Sourdough baked in a tin – no need for proving baskets

Sourdough baked in a tin - no need for proving baskets

by Azélia on 15/11/2012

in Bread Techniques,Sourdough Recipes

This is an example of the practical thing that will be in my book, my whole aim with the book is to follow-on from the principals of this site; to demystify the world of sourdough.

And Yes!  You can put the sourdough dough in a tin for the last rise just as you do a baker’s yeast loaf, therefore not having to concern yourself with proving baskets at all.  This is particular helpful if you have a high hydration or simply a slack dough.

My objective is to spread this simple message – Sourdough is just another way of raising dough.

There is nothing special about sourdough, nothing mysterious, magical or baffling, there’s nothing perplexing and complicated about it.  Sourdough is as approachable and ordinary as a baker’s yeast loaf, and if you’ve been reading me for a while you know that I maintain it’s easier than yeast dough to work with because it’s forgiving, you don’t suddenly turn around to see the dough over-proved.

I see sourdough as the laziest way of making bread.  Why?  Because with no extra effort other than feeding your starter hours beforehand you manage to achieve a gorgeous tasting crumb using the most tasteless of ingredients; white roller mill flour (your standard white bread flour).   It’s much harder to achieve a flavoursome crumb with baker’s yeast unless you resort to adding other flours, bran, or seeds for flavour.

I don’t know why there seems to be an air of mystery about the sourdough method.  If you’re reading this having tried and failed sourdough don’t think it’s because it’s sourdough per se, many many failures have been done using baker’s yeast.

I have the impression some bakers and I’m including professionals here too revel in this mystification and I won’t say it’s because it makes them feel more skilled making something that is not as common but it does make me wonder.  Here’s the thing, if your starter (levain/leaven) has enough yeast cells in it, if your starter is good and ripe at the point of using it, the dough will rise all by itself, you don’t have to do anything special to it…no waving of wands, casting spells or praying.  Those that I have taught sourdough have walked away producing great loaves that they’re happy with, knowing it’s all in the happy starter, they’ll be given tips of what to look out for.  The biggest difference between the two styles of bread is time, sourdough needs more time.

Ok yes, I’ve been studying the micro-organisms inhabiting this world and that perhaps can have the side effect of making the very thing that one  studies appear unremarkable, but I promise that’s not it.  For me bread is still a marvel, whether baker’s yeast or sourdough it is a genius example of the human race, turning something so unpromising looking as raw dough into something so aesthetically pleasing and tasting divine.  My excitement of putting that slightly warm crust in my mouth and hear it crackle between my teeth tasting of the toasty/nutty notes from the browned flour hasn’t waned, not even slightly.  I can not think of another food that compares in that transformation and I can easily understand how bread became an important symbol in many cultures.

Sourdough baked in tins won’t taste the same

Urrmmm…What?  I’ve heard this said and if you hear anyone say it the appropriate answer is “poppycock”.

There is no impact to the flavour of the crumb whatsoever, the aeration, mouthfeel and flavour are the same as loaves baked without a tin.  The big difference between sourdough baked in or out of a tin is the compromise of the crust on the sides of the loaf.  When sourdough baked this way first comes out of the oven and the loaf has been baked through properly there is a nice crunch on the side crusts for the first few hours, it isn’t the same as the top crust but there’s certainly a textural change, a nice notable crunch on biting.  As the loaf cools after a few hours like other tin baked loaves the sides soften.

You may not be bothered about crust, you may be one who finds no pleasure in eating a warm crisp crust, in fact you may even hate a crunch-biting exterior…I don’t understand these people…as diverse as humans are with their taste, each to their own, and so this little compromise on the crust may not matter to you one iota.  Some bakers make sourdough in the style of Poilâne, adding rye to the recipe and leaving if for a day before eating it, either of these things will kill the crust anyway.

The crumb

Coming back to the crumb, let me assure you there is not difference in taste and if you still have doubts allow me to dispel them.

Firstly no one ever blinks an eye of concern to the fact heavy-loaded rye breads can be baked both ways, in or out of a tin.  I’ve never heard complaints that a rye baked in a tin is inferior.

Secondly think about the dough inside underneath the skin surface, by the time the dough goes in the tin there isn’t an external factor adding or detracting away from the crumb flavour.  Nothing is going to happen in that last rise that will be penetrating the skin of the dough to change the flavour.  The only difference with the tin is the heat transfer in the oven has to go through the metal sides.  While it is rising the dough is forced up so you won’t get those big sideways holes that sometimes happen with sourdoughs, but as I’ve posted recently here I care more about small holes.

Why aren’t sourdoughs baked in a tin?

The only problem I see with making a sourdough in a tin is that it looks the same as a baker’s yeast loaf, there’s no artisan-look about it. I don’t know why sourdough is not baked in a tin, is it because Britain had the history of the sandwich tin but Europe didn’t?

Making of bread should fit around your life

Making your own bread should be a pleasurable experience and if it makes your life easier to put sourdough to rise in the tin then why not?  There’s too much faff around making bread, make it the way it suits your routine, bread doesn’t have to be a challenge in need of conquering, it can be gratifying because it’s so simple to make.



