- WATCH your dough as it goes through the stages of fermentation. This dough can easily over ferment at high room (Or oven proofing) temperatures. If your dough gets slack, unworkable and won't form or rise it is probably over fermented. At this point I suggest you Make pizza with it instead of loaf bread :)
- To avoid over fermentation keep the room temperature (or oven) at 80 degrees or less. Whatever flour you are using will influence this process. Learn to work with the dough you are creating.
- This bread freezes VERY well. After it is completely cooled double wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and set in the freezer. I have done this several times. Defrost at room temperature wrapped or unwrapped. Slice and eat.
Storing the loaves:
- For best results store your sourdough bread loaves in a bread box (I use my dutch oven with the lid slightly cocked). That beautiful crunchy Sourdough crust gets soft in an airtight container or plastic sack. Once cut just set the bread cut side down to protect the crumb. These loaves hold very well for at least three days. Freeze the other finished loaf if you can't eat it right away.
I am using my ceramic round bowls lined with linen dish cloths for my bannetons. The high hydration doughs like these tend TO STICK to those cloths. To help with I scrub rice flour into the cloth. And leave an extra bit of it in the banneton bottom. Once the dough is in the banneton I add a bit more rice around the side of the loaf to keep it from sticking during the rise.
IF your dough sticks a bit to the banneton cloth, use a sharp knife to pull it away and add some rice flour to the sticking spot. Now it should invert without too much trouble. For really tough sticks, cut the dough away and repair it carefully by pressing it to reshape it before baking. Careful of burns if you are doing this in a hot pot.
Baking sourdough hearth breads in bread pans:
- If you have a large dutch oven bake one loaf at a time in it. Follow the directions in the recipe card.
- If you cannot fit the bread pans into your dutch oven place them on a cookie sheet.
- You will also need a lower heat. Preheat to 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake another 30 to 40 minutes.
- On the shelf below the pans fill a pan with water (like a roasting pan) for steam.
- Spray your unbaked loaves liberally with water before setting them in your hot oven.
- follow the recipe instructions. Do the thump test to make sure they are done.