Straight to the Level
Baking artisan, crusty bread at house is greatest carried out in a preheated Dutch oven or devoted bread vessel just like the Challenger Bread Pan. Not solely does the heavy pot assist switch warmth rapidly into the inside of the loaf for optimum oven spring, however the closed confines of the pot jacket the loaf with steam, which is important for that crisp, crackly crust.
Many Dutch oven recipes have you ever merely plop the loaf into the bottom of the pot, however anybody who has tried this greater than a few instances is aware of it’s a dangerous enterprise. It’s far too straightforward to both burn your palms on the perimeters of the blazing-hot pot or to overlook the mark and have the loaf find yourself driving up the facet of the pot whereas attempting to keep away from burning your palms.
Why Do You Want a Bread Sling?
To keep away from third-degree burns and/or misshapen loaves, many Dutch oven bakers as an alternative first set the loaf on a trimmed-down or folded sheet of parchment paper which may be then used as a “sling” to allow them to gently decrease the loaf into the pot. However most parchment paper degrades on the excessive temperatures the Dutch oven baking calls for, which might trigger it to burn or disintegrate throughout the bake. And whereas parchment is meant to be disposable, frugal bakers usually attempt to get a number of makes use of out of every sheet, which is not attainable when it is utilized in Dutch oven baking.
That is what prompted folks to create reusable, devoted bread slings utilizing heat-resistant supplies like fiberglass and silicone. The truth is, the primary variations I ever noticed have been merely repurposed silicone baking mats trimmed with scissors into circles or ovals with tabs on both finish to function handles. I’ve used a wide range of DIY and industrial bread slings for the previous couple of years, and have discovered one which I believe is way superior to the remaining: the Rosehill Sourdough The BreadMat.
How Does The BreadMat Examine to Different Slings?
Most bread slings—and there are a maddening number of them accessible, all kind of an identical to at least one one other—are merely prefab variations of the DIY variations I discussed above. These ones, like their baking-mat cousins, are constructed from a woven fiberglass core embedded inside a steady layer of silicone. These work high-quality, together with the one I examined extensively, the Breadsling.
However baking-mat type slings do have just a few drawbacks. One, they’re on the thick facet, which implies they protect the underside of the loaf from the warmth of the pot, slowing down browning excess of parchment does. (I discover my loaves come out paler on their undersides than I’d like with these, however then again, some bakers would possibly welcome a bit of further insulation to maintain their loaves from burning.) Two, the heavy silicone retains plenty of warmth, so the handles on the sling can’t be grasped with naked palms comfortably when it comes time to take away the loaf from the pot. And three, the handles are so thick that they’ll stop the lid from sitting snugly onto the pot in the event that they get caught within the interface, letting valuable steam escape.
The Bread Mat is made as an alternative by coating the person strands of fiberglass with a layer of silicone so skinny that the material’s open weave stays intact. This provides the mat a a lot thinner cross-section, leaving it much less apt to retain warmth, so the handles are graspable even with naked palms. The skinny, porous mat can be higher in a position to transmit warmth to the loaf, so breads brown equally to how they do with parchment. Lastly, the Bread Mat is so skinny that even when it will get caught between the lid and the pot, little to no steam sneaks out.
I particularly like the form of the Bread Mat. It is 9 inches throughout on the widest level, and the handles taper steadily at first, offering an additional couple of inches of house to accommodate oval loaves longer than they’re broad. (The additional flexibility of the Bread Mat additionally means the material is much less prone to buckle than a thicker baking mat-style one would when positioned right into a barely cramped pot.) The Bread Mat can be 16 inches lengthy, which, although two inches shorter than the Breadsling, is lengthy sufficient to present one thing to seize onto, even with massive loaves.
One minor challenge I famous with the Bread Mat is that the material can start to fray on the edges. Of the six I’ve examined, it solely occurred on one among them, and the flaw by no means progressed to the purpose the place it was something greater than beauty. I reached out to Rosehill Sourdough concerning the fraying and so they talked about that they’ve additionally seen it occur often and that an up to date model (due out this fall) will get “hemmed” with a stable band of silicone, to strengthen the perimeters. (They’re additionally popping out with a Bread Mat with a wider, sq. central space, designed particularly to be used in devoted bread pots just like the Challenger Bread Pan. I’ve examined a prototype, and it really works nice.)
Whichever type of bread sling you select to your Dutch oven baking will probably be an improve from parchment paper, however I believe your greatest wager is to sling it with the Bread Mat.
- Materials: A woven fiberglass mesh totally coated and sealed with food-safe silicone
- Oven-safe temperature: 500˚F
- Care directions: Hand-wash with cleaning soap, or on the highest rack of a dishwasher.
- Value at time of publish: $17
How a lot does the Bread Mat price, and what number of are available in a single order?
One Bread Mat is $17, whereas a 2-pack is $27.
What temperature is the Bread Mat rated to?
The Bread Mat can face up to temperatures as much as 500˚F, which is at or above the temperature that just about all Dutch oven loaves are baked.
Why We are the Consultants
- Andrew Janjigian is a Severe Eats contributor and a former long-time check cook dinner at America’s Check Kitchen.
- Andrew’s been educating baking and pizza courses for greater than 10 years. He is authored many Severe Eats evaluations and recipes, together with an analysis of the Le Creuset bread oven and a comparability of baking steels and stones.
- Andrew’s tried greater than six of The BreadMats.