And we have oven spring!

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summary: recipe for baguettes and boule; the need for better fridge management; using an inverted roasting pan to create steam and oven spring; submission for YeastSpotting; (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

Follow up to: yeast + summer temperatures = oh oh!!

Two days ago, in spite of my whining, I was rather pleased with the shaped loaves that were in the fridge to rise overnight. I couldn’t wait to see how the bread would turn out. And I was very excited the next morning. I raced downstairs to take it out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

Hello!!! What did I find??

I’m still wondering how it happened that someone managed to choose to put a casserole dish on top of one of the large foreign looking containers covered with a giant plastic bag marked RISING BREAD in the fridge… and moved a large soda water bottle to sit on the side of the container as well. Did I mention that the message was in red ink?

baguettes and boule Happily, bread WANTS to be bread and in spite of the over-risen preferments and crushed shaped dough in the fridge, we still ended up with lovely loaves.

Ha. It turns out that it doesn’t matter if there is a honking big casserole and giant soda water bottle placed on top of the loaves rising in the fridge.

…not that I want to test that again, mind. (I really should report that the fridge was VERY crowded and only the place I could find for one of the trays of rising bread was the crisper drawer. Which is notoriously full of plastic bags. Even I couldn’t really see the RISING BREAD message all that easily without looking for it. And I put it there.)

When I was still foaming at the mouth that this batch of bread seemed doomed and with little to lose, I decided to experiment with an intriguing steaming method I read about some time ago on The Fresh Loaf. The title of the post: Put on Your Tin Foil Hats.

I kept forgetting to try it but was reminded about it again in a recent discussion about essential equipment for bread making at The Fresh Loaf.

roasting pan and boule We don’t have an aluminum foil roasting pan though and I haven’t seen any with the depth shown in the photos on the Fresh Loaf post. So I used our old enamel roasting pan that we usually use for smoking in the barbecue.

The roasting pan isn’t large enough for all three loaves but it is large enough to cover a small boule. I sprayed the inside of the roasting pan with water before placing it over the risen boule.

boule Wow!! Why haven’t I been doing this before?!

When making the bread, I decided to use the ingredients list from our rustic boule recipe, based on “Acme’s Rustic Baguettes” in Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America but the “leave-the-shaped-bread-in-the-fridge-overnight” method from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum for mixing and baking. As I started mixing the dough, I found myself adding a little more whole wheat flour than I usually do. Here’s what I did:

Baguettes and Boule
based on “Acme’s Rustic Baguettes” in Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking Across America and “baguettes” in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Yeasted Water

  • ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ c (125gm) lukewarm water

(I know; a biga doesn’t usually have salt. I called it that just to specify that it should be on the stiff side.)

  • ⅓ c (~83gm) yeasted water from above
  • ¼ c (~31gm) whole wheat flour
  • ½ c (~66gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • ½ c (~62gm) whole wheat flour
  • ½ c (~66gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp yeasted water from above
  • ⅔ c (~165gm) lukewarm water

Actual Dough

  • 2¼ c (~300gm) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
  • ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • ¾ c (188gm) additional lukewarm water
  • All of the fermented Poolish
  • All of the fermented Biga
  • 1½ tsp salt

preparation and shaping

  • Please see preparation for dough (based on “Baguettes” in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible)
  • Shaping the boule: Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on the work surface. Gently turn the dough out, disturbing it as little as possible. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Cut the dough in half. Set one half aside for making baguettes. With the other half, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb the bubbles). Fold the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on a parchment covered peel. Place a cookie cutter on top. Sprinkle generously with flour (I used rice flour).

