I have a baking (and maybe somehow physics???) related question

…mainly for the bread bakers out there, I guess.

I recently learned to make one of those breads that you make in a cast iron casserole, with no kneading involved and you just leave the dough overnight. Love it. HOWEVER!!!

Where I learned to make it, I would make a fairly large bread in a ~ 5 litre casserole. I have now started making it half that size, as I’m only making it for myself and that lasts me a few days. So I’ve been trying to get the oven times right, and it honest to god looks like it needs almost the same amount of time in the oven as the one twice its size did.

I don’t understand?? How doesn’t it get super burned when it’s that much smaller? How does bread even work?

(I’m sorry, I have mo idea but your last line made me laugh)

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VERY STRANGE, isn’t it!?

Wait, how do you do this? Just got a cast iron pot but failed miserably at making sourdough in the past. Do you have a recipe that even I could make tasty bread with?

Maybe I have misunderstand, but if you’re putting the casserole in cold, I imagine that’s taking a while to heat up, and that would be the same regardless of the size of loaf. I would also the think the casserole keeps a more controlled heat around the loaf by reducing convection, which might be why it’s not burning.

I heat up the casserole before adding the bread dough to it :woman_shrugging:t3:

but yeah it’ll be something with the casserole containing the heat or something won’t it

This is with yeast, not sourdough! I do not have the patience for that kind of thing. Will happily share the recipe with you in a minute (my groceries just arrived and my bread is just finished!)

PS @Squandered How big is the pot/casserole that you’d be using?

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I think it is because the time required is for the heat to push the bread up and then form the crust and stabilise the interior. I haven’t worded that very well but hopefully it makes sense. I think most breads regardless of size require a considerable amount of time to bake. When I make sourdough I’m always amazed that it doesn’t burn as it cooks for nearly an hour at high temperatures.

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It’s 4.2l! Judging by the box size, it should be good for little loaves!

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I don’t know either, this is the only way I ever make bread though - welcome to the no knead bread club

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(works very nicely with dates and walnuts in it, which is really the only bread I care about)

Ghosts

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Oh and for the cast iron potless, like me, I just use two metal cake tins, one turned upside down on the other and it works just as well.

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fucking knew it

Alright! Think you could try with the original recipe that I used with a 5 litre pot tbh, it never filled it completely.

Here we go (only know metrics but you can convert online I’m sure):

  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 big teaspoon of honey (or syrup, just something sweet to give the yeast something to work with)
  • Put those in a big bowl.
  • Add 0.75 L of cold (but not ice cold) water, some at a time, while mixing it with the yeast and salt and honey.
  • Add 150 grams of fine ground rye flour (I normally still use a whisk at this point and change to a wooden spoon or something once the dough gets thicker)
  • A little at a time, add 600 grams of fine ground wheat flour. Before you’ve added all of it, chuck a handful of oats and a handful of sunflower seeds in there. (I’ve also added stuff like dried berries etc and it works a charm, so you can absolutely get creative here.)

Once all the flour is added, the dough itself is finished. Should have a pretty thick porridge-y consistence. Leave it to raise overnight with a lid on – does not need to be airtight, and unlike most yeast baking it doesn’t matter if you have an open window or anything.

In the morning (or approx. 8–10 hours after you made the dough), put the empty cast iron pot in the oven as it heats up to 250 degrees. Once it’s hot, take out the pot and add the following directly into the bowl, before adding the dough:

  • Some olive oil (try and see how much works, but I tend to go for just enough to cover the bottom)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flake salt (e.g. Maldon)
  • Dried rosemary
  • Then pour the dough into the pot, use a spatula to let the oil get in on all sides of the bread
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds + flake salt + dried rosemary on top of the bread, and maybe add some oats or pumpkin seeds or something as well. Sky’s the limit.

It’s now ready to go in the oven!

  • Cook it with the lid on at 250 degrees for 50 minutes
  • Then, turn it down to 200 degrees, take the lid off, and leave it for another 20 minutes

And then you’re done!

That looks like a lot written down like that, but most of the bullet points are just pouring or sprinkling things into a bowl or pot so it’s really very quick (apart from the cooking time) and easy. I’m not otherwise a big bread baker, but love this recipe.

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The size of the loaf won’t affect when the outside burns. The setting of the crust (and burning if you go too far) is just a function of the heat of the oven and it doesn’t make any difference how big the loaf is. If you think of browning a steak in a frying pan - if the temperature of the pan is the same an 12oz steak will take the same amount of time to burn on the outside as a 6oz steak.

The size is relevant to how long it will take the loaf to be cooked through to the middle. Here the relevant factor is the distance from the outside of the bread to the centre - that determines how long it will take the heat to penetrate the loaf sufficiently for that part of the bread to get to the temperature at which it is cooked. Obviously this distance is smaller if the loaf is half as heavy, but not by as much as a half. Explaining why this is requires maths, so someone else can do it better than me, but you can see it by looking at the two loaves - the one that is twice as heavy is not twice as big in every direction.

This is an issue in baking if you are making a cake, for instance - a 7” cake tin will contain double the volume as a 5” cake tin despite only looking a bit bigger.

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Thank you! Was really bugging me

By the way, the main function of using the pan to cook the bread is to contain the steam. Bread gives off lots of steam as it bakes and in an oven that is dissipated. The pan contains the steam, which keeps the crust moist, delaying the point at which it sets and allowing the bread to rise more (once the crust has ‘set’ bread can’t rise any more). People obtain the same result by putting a pan of water in the bottom of the oven to generate steam - commercial bread ovens inject steam for the same reason.

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Ooooh, thanks again! Have been wondering about this. But now you mention it, it does have very pleasing texture. Almost a little bit spongy inside, if cooked just right. And crust gets nice and crispy, but not “cut your gums” crispy.

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