The Fresh Loaf

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Budding Bread Baker needs assistance

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danthebakerman's picture

Budding Bread Baker needs assistance


My name is Dan, and I'm just out of college for baking, and I'm truly giving it my all to be the best baker I possibly can be. I've baked some loaves lately, and I would like you lovely folks to judge them for me. 

This first loaf (above this text) I made ohh... about 3 weeks ago, this was my first attempt. The inside crumb was "closed up" - just like a regular loaf of sandwich bread. 

This was my second attempt (once again, above this text) - Same exact recipe and everything. I'm just using the "Sweet French Bread" recipe from Peter Reinhart's "Brother Juniper's Bread Book". The crumb was the same, I'm trying to get one recipe (along with one hydration level) down before I change anything. This way I can hopefully get my shaping / scoring abilities better. 


Last set of loaves I made, I made these about 2-3 days ago. Once again, same recipe, same hydration level, same proofing time, etc. The only differences that I made here were that I added a bit of dry milk powder to hopefully get better volume and I brushed olive oil on the outside before baking to get a crispier crust. I did score these differently, I scored these the way they're supposed to be scored, with a lame at a 45 degree angle, the other two loaves were cuts straight down. 


Any other information that may be useful - 

For ALL loaves, I used a 50/50 mix of King-Arthur AP Flour with Bread Flour

I only use plain spring water, our everyday drinking water

I attempt to create a steam oven by using a cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven, and I pour boiling water into the pan fast and close the oven door ASAP

I baked all of these loaves just on a sheet pan


If anyone could be of assistance, it would be greatly appreciated!!!!! 


cranbo's picture

your bakes look great, some really deep color which is great. what baking time and temps? And what kind of oven? 

would love to see some crumb photos. 

looks like the 2nd one has more crust blistering (also something I like), did you cold ferment (or cold proof) that one? 

nice job! 




danthebakerman's picture

Baking Time - About 20 mins & Temp is 450

Type of Oven - Your standard electric "nothing special" oven that most households have

And I did not cold ferment the second loaf, I think it's because I very liberally applied cold water to the loaf before I put it in the oven to hopefuly get a better oven spring.


and Thank You! :)

barryvabeach's picture

Dan,  I am no professional, but a few ideas.  First, you are right to stay with one recipe a while to work with it enough to have it down pat -  it really helps to make multiple loaves, and make slight variations to see the impact. In terms of oven spring, one critical factor is how long you final proof.  If you under proof, you will get a slight spring, if you wait too long, it will have no spring, or even start to fall as it bakes.  One of the best things to do is to make a number of loaves, and put one in 10 minutes before you think it is ready, one right on time and one 10 minutes later and see what has the best spring.   Then repeat and change the center time to align with the best spring for the first test. Other variations include the amount of hydration and salt - again make numerous loaves and keep trying - it really helps to have a mixer to handle small amounts of dough like the Bosch compact.  Other things to play with is how much gluten development - if you get it too well developed, that can hinder the spring, so make a large batch, take out one loaf, knead a while longer, take out another third, and knead some more and compare the results.  Second.  while professionals want a loaf to have a very particular look - especially with scoring, I think the people who consume your bread will not be as caught up in that as much as how it tastes .  While ultimately, you want something that looks great and tastes great, I would focus on getting the taste right first, and play with the scoring as you go.  Once you have the spring and taste settled, it should be easier to settle in on the scoring.   

chefscook's picture

I am not a professional you breads look good one looked kind of burnt but I bet it was good it is good that you use the same recipe I wish  you the best in bread baking I make breads all kinds I make a lot of sourdoughs 

                                                      thank you


danthebakerman's picture

Thank You Everyone for your comments! Anything is greatly appreciated, and I try to take everything into consideration. Today I tried a different baguette recipe from King Arthur Flour (in their "Baker's Companion" cookbook) It was a higher hydration recipe (Not sure what %, but the dough did stick to your finger when pressed) and it did require a poolish. I let the poolish sit in my proofer at 70 for about 18 hours, it did seem very bubbly and aerated (exactly what the recipe said it should be) I even did a 3 hr. autolyse this morning, and I intentionally under-mixed the dough and here's the results.....


My only problem? One big hole in the middle of one of the loaves....


My personal review - My scoring could have been a little better, and besides the big hole, both of the loaves had outstanding flavor, my family ate a loaf and a half just at supper alone! It has a small tang with all kinds of subtle flavors, probably one of the better loaves I've made in awhile. The interior crumb is a nice creamy yellow, and the "chew" factor is a little crunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside. 

barryvabeach's picture

  • Dan,  I assume you have already read Hamelman's book Bread, if not, it is a must.  He has a great baguette recipe that uses a large amount of poolish, and describes why he wants to under mix the dough, and use a stretch and fold to build strength without diminishing taste.  I like the scoring on this loaf better, though again I think you want to focus on getting great texture and taste first, then spend time on scoring.  You should also check out Hamelman's videos on Youtube.   


I don't think he has a dvd , but if he did I would definitely buy it.