continues to drop from there.  The baking stone help preserve the heat and helps the oven recover more quickly after the door is closed once more.  If you're having trouble browning you might want to try raising the level of the rack your loaf rests upon and see how that works.

flournwater's picture

OK, here's the last experiment.

100% hydration sourdough starter  =  453 grams  (made with AP flour)

AP flour (in two stages) 120 grams

salt  6 grams

(roughly 80% starter, 20% added flour  -  total hydration approx. 65%)


Weighed the starter at room temperature and added 40 grams of the flour.  Allowed to rest on counter about 30 minutes, stored in refrigerator for 34 hours.

Removed from fridge; brought to room temperature (2 hours) then added another 80 grams flour and six grams of salt.  Mixed until traces of raw flour disappeared, the folded over itself in the bowl (using spatula) at 90 degree rotations for eight cycles (total folding motions = 32)

Allowed to rest in lightly oiled pan 90 minutes.

15 minutes prior to baking, preheated covered cast iron Dutch oven in the range oven for 15 minutes.

With Dutch oven on stove top burner, poured dough into the vessel, covered, and returned it to the oven.

After 20 minutes, removed the lid and continued to bake additional 10 minutes (internal temperature 200 degrees) then removed to cooling rack.  Waited one hour to cut.

Notes:  Next time I'll bake covered for 15 minutes and finish with 15 minutes more with cover off to see if I can get it to brown a little better.

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