Cold oven baking…

Every loaf shown in this post has been baked in an oven that started cold.

Everything we read and are told is that the dough should go into a preheated oven, but these loaves belie that fact…it was news to me too!

It started with this loaf baked in a clay pot…

I knew that to use the pot I either needed to soak it before use, or put it cold into a cold oven to reduce the risk of it cracking. And so I did. And I held my breath, and it worked! The loaf above proves it.

So if it worked with a clay pot, surely it would work with my enamel roasters, that was my next test. And I’m here to tell you that it does, it works perfectly, as the loaf below shows too…the crust is crisp, the crumb is even, and the cost is less!

If your question is ‘surely I need to preheat the oven to get maximum oven spring?’ Then hopefully my loaves are showing that you don’t. The oven spring comes from a strong starter, good flour and good dough.

If you’re thinking ‘won’t the dough spread whilst the oven is heating up?’ Just make sure that you prove it in the fridge for a few hours to firm up the dough. And yes, it may spread initially, but then it will rise as it bakes, as my photos show.

If you’re thinking ‘that won’t work in my cast iron Dutch oven’, I can tell you that it will. I don’t have a DO but many of the people in my Facebook group and on Instagram do and they’ve tried it, and it works.

A slice from a cold baked loaf

So, this is the process I’ve been using: I’ve followed my master recipe, link to the left, done the final prove in the fridge for several hours, then:

put the dough into the cold baking vessel and score;

put the pot with the dough in into the cold oven;

turn the oven on, turn the heat up to 240C fan (255-260C convection) & the timer on for 30 mins;

after 30 mins, turn it down to 220C fan (235-240C convection) for 25-30 mins.

Lid on the entire time.

Total time 55-60 mins.

For me that saves 20 mins of time for the oven to heat up, for others it may be longer.

So, who’s up for the cold baking challenge?

30 thoughts on “Cold oven baking…”

  1. I would like to try but my wolf stove takes around 40 minutes to get to a 425 temp, in your experience would that long of a time be a problem?

  2. Because the temperature is building that whole time, I think it would be okay but there’s only one way to really find out..

  3. I am in! I will try this next time because electricity is getting more and more expensive where I am from and this can save lots of energy and money. Thanks for this post!

  4. Since I’m new to the group this is the only way I have baked Elaine’s Master recipe. It is completely reliable. The only thing I would add is that if you have a baking/pizza stone in your oven, I would suggest that you remove it. It will slow the ovens rise to the top temperature.

  5. Definitely going to try this with my cloche. As you say, I always thought it was ‘gospel’ that the oven and the vessel had to be preheated. Quite a revelation. Many thanks.
    Ps, love the Insta posts.

  6. No, I don’t think so…people have been trying it around the world with different doughs and it’s working for them too..

  7. I’m in the US. I have a standard home-kitchen electric range oven that has no fan-assist, nor a convection feature. Can you suggest bake temperatures for me? Thanks!

  8. No πŸ™‚
    It might do if you had a gas oven that flames from the bottom, but in a modern electric oven it doesn’t

  9. No. β€œRange” just means standard, run-of-the-mill, regular, everyday cooking appliance, with a cooktop (β€œburners”) on the top surface, and an oven underneath the cooktop. It is very common. But the oven does not have a fan that circulates the heated air. Since you recommend temperatures based on β€œfan,” I just wondered if my temperatures would need to be different. A little higher, perhaps? Thank you for your time, kindness, and generosity in sharing your experience and expertise.

  10. Aha, okay, so for a standard oven, always add 15-20C to my fan temps.
    Thank you, I love being able to share my sourdough world xx

  11. I have a solid state oven that is on all the time so I can’t start from cold (if I turned it off it would take hours to heat up again). What adjustments, if any, should I make to your master recipe? I’m planning to bake the bread either in a Le Creuset pot or an upside down pyrex dish. Thanks!

  12. I will definitely do that next time as well. I think my loaf doesn’t like to be transferred from being cozily risen and then dropped in the hot pan. It always looks like a wrinkled old prune. πŸ˜‰ It somewhat rises while baking, but not as much as it did on the table. My baking dish is the pottery loaf pan that needs to be placed in the cold oven anyway. I’m just going to raise it in it and then place it in the oven. Wrinkled dough problem solved. Ha! I love this blog. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  13. Fabulous! I have tried this several times now and much prefer this to the hot oven method. It also allows me to do the work one day and then bake in the AM. loaves look much nicer also. I am so happy, I wish I knew how to post a pic.

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