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How to Bake Sourdough

Learn how to bake sourdough in this bread making video from Howcast.


Okay, so this loaf of bread was retarded overnight in the refrigerator and I'm just going to pull the plastic off of it. You can see that the bread has grown a little bit in volume in the refrigerator. That's because the bread takes a little bit of time to cool down, as its in the refrigerator. And so by the time it reaches about 41 degrees, it will stop growing.

So we're going to bake this now and when we bake it we're going to load it into a Dutch oven or you could use, I like to use a cast iron pan with a lid on the top. And so to load it in, the first thing I do is to dust the surface of the bread. You can use I like to use a nice, coarse rye flour, but you could also use like a wheat bran. Anything that sort of adds a little bit of friction, so that the top of the surface isn't sticky anymore.

So I'm just going to dust the top of the surface of the bread with the rye flour. We're going to bake the bread in a preheated 500 degree oven and you're going to preheat the oven with the Dutch oven or the cast iron pan already in the oven, so that the pan and the Dutch oven are hot. And so when you're using the oven, just be very careful, because you've got a very hot pan.

Lift the lid off of it, and all you need to do is sort of wiggle the bread loose, sort of into the palm of your hand and then let it drop into the oven. So you have your lame or you could use a sharp knife or any kind of razor blade and you're going to score the bread. Then with your mitts just carefully put the lid back on. And then I can just go ahead and do this one. I'm going to dust the bread very lightly with the rye flour.

Be very careful when you're removing the lid. It's very hot. Use your hand to jiggle the loaf of bread out of the basket. Score the bread. With your mitts the lid goes back on. You're going to bake the bread for 20 minutes, before you take the lid off of the pans. Okay, so our timer just went off and the loaves have been baking with their lids on them for 20 minutes. We're going to check on our loaves, and we're going to take the lids off at the same time.

What happens when you're taking the lid off, what that allows is when you have the lid on, you're capturing all of the steam in to the pot and it helps to steam the bread. You need to steam the bread, because it lets the bread rise up very beautifully, when there's steam present. But then at a certain point, you need your loaves to brown, so you want the bread to start to dry out. At this point we're going to check on our loaves and we're going to take the lids off, so that they can start to brown.

There is a little steam when you take the lid off, so just be very careful when you're handling this. You've got a nice little bit of browning and that's exactly what you want when you take the lid off. Here's our second loaf, just very gently take the lid off. And so at this point, I have been baking them at 500 degrees. So what you want to do is turn the temperature down to 450 and I continue baking them. I'm going to check them after 15 more minutes and sort of see what their progress is like.

Okay, so the sourdough bread has been in the oven for 45 minutes and I'm going to check on it. I can see it's a really, really beautiful golden brown. I want this type of color, and then I'm going to use my hot mitts and lift the bread out of the pan just carefully. I'm going to do a tapping test on the bottom of the loaf and I'm listening for a hollow sound. That's how I know that enough moisture has evaporated out of the bread. That's a great sound, so this bread is done. I'm going to set it here on my cooling rack so it can cool down.

I'm going to check my other loaf. This is the one that was baking in the Dutch oven and it is also beautiful golden brown. I reach in there and I'm going to do a tap test on this one, and I love how that sounds. What's beautiful about this bread is that A) its like a beautiful mahogany. What causes the bread to turn this color has a lot to do with the fermentation, and has a lot to do with the fact that we retarded this bread overnight. And then I love how it has opened up into the score, and that's another sign too, that this is a sourdough bread, and its had a long fermentation.

I don't know if you can notice this, but there are these beautiful little pocky marks on the side of the bread, and all across the surface. It just looks a really beautiful burnished color. That's also because we retarded the bread overnight in our refrigerator. So I'm going to let these loaves of bread cool down, and that's how you bake sourdough bread.

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