The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread troubleshooting, crumb & shape-related (ABin5 recipe)

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fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

Bread troubleshooting, crumb & shape-related (ABin5 recipe)

Hi all,

New here and a newbie baker. I've been browsing the site for a while and it's been very informative. I'm hoping I could also get a few tips on how to improve my bread. I'm using the basic recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. My initial ingredients were:

870g white flour (bleached, that's what I had at hand)

628g water (I went for 72% based on an interview I saw here with the authors)

1tbsp salt

1 1/2 packets active dry yeast

The rise was 5 hrs long, followed by about 2 days in the fridge. My first loaf out of this dough came out with a very tight crumb. So for my second loaf (~450 g of dough), I tried increasing proof time to 120 mins (~70F in the kitchen) and making longer slashes. I baked this in a preheated oven, on a cookie sheet, middle rack, for 30 mins at 450F. I have an oven thermometer, so I'm pretty confident the temperature was constantly between 450 and 475F. I then let the loaf cool for about 4 hours before I sliced into it. You can see the result below. I think I'm happy with the crust and the crumb is a little better than last time, but it looks like there's a lot of room for improvement. I'm also confused about the shape of the bread. I don't know why one slash ended up so much bigger than the other (does this have to do with how deep I made the slashes?) and why the bread looks kind of... uneven?

 

Any tips? I'm not sure what I should try tweaking next. 

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Uneven slashes may be due to depth of cut, shaping, or proofing. 

Other changes to consider:

  1. Reduce yeast (by 50%), and reduce initial rise.  5 hours at room temp for bulk ferment seems like a long time for that initial rise, especially given ~1.1% yeast. Probably 1 hour with original yeast will do, maybe 2 hours with the reduced amount.  The benefits will be increased longevity in the fridge, and more time = more flavor development. 
  2. Bump up hydration to 75% or higher (even according to their web site, the authors recommend higher hydrations)

 

fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

Thanks cranbo! Will try this with the next batch.

isand66's picture
isand66

You should also get a baking stone and use steam. For the first20 minutes of your bake.  This will dramatically improve your crust and crumb.  

fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

I'm using their method (pot of hot water on the lowest shelf at the moment). Should I be doing something more about steam? A baking stone is on my wishlist, but it's a big investment to make right now :P.

cranbo's picture
cranbo

If you have a large oven-proof pot or cast iron dutch oven, try baking with the loaf in the pot, with cover on for the first 15 min and uncovered for the remaining time. This way the steam generated by the bread baking has much the same effect as generating steam in the oven. 

(FYI, you can pre-heat the pot, but I find it nearly as effective placing the dough in a cold pot, and with substantially lower risk of handling hot cookware). 

fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

I don't have one, unfortunately. That's on my wishlist too. I did try that method a while ago, when my ex-roommate had a cast iron dutch oven, with the Lahey no-knead bread. The crust was better than I'm getting now, but I remember I still had problems with the crumb. And that's what I don't like most about my results right now . :(

isand66's picture
isand66

Make sure to only use about 1 cup of water or you will end up with too much steam.  When you can afford it a baking stone will make a big difference.  If you have a tile store or home improvement store near you, it's possible to find unglazed quarry tiles that you can buy very cheaply and use that instead of a baking stone.

fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

Will do that, thanks!

EvaB's picture
EvaB

laid it out, and I don't remember that much salt in the recipe, I only ever had the bread raise 2 hours or so on the counter, and then refrigerated it. My fridge is set colder than normal so have to let it raise longer once its out for baking. But I simply don't remember 1 tblsp of salt anywhere in the recipe, can't read the book as its in a box somewhere at the moment.

fischflosse's picture
fischflosse

Hmmm. The recipe says "1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt". I'm using about 1 tablespoon table salt, trying to compensate for difference in grind level.

And yeah, that was a pretty long first rise on my first batch. I guess it was kind of chilly in the kitchen and I tried to go by the "until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top)" instruction. But I stuck to 2 hours on batch #2. 

EvaB's picture
EvaB

pickling salt they talk of would probably equal a tsp of ground salt, salt slows the process a whole lot, so try it with a lot less salt go for a tsp and half and see how that goes.