Sunday, May 10, 2009

sourdough bread in an oval casserole

This was the no-knead 1-2-3 technique, with all-purpose flour plus three tablespoons of wheat gluten. The main idea being tested here was the shaping of the loaf by using a different baking vessel, a glazed oval stoneware casserole, rather than the huge cast iron dutch oven. I've been consistently disappointed by the tendency of these wet no-knead doughs to produce a very flat loaf.

I had the bright idea of turning the dough right onto a sheet of parchment paper, where I thought I'd easily do the tucking and shaping. Moron. Maybe that would have worked if I'd oiled or floured the paper first. This sticky dough attached itself rather enthusiastically to the paper so rather than doing anything to worsen the situation I simply picked it up and dropped it into the casserole.

The oven and casserole were at 450. I baked covered for 20 minutes then removed the loaf and set it on a cookie sheet for another 20 to finish.

I'd have used my baking stone if it hadn't shattered beneath the last pizza I made. I did not find any suitable unglazed tiles on my last trip to Home Despot.

I cannot wait for my new camera to arrive.

The experiment was a success in terms of shaping the loaf. The proportions are just about what I've wanted. There are some odd crinkles because of the parchment paper, but I think this technique would work fine without the paper. There's heavy cracking on the top. Not sure what causes that. Failure to fold the dough into the loaf shape, perhaps? I did give it a couple of shallow slashes, so it can at least be said that they did not prevent this tragic crustal event.

It lost a bit of volume as it cooled. It's all good news from there, though: excellent moist, chewy, stretchy crumb and a delicious crust with good tensile strength but still easy to eat.  It has the usual sourdough flavor from this starter: a little tangy but not overly assertive. I'm pretty pleased with this result.

Next time I'll try without the parchment paper, and will perform the four folds to see how that affects the surface. Could also try leaving it in the casserole.

This seems like a very promising technique for shaping these soft doughs. It's a lot more convenient than using a 20 pound iron pan, too.

Also, I am loving my new nine inch Wusthof Culinar bread knife. It replaces a Henckels that was OK, but aggravatingly short. The new santoku is also a real pleasure to use. That pretty much rounds out my Culinar collection. A tomato knife would be nice, I guess.

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