Baking the sourdough bread

Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread

The sourdough needs to stand for 12-18 hours to let it rise and double in size.   It should stand in a warm place,  if it  is a winter and not too warm inside the kitchen,  put the tin with the sourdough in an oven and turn it on for few minutes to warm up at very low temperature at 30 degrees C.  It should at least double in its original size during standing time before you bake it.

The baking process is tricky in an ordinary oven as bread baking depends a lot on the temperature, steady even heat and the moisture.

The baking temperature should be 180 – 200 degrees C,  any higher will burn the crust.   The oven setting is very important as it will give a final good or bad result and help us to create a great bread or it will be a failure.

Controlling the crust is mainly to do with moisture and the time in the oven,  and less with the temperature.   To obtain a good crust you need to use steam at least in the first half of the baking process.  If you place a small bowl of water at the beginning when you warm  up the oven for 15 minutes,  the air inside the oven will become moist.

Baking slow at low temperature in a drier oven will give a hard, chewy and thick crust.  Ff you bake the bread at 120 degrees C for 1.5 hour long it will get a really thick crust.

Baking at high temperature with a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven,  or spraying the oven with water before and during baking,  will produce a softer crust.   This is specially important with an electric oven.

The bread baking needs a steady heat for the best crust and rise.  Reheat your oven for 15 minutes before putting the bread in so that it becomes very hot.  Opening it for too long will reduce the heat so you need to work really fast when putting your bread tin inside the oven.  

The gas ovens can be quickly heated up,  the electric ovens takes longer to get hot but it is steadier and drier heat.   It needs more moisture so place a bowl of water at the bottom when you are ready to start to warm up the oven, or spray the oven’s sides with water.   The steam will help to give moisture and make the crust perfect. Use it in gas ovens as well to help bake a good crust.

For the ovens with heating element at the back or bottom you need to turn the bread or put it higher or lower to change the side of the bread which was heated the most.

The fan forced ovens runs about 10-20 degrees Celsius hotter than the ovens without the fan.   They have more even temperature but they dry the bread out,  therefore a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven or spraying with water will help to increase the moisture.   Place the bowl at the start when you warm up the oven as it needs to evaporate and add moisture when you are ready to put the bread tin inside.

Bread bakes best in the middle of the oven.  If your oven bakes unevenly,  turn the temperature down by 20 degrees when you put the bread tin inside.   The oven is already hot but the temperature will reduce and make it more even and slow to cook the bread.   If you reduced the temperature you need to extend the time to bake the bread and keep it in the oven longer.

How long does bread needs to bake for?   If a sharp knock on the crust will give a hollow sound,  then the bread is ready.   If it sound dull,  it still needs to be cook longer.   It will also smell different when it is done and with experience you will develop the skills to recognise it.

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