Posts Tagged ‘baking bread in clay pan’

I’ve been experimenting with my new Römertopf loaf pans (yes, plural, I now have two) and have found that they work particularly well with a sourdough version of Joanna’s white bread formula.

As I’ve talked a few of you into buying the pan, I thought I’d share this recipe as well (this quantity makes one loaf)..

  • 200g active sourdough starter (at 166% hydration, ie. fed at a ratio of one cup bread flour to one cup water*)
  • 700g white bread/bakers flour
  • 375g water
  • 15g extra virgin olive oil
  • 10g brown sugar
  • 13g fine sea salt

* Note: if you’d like to try this recipe with a 100% hydration starter, reduce the flour to 675g and increase the water to 400g.  If my maths is correct, that should work!

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the starter, water, oil and brown sugar, then add the flour and sea salt.  Mix the whole lot together with clean hands to form a firm dough, squishing the ingredients together to ensure all the flour is incorporated. Scrape the dough off your fingers and cover the bowl; allow to rest for 30 minutes.

2. Uncover the dough and give it a quick knead in the mixing bowl. I only knead for about a minute or so, which is all it takes to get the dough quite smooth and elastic.  Cover the bowl again and allow it to rise until doubled in size (in our Sydney winter, my starter is quite sluggish and this can take 6 – 8 hours).

3. Prepare the Römertopf loaf pan by spraying the inside lightly with vegetable oil.  Do NOT preheat the oven.

4. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly oiled bench and shape it into a loaf.  Place the dough into the greased loaf pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap or a shower cap.  Fill the sink with enough hot water (ours is approximately 40C in temperature) to come up to just below the rim of the loaf pan.  Now place the pan into the water and allow the dough to rise again for another 30  minutes, or until it has filled the pan and risen nearly to the top.

5. Remove the pan from the sink, and slash the top with a serrated knife or razor blade.  Place the wet, dough-filled pan into a cold oven and then turn the heat up to 200C with fan.  Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully turn out the loaf from the pan (I wear my welding gloves to do this).

Warning: make sure you place the empty loaf pan onto a folded tea towel or other gentle surface, as it will crack if it goes onto something cold at this stage!

6. Drop the heat to 175C with fan and return the naked loaf to the oven for a further 20 minutes, sitting it straight onto the rack to allow the sides and bottom to brown up. The overall cooking time will be a little variable depending on how long it takes your oven to heat up.

This is a very big loaf – about 1.3kg in weight – and it’s been perfect for school holiday lunches.  The crumb is tender with a little elasticity, and the crust is thin and crunchy.  Best of all, it makes my Pete very happy, as it reminds him of the bread his grandmother used to bake when he was a young lad visiting her farm in Mudgee!

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