No oven preheating, "cold start" straight from the fridge
I just wanted to give an update on the experiment that I have been doing about cold start baking, i.e., no oven preheating. The first part of my experiment can be found at:
The recipe for the loaves is the same as the one in part I (above link). I have fed my starter @ 100% hydration in the morning, and let it mature for about 10 hours on the counter at 18C/64F room temperature. Mixed all ingredients at night, applied 2 stretches and folds, and let it bulk ferment over night for 9 hours on the counter. Shaped one batard and one boule in the morning and shoved them into the fridge. The temperature in my fridge is 7.5C/46F which I think is a bit on the colder side, and that I guess has prevented me from getting good oven spring when I bake the loaves on a preheated oven and pot. That is the reason why I was trying to investigate whether a "cold start" would give better results.
I use very simple equipment as shown below. It is a mini oven with heat control elements on top and bottom and a clay pot from IKEA. It is quite beaten up too, and yes it needs some cleaning.
Both loaves proofed in the fridge for about 12 hours and were ready to bake at night. Below is a picture of both loaves before and after proofing. Even though the loaves were in the cold fridge, proofing actually happened.
I took both loaves out of the fridge and loaded the batard into the baking pot and started baking without preheating the oven. Set the temperature knobs to 220C/428F (never calibrated the oven temperature) and baked for 45 min with lid on and another 10 min with lid off.
For the boule, I actually wanted to add another detail to the baking. Since I was not sure whether baking straight out of fridge would be successful, I let the boule rest on the counter for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and then loaded it into the baking pot. Anyway, both pot and oven were cool again, so the second baking was technically without preheating the oven -- "cold start".
In general, the results were quite impressive as seen below. I am surprised with the oven spring, the softness of the crumb and the crust crunchiness. The No-oven-preheating approach gave me much better results when baking the loaves straight out of the fridge. I believe the internal temperature of my fridge is a bit cold, so I always had to rest the loaf on the counter and let it warm a bit before popping it into a preheated oven and pot. I am glad that I have followed my mom's method and improved the results.
I gave the batard loaf to my neighbor, so no crumb shot.