Hot Cross Buns remind me of this nursery rhyme, but besides the song which is…
If you’ve been around the artisan bread baking block, you know about super-heated Dutch oven baking—-which can be a dangerously hot task! But did you know that starting the bake in a cold oven works too? I’d been preheating for years until I heard of the cold start method from FoodbodSourdough.
There are differences in results, but by golly either bake is excellent. So, it’s your choice!
This is a side-by-side comparison using my Easiest Ever No Knead Bread with wild yeast water.
How to Make Wild Yeast Water download step-by-step
You can also use this method my BAsic Artisan bread.
I evenly divided the final dough by gram weight then overnight proofed in a cloth lined bowl in the refrigerator. Both breads were baked in my 4.3qt-size Amazon Basics Dutch oven which I’ve used for 5 years and love. (*not a paid advert). The first dough went straight from the refrigerator into the pan then I scored the top. Put it into the cold oven on the highest rack that fits the Dutch oven, which is just above center in my oven. Lower in the oven tends to make darker bottom crust. Turned oven on to 450F convection (or use 475F conventional). Baked covered for 50 minutes. Removed lid and baked additional 10 minutes in the pan.
Note: For super dark crusty bake, sometimes at this point I remove the bread from the pan and place on the oven rack for another 5-10 minutes. But watch carefully, it browns quickly.
For the hot bake, I returned the same Dutch oven to the hot oven for 10 minutes. Then CAREFULLY transferred the second dough from the refrigerator into the hot pan and scored the top. I cannot emphasize enough how careful you must be handling the hot lid and pan. (So far I’ve only burned my wrist slightly one time). I baked this one covered at 450F convection for 30 minutes then removed lid and baked additional 15 minutes until the same brownness as the first loaf.
Then, I patiently waited for 3 hours until the breads were cool. It was obvious that the hot bake loaf had a bit more ‘oven spring’ height. Both loaves were equally crusty and very soft crumb. The hot bake has visibly larger holes in the ‘crumb’. Yet, when I started slicing and tasting, I nearly mixed up which I was eating as the texture was so similar. I had five tasters who said the same!
So if it’s oven time, or energy savings, or that you just like tighter crumb (for less ‘stuff’ to fall through), then go for the cold bake. I’ll continue using either, depending if I think my dough needs extra heat boost, or whichever method fits my schedule because that’s one rule I try to keep: don’t let bread dough rule your life!
I hope this helps you and your baking life 🙂 I’d love to hear about your baking!
Hot pan top; cold pan bottom