Recently I found a Romertopf baking dish at an op shop (thrift store) for the princely sum of $4.00. These turn up frequently in second-hand stores. They have become obsolete in many households due to the popularity of electric slow cookers. But not for the bread maker. Snap them up!
Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, inspired me to purchase one. The Romertopf baker enables a high rise, moist loaf, to be made with a fairly hydrated sourdough mix. Don’t ask me about the level of hydration here- I am not that technical, yet.
Starter, 300g , bubbly and ripe, (read Celia’s starter notes)
bakers white flour 500g
wholemeal flour 200g
rye flour 100g
water 610 g
Total flour weight 800g
- Place the starter in a large mixing bowl, add the other dry ingredients, then add the water bit by bit, mixing by hand until there is a sticky dough and all the dry has been incorporated into the wet. You could also use a wooden spoon.
- Let this sticky dough rest in a large bowl for 30 minutes or so.
- Attempt to lift, stretch and fold the dough in the bowl. As it was fairly wet and this was a bit tricky, I tipped the lot into a stand mixer and gave it a slow knead with the dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough was wet but silky.
- It then proved in a large oiled bowl, initially for 4 hours ( winter evening). As it wasn’t ready for late evening baking, I put it in the fridge overnight to slowly prove (7 more hours).
- The dough was ready at 6 Am. I then shaped the loaf on a floured board for a final prove, around 1 hour.
- As it was growing sideways, and looking ridiculous, I tipped the lot into a Romertopf earthenware baking dish. This had been pre- soaked in warm water, then lined with baking paper. The top was slashed, the lid went on.
- The loaf started in a cold oven turned to 220c , for 25 minutes, then 20 minutes with the lid off, then 10 minutes at 175c. The fan was on throughout.
Result. One huge family style loaf, good for sandwiches and general purpose eating. Everyone loves it- it’s disappearing quickly. The Romertopf method gives the crust a golden glow.
- very moist loaf, open crumb, golden crust, not as sour as I would like it, though sour notes improved on second day. Will do this again, and increase the rye, or introduce spelt.
- A great family loaf, huge in size and a good keeper. Next time, I won’t use the mixer. In summer, I might attempt the whole rise in the fridge over a longer period.
- In a discussion with a gifted baker, Craig, I seem to recall his comments about slow proving and that modern bread may be causing digestion problems due to over yeasting and fast proving. I must explore slow proving further.
Grazie Mille to Celia for introducing me to the Romertopf method.