Pandemic sourdough: the bread just gets better

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My latest…never going to get that deep brown crust in this oven but the flavor is good.


That is beautiful!

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To get a great crust bake it in a dutch oven at high temp. Preheat dutch oven with lid to 475° F, bake for about 25-30 minutes. Then remove the lid, lower temp to 450° and bake another 15-30 minutes until done. Internal temp should be about 200°.


I only once had a starter briefly years ago. I’ve been thinking about my store bought bread, and reading these posts, and eating some sourdough from trader joe, and I think I’m finally going to grow my own again.

Now I just have to order a pullman pan, and see how far I’ll have to drive to find any whole wheat flour on a shelf near seattle.

I made some sourdough focaccia over the weekend and it was insane. No pix, sorry, everyone at it all immediately.



I have heard that gives good results. But in these straitened times, I’m not buying anything like that. I’m not dissatisfied with this and I think a few minutes of top heat from the broiler might give me some of what I want.

I had a ghost crust problem for a long time. The dutch oven solved it. You can get them for $40 or so via online and/or $5 at goodwill if you get lucky.

Moving from baking in my oven on a pizza stone to the dutch oven was a huge huge improvement for loaves of bread. It helps the crust, the oven spring, browning – I was spraying so much water on the loaf and in the oven, trying all sorts of things to help and the dutch oven solved it first try and removes all that effort.

Both pictured loaves were done in an enameled dutch oven pre-heated to 500F, lowered to 475F when bread in and closed for 30min. then lowered to 400F for 22 min with lid off.

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You can use a lodge combo cooker, they really do the trick for not a lot of money. And yes, sure beats spraying water in the oven, having a second pan, etc.

Also, I very highly recommend this guy’s site:

I have no affiliation, but I’ve read his book and it’s great if you’re along in your baking. Also think the recipes on his site are generally spot on.

I bake 100% whole wheat sourdough 2-3 times a week. Was once a week before pandemicon… Now everyone is home and eating more bread. So I get to bake more. No complaints about that.


You might be able to contact restaurants/bakeries, or restaurant supply places near you and see if they are offering flour for sale. Where i’m at i know a few places have turned the business into general stores and rotate what they sell to the public, might be different where you’re at but can never hurt to check if you are having trouble securing baking supplies.

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In addition to the dutch oven boule, I’ve also used the same recipe from this thread in a pain-de-mie pan, which is a loaf pan with a lid. It comes out with a different texture and a much thinner crust, but it’s really great in its own way. So try a loaf pan, I say! (The lid isn’t strictly necessary but if everything rises right you get perfectly square loaves.)

Nice oven spring! I love how the scores really opened up.

Have you tried just leaving it in the oven for longer? AFAIK you can’t really overcook bread unless it burns, which is… kinda what you want, to get the brown crust. If my loaf looked like that I’d just leave it in the oven (on 450° or so) and check on it every few minutes. Usually I try to wait until I think I’ve gone a little too far, and that ends up being just perfect.

One time my oven shot up to like 600° when I wasn’t paying attention and the loaf came out blackened all over - but the crumb was still great, so I cut off the crust and used the crumb for gazpacho.


The stone has worked well. I could show the before on this one so you can see the oven spring…it was quite the show thru the oven window. the preheated stone to 400° gets me a good solid base crust and good spring.

For an apartment dweller with little control over the quality of the oven or the space to use a grill or (best) build a beehive/brick oven, this is pretty good.

If you can wait a bit, I ordered from Central Milling. It took about two weeks, but my 25lb sack eventually arrived! Shipping costs a bit, but if you’re already considering spending a while driving around, maybe worth it.

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If you are trying to buy in-store, and you can’t find one in a good, local type store… Walmart stocks them fairly inexpensively in the Camping department. Under $20 for a dutch oven with legs, which are kind of annoying in the oven.

Look at restaurant or food service vendors…I scored a 25# of good bread flour for $9.99 from one. 10# of Gold Medal cost 2/3 of that. I guess I know what I’m doing from now on.

If you do make a starter, you can dry some (spread thin on wax paper and put in the oven w the light on) and grind it up: presto, almost instant sourdough starter.

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I hear you there. For what it’s worth I found the dutch oven technique very easy, plus there is a bunch of other stuff I can use it for. The enameled ones are more versatile,either works fine for the bread making trick. Lodge makes some cheapish ones if the $300 Le Creuset is not in the budget for impulse buy. :wink: We won’t be able to browse garage sales and flea markets for good deals until this whole lockdown things ends.


Only problem with using the Lodge black cast iron is it tends to smoke a little due to the oil burning off in the oven. Makes your kitchen kinda smelly but not that big a deal. My go-to Dutch oven is a Le Creuset that someone in the family (not naming names, but I’m married to her) left on the stove and let boil dry, ruining the enamel on the bottom. It’s perfect for bread though.


Beat me to it!