During my reading about all things sourdough bread and otherwise I came across the concept of cooking the bread starting from a cold oven. This made alot of sense to me, my oven doesn’t keep the steam, it is made to vent any steam and it seems to do this very effectively, as all modern ovens are designed to do, that’s how we get our nice roast potatoes after all. And as such when my bread goes into a super hot oven it seals the dough and it then becomes a battle as to who is going to win the ‘oven spring’ war, will the crust have already hardened too much or will it still be soft enough that when the interior of the bread has heated up nicely and the gas bubbles expanded allow for those exciting few moments where the bread springs up an inch or so, I love to watch out for this. But if one was to put it into a cold oven, the yeast would love the warmth and the gas bubbles would expand gently and the crust would still be soft.
I decided to give it a go.
The bread was amazing – this is a walnut and sunflower seed loaf. It had a lovely texture, the density felt correct and everything about it seemed right and it tasted good too!
Quick recipe –
375g white bread flour
125g wholemeal bread flour
350g warm water
50g sunflower seeds
50g walnuts chopped
extra sunflower seeds for topping.
I later tried the technique on a sourdough bread. I’ve yet to cut into this as it was popped into the freezer.
Over all I think its an exciting development in my bread making skills. If you wish to try it in a modern oven, start timing from the moment the oven hits temperature, I baked these loaves at 190c but I think I pulled them out a few minutes early, as with all things you know your bread and oven better than I.
And next time I’m going to try a cold start in a dutch oven – that will be interesting as it will retain any moisture from the loaf and I won’t have the absolutely terrifying ordeal of handling a red hot cast iron dish that has been heating up the oven for half an hour whilst at the same time trying to slip a lump of dough into it as quickly as possible.
11 thoughts on “Cold Oven Bread Baking.”
That a really interesting concept. Will be interested to hear the outcome with the dutch oven…oh so are so lucky to have one. I shied away from one because of handling heavy hot things.
I baked a loaf yesterday with the recommendation that I start with a cold oven. It recommended a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. I used a baking stone and it turned out pretty good. Was kinda shocked to hear of starting with a cold oven, but the results were good. Any tips to become a better bread baker are welcome. I’m new at this!
Cold Start. I bake a loaf a week in a dutch oven, the last three loaves have been cold oven start to 450 F. The results are better than a preheated start. I bake covered, 50 minutes, after a heavy spritzing of water.
The loaves are on the large size, 560 grams of AP and 100 grams of a WW and rye mix. 16 hour refer. ferment and into the oven after a 1 hour room temp proof (almost no visible rise on the counter-top)
Internal tamp. when removed from the oven is between 200 – 205.
Thanks Jocko, brilliant description. The more I play with cold start, Dutch oven, the more I like it.
mandycharlie, FYI — I no longer prove on the countertop, it goes directly from the refrig to parchment, slash, dutch oven, heavy spritz, bake @ 475 for 20 min and lower to 375 for 20 min. cover on until I pull it from the oven. I also don’t go beyond 500 grams of flour in my loaves now.
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I’m looking forward to trying what Jocko says below: ” I no longer prove on the countertop, it goes directly from the refrig to parchment, slash, dutch oven, heavy spritz, bake @ 475 for 20 min and lower to 375 for 20 min. cover on until I pull it from the oven. ” There is no mention of a cold oven here though. Do we know if he is starting from a cold oven here and then starting the count when the oven is pre-heated?
That spritzing part. Is that done in the dutch oven before you cover it or just in the oven itself?
In the Dutch oven.
Hi, I should have more clear on that, thank-you. After scoring and placing the shaped dough in the Dutch oven is when I spritz then place the Dutch oven cover on. It’s placed on the middle rack and baked.
Best to you.
Interesting, how did the frozen ones taste?
Seriously, I can’t remember. But I have frozen bread since and although I was averse to it at the beginning, it’s still better than anything you can buy, of course fresh bread out of the oven is never going to be beaten.