Well, maybe it didn't turn out so bad after all. Although the crust is very hard and it didn't rise as much as I had hoped. It sure is a nice color and it actually smells like real bread.first loaf - top view
the first to shake your hand! (Handing out cigars?) It looks like real bread, all right. I stopped in at the other thread and do agree that your dough looked a little dry, but you've got some decent rise in the end and I bet it's delicious.
All in all not a bad loaf if I do say so. And it even tastes pretty good. I'm now certainly inspired to go on to bigger and better things.
I agree that it was a bit on the dry side and will add more water next time until it is just tacky without being sticky. I can always add in a little flour right?
Very forgiving this hobby (and rewarding!)
My wife is just about to arrive so I will go now.
Some of us have been "practicing" for years.
Glad you got some rise out it!
Susan from San Diego
Wow, your first loaf! Hope your wife loves it!
Katie in SC
Have you continued with your breadmaking odyssey? Some of us are sitting on the edge of our ovens waiting to hear if your wife loved your first loaf and, hopefully, subsequent little loaves of goodness.
Well, yes I have baked some more breads but although my wife loves them, she says it's just too hot to have the oven on. I guess I could bake in the evening so that' what I will do. In the meantime I have made an awesome Irish soda bread that was delicious smothered with fresh strawberry preserves.
Does anyone have any tips on making a loaf with a soft crust? The loaves I've made so far are very difficult to slice.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
I may not be the best one to address the issue of soft crusts. I actually chipped a tooth some time ago on one of my crusts!
What I do now is wrap the load in a cotton towel immediately it comes out of the oven. Seems to trap whatever moisture is escaping in the cool down process and keeps the crust soft - but not too soft.
Oh - also, I've completely stopped steaming the bread. They do get a quick spritz before they enter the oven but that's it.
I am notorious for chipping and even breaking my teeth on food. Most recently it was nachos. Anyway, thank you for your response.
What do you mean by "steaming the bread" and why is this bad? What do you mean by "a quick spritz" and why is this good?
Cabbagehead, you should try ZolaBlue's Grandmothers recipe for Brown Bread. Once you get the hang of it you can switch the flours around a little but the method will give you a nice soft and delicious bread. Here is the link.
Great, I'll try that. With all of the support here at The Fresh Loaf, I won't have time to try all of the suggestions lol. But it's all good. Now I just have to fine the time to experiment.
When I upped the flour a bit in my bread, the crust became more crisp and less tough - and much easier to slice. I had been using a "fluffed" cup of flour, and switched to a more packed cup. The packed cup yielded the right weight of flour.
Roll recipes often recommend brushing the tops with butter when the rolls come out of the oven to get a softer crust.
Are you getting a thick, dry, dense sort of crust that isn't pleasant to eat? Even a beautiful crackly baguette shouldn't fight back against the knife too much. What are your bake times and temps? Is your dough still on the dry side? How does the bread bake up otherwise?
If you're making artisan bread a 'crusty' crust is usually sought after, but assuming your dough and process are correct, you can soften the crust in a variety of ways, one being Raffi's suggestion. Oil, milk, a little sweetener in the dough help tenderize but if that doesn't appeal to you you can also brush the loaf with a little milk or oil right before it goes in the oven.
'Steaming' is the process of getting as much steam into your oven (almost as many ways to do it as there are bakers) as you can, immediately after loading the bread, sometimes once sometimes twice. Not bad, it's a matter of preference; considered essential by many, it encourages optimum ovenspring and contributes to a dark, crackly crust. It's one of those things on which opinions and approaches vary; in my experience is not essential to a lovely appealing loaf of bread. It's worth trying just to see its effect on your baking.
By baking loaves under a large stainless steel bowl I've gotten some terrific dark, crisp but very thin crusts, which is what I like.
Yeah - like browndog said - a matter of preference. When I started making bread I would always have a good iron frypan in the bottom of the oven. When the oven was pre-heated I would load the bread into the oven and then, carefully, dump a cupful of hot water into the iron pan. Steam everywhere!
This did allow the bread to rise much better than without but my bottom crusts were getting really thick. Now, thanks to sggesstions on thias site, I did away with the fry pan and I do not pre-heat the oven. When the bread is ready to go in I turn the oven on to the temp I need and then I mist the loaves with water. This gives me, incredibly enough, just as much oven-spring and a much lighter crust on the bottom.
The only drawback I can see is that the bread does not get as dark as I like. Not sure why that should be . . .
Raffi, have you tried baking 'under cover'? I've just started experimenting with this, and so far I'm liking it a lot. The crust gets that gorgeous rich brown, is thin and crisp, no steam to muck about with, and for preheat all I do is turn the oven on before I turn out and slash the loaves- as long as I hear the gas burning, that's close enough for me. I use a big stainless mixing bowl and rinse it with a little hot water before setting it over the loaf, which is itself sitting on a 12" round pizza sheet. You really find a quick misting gives you just as good ovenspring? I am so ready to ditch steaming, I've actually warped the floor of my cheap little oven because of it. But ovenspring is such a carrot.