A while ago I published an article for home-baked crusty artisan bread. The loaves produced since have been consistently great, yet I aspired to have better fissures, as well as rise. However scoring the dough was proving quite tricky.
I recently found the ideal solution … I just needed to turn things, literally, upside down …
“… the loaves are baked with the seam side up and after a complete proof, fissures will naturally open on the top of the loaf as it expands in the oven.”
This did happen, but lacked the level of awesome fissures that Ken achieved. So wanted to make my own score marks. Doing this once the dough is inside the Dutch oven is difficult, and scoring before the dough is added required a decent amount of manual dexterity.
I found a way to solve both problems with a piece of equipment I’d been using all along … the casserole dish I baked the bread in.
To do this you’ll need a Dutch oven with a flat, shallow lid. The flat lid bit is key for this method because the lid needs to lie flat on the oven rack. I used a Pyrex cast aluminium casserole dish when photographing for this blog post. I have also baked this bread in a cast iron Dutch Oven (pictured right). It’s safe at higher temperatures and most important has a flat lid.
You’ll also need a banneton whose diameter matches that of the casserole dish lid. For the two Dutch Oven’s named above, I use an 8 inch banneton. Whatever banneton you use, ensure that it’s diamater matches that of the lid of the Dutch Oven.
“Hang on … fits into the lid?” I hear you ask. Read on …
Ingredients and Method
Follow the steps with the specified ingredients in the Crusty Artisan Bread recipe, ensuring that the banneton has a good layer of flour in it before adding the dough. Whilst the dough is proving, warm up the baking vessel in the oven, again as normal. When the time comes to transfer the dough from the banneton to the baking vessel:
- Remove the vessel from the oven. Place it on a heat-proof surface, e.g. trivet, with the vessel’s lid on the trivet, cavity side up.
- Uncover the banneton. With a swift motion, turn the banneton upside down, depositing the dough directly into the cavity of the vessel’s lid, wiggle the banneton to release the dough. It’s worth practising this motion with a cold lid and empty banneton to get the feel of it.
- Remove the banneton, score the top of the dough with a few slashes, the pattern is completely personal. Optionally squirt some water vapour over the surface of the dough for extra rise. This step must be completed very quickly as the dough will already start to rise.
- Place the Dutch oven’s main container on top of the lid. The Dutch oven is now upside down.
- Place the Dutch oven into the oven, cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the main container, and cook exposed for a further 20 minutes, until the crust is a golden brown colour.
Inverted Dutch Oven Bread in a Big Green Egg
Doing this in a Big Green Egg works the same. In fact it’s slightly easier, as you don’t need to remove the Dutch oven lid from the Egg. Simply follow the steps above, but instead of removing the vessel from the oven in step 1, just remove the main container, leaving the lid in the Egg. Add the dough, score, replace the main container body directly in the Egg and close the dome.