How to Bake Sourdough Without A Dutch Oven
By allyson letal
There are a lot of baking myths out there. One of them is that you need a dutch oven to make perfect sourdough crusty bread. This simply isn't true!
Bread Needs Steam During Baking
Steam (moist air) carries heat better than dry air, and although it seems counter-intuitive, steam actually slows down the cooking process in a few ways.
Bread Needs Consistently High Temperatures During Baking
Bread has a short window while baking to expand before the crust begins to set. A consistent high temperature forces the bread to increase rapidly in volume, ensuring a good oven spring!
Home Bakers Use Dutch Ovens To Mimic The Proper Environment.
A heavy cast iron dutch oven provides the perfect high temperature and steamy environment. Its weight acts as a heat sink, while the heavy lid clamps the pot closed and retains steam.
Don't Have A Dutch Oven? Try Open Oven Baking!
Open oven baking is a great way to bake sourdough - but it requires us to control the baking environment on a larger scale. We need to control the heat as well as the humidity.
Controlling The Temperature
Baking stones provide a steady baking surface that absorbs heat, and then radiates it evenly, helping the oven to quickly recover heat loss. The baking steels can be placed above and on the rack that you'll be baking your bread. This ensures consistent heat all the way around your loaf.
Moisture in the oven needs to be added after the door is opened to add the loaf. Otherwise, you'll lose it when you open the door. A water pan can be added prior to baking, or along with the loaves. My preference is to add a water pan during the preheating stage rather than while the oven is hot.