The Fresh Loaf

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Dutch Oven too small to give boule an ear?

jackmco's picture

Dutch Oven too small to give boule an ear?

I've been baking sourdough for awhile and think I've got a decent handle on most variables and getting maximum rise out of my bread while it's in the oven, but i've never been able to get an ear. I think it's because of my dutch oven and here's my theory: 

Ears are formed during the baking process with a good angled score and one side of the score sort of pulls away from the other and lifts because of the angle of the cut. When I score my bread—albeit not tremendously well— and then put it in the dutch oven, it more or less squishes together because it just barely fits into the floor of my dutch oven. I think because the score then gets pushed back together, when the bread bakes, it doesn't have enough freedom to split and lift because there isn't enough separation between the score anymore.

Does this theory sound possible? Would the only fix be to bake with a larger dutch oven that gives the bread plenty of space to sit with room around the edges?

dbazuin's picture

Maybe score it after it is put in to the DO?

naturaleigh's picture

The 'bloom' on the loaf is hopefully going more up than out and you should still be able to get a decent ear, unless your dough size is too small for your DO.  Since you say that it just barely fits and you think the score is getting pushed back together, you might want to either decrease your dough ingredient amounts by 10%-20% or size up on your DO.  I used to bake in a pretty small DO, but bought a couple larger ones, where the dough has more room, and I get much better results with a great ear (so long as I score correctly and put the dough and shaping together correctly too).  What size DO do you have and how big is your dough amount?  That might help folks weigh in on the problem.  I'm using the larger round Romertopf and the large batard clay baker from Breadtopia for 500 g (flour weight) loaves, with good results.  I think having some decent room around your loaves also allows for better steaming of the loaves, so better crust, oven spring and ear.

JeanoBu's picture

I'm late to the party..wondering if you eventually got your "ear" because I too, think my cozy 4.5qt dutch oven is standing in the way of a much coveted ear. Did you solve your mystery Jackmco?