What is the Best Oven for Baking Sourdough Bread?
If you’re interested in baking sourdough bread, it’s important to find an oven that’s right for the job. Sourdough requires high heat and steam throughout the bake cycle to produce a crusty loaf with a soft crumb.
Dutch ovens are a popular choice for this task because they provide the perfect combination of high temperatures and steam. This allows the bread to rise properly and develop that delicious crust.
Sourdough Bread Baking
Sourdough is a naturally leavened bread made from a mixture of flour and water that contains enough yeast and bacteria to make the dough rise. It doesn’t contain any milk, oil, or sugar.
The sour flavor in sourdough bread comes from two types of bacteria. They’re known as Lactobacillus and Acetobacter, and they help ferment the sugars in the dough.
Sourdough baking is a very time-consuming process, but it is also extremely rewarding and fun. If you want to try it, read on for some of the key steps and core concepts you’ll need to know to get started.
Preparing the Dough
The best oven for baking sourdough bread is a large, heavy-duty, commercial-grade, gas, or electric countertop model. These models have high sides that allow for steaming at the beginning of the bake, a feature that helps create a crispy crust.
The hydration of the dough will also have an impact on the final loaf. Different styles of bread require different hydration levels, so it is important to read the recipe carefully and adjust the amount of water used in proportion to the flour.
When mixing the dough, you will want to mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients have been hydrated. This step can reduce kneading time and result in a better texture for the final dough.
shaping the dough
Shaping sourdough bread is an important step in the baking process. It can be a difficult task, but it’s a skill that will make your homemade bread more delicious.
Whether you’re making a simple boule or an intricate baguette, shaping the dough is an important step in creating a sourdough loaf. It helps the gluten strands move in the desired direction to add strength and improve the final shape.
Pre-shaping is not essential for all sourdough recipes, but it can be helpful for some low-hydration doughs and doughs that have already been strengthened through many sets of stretching and folding. It also provides a good opportunity to get an idea of the dough’s strength and fermentation activity.
Baking the Dough
When it comes to baking sourdough bread, there are several options. One of the most popular is to use a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven.
The reason this method is so popular is that it gives your bread the best rise and forms a nice crust. This is possible because the high sides of a Dutch oven trap steam in the pot, helping to keep the dough moist and hydrated.
There are many different dutch ovens on the market, so it’s important to choose one that is large enough for your loaves. A 5 Q or 5 L round cast iron Dutch oven is ideal, with tight-fitting lids and loop handles on each side for easy handling.
Cooling the Dough
If you’re baking bread like sourdough in an electric oven, it’s important to introduce steam at the beginning of the baking process. This helps keep the surface of the loaf moist so it can expand and get that lovely oven spring, which is when the bread rises as it bakes.
The optimal temperature for rising and proofing is 75 to 78 F, which can be hard to achieve during hot weather. That’s because a dough that’s too cold will take forever to rise, while one that’s too hot will override.
After shaping, let the dough rest in a draft-free place until it doubles in size. This takes a little time, but it’s usually worth it!