In the oven! Ten tips for baking good sourd dough bread
Soy microbiólogo y panadero aficionado. He trabajado en varios laboratorios de España (Valencia, Pamplona), EE. UU. (Universidad de Berkeley) y Francia (Institut Pasteur). Dirijo el grupo de Biotecnología del I2SysBio, un centro mixto de la Universidad de Valencia y el CSIC. Mi especialidad es la búsqueda de microorganismos ambientales con aplicación industrial.
Llevo una década haciendo pan en casa y soy el alquimista detrás de Masa Mater, la masa madre en polvo con microorganismos naturales seleccionados.
You’ve mixed the ingredients, kneaded (or not), let it ferment probably all night, made the form as best as possible, and while the bread is in its second and final fermentation, you’re ready and impatient to put it in the oven. You don’t want to spoil all the work done so far, so you can use a number of tips to make baking that final touch of a sourdy pan.
There they go, sorted according to the ones you will need, these ten tips as a decalogue for the perfect baking:
1. Does my home oven work?
The answer is always “yes.” As little power as it has (like those little table ovens), any oven serves to make a very worthy bread.
2. Sheets, baking stones and trays
A bread is not a pizza or lasagna, so forget about the oven rack. Ideally a baking stone or a sheet of steel, but if you don’t have it, the baking sheet will do. Leave it inside the oven when you preheat it and don’t take it out to put the bread on it: it’s the bread that’s inserted on the tray.
3. Preheat the oven well
A good bread needs to get into an oven as hot as possible. Put it to full volume (250 degrees, in most ovens) at least 30 min before putting the bread in.
4. Before you put your loaf in the oven
make sure you have only the resistance below on. In some – few – ovens this option is not available. In that case, it is advisable to insert an additional tray into the oven, as high as possible, so that it “tapes” the heat of the upper resistance during the first 15 min of cooking.
5. Create steam
With your oven very hot and the resistance above off, place the bread on the tray, with baking paper included. A cardboard carton serves perfectly as a baker’s shovel for this purpose. Before closing the oven door, pour half a glass of water directly onto the base of the oven (eye, not on the tray where the bread is, but below everything, on the metal plate of the oven). Being so hot will create a lot of steam. This “sauna effect” favors the bread to scruter and expand moisture well.
6. Changing temperature and cooking mode
At 15 min of cooking, it is advisable to do three things: first, briefly open the oven door so that excess moisture escapes; second, change the cooking mode and put the oven with resistance up and down (without fan, if possible); and third, lower the temperature to, for example, 210 degrees.
7. Final adjustments
Every furnace is a world. In an indicative way, at a 1 kilo loaf, it will take about 55 minutes to be ready, but a baguette will cost half. If the recommended time has almost elapsed but the bread is still very white, you can make the bark brown quickly by selecting the heat option up and down with fan (or just the resistance above with the fan). On the contrary, if there is still a lot of cooking time but your bread already looks very toasted, lower the temperature to 180 degrees and continue baking with both resistors but without fan.
8. Take out the bread
You can help yourself with the same cardboard or shovel, and then let it cool on a rack. This is important, as this ventilation will keep the bottom from getting wet. The same grilled oven and microwave rack will serve you; are very practical.
9. Wait until your bread is cold to cut it
A little last doesn’t take it from anyone. If you bake at night, resist the temptation to try it. A whole bread of sourd dough is perfectly preserved overnight. Leave it on the grate. If you haven’t finished it the next day, keep what’s left in a cloth bag. And remember: toast from a good sourd dough bread from three days ago is better than a freshly made gas station (or supermarket) bread.
10. Don’t get afraid
This last tip applies to all of the above steps. The furnace’s superior resistance is your worst enemy. If you don’t want to end up with the back of your hands decorated with burns, wear oven gloves.
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