The days are getting shorter, and colder, so will this affect my baking?
Obviously, colder temperatures will mean that proofing would take longer, but what about the fact we're home all day (because of Covid) and we have central heating? And do I really need to pre-heat the oven and Dutch oven for 45 minutes?
The building blocks...
I fed my starter in the morning and, to my surprise, it was vibrant and ready to bake by noon. I then mixed my flour and water and had a short autolyse of about 20 minutes before folding in the starter and salt. I did three stretch-and-folds over the following 90 minutes and then left to bulk-rise, covered on the kitchen worktop.
The rise was pretty quick, and it was ready to be laminated, shaped and transferred to the banneton basket at about 7pm. I then kept an eye on it and it had pretty much doubled in size about 2.5 hours later: much sooner than I had expected.
I would usually pre-heat the oven and Dutch oven for about 45 minutes before baking, but the loaf was ready and I wanted to know if such a long pre-heat was necessary. So, I turned the oven on with the Dutch oven in it, and then added the loaf once the oven had reached 260C.
The result: amazing.
Sourdough baking is extremely personal and your own conditions, equipment, environment, etc. will have a huge impact on your own outcomes. But for me, it is clear that I really don't need to overly pre-heat the oven before baking.
I got a really good crust on this loaf, and can't believe I was able to achieve it in one day!