I will be making a number of loaves of bread to take to an event in Chicago on Sunday. Maybe eight or twelve. We’ll see, but to do this I need a lot of dough prepared. So I started experimenting with baking straight from the fridge.


This is my standard sourdough bread:

My equation. 100% Janie’s Mill Chicago, 65% water, 20% starter, 25g salt. What is 25 grams of a 1000g in percent? 2.5%? Do I even put the salt into percentages because the salt is for taste but also for gluten strength.

This also works for the yeast bread:

Same equation, same flour just 2 grams of fresh active dried yeast instead of the starter. Sprinkled on top of the dough and fold in ( three folds at a time) half hour before the salt. Everything the same.

Anyway – my usual equation. In the usual slow restful way with the usual four folds within two hours then into the fridge.

At 5am I turn on the oven with the cast iron pot inside. Cut a pound (or 500g) dough from the refrigerated bread dough. Gently fold once to form a loaf – tucking the dough underneath and stretching, rub with rice flour on the top, place seam side down in a floured banneton ( or bowl) – sit beside the oven as the oven heats up, heating the cast iron up to smoking hot.

After an hour, on my way out the door for chores, I flip the bread into the smoking hot cast iron – score the top – put the lid on – cook 20 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for a further 25 minutes.

A perfect loaf! But my loaves have not been that perfect lately. I think this is not working so well. My oven might be on the blink.

Ok! I began to write this on Wednesday.


And now I am beginning to bake these first loaves but guess what?! The thermostat in my oven is no longer reliable. My loaves have been FAILING.

The pigs have been eating a LOT of bread.

I simply cannot do all that I do and take the dough into town and work at my mother in laws for hours of baking. And they need to be baked by 8 am tomorrow morning. And yes- we looked for the part but of course no-one one has parts anymore they just find on the internet and order them. So my co worker after me spending DAYS mentioning without nagging about my failing loaves looked for the part last night and of course it won’t be here for days and I need eight loaves cooked by tomorrow morning!!!

So I have borrowed a digital thermometer and I simply have to adjust the temperature myself by opening and shutting the door and turning the flames off and on. By the way I HATE gas ovens. They don’t hold any heat!

I managed two decoration loaves this morning. I cannot possibly serve them. Not for eating.

I have quite simply worn out another oven by baking bread. These little homely ovens are not made for continued high high temps.

Sunday: – we have to be quiet – the guests are sleeping but since I have been baking. You would not believe it but the part for the oven arrived yesterday afternoon!!! The bread gods were smiling.

So I got back to work and made up more dough – thank goodness I have piles of sourdough starter.

By this morning all the dough had risen and filled the containers. So I have begun to bake. The oven is hot, hot, hot and holding its heat.

I will come back to show you some loaves but wanted to publish this long whining missal before it went off the boil as well.

I will be baking, doing the chores, getting ready for the TasteMakers event ( I think it is some kind of TV show) and out the door by 8!!

Quiet success from now on I hope. And I did not even use the fridge for dough. By starting again so late in my timeline I just raised the lot in the Planet Pantry! No problem at all.


21 Comments on “BAKING FROM COLD

  1. I love the process (when it is working) and am happy that you persevered and order was restored in your oven – it looks delicious

  2. Morning, I’m not clear what kind of oven you have but you might consider putting some bricks in it to retain some heat. What temp. are you baking at? Between 400F and 350F are good for most of my breads, accept for ciabatta which likes it hotter. Rye in particular prefers a cool oven.For my loaves if the temp is too high the oven spring is not as good because the crust forms too quickly. Are you steaming the oven at the beginning of the bake?

    • Hi Peter!
      I love the idea of the bricks. I am going to do that. I am cooking between 450 and 500. And I think I have killed the oven. I get what you mean about the crust though. How long would you cook a loaf for at 400. I cook in Dutch ovens so 20 mins lid on – 20 mins lid off. It has worked really well for years but I truly think I have killed this oven. It has happened before!!

  3. That’s no mean feat in a domestic oven. Personally, I prefer gas because it has more humidity. Expensive electric ovens do a decent job, but cheap household ones are appalling. In order to get them hot enough, you have to turn on a top element, which burns the food.
    Have you considered building a wood burning pizza oven outside – they make amazing bread!

  4. Yikes! what a hair-raising saga. It seems that at this point you’ve pulled it out of the fire, Celi, and all’s well that ends well with the baking & now for the best of outcomes in Chicago.

  5. So exciting!!!! I just know your bread will be a hit!!!! xoxoxoxo

  6. Really excited to read the outcome of your bread baking extravaganza! Grandma never missed a loaf with her old wood cook stove; however, it was just brown or white bread made from their own grains. Nothing as elegant as what you make! I know you’ll do well in the ratings!

  7. What a drama at exactly the moment when you didn’t need it! I’m so glad the Gods of the Loaf were smiling down and the part reached you in time. Will you be able to take photos of your array of loaves at the event?

    • Yes! They love bread. Naturally they live in forests and eat lots of green, young trees, they dig for roots eating any grubs they see. Nuts berries – anything on the ground I guess. Mine eat plenty of hay.

  8. I never would have thought the bread would bake successfully from the cold! What a pain with the oven but I’m very glad it worked out. You need to get an outdoor wood-fired oven!

    • Except I bake 3 times a week and start Baking at 6 am then do chores then go to work – a wood fired oven might not be practical- a commercial oven would be wonderful but too expensive- I am at an impasse!

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