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Cast Iron-Baked Bread Loaf

You’ve mastered making pizza in your Ooni Pro, now it’s time to nail baking bread! Bona fide baker and one of our Pizza Taste Testers, Mike Vaona, created this recipe for a Cast Iron-Baked Bread Loaf. Use Ooni’s Casserole Dish and Sizzler Pan combo to cook your favourite bread recipe. Here, Mike gives you the option to cook your loaf using a method for sourdough or a dough made with dried yeast.

Ingredients

For a sourdough loaf
110g (3.9oz) water

7g (0.25oz) salt
28g (1oz) sourdough culture
285g (10oz) bread flour

For a loaf using dried yeast
125g (4.4oz) water
7g (0.25oz) salt
1 tsp active dried yeast
Pinch of sugar
300g (10.6oz) bread flour

Method

To make a sourdough loaf:

Day 1
Start 3 days before the day you’d like to bake bread, during the evening (at around 9pm).

Mix together 10g (0.35oz) of the sourdough starter, 20g (0.7oz) of the water, and 20g (0.7oz) of the flour in a jar to feed your starter overnight. This will become an active sourdough starter, and is ready to use once it has doubled in size, which usually takes around 8-10 hours after mixing. Only 28g (1oz) of this active sourdough starter will be required for the bread recipe the following day, but this will give you extra to work with.

Day 2
In the morning, mix together the sourdough starter with the remaining water, plus the salt and the flour until well incorporated. Place the dough ball into a bowl, cover with a cloth and rest for 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough 6 times. Be sure not to overwork the dough or it will tighten and become difficult to work with. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a cloth and rest for a further 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough another 6 times. Rest again for another 30 minutes, covered with the cloth.

On a floured work surface, turn the dough ball out of the bowl and shape it into a smooth, round ball – hold the dough ball with both hands, and tuck the bottom edges of the dough ball inwards on itself (similar to how you would shape a ball of pizza dough before proving).

Place the dough ball back into the bowl, and cover with a wet tea towel. Leave to rest for 1.5 hours.

Place the dough in the fridge and allow to rest overnight, covered again with the wet tea towel.

Note that the process followed on Day 2 is based on working with dough that is around 20ºC (70ºF). If the dough is cooler because of your surroundings, lengthening the final rest time might be needed – in that case, add on another hour or two to the final rest after shaping. Likewise, if you’re in a warm environment the dough may be ready sooner. The dough is ready to be placed in the fridge when it feels airy and is not cool to the touch.

Day 3
In the morning, remove the dough ball from the fridge.

Shape the dough ball again following the same technique as on Day 2.

On a tray covered with a sheet of parchment paper (greaseproof paper), place the dough ball on top and cover with an upturned bowl. Allow to rest at room temperature for 3 hours.

Place the dough ball back into the fridge, still covered with the bowl.

Day 4
Fire up your Ooni Pro. Aim for 482˚C (900˚C) on the stone baking board inside. You can check the temperature inside your oven quickly and easily using the Ooni’s Infrared Thermometer. If using a wood-burning fire, refrain from adding wood as the temperature begins to drop, and allow the oven temperature to reduce to 600˚F (315˚C).

Fit your Casserole Dish with the Sizzler Pan as a lid, and place inside your oven to warm up. Keep it toward the very front of the oven.

When you notice the oven temperature dropping to under 232˚C (450˚F), add wood into the burner tray as needed (we recommend 2 small pieces at around 15-20 minute intervals) in order to maintain a rough temperature of 232˚C (450˚F).

Remove the dough ball from the fridge, keeping the parchment paper underneath. Flour and score the top of the dough with the design of your choice.

Remove the hot Casserole Dish and Sizzler Pan from your oven. Flip the Sizzler Pan over (so it’s sitting flat like a tray) and flip upside down so the Sizzler is now on the bottom. Place the dough ball, still with the parchment paper underneath, onto the Sizzler Pan.

Flip the Casserole Dish upside down and place on top of the Sizzler Pan, so that the Casserole Dish is now the lid to the Sizzler Pan.

Open the chimney vents on the oven.

Bake the loaf in your Pro for 30 minutes, keeping the pan as close to the front of the oven as possible and with the oven door on.

Remove from the oven and take the Casserole Dish off of the Sizzler Pan. Place the Sizzler Pan with the bread loaf back in the oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes until golden brown, rotating after about 7 minutes to ensure it bakes evenly.

To make a loaf using dried yeast:

Over a stovetop (hob) in a pan, warm the water to around 32˚C (90˚F). Add the active dried yeast and the sugar. Whisk well until they have dissolved into the liquid. Allow the mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Add the salt and mix until dissolved. Transfer the water mixture to a large bowl and add the flour. Mix by hand until well incorporated – be careful not to over mix.

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Next, follow the same method as making the sourdough loaf, starting from the stretch & fold step on Day 2.

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