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Christmas Gift Sourdough Bread

I made up a batch of Sourdough Bread to give for Christmas presents, except for one which I sliced open. I found out a new trick this time while baking. I stumbled across it quite accidentally, although I do remember thinking about the possibility before.  I’ll start at the beginning. First I mixed up a batch of dough using the Basic White Recipe and added some cornmeal to slow down the fermentation so I could do a second proofing longer. Here are the four loaves of bread shaped and put into small bannetons. The loaves are approximately 1.5 lbs each:

four loaves

The baking stone was very well heated as we were baking in the kitchen all morning and I put the stone in before we started. The dough actually took five hours to proof after being taken out of the overnight refrigeration. I popped one loaf into the oven first and did not spray or pour water into the bowl in the bottom of the oven. I loaded the next loaf and then I sprayed the oven and poured hot water into the bowl of rocks on the bottom of the oven. Halfway through the baking I noticed that the loaf which had gone into the oven first had a beautiful oven bloom and the other loaf was “Ho Hum”. Here are the first two loaves, the first loaf that was loaded is on the right hand side:

first two loaves

I wondered if the extra minute in the hot oven, had set the outside crust enough to allow the interior to bloom better than the second loaf which was sprayed almost immediately. I knew that in the bakery the dough is left out long enough for the skin of the dough to feel dry to the touch and in that way the “grigne” or slash bloomed in the correct way. Maybe leaving the dough in the oven a minute before misting or adding any moisture was a new trick. So for the next two loaves loaded at the same time, I loaded and then waited one minute before misting. That meant the third loaf was in the oven about two minutes and the fourth loaf was exposed to the heat of the oven for one minute. I then misted and poured some hot water into a bowl filled with river rocks which immediately humidified the oven. I misted at intervals for the first five minutes as usual and then baked the rest of the bread as usual. Here are the second two loaves:

next two loaves

As you can see the “grigne” or grin is very well pronounced in these two loaves. Here is another picture, the second two loaves are on the right hand side:

next two loaves again

Here are all four loaves with the first two loaves at the top and the second two at the bottom:

All four loaves

The loaf at the very top was the only one misted immediately upon loading in the oven.

Anyway I am very pleased with the outcome of the loaves and you can bet I will repeat this experiment. If you want a more pronounced “grigne” or slashes, try letting the dough set in the oven for one minute before misting and see if helps your bread look terrific. Here are the loaves altogether in a gift basket:

gift basket

Of course I couldn’t give away all of the loaves without slicing one open to see the crumb, here it is:

crumb

Merry Christmas everyone!

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