It is busy times in the kitchen between testing the 4ever Recap canning lids and experimenting with crusty artisan breads, currently no knead crusty bread (room temperature fermentation) and five minutes a day artisan bread (cold fermentation). Fermentation is what gives sourdough bread its characteristic tang. Both of these breads have a bit of a tang. It is very mild in the no knead crusty bread and more pronounced in the five minutes a day artisan bread the longer the dough is allowed to ferment in the refrigerator. That is the first loaf of bread made from the five minutes a day dough will not have as much of a tang as the last loaf that will be made several days later if the dough is used as intended. Neither of these no knead breads actually save any time in comparison to kneaded breads but they do eliminate the process of kneading. The second thing both these breads have in common is the crispy, chewy crust with soft interior. This is due to the high moisture content in the dough and baking the bread in a cast iron Dutch oven so the steam cannot escape until the lid is removed for the final browning stage.
I placed the enamel Dutch oven in the oven at 450°F and let heat during the last 30 minutes the dough was rising. Some using this method put their Dutch oven in to heat dry but at least one manufacturer advises against this so I added 2 cups of water to the Dutch oven before heating. Once the Dutch oven was heated, I removed it from the oven, emptied the remaining water then brought the four corners of the parchment paper together sling style to transfer paper and dough into the Dutch oven. I put the lid on the Dutch oven then returned it to the oven to bake the bread for 50 minutes at 450°F. Then I removed the lid and baked for uncovered for 12 minutes. The recommended timing is 15 minutes but timing needs to be adjusted to your oven.
The bread smelled heavenly! There was a good rise and that characteristic crackling sound as the loaf cooled. I was quite pleased with the results even without the slashes. I could not wait to taste test this bread!
All in all, I am having fairly good success baking bread in the Dutch oven. The plain breads are working out considerably better than expected. While the dough fermented at room temperature results in an excellent loaf of bread, the dough fermented at cold temperature gives outstanding results in terms of both texture and flavour.
I am experiencing a bit of a timing problem though. I shaped the dough at 2:30 PM, set aside until 4:30 PM figuring it would be perfect timing for eating just before 6 PM. However, the dough did not cooperate likely because the kitchen was a bit cooler. I hadn't been cooking that day so there was no residual excess heat in the kitchen. This meant it took longer for the dough to get to the point of being ready for baking. Trying to get dinner ready while still fiddling with bread was not ideal but it is nothing new. Typically, this happens within the few days after turning the furnace off for the season or the few days before turning the furnace on for the season when the entire house is cooler than normal. I usually try to compensate by cooking or canning in the morning to heat the kitchen a bit.
The experimentation continues. I made a garlic, onion and cheese boule and a cheese boule so I will be discussing the results of both those loaves. That leaves me enough for one very large loaf or two smaller loaves of bread using the five minutes a day artisan dough. The dough has developed a lovely sourdough smell! I'm not sure what I will make with the remainder yet but am thinking a plain to gauge the degree of tang I can get using this dough and perhaps a loaf of raisin bread. I will discuss those loaves as well so be sure to continue reading! At this point, I will be naming the bread according to the additional ingredients used (eg. Artisan boule) as I did with this loaf with a link as to which base recipe I used, room temperature fermentation or cold fermentation.