Place, seam side up, in a banneton (proofing basket) or a small bowl lined with a kitchen towel heavily dusted with bread flour. Loosely cover dough with towel, and let rise until puffed, dough jiggles when bowl is tapped lightly, and dough passes finger dent test, 1½ hours to 2½ hours. (Alternatively, cover and refrigerate to cold-ferment overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.) We offer the option to cold ferment the final dough post-shaping. This will intensify the flavor of the final sourdough boule because cold fermentation enables slower, more complex flavor development. However, a rise at room temperature requires just 1½ to 2½ hours.
How to Score
Turn boule out of banneton or bowl onto a round piece of parchment paper. (Alternatively, dust the base of Le Creuset Bread Oven with semolina flour, and turn out dough directly onto base.) Using a lame or sharp paring knife, score top of boule. When we score, or slice, our dough, we’re creating a “weak spot,” making sure that the gases that rapidly release during oven spring will push in a chosen direction instead of producing an irregularly bubbled top. It’s not crucial, but it makes for a lovely loaf. For better cuts, hold your hand at a 45 degree angle and make quick, decisive cuts to avoid tearing the dough.
Ready for Bake
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
Remove lid, and place boule, still on parchment paper, in Bread Oven. Cover with lid, and place in oven. The lid traps the steam in with the bread, hydrating the dough, effectively conducting heat, and helping it gain extra height. The steam also interacts with the starches on the bread’s surface, creating a glossy crust.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid, and bake until deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 205°F (96°C) to 210°F (99°C), 15 to 20 minutes more. Immediately remove loaf from Bread Oven, and let cool completely on a wire rack. A full cooldown rewards the bread baker with better taste and texture. This has to do with starch retrograde, where water continues to evaporate from the loaf, firming up the crumb and creating its pleasantly chewy texture.