After all this waiting and preparing, it’s time for the actual baking. Since my oven doesn’t have a steam injector like professional ovens, I’m going to mimic the steam effect and use a cast iron pan/pot combo. You could use a dutch oven, but Christine didn’t want me to ruin the Le Crueset that we have so I just got cast iron instead.
I use a Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker. I’ve been using it for bread making ever since I got it. I’d like to get another so I can bake 2 loaves at the same time.
Once hot, I put on my oven gloves and take out the shallower part of the cooker and place it on my stove. Warning: Not only can the cast iron be heavy, but it gets very hot. Therefore, I can’t hold this for long. Especially since my gloves are really only rated for up to 400 degrees, so I can only hold the cast iron for about 5 seconds before I start to feel the heat through the glove. Also, you don’t want the skillet to be out of the oven for more than a few minutes. You have to work fast!
I uncover my bread from the basket and sprinkle more rice flour, since the top of the bread is now going to be the bottom. I flip the dough onto the scalding skillet and make my slashes, so that the bread is allowed to expand.
Then I put on my gloves and put the skillet back into the oven. I then cover it with the other part of the cooker. Now I bake it for 20 min. covered. Baking bread inside the combo cooker or dutch oven creates steam and allows the bread to rise.
Once done, I lift the bread with a metal spatula and tap the bottom to see if its done. Then I let it cool on a wire rack for 2 hours. I’ve always been told that you know your bread is done, when you tap the bottom and hear a hollow sound.
Now its really important that you let the bread cool a bit before you cut into it. You can put your ear up to the bread while it’s cooling to hear the crackling of the crust. I like to say “If your bread talks back to you, you know you did a good job”.
After the bread has cooled down, slice it up and get ready to eat it.
Save for later: Usually we can only eat one loaf at a time (even then it’s a lot of bread!), so I cut the second loaf in half and freeze each half separately. To reheat the bread, preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Bake the frozen bread in the oven for 10-15 min.(varies), this is usually enough time to give the bread a nice crunchy crust. Enjoy!