The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crackley crust achieved! (Baguette surprise, continued)

  • Pin It
dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Crackley crust achieved! (Baguette surprise, continued)

I made another batch of the baguettes described previously in http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11925/baguette-surprise-and-challenge.


The only significant changes in the procedure were:1) I did not add the salt until after a 50 minute autolyse, 2) I was more meticulous in gently pre-shaping and shaping and 3) I let the loaves proof more fully. 4) I also poured about twice as much water over the pre-heated lava rocks to steam the oven.


Well, there's good news and bad news: The bad news is that I seem to have over-proofed the baguettes a bit, resulting in my scoring not opening up real well. The good news is, first, the flavor of this batch is equal to the first. I'm ready to conclude this recipe is reproducible in my hands. Second, the crumb is significantly more open. And third, I have finally achieved the crackley (rather than crunchy) crust I have been seeking on my baguettes! I am really delighted.


The crust is thin and it sang loudly for a long time while cooling. Cracks developed in the crust. It breaks off in thin, sharp-edged flakes when you bite it! Woo Hoo! I am pretty sure the cause was the extra steam created by the combination of lava rocks and extra water.




Now, I have to test the steaming enhancement with other baguette formulas.


David

Comments

jj1109's picture
jj1109

awesome! i'll have to try that - i'm planning some pain'l'ancienne this weekend so that will be the perfect time to try.

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

David, Way to go...very nice work on these special baguettes!


Sylvia

ehanner's picture
ehanner

David,


Yes, one of the most interesting results for me of testing your method for quick baguettes is the crispy and crackly crust. I love the crust and the effect of it breaking off as you eat it.


Do you think there is any real difference when you hold back the salt until after the autolyse? I've read the arguments for doing so but when I mix a batch by hand and employ this method, I can feel the salt in the dough for a long time. I've never been convinced that it diffuses into the dough evenly. In fact if I recall, Calvel once said he sometimes adds the salt to the water to assure it is dissolved.


Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Eric.


I really don't have a sense that adding salt from the start or after an autolyse makes a significant difference. I understand the reasons for delaying the salt addition, but does it make a noticeable difference in the end? I don't know.


David

wally's picture
wally

Hi David,


Just came across this as I was searching for entries under 'crackly crust.'  Today I baked baguettes with poolish using Hamelman's recipe (slightly modified to match the measures we used in our course).  This recipe makes use of autolyse; however, because of the poolish the yeast and salt have to be added prior to the autolyse.


My slashes are still not what I'm trying to accomplish - and I think part of this is a moisture problem because I'm using a gas oven which vents the steam I create almost immediately.  So my loaves looked a lot like yours.


However, once I removed the baguettes from the oven, they almost immediately begain to 'sing' and long cracks developed along the length of the bread.  It is the most wonderful crust I've ever achieved - extremely thin and crunchy - and the crumb has a wonderful moistness and flavor.  I could live with the bad scoring to achieve this result consistently.


Anyhow, aside from wanting to share this, I did want to call attention to the fact that we approached the autolyse very differently with respect to when the salt and yeast were added, but achieved identical results in terms of the crackly crust - so you are probably right that this isn't a critical factor in the outcome.


Larry

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Larry.


I have the dough for DonD's hybrid baguettes fermenting. I'm going to try baking them according to his specifications.


I did a 20 min. autolyse before adding the yeast and salt. I know it is supposed to make a difference, but I really don't "get it" in terms of the outcome.


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I've been trying to get my hands on a bag of lava rock, but every time I go the the Ace hardware store they are out. I had them order me a bag Sat. morning, so with a little luck I'll have them mid week.


The crust on your loaves does look very crackely and the crumb, very open. I'm anxious to try your surprise baguettes again with white whole wheat.


Thanks for keeping us current on your project.


--Pamela

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

For those still looking for lava rocks, I found a bag at Lowes in the barbeque department.


Patricia

proth5's picture
proth5

if the heavy steaming had an impact on your scoring opening.  I've had a lot of trouble with that if I get over enthusiastic on the steaming. Of course, the tradeoff is the more open crumb and the great crust.


Did you feel the loaves were over proofed prior to loading them or did you just come to that conclusion because of the way the slashes opened?  Just wondering.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

The crackly crust is really quite an accomplishment. Narrowing down why and reproducing it will require some experimentation.


I've been making the 1 day baguette recipe that you wrote about (as I told you earlier, I had developed an almost identical recipe), and it is quite reproduceable, but I've been having a really hard time getting the slashing to look good. It comes out looking like the slashing in your pictures. Hmmm. I've been using the cup of hot water in the oven then load the bread, then another cup after two minutes method, and it may very well be too much steam. Or something else...overproofing? I did a long back on Saturday with a bunch of other people, and some of the loaves came out with the golden crackly crust and others came out brown and thick crusted. We were baking a lot of loaves and using a cast iron skillet that didn't have enough area to evaporate all the water, so some of the loaves got loaded without the burst of steam, just the ongoing steam from the gradual boiling off in the pan. The burst of steam must be important to the crackliness; I also wonder if individual shaping techniques had anything to do with it. I have stopped doing a firm shaping and am just gathering and rolling out the baguettes, and I seem to have better oven spring and more open crust. One of the problems seems to be getting all the different results without a real control system, so observation and guessing takes the day. I'm going to go back to trying to control each step, and I'll report back.