Related posts:

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Kavey November 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

Yes, great post again, Azelia and agree with all you say!

PS LOVE this line — the appropriate answer is “poppycock”.

Tamsin November 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

Morning Azelia..
Great post. Would taking the loaf out of the tin after 1/2 hr not give you an almost comparable crust? I agree that there is little mystery in the making of sourdough but that is now when I can do it!
To me the main problem is lack of knowledge. You need to have a basic understanding of the chemistry to give you the confidence to change the recipe and you need to keep on trying and having those failures until you find a method and hydration that suits you and more importantly your flour (and that’s tricky because its so variable) your help has been invaluable not so much with the method itself but teaching me that I need to understand the ingredient better. It’s about the feel and the process not a dry recipe in a book. Trial and error is the only way and workshops are probably the best way to learn as its 90% about feel instinct and experience. Today people want foolproof and instant and few have the time and endurance to persevere long enough to get to that place, hence the mystery. It seems very mysterious to someone that’s baked 3 or 4 ‘bricks’ in a row!
Brilliant that you are writing a book about it. Because I know you understand this. I really look forwards to it! X

Monica November 15, 2012 at 9:12 am

I loved reading this and seeing your pictures because I often bake my sourdough in bread tins to get a “higher” loaf, and they often come out looking very much like yours. Glad to read I’m not committing a major faux pas. ;)

Azélia November 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

Tamsin – do you want me to teach you? You know me well enough to know I’m happy to, and you know when you leave your head will be filled with information about variables and how to control them, in order to develop your own recipes.

I have to separate a couple of things here when comparing like with like. If you use white (roller mill) bread flour say to make baker’s yeast and sourdough there won’t be any difference in terms of making a loaf work, they both will turn out a good loaf. This type of flour as I’ve posted about are designed/mixed by the miller to work, to take away as many variables away from the baker. There are a few exceptions, sometimes if amalyse is added which gives sourdough crumb a wet wool texture or something else and the something else we may never know unless you have a personal 100% trusting relationship with the miller and know exactly what’s in the mix. One example of white roller mill flour that I find tricky for an inexperienced baker to use is Sainsbury Canadian flour, it will still however produce a good enough loaf for that kind of flour it’s only that it creates a very slack dough.

The problems arise when people want to throw more challenging flours at sourdough, be it stoneground that’s not aged enough, low protein flours, or use very challenging flours for bread making that need an experience hand to thrash out a method to make that flour work. I’ve also had the experience of using a bread flour that wouldn’t retain gas…now no matter what method you did there that was never going to do the job. And there’s a favouritism among many sourdough bakers to use rye in the starter which is particularly problematic when using more challenging flours.

When baking sourdough there seems to be desire by some to experiment with interesting but not necessarily easy flours and that’s when problems often arise. Nothing wrong with stepping sideways from a well trusted recipe but that action can put you at the deep end and like anything when you do start to experiment then obviously comes failure until you resolve it.

Daniel November 15, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hi Azelia! A book? Wow, cannot wait to buy it when it is published! I have been making sourdough for ages in a tin (in relative terms, only started baking in January this year) simply because it is much easier to slice and my wife always wants to make toast

Steve November 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Great information.

I love the post, full of passion and gets to the point. No faff! I am so looking forward to your book. I am going to have to put my next loaves in the tin! I make mine in a dutch oven to help with the fact my oven doesn’t hold steam well at all.

SteveO November 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

Great post :)

I’ve actually been trying something similar… driven on by my dough not keeping its shape (as much as I would like) during final prove – I’ve used a basket/banneton & supported the dough with cloths, etc., but recently started using a wooden baking mould and I very much like the results.

Using the mould keeps the “artisan” look, which I found by accident by not filling the mould with dough (I was wanting smaller loaves). I form my dough into “petit pain” shapes (about 250g) and plop them in the centre of the mould leaving an equally-sized gap either side of the dough in between the dough and the ends of the mould. It “rises” in all directions, tho’ more “up” than “along” and the end result, sneakily, keeps the “artisan” look :)

The moulds I use I sourced from:

As that web page says they come in packs of 10. At first I thought that, since they are made of wood, that they would be use-once but I’ve been experimenting with re-using them and I’ve currently re-used my first few on 4 occasions with no problems up to 220C.

PS I see the “b” word appeared again… b_ook; can’t wait for Ch.1 ;-)

Azélia November 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Can’t wait either Steve! Lots of testing of starters to be getting on with in the New Year for it then lots of writing…but you know this was never going to be an over-night thing ;)

Amanda December 3, 2012 at 10:12 am

Lovely, lovely post – I just appreciate the refreshing honesty. I gave up on bannetons & have been using my tins again, but people look a little sceptical when I insist it is sourdough. Like you say, there’s no great mystery – it is just another way to get bread to rise.

ringys December 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Hi , very very very beautiful bread ,I also bake in tins, What bread flour did you use to get this amazing texture ?

Azélia December 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Ringys – a mixture of Shipton Mill organic no.4 and Felin Ganol white wheat flour

Leave a Comment

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: