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January 17, 2005

Sourdough in cast iron pot

DSCN8011_s.jpg Chava told me about her breadbaking and I decided to give it a try. So I made the chef, as it is called, over a four-day period, from organic rye flour and spring water. From the chef, I made the starter, and today, finally, the bread. Finding spots in the loft the right temperature, 78 F, was no mean feat. My goal was crust. And, I got it! I baked the bread in a very hot cast iron pot with the lid on and the result was spectacular.
I made one 6 lb loaf from the entire batch of dough, following this recipe (I did not have bran flour, so I used whole wheat bread flour, a little all purpose white, and whole barley that I soaked and let start germinate) and I baked the entire batch of dough in a very hot cast iron pot with the lid on as follows.
Form the loaf and place for the final rise in a floured linen tea towel in a bowl or basket. Place cast iron pot and lid in oven and preheat to 450F (45 minutes recommended). When ready to bake, cover top of dough with oat bran, corn meal, or oat meal. With floured hands, ease dough away from sides of bowl. Remove hot cast iron pot from oven and place on heatproof surface. Tip the bread into the hot pot, so bran side is down and loaf is in center of pot. Lightly dust the top of the loaf with flour using a sieve. With razor, slash the top a few times with cuts 1/2 inch deep and about two inches long. Cover with hot lid, place in oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake. For such a big loaf, I think it wise to reduce the heat to 400 or even 350 and to bake for longer than the 15 minutes recommended for smaller loaves. I am buying an insta-read thermometer to be sure the dough is cooked all the way through. Berley says the internal temperature should be 210 F. Others say less. Will try and see.

Here is the recipe for the chef, starter, and bread itself:
Sourdough Rye with Caraway Seeds: This recipe made one round 6 lb loaf. I got the cast iron pot (dutch oven) technique from Peter Berley, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and he learned it from Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Bakery, which is around the corner from us and makes the best bread in town.

To maintain starter: Assuming you have 2 cups of starter in the fridge, let it come to room temperature. Remove 1 cup for the recipe or toss out or give away. To the remaining cup, add 1 c flour and 1 c spring water. In other words, equal parts starter, flour, and water. Some say leave a cup of starter in the jar and feed with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Or, feed with 1/2 c water and 2/3 c rye flour. Apparently, loose starter produces a more sour dough, as opposed to thick starter, which also produces a different crumb.

Sensible sourdough tips
Starters using grapes and other sources of wild yeast

Posted by BKG at January 17, 2005 05:07 PM