Stage 3 - Bake the Loaf
Loaf has doubled in size following overnight retardation in fridge followed by about 2 hours proving at room temperature.
To bake the loaf, preheat the oven to 250C/ gas mark 9. Place a roasting tin on the bottom of the oven and fill with about a pint of boiling water just before you put the loaf in - this creates steam in the oven which helps develop a nice crust.
Dust a baking tray with fine semolina or flour to prevent the loaf from sticking to the tray. I use a Mermaid anodised baking sheet as it does not warp at high temperatures, meaning the bread stays straight on the tray! It also conducts heat rapidly and hence gets hot soon after it's put in the oven, baking the dough from underneath.
Set up a baker's lame to score the loaf, or use a very sharp serrated knife. Take extra care using razor blades!
This Mure and Peyrot 'Bordelaise' grignette or lame is safer to use as it houses the razor blade securely and it has a protective cap for storing the lame.
When the oven has reached temperature add hot water to the roasting tin. Then gently tip the loaf out of the brotform onto the baking tray. It should come out easily and not rip the loaf's 'skin'.
Quickly and confidently score the loaf using a lame or knife. Try not to hesitate when cutting as it could drag the loaf's skin.
Scores are both functional and aesthetic. Scoring the loaf allows the loaf to expand during baking and helps minimize the loaf bulging and bursting open undesirably. They also enhance the appearance of the baked loaf, and can act as a 'baker's signature'. Traditionally, they were used to identify a family's loaf when given to the local baker to bake.
Straight after scoring the loaf, place the loaf into the hot oven.
After 10 min reduce the heat to 200C/ gas mark 6, rotate the loaf 180 degrees if possible to even out the baking, and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Turn the oven off and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Leave the loaf in the oven for a further 10 minutes with the oven door ajar.
It should look nicely browned and sound hollow when you tap it's base.
If you want a browner more crusty loaf then bake for 5 min longer before reducing the temp to 200C.
Place the loaf on a cooling rack and cool completely before eating.
Enjoy your sourdough loaf! If you have any left after a couple of days it makes delicious toast.
Same loaf recipe using a 1kg linen-lined wicker banneton for proving the loaf: