Posts Tagged ‘proofing basket’

San Francisco Sourdough Bread Part 2

February 22, 2015

I started baking sourdough bread a few months ago. I’ve baked bread with commercial yeast for decades, but I always wanted to try my hand at sourdough. This Website provided much of the information I needed to get started. After trying to create my own starter with no success I bought a San Francisco sourdough starter from this company.

I took a few photos while I was making a loaf of San Francisco Sourdough Bread last Friday. The photos start with the formed loaf. I’ll cover the earlier steps of the process in a future post.

The formed loaf, ready to place in the proofing basket

The formed loaf, ready to place in the proofing basket

The proofing basket, also called a banneton or brotform, is made of natural cane. The interior of the basket is generously sprinkled with flour to keep the dough from sticking while it rises. The rise in the basket takes about 2 hours.

Ready to rise in the proofing basket

Ready to rise in the proofing basket

To maximize the oven rise and crust formation in an ordinary oven I use a stoneware enclosure called La Cloche, which is French for “bell”. I transfer the dough from the proofing basket to the room temperature stoneware, but some bakers prefer to preheat the stoneware.The closed container traps some of the moisture and provides radiant heat from the stoneware lid. This is similar to the environment in a traditional masonry oven.

Transferred from the basket to the base of the La Cloche

Transferred from the basket to the base of the La Cloche

The loaf is slashed with a sharp blade so when it rises in the oven the crust will separate in a predictable manner. There are many ways of slashing a loaf. I’ve been using a simple “X”.

Slashes cause the crust to split in the desired pattern

Slashes cause the crust to split in the desired pattern

The top of the La Cloche is in place and the bread is ready to bake

The top of the La Cloche is in place and the bread is ready to bake

The bread is baked in a preheated 450F oven for 30 minutes with the lid on. The lid is then removed, the temperature is reduced to 400F and baking continues until the crust is browned, usually about 10 or 15 minutes.

The finished loaf

The finished loaf

This bread is especially good toasted. The mild sour flavor blends perfectly with butter. The crust has a nice crunch but isn’t too tough or chewy.

 A closeup

A closeup