The Fresh Loaf

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Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears...

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bredtobake's picture
bredtobake

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears...

Hi Everyone,

I'm seeking advice on how to get those really nice "ears" that tartine bread is known for. I am using the standard country bread recipe. I seem to get a pretty good oven spring, but my score marks seem to just "stretch" rather than "burst", if that makes any sense. Anyway, I've attached a photo of my last bread to show you what I mean. How do I get those nice "ears"?

Cheers,

Jon

(http://bredtobake.blogspot.com)

aytab's picture
aytab

Are you slashing on an angle or just straightdown?

rfusca's picture
rfusca

Are you slashing at an angle (like previously mentioned) and do you have sufficient steam in the oven?  More steam helped my ears more than anything.

bredtobake's picture
bredtobake

@ rfusca and aytab

I'm not slashing at an angle, so I will try that...when you say angle, do you mean with respect to the surface of the dough, so the knife kind of slides underneeth the dough?

I am steaming by splashing water on the sides and in a pan that I have placed below the oven stone -- I may try the method where you place lava rocks in the pan to provide more of a heat source. Has anyone had luck with this technique?

I'll post a photo of the next round, to see if the ears improve.



rfusca's picture
rfusca

Some of these methods work ' pretty ok' ( like the rocks) but I finally gave up on generating steam *in* the oven.  They required me to open the door to much and I got burned by steam once too often.  Also, my oven just doesn't seal well, so I needed *a lot* of steam - not just a little.   Now, I just generate it outside the oven and then pipe it in.  You can flood the oven with steam this way, control when its on and off, and not have to worry about losing heat from opening the door.

I did the a pressure cooker hack (below), but you could easily run a line from a tea kettle on the stove.  Something like putting a cork in it, drill a hole in the cook, run a threaded pipe through the hole and then screw on to the pipe, pipe into an oven outlet.

I've found piping in versus creating in the oven to be far better for me.

Here's mine:

 

Syd's picture
Syd

Very creative, and probably the best home solution I have ever seen for steaming. 

Syd

rfusca's picture
rfusca

Thanks, it works well for me.  No pans in the oven, no opening doors real quick, no throwing water around and it works for any loaf shape that fits in your oven.  Gives you control just like real steam injections.

jackieosjunebug's picture
jackieosjunebug

I love it! I've been contemplating some kind of cobbled together foot-pump sprayer for my ovens at work (after convincing my boss first - of course), but this sends me in a new direction. Good work!

rygarrett's picture
rygarrett

Hey you pressure cooker steamer is amazing. I really need to do something like this. What hardware do you need? I've been using Dutch ovens, but I'm selling bread now and want to be able to make more than 2 at a time. This might be my ticket. Thanks,


Ry's Bread

rybread@ryangarrett,info

ryangarrett.info/rybread

rfusca's picture
rfusca

Yes, the angle with respect to the surface - see the notes here on scoring.

aytab's picture
aytab

Oh and by the way, whether they have the ears you want or not those are some beautiful loaves of bread!!!!!!!

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Do read the Scoring Tutorial (Scoring Bread). Among other things, you will learn that "ears" are traditional on long loaves like bâtards and baguettes but not on round loaves (boules).  For the former, cuts are made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. Having the blade with a concave curve also helps. For boules, the cuts are generally made with the blade at a right angle to the loaf surface.

What you may be seeing in others' Tartine BCB boules is just exhuberant oven spring, not "ears" as generally understood. This is obtained with a somewhat under-proofed loaf and a steamy oven environment for the first part of the bake (until the crust starts to color). In the professional bakery, the steam is injected into the deck oven. Robertson recommends baking in a covered cast iron Dutch oven to get this effect at home. Any method that traps the steam generated by the baking loaf early in the bake will work similarly. For example, covering the boule with a stainless steel bowl for the first half of the bake.

