Let's learn how to use a Cambro Container for easier sourdough bread baking. If you've ever struggled with bulk fermentation, then using a cambro container for easier sourdough baking is definitely something you need to start doing! These plastic containers are so useful!
A Cambro container is a square plastic, straight sided container with volume measurements on the side. It also has a tight fitting lid. The magic lies in the straight sides of the container which allows you to easily see when your dough has doubled and thus when bulk fermentation is finished and it's time to shape your sourdough.
Whether you've been making sourdough for a while, or you're just beginning your sourdough journey, cambro containers can be a worthwhile investment to your sourdough baking equipment, along with a good baking scale and the right sized bannetons.
So let's look at how to use Cambro Containers for easier sourdough bread baking!
If you're in a rush - this set of Cambro Containers is the one I recommend.
What Is Bulk Fermentation
Bulk fermentation is perhaps the most important part of the sourdough process. It's where all the magic happens. After stretching and folding your dough until a strong gluten network has formed, you leave your dough at room temperature to double. It's this doubling that is referred to as bulk fermentation. You might also have heard it called the first rise or even bulk rise. Bulk fermentation always occurs at room temperature, never in the fridge. You can read more about bulk fermentation here.
It seems to be the one part of the sourdough process that stumps even the most proficient home bakers. The reason for this is that most home bakers place their dough in a bowl for bulk fermentation. Because a bowl is tapered, it's hard to see when the dough has really doubled, meaning that under fermentation is a common issue.
That is, until these magical translucent containers came along - cambro food storage containers!
Benefits of Using Cambro Container For Bulk Fermentation
The benefits of using a Cambro Container for monitoring sourdough bulk fermentation are:
- easy to see when dough has doubled due to straight sides and clear measurements
- lidded container ensures dough is safe drying out
- dough is safe from fruit flies and other contaminants
- container allows dough to be placed in the fridge if you're stepping away during bulk fermentation
Cambro containers allow for easy cleaning and simple storage due to the way they stack together.
How To Use A Cambro Container For Sourdough Baking
Using a Cambro Container for sourdough bulk fermentation is really easy!
Prepare your dough as per your sourdough recipe (I recommend this simple sourdough recipe):
- Stretch and fold your dough until it reaches window pane (I find this easiest to do in a bowl).
- Transfer the dough into your chosen Cambro Container.
- Gently press the dough into the corners so it covers the base of the container evenly.
- Mark the container with a rubber band or whiteboard marker.
- Wait for the dough to double before you move onto shaping.
- When you're ready to remove the dough from the container, use a plastic dough scraper to gently ease the corners of the dough away from the sides and then tip the container so that the dough naturally falls onto the counter top (sticky side up).
What Size Cambro Is Best for Sourdough?
Cambro containers are available in a range of sizes and shapes. I have tried a number of sizes to try and find the best container for making sourdough bread. I like using square cambro containers, but you could also use round ones.
I recommend using a 4Q Cambro container for sourdough with 500g of flour and a 6Q Cambro container for dough with 1000g of flour.
I love this double pack of Cambros which gives you both the 4Q and 6Q to use in your kitchen. It also had the lids included, which is not always the case with all Cambros.
You don't want to use a large container if you only have a small amount of dough because you won't be able to see when the dough has doubled. It's better to use a smaller size so that you can observe the dough more easily as it rises.
Cambro Containers are generally too large to store your sourdough starter in. I recommend a glass jar to store sourdough starter.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don't need to grease or oil your cambro container before you put the dough in. As long as your dough has a strong gluten network, it will easily release from the cambro container when it's time for shaping.
You certainly can stretch and fold your sourdough in a cambro container. I find it easier to do this in a bowl and then transfer the dough once it's reached window pane, but you certainly can stretch and fold in the Cambro Container if you prefer.
Yes it is perfectly fine to bulk ferment your sourdough in a plastic container or bowl.