See Post Script on use of a different pan and the end of this post.
Social distancing at home during the COVID19 pandemic led me back to baking sourdough bread after a three year break. When I first started baking sourdough bread, I proofed loaves in bannetons (wooden baskets) which I turned onto preheated baking stones to bake. This year, I simplified my approach to bake in loaf pans. I find the method gives me less anxiety when it comes time to placing my loaves in the oven.
I created a brand new starter this year which I named Corona to mark the times in which we now live. I made a liquid starter which began with equal parts King Arthur Bread flour and tap water. I later transitioned to a whole wheat flour to give my starter some vivacity which worked really well. When I reached a yeast activity that pleased me, I moved to feeding weekly instead of daily to conserve flour. I now maintain 300 grams of starter in the refrigerator until the day before I bake.
I relied heavily on the sourdough recipes and educational videos of Hobbs House Bakery in the United Kingdom three years ago when I started dabbling in bread baking. I returned to them this year and found l recipe inspiration in this post based on their no-knead sourdough bread. I choose this recipe because the amount of ingredients creates a loaf which fits a baking pan I already owned with 9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 in. ( 24.6 x 13.3 x 7 cm) dimensions. With a slightly smaller pan, I think I can create a loaf with greater height. Amazon will deliver such a pan recommended by America’s Test Kitchen later this week.
The original Hobbs House recipe calls for a proofing basket, so adjustments appear below. Both recipes assume maintenance of at least 300 grams of liquid starter of any flour type (I used whole wheat starter).
Olive oil adds flavor and promotes a moist interior texture and crisp crust in the new recipe. Sesame seeds bring nutty depth and crunch.
Loaf Pan Sourdough Bread
Tools: Stand mixer with dough hook and bowl, dough scraper, scale, 9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 in. loaf pan (nonstick preferred), scissors
- 75 grams whole flour
- 75 grams dechlorinated tap water
- 300 grams whole wheat starter (50% flour/50% water)
- 500 grams bread flour
- 12 grams kosher salt
- 340 dechlorinated tap water (boiled and returned to room temperature)
- 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
- 50 grams sesame seeds (optional)
- At sunrise, add 75 grams of whole wheat flour and 75 grams dechlorinated tap water to your starter container and mix. Place container on the kitchen counter at room temperature away from any heat sources like ovens, stoves or direct sunlight.
- Before sunset, remove 300 grams starter from container and mix with the first four ingredients in the stand mixing bowl until dough can pull away from the sides of the bowl with a scraper. (Don’t forget to mix an additional 75 grams of whole wheat flour and 75 grams dechlorinated tap water to your starter container to maintain your starter).
- Allow the dough to rest at room temperature while covered with a dish towel for one hour.
- Replace dough hook of standmixer in rested dough and mix slowly as you add olive oil and, if using, 40 grams of the sesame seeds (save 10 grams for later). Only mix to thoroughly incorporate and then stop. Remove bowl from mixer and cover with towel on counter at room temperature.
- For the next 3 hours, fold the dough over itself in the bowl with a dough scraper so that it turns over in the bowl a few times every 30 minutes. Cover between foldings of the dough.
- After the last folding, scrape from bowl onto a clean kitchen counter smeared with a thin film of olive oil. Use the dough scraper and your hands to spread the wet dough into an oblong shape. Use the scraper to loosen and lift one end from the counter and proceed to roll the dough toward the opposite end. Use the scraper to lift the loaf into the loaf pan with 1 tsp of olive oil in its base. Sprinkle remaining sesame seeds onto dough surface and place the covered dough in the refrigerator overnight to slow the yeast activity and build flavor.
- At sunrise on the next day, preheat oven to 480F with a baking stone on the middle rack and hot tap water in a metal pan on the bottom rack. Remove dough from the refrigerator and allow to proof for 2-4 hours. The loaf will be ready to bake when the dough surface rebounds its shape when gently pressed with a fingertip.
- When the dough is proofed, score the top of dough with a few scissor snips then place pan in the oven to bake for 35 minutes.
- Remove loaf from oven and lift from pan onto a cooling rack. Allow loaf to cool to room temperature for 1-2 hours before slicing.
P.S. I tried a new pan with 8.5″ X 4.5″ X 2.75″ dimensions which produced a narrower and squarer sourdough loaf with better rise than the one above. I used the same recipe as above but without sesame seeds. Pleased with the results.