Please keep us posted!


Thanks,


Patricia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Patricia.


You change one thing and it has the desired effect plus 3 unanticipated effects. <sigh>


I do feel that progress is being made. I agree with your comment about trying to control as many variables as possible. Let's keep plugging away and sharing results and thoughts.


David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Pat.


Great questions! I know they are great because they are the questions I've been asking myself. ;-)


Crackley crust/Bloom tradeoff: In theory, steam should enhance both. I'm thinking of the photos of baguettes baked with and without steam in Hamelman. But, what's the effect of "too much" steam.? The only one I'm sure of is increased starch gelatinization, leading to an extremely shiney crust.


Over-proofing: No! I did not feel the loaves were over-proofed when I loaded them. They had not yet doubled in volume, and the finger press test had the dough springing back slowly, not staying indented.


One other variable (although I'm not sure its effect): I proofed en couche. The kitchen was warm. (It was 106F outside yesterday!) There was more drying of the surface of the loaves than usual. I thought that might increase ear formation and bloom, but it didn't work that way.


Any other ideas?


David

proth5's picture
proth5

To quote from "Bread, etc." 



the consequences (of oversteaming) are flattened loaves with a thick chewy crust and cuts that don't spring open



Now, you don't seem to have gotten a thick chewy crust, but those cuts - they are not pretty (and yours usually are..).  Maybe you dried the outside enough by proofing on a couche to keep the crust from going chewy, but oversteamed enough to take it out of your slashing.  Don't know. Just guessing.


It's too hot to bake today, but later in the week they are predicting low temps and I think I can find some commercial yeast.  I'll give a try on a 68% hydration straight dough (which would be the equivalent of my weekly baguette) keeping everything else consistent with my normal method (and I'm nothing if not consistent) and let you know the results.  Haven't done a straight dough in years.  I hope it's like riding a bike.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

This seems to happen to me when my dough is really hydrated, e.g. SFSD. I guess I've sort of come to accept it on the premise that wet dough gives me big holes. It is also more pronounced when I use a cloche. But, using a clothe also gives me bigger volume. I don't have my lava rocks yet so I can't compare them to the cloche. I'm very happy with the open crumb structure, degree of sourness and volume, but the looks, are not so great.


When I made your Surprise Baguettes, I don't remember the dough being slack.


--Pamela

isobel gildon's picture
isobel gildon

Great Loaves! I have been having a lot of success with baguettes recently, both with a sourdough starter and with instant yeast but there is one problem. The crust looks matt and dull and does not shine like a true French baguette. It tastes excellent and I am No 1 Favourite Wife with He Who Must Be Obeyed, but I want shine! Any ideas?


Isobel in Suffolk, England

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

A shiney crust is the result of gelatinization of starch. It needs time to form before browning of the crust. The way to achieve it is by having a very moist oven environment during the first part of the bake.


There are any number of ways to steam your oven. The easiest is to pre-heat a cast iron skillet (or other recepticle) in the oven and pour a cup or so of boiling water into it right when you load the loaves, then shut the oven door fast. (It's best to wear an oven mitt to protect yourself from steam burns when you do this.) You can remove the skillet with any water that is left after a few minutes.


Another method is to cover your loaves with a pan or bowl for the first part of the bake, so the water that evaporates from the loaf stays in contact with the loaf.


You may also find improved oven spring and blooming of your cuts as a result.


Of course, you can also get a shinier crust by glazing your loaf after baking, but that's not the same.


If you have any questions about this, please ask.


David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I have my best luck getting a shine on the crust when I use no or very little flour when shaping. Using a cloche cloth dusted with cloth has its place but I find proofing on parchment cloche (pull a barrier up between the loaves) and cover with plastic wrap.


Eric

mredwood's picture
mredwood

Pamela, Try the rock yards that sell landscaping rocks. You don't need many of them & they hold the water & release steam for a while.


Mariah

xaipete's picture
xaipete

If my local Ace doesn't come through, I'll give your suggestion a try.


--Pamela

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Pamela, Home Depot has bags of Lava Rock.  They are used for replacement and filling gas grills.


Sylvia


 

mredwood's picture
mredwood

David,


I can hardly wait to bake baguettes again. I have had one amazing success and other pretty good results. I am a fan of Giusto's and actually have both flours in the house. Your pictures make me want to take a bite. 


Mariah

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I've also started spraying my baguettes before I put them in the oven, in addition to the initial steaming. (Still working on the lava rocks, but will do the first bake with them tomorrow). I'll let you know what happens!


Patricia

tjkoko's picture
tjkoko

The earlier salt is added tothe dough, the tighter it becomes.  I'd recommend delaying addition of salt until Dmsnyder recommends.

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

What a great looking crumb!  Absolutely perfect!


 


I need to make some baguettes again..... soon!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Try this one.