I occasionally bake in a cast iron Dutch oven, but usually use a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks. A perforated pie tin filled with ice cubes is placed on the lava rocks just before loading the bread on a baking stone. Sylvia has another steaming method using wet towels in bread pans. Search on "oven steaming" in TFL, and you will find many interesting discussions.

Again, do read the Scoring Bread tutorial.

David

P.S. I think your boule looks just lovely - nice bloom and crackly crust.

owlsprings's picture
owlsprings

 If you haven't already considered Steve's method of injecting steam  you might look at his video (http://www.breadcetera.com), or perhaps you can "coax" him to elaborate with a reply (SteveB). I was pretty impressed - though I haven't tried it, his bread comes out pretty beautiful.

RuthieinMaryland's picture
RuthieinMaryland

Hi!  Although I'm a "born again" bread baker, having neglected the art for many years, I've been studying and experimenting with  a lot of energy lately.  My re-introduction came through Berenbaum's "The Bread Bible" and I've found her recommendation for steam works wonderfully for me.  I pre-heat my oven for at least an hour before baking.  I put my pan or stone on the bottom rack and place an old stainless steel skillet on the floor of the oven to preheat as well.  The handle helps me maneuver the pan later.  You can use cast iron as well but the stainless works for me.  After the whole thing is pre-heated and the bread is ready to go in I pop the bread onto the pan or stone and then pull the super hot skillet forward by the handle (with REALLY thick potholders!), dump a half-cup or slightly more of ice cubes into the pan, shove it back in and quickly shut the oven door to contain the steam.  So far I've had amazing oven spring which I'm attributing, in part, to the really nice cloud of steam generated when ice cubes meet super-hot skillet!  Good luck and keep baking!   

Wynder's picture
Wynder

Those ears could be from scoring too deep (the bread has plenty of time to fill it out) or not enough steam (the vapor doesn't get a chance to really "set" the crust).  I also keep a cast iron skillet in the bottom of my pan and toss in 1/4 cup of ice when the bread goes in and I'll remove/vent it after 12 minutes or so.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Great subject and always good to review.  A great entry on this subject is here.


I use a #24 scalpel  to slash with and prefer the scalpel to the traditional lame though any blade that's near razor sharp will work.  A shallow angle slash is required to obtain the "ear"[oreille] as is an oven steam environment for the first 15-20 minutes of the bake.  

I've tried many of the steaming methods and found that the most effective is to place a deep steam tray pan [interior sprayed with water] inverted over the slashed loaf on the oven stone. I lay a cotton towel over the oven glass window prior to the placing operation to prevent any water from making direct contact with the oven door glass.

The bread is baked for 20 minutes at 500 dF before the cloche is removed and the bake continues to completion for 14 minutes longer.

I've been able to achieve the following "ears" consistently using this method.  Good luck!

Wild-Yeast

 

Donkey_hot's picture
Donkey_hot

[ I lay a cotton towel over the oven glass window prior to the placing operation to prevent any water from making direct contact with the oven door glass.]

Why do you feel that the glass door needs the protection from water? 

Thank you.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The towel prevents "chill shocking" the glass viewport on the oven door and causing it to break. Spilled water will wick through the towel which you can hear sizzling as it boils away - the towel reduces the amount of water that's in direct contact with the window by an order of magnitude.

I haven't had to replace the glass viewport since protecting it with the towel. 

Wild-Yeast

leavenguy's picture
leavenguy

Forgive me but surely ears are as much to do with getting that tension in the Tartine dough? My Tartine country bread is great - but the ears are a bit hit and miss. Most of the time I get there but there seems to be quite a lot of the time i'm struggling to get tension into that wet dough. 

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Ear's on slurpy dough is tough but not impossible.  It depends a great deal on gluten development and forming a tight protein sheath - all without degassing the blimp..., Takes lots and lots of practice.  

I've thought about wrapping the wet inner core with a highly tensioned outer envelope [like a pizza skin] but have never got around to trying it.

Wild-Yeast