Here’s what I did after shaping the loaves:

  1. Proofing: After shaping the loaves, cover them with a tea towel, wrap them in plastic bags and place them in the fridge. Alert inmates that they are there and that nothing should be placed on top of them.
  2. Baking: About an hour before baking, take the loaves out of the fridge to bring them up to room temperature. Leave them covered. Allow them to rise at room temperature about an hour – until the dough is about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough.
  3. Baking: Twenty minutes before you are going to bake, turn oven to 450F.
  4. Just before putting the round loaf in the oven, spray the inside of a roasting pan liberally with water. Put the bread in the oven and place the roasting pan overtop it like a hat.
  5. Just before putting the baguettes in the oven, slash them and spray them liberally with water.
  6. Put the bread in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Remove the roasting pan hat, turn the bread around (to account for uneven heat in the oven) and continue baking the loaves for another 10 minutes until they are hollow sounding on the bottom. The final internal temperature should be 200-210F in the center of the loaf.
  7. Remove the bread from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Wait til they are cool before opening them. They are still continuing to bake inside!


:: If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after it has cooled completely. To reheat uncut bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust perfectly. (The top shelf of the barbecue works well too.)

:: Rather than cutting the baguettes, break them. They taste better that way.

I love this method of refrigerating the shaped bread overnight. And I’m REALLY excited about the depth of the round loaf! I’ll definitely use the “hat” method again!

And I think we may need to start haunting restaurant supply stores and get a handheld steamer as well! Because now we HAVE to try Steve’s (Breadcetera) brilliant idea to use a hand-held steam cleaner to inject steam (read more about the Steam Bread Baker).

baguettes and boule We haven’t yet tasted the bread. That will happen tonight. Oooh I can’t wait!! Is it dinner time yet?

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


Remind me to rave about the radish leaf omelette that someone made for breakfast yesterday. Oh my but it was fabulous! Even if the bread hadn’t turned out, all would have been forgiven after tasting that omelette.

This entry was posted in baking, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, whine on by .

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7 responses to “And we have oven spring!

  1. Joanne

    Even with having all of the odds against it, this little bread still managed to be delicious! I think we should call it the little bread that could.

    I wish I’d thought of that, Joanne! :-) – Elizabeth

  2. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Happily bread wants to be bread … that is really so beautiful.
    It is a happy thing and it does want to be bread and so lucky for us who love to bake it and eat it.
    Very interesting links and informative. I don’t think I’ll be trying the steamer thing but the pan hat seems like a workable idea.

    Yes, I really do love that bread is not nearly as finicky as some folks claim it is. It’s going to be a while before I try the steamer thing too. I STILL don’t have a handheld steamer (I was contemplating trying to figure out how to direct the extra steam from the Vesuviana coffee maker but came to my senses. If you can call what I have sense.) But do try the roasting pan hat, Tanna. It’s the best thing since …um… well, sliced bread! – Elizabeth

  3. Madam Chow

    I’m with you – I love it when I get oven spring!

    It’s amazing just how thrilling it is, isn’t it, MC? I baked bread yesterday and the loaves were too large for our little roasting pan. They turned out okay but are relatively flat. I’ve GOT to get a larger roasting pan!! -ejm

  4. Mimi

    I have the same over stuffed fridge problem. I keep wanting to try to refrigerate the dough, but I am terrified of what might happen. Your bread turned out beautifully despite everyone elses worst intentions!

    Don’t be afraid to refrigerate bread dough, Mimi (just make sure that everyone in the household knows it’s there ;-)). The cold rise really develops the flavour of the bread. -Elizabeth

  5. Susan/Wild Yeast

    I love these spunky loaf stories! I use an unglazed terra cotta pot to cover my boules, and that works well too.

    I’ve considered using one of our pyrex casserole dishes, Susan, but am worried that I might break it when removing it (I AM a clutz, after all). -Elizabeth

  6. Jude

    I bet the loaves ended up with a blistered crackly crust from the overnight refrigeration. Bread looks and tastes so much better when done this way.

  7. Harry

    Here is a “newbie” question that I have not been able to have answered.
    Why both a biga and a poolish? Flavor? Structure?
    I would certainly appreciate your input.


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