The Fresh Loaf

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The elusive crust, convection oven.. here in central Florida

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PastryKid's picture
PastryKid

The elusive crust, convection oven.. here in central Florida

I'm having a bear of a time trying to get a crispy crust on my bread. 

Here's my latest attempt.

First five pics in the link below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52713318@N08/show/

I've given it steam via a cast iron pan on the lower rack.  put it on a stone to bake, and vented about half way through the bake.

Still I can't get the crust to crisp up.

I'm using a 50/50 combo of Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad from King Arthur which comes up to about 13% protein level. 

The only thing I can think about now is the water or just Florida weather?

Any help here?

Thanks,

 

foodslut's picture
foodslut

What temperatures and hydration of dough are you using?

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Some folks find that cracking open the oven door a few inches, with the oven turned off and the loaf still on the stone (or on a cooling rack on the stone), for 5 or 10 minutes after the bake is complete, crisps up recalcitrant crusts nicely. 

You are removing your steam apparatus and switching to convection about 10 min into the bake, right?

That said, I think your baguettes look superb!

Tom

breadforfun's picture
breadforfun

Your loaves look beautiful.  The lack of crustiness can have lots of different causes and solutions.  As already pointed out, the recipe, the technique, the shaping can all influence the final product.  When I first started baking, my loaves were really nice looking but also lacked the crisp crust.  Eventually I realized that although the loaf *looked* done, the crumb was not fully cooked.  One clue to this was that when I probed the interior with a thermometer and pulled it out, sticky, gummy dough remained on the probe, much like an undone cake sticking to a toothpick inserted into it.  The interior temperature didn't really matter, but the excess moisture eventually migrated out and softened the crust.  My solution was to lower the temperature of bake by about 25˚F and bake it a little longer.  This way, the crust wouldn't brown as quickly and the interior was able to fully cook.  Not sure if this is your problem, but you may want to give it a try.

-Brad

 

PastryKid's picture
PastryKid

The hydration is at 67 percent.  Don't know the dough temp as I don't have anything to measure with but I do keep it in a proof box which is warmer than the room temp.

I remove the steam devices (cast iron pans) about 10 min or half way through the bake.  The water had already evaporated before this.   And I crack the door open through the finish of the bake.

I'm baking at 420 degrees in a convection oven for about 20 min. 

I can drop that down to about 400 and see where that gets me.   Will try that tomorrow.

I think I'll start at a high temp..  450 or so..  Put the bread on the stone, put water in the cast iron skillets to get a nice steam, close the door and then turn the oven temp down.  This way I can get some spring from the hot stone/oven and then finish the bake at around 400.

 

Thanks all... 

yjbus's picture
yjbus

after making italian bread a few times, i came to some basic conclusions:

my first few bakes the crust was extremely hard and crusty to the point that it was literally painful to eat. it was like eating gravel.

the reason for this was simply that the oven was too damn hot.

my recipe instructs to bake at an initial temperature of 500 degrees for the first 10 minutes.

if i were you, the first thing i would do it increase your initial oven temp to 500 for the first 10 minutes.

also, too much steam causes a soft crust.  i gave my loaves one spray before baking and one spray 3 minutes in and even that caused too much of a soft, soggy crust.

limit your steam and amp up your oven temp.  i guarantee you will at least get a hard, gum shattering crust.  then you can adjust from there.

 

 

 

 

PastryKid's picture
PastryKid

Tried the high heat thing...  just doesn't work.   I'm giving up on this oven with this task.  Just isn't worth it.

 

Thanks all,

 

 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Experimentation and more experimentation is what I have had to do and I am still experimenting so I really don't have a conclusive answer for you except that I bake with an oven that only has convection.  I pre-heat about 50° higher than my baking temp. - load my loaves and add humidity (my oven has humidity) and then I turn off the heat for 8-10 minutes depending on the loaf size.  

Once the bread has absorbed the steam and has 'sprung' I turn the heat back on at a lower temp and finish the bake.

I am still experimenting with different size loaves but find that if I bake too hot the crust gets too dark by the time the interior is fully baked but if I don't go high enough I have to bake longer and the crust gets thick and hard due to the convection....

At the rate I am going I hope to have a solution within the year :-)  Hopefully you get a better response than mine and solve your problem a lot quicker and I can benifit too *^).

In any event - enjoy.

Janet

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

crispy crust in Miami when I lived there,  my towel never dried out either and the airport always smelled like mildew too.  As soon as the bread comes out of the oven the humidity attacks it and 5 minutes later - soft chewy crust every time.  In AZ in the winter, baking the same way - steam like crazy 10-15 minutes at 450 f  and then convection ay 425 F  until inside is 205 F  and then resting on the stone for 10 minutes with an off oven and door ajar - crispy crust every time - when the humidity is 5% instead of 95%.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I also bake in Florida. Crispy crust results each time I bake lean doughs (68% hydration). I preheat my stone to 500°F (I check it with an infrared radiation thermometer). I bake with steam for the first 10 or 15 mins, with the oven in normal "Bake" mode (no convection fan) at 450°F.  I remove the steam source, and vent the oven, switch to "Convection" mode, and finish the bake at the same temperature. Typical interior temperature range between 205°F and 208°F, and the crumb is always fully developed. I don't bake the first half in :Convection" mode because I found the convection fan was drying  the surface of the loaves, unevenly, causing uneven oven spring.

I get crispy crust every time. However, within a few hours after cooling, and especially if I put the cooled bread in a plastic bag, the crust  softens. In my opinion, it is inevitable. To expect anything else, you'd have to change some physical laws: notably partial pressure behaviors.

Come serving time I've found an acceptable solution. I preheat the oven to 375°F, and about fifiteen minutes before serving the bread I place it in the oven: baguettes for 5 mins, sourdough loaves (any size) for 7 minutes.  If the bread is frozen, I thaw it completely, before heating it. We gift loaves to a lot of friends and family. We've printed stickers with these instructions on them. Everyone has reported it works like a charm. And, two or three hours after your dinner guests have gone home, happy; the crust is soft again.

David

petercook's picture
petercook

I agree with all that is said above. During the years that I lived in the Philippines, with it's super-high humidity, I had the exact same problem. Several wonderful bakers came to my rescue. For me the first problem was ensuring that the internal loaf was done at the exact time as the crust was done. For this I STRONGLY recommend that you get as good an instant read thermometer as you can afford. I bake mine to an internal temp of 215F. Next I was advised to A) turn the loaves upside down, when cooling, so the steam rises up through the BOTTOM and not through the crust and B) to cool them in front of an air-conditioner. Bizzare, but it worked. Having said that, you shoud know that in New Orleans they produce the finest French bread in the U.S. and it sure is hot and humid there. How they keep a crisp crust is  big mystery but I suspect that it envolves chemicals. But whatever you do, do not, repeat do not put the loaves into a plastic bag. An open ended PAPER bag is required to help keep the crust brittle.