I had some of a second baguette from this batch with dinner tonight. (Salmon with agrodolce sauce and a salad - butter lettuce, roasted pecans and maytag blue with a mustard vinaigrette)


I thawed it on the counter for 30 minutes then refreshed it in the oven at 375F for 6 minutes. It was like fresh-baked with a crackly crust and tender-chewy crumb. The taste was sweet classic baguette, like the best ever.


This is a weekend bake. It is not amenable to a workday schedule, but you can start it by noon and have it baked and cooled for dinner.


David

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Hi, David,


Have you ever tried rinsing a frozen loaf and putting it straight into a 350-375 degree oven? It will thaw and crisp (and make like fresh-baked) a frozen loaf, and it will revive a tired, slightly stale loaf. By rinsing, I mean wetting it all over under running water. Even a loaf that's been cut in half will respond well to this treatment, although the cut end will come out more like toast.


The salad you made is a favorite of mine. Add ripe pears, of course, in summer...Yay!


Cheers,


Patricia


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Patricia.


I have never heard of that procedure! Let's see .... Nope. It's not April 1.


I have some sorry old too-long-frozen breads I would be willing to sacrifice in the interest of science. I'll try it.


Re. Salad: We do usually add pears to this salad. It's one of our favorites, too. We like the pears fresh, cut in thin wedges. They are also good tossed in a little olive oil and roasted before they go in the salad.


David

mredwood's picture
mredwood

David please,


Please some send me a link or post one once again for that recipe. I am still not too good about getting around on the site and finding stuff once the day is past. Give it a special name and maybe I could search. 


Thank you

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

I don't think I can do the baguettes this weekend, but I am saving this recipe for sure


 


Since I started the BBA Challenge, my schedule of baking is all twisted around it...


 


Brioche comes next!!!!

sephiepoo's picture
sephiepoo

I've made these baguettes twice, with a couple minor adjustments (I don't have WW flour, sadly) and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that for the first time ever, my baguettes have finally sprung nice and tall instead of to the side! I just took attempt no. 2 out of the oven, and they're singing to me as I type :)


The first time, I substituted rye for the ww, and they had a nice nutty flavour.  This time, I went with all bread flour, and added 100g of starter discard (from the overflowing container in the fridge) just to see what would happen - and remembered to adjust the hydration to get it back to 70%.  I'm kind of excited to see what these look like inside and how they taste!


Thanks, David, for all your hard work and for sharing.

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

It came out great. Thanks for starting all this, David. Great inspiration!


I used 150 g starter and 50 g rye. KA bread flour. Good flavor, nice, think crispy crust.


Patricia

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

OK, I got the Giusto flour in the mail and had the white KA and made the recipe exactly as directed.


Great results-good flavor, crackly crust. At 6000 ft, a real winner.


Meanwhile, have you made pizza with this dough? It makes a great crust--I think my favorite so far.


I also make the recipe adding 150 g of starter and 50 g of rye. I do it in a day, and it comes out great, with deeper flavor...but that wasn't the challenge.


Nice to have a good, afternoon baguette recipe. As my husband put it, "It looks and tastes sort of like a commercial loaf, but much better." Someday I will have pics...;).


Patricia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your variation sounds great. I'll have to try it.


I have not used this dough for anything except baguettes. But I am looking for a pizza dough I really like, so this is now a candidate based on your endorsement.


I assume you make the pizzas after the bulk fermentation, right? Have you tried refrigerating or freezing the dough after dividing it into pizza-sized pieces?


David

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

Yes, I make the pizza shape after the bulk fermentation. I divide the dough and let it rest, then shape it into pizza dough and let it rise again for 30-45 minutes. I don't think the timing of the second rise is as important as with baguettes since so much of the dough is in contact with the hot stone. It gets crisp on the bottom and blown up and crunchy on the crust. I also made rolls and epi with the dough, and all came out great.



I have frozen some in a pizza-sized glob, but haven't tried it yet. I have refrigerated the dough overnight, both with the full amount of yeast and with half as much. At this altitude, the dough is a little too enthusiastic with the full amount of yeast and is ready to go before I am. After folding it and baking the next day, it tasted too yeasty to me. Half a teaspoon works just right.


Patricia

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I think I should clarify that the additions I referred to of starter and rye to the original recipe were just that: additions. I didn't change the recipe in any other way, and it is very slack.


Patricia

Imspartacus's picture
Imspartacus

I discovered this post a few days ago (Thanks David) and decided to give it a try since I'm always on the lookout to make the perfect Baguette. Though my effort was not perfect I was very pleased with the results. The few changes I made to David's formula are (1) I used a brand of white flour available in Australia called "Defiance - Baker's Flour", 12.5% protein (we don't have the brand David mentioned); and (2) I mixed all the ingredients (including yeast but not salt) to hydration and then autolysed for about 50 min, and then added salt and kneaded for 7 min in the kenwood mixer. 

As I say I was very pleased with the result but (1) my baguettes don't sing and I do so want them to sing and (2) my crusts only stay hard for about an hour or so and they're only just crispy (not as crispy as I would like).  Nevertheless I think I'm very close with this formula (thanks again David) and so any suggestions anyone can offer will be most gratefully received.  

Sorry the pics are a bit blurry.   Regards to you all

   

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David