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The Romertopt Experiment

I don’t usually do white bread, but, in the interests of science 😉 I made the first loaf out of my new Römertopf pan a white bread with the idea of seeing if I could reproduce Celia’s Römertopf White Sourdough Loaf.

And it was supurb.

I took it warm down to the “morning after” party after our winter solstice celebration last weekend, and it disappeared in a thrice.

But, for someone who believes so much in science, I’m not very good at it.  You couldn’t say it was an exact reproduction.  I didn’t want to make a huge loaf, so I reduced all the proportions. This is my version of Celia’s version of Joanna’s white bread formula.

The Recipe:

Step One:

Put 1½ cups of fed sourdough starter in a bowl and leave, covered, on the benchtop for around 8 hours.

Step Two:

Then add:

  • About 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon of salt
  • 1 good teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1½ cups of baker’s flour.

Tip another half a cup of baker’s flour on the benchtop, and knead briefly to get a smooth, not sticky dough.

Put a little swig of olive oil in a bowl, and swish the dough around in it to cover, and leave it to prove in a warmish spot for another 8 hours or so.

Step Three:

Flour the benchtop again and knead the dough very briefly again, then put it in the oiled Römertopf pan. Slash the top with a sharp knife and leave, covered, in a warmish place for another hour or so, until it is well risen (about double in size).

Put the pan of bread dough in the kitchen sink and (carfully, so as not to wet the dough) fill the sink with hot water up to the lip.  My hot water out of the tap (from our solar hot water system), this time of year  is hot but not boiling. You can put your hand in it.

Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then put the pan in a cold oven and turn the oven on.  My gas oven is antique and the temperature is unreliable, but you don’t want it too hot – my second go at baking it in my mother’s modern oven was too hot and it cooked too quickly, resulting in a doughy middle.

This one though cooked perfectly in 40 minutes, coming out with a thin crisp crust and a lovely texture.  Not marshmallow soft like bought white bread but light and dense at the same time. Perfect  for the morning after the party warm from the oven with butter and honey and good coffee. Yum.


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • celia June 30, 2012, 11:05 am

    Hooray! I love the way you can bake such lovely bread almost by feel, Linda.. 🙂

    Glad the pan worked – I tried Joanna’s 100% rye recipe in mine yesterday and it was very good. Needs one more attempt to get it right, I think..

  • kim June 30, 2012, 3:41 pm

    That looks divine.

  • Liz June 30, 2012, 8:22 pm

    That looks superb – perfect bread – how fabulous.

  • Jane July 1, 2012, 12:31 pm

    thanks for this recipe Linda, I have a similar pan & been wondering how it could be used for bread making as it needs a cold oven start, now I can try it out.

  • Jane July 1, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Just had a look at Ceilia’s blog & realise it may not work in my Schlemmer Topf pan as it is not glazed inside, although flower pot bread is done in unglazed pots, perhaps it will work with a good oiling, any thoughts Linda?

  • Linda Woodrow July 1, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Hi Jane, I think what I might try with your pan is soaking it first, then oiling it on the inside, then putting the dough in for its second rise, then baking in a cold oven set to medium. Haven’t done it of course, so I’m talking through my hat, but I’d worry that soaking it with the dough in it would lead to the dough soaking up water. Nuther idea maybe is to test it: Oil the inside then stand it empty in a sink of water, and see if it fills with water.

  • Jane July 2, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts Linda, will let you know the outcome.

  • narf7 January 28, 2013, 5:10 am

    Can’t wait to try this…first step, reanimate “Herman” from his isolated stasis in dehydrated prison where he has been thinking about the vinegar bricks that he made when he was alive and being waited on hand and foot by his poor long suffering slave (me!)…step 2, soak op shop romatopf found for $2 and not used…step 3, most probably bake loaf that looks half the size of yours and that taste like…a vinegar brick :(…Herman!

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