The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Leathery crust, and rubbery crumb.

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Allenph's picture
Allenph

Leathery crust, and rubbery crumb.

I know these are tow things most of you probably consider abominable. But, with my recent escapade into the world of artisan French bread, I have found much to be desired. A huge amount of work, and time, with preferments, folding, raising, kneading and the like, all to end up with a hard crust, and a slightly dry crumb. At this point, I'm willing to temporarily abandon the practice of using only the four ingredients, and opting for some more...diversity. 

If any of you have ever bought "French bread" from the supermarket, you know what I'm talking about. This leathery crust, and a rubbery crumb that you want to pull out with your hands and roll into a ball. While it's probably not the most...aristocratically oriented, I for one prefer it to what I've been baking. 

I'm looking for a recipe to produce a similar product. Probably laden with eggs, and various other fats, in addition to a relatively large mountain of sugar. 

Thank you my friends, as always, for any help given. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

does not sound very good.  If fact it sounds awful to me. Leather to me is like my jacket and rubber best describes Dolly's favorite chew toy.  I think I need a different description here...  just for my sanity  ... and you are looking for leathery crust, and a rubbery crumb.  

Hard crust and slightly dry crumb is predictable.  If this is not what you like, find out what makes them hard and dry. Focus on the particulars, write everything down ...then change the method to something else for a different crust and crumb.  The 4 basic ingredients can be soooo manipulated!  

But if you want a brioche, then by golly why substitute around, make one!  :)

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Perhaps my description was not the best, for the sake of the sanity of my friends, let me clarify. 

An bread with thin crust, and all around extremely chewy, 

I was unaware there was anything more effecting artisan bread but the kneading method, hydration, raising time, preferment, and baking temperature. I also thought that any differences in any of these except perhaps hydration, would be negligible, and would never produce what I'm looking for. It's quite likely that I'm wrong, however. 

golgi70's picture
golgi70

You are "fortunately" wrong and with some manipulation can achieve superior French bread. Might I ask you share your current formula and process that makes less than desirable bread. My guess is you are making a basic sourdougH. A simple poolish bread is what you are looking for.   You want crisp fluffy and chewy.  Fill us in and ill see if I can dig up a good formula. 

josh

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Thanks for the interest

Josh, this is what I've been using...

Poolish (30% as opposed to the focaccia's 50%)

150 Grams Flour
150 Grams Water
Pinch Yeast

Allowed to ferment in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap on the counter for 16 hours, our house is at a constant 68 F. By adding the plastic wrap, I was hoping to avoid creating any kind of sour dough, as I dislike the taste of sourdough. 

Dough

350 Grams Flour 
240 Grams Water
10 Grams Salt
5 Grams Yeast

First, I let the poolish ferment, as predefined. After that, I add 15 grams of the flour into the 240 grams of water allocated for the dough and whisk together with my yeast. As I have active dry yeast, I allow it to sit in the dark, non-heated oven for about ten minutes. During this time, I whisk my remaining flour and salt together. When that's finished, I add the yeast mixture to the poolish, and whisk in the flour and salt mixture half a cup at a time, until it becomes thick enough that I require a wooden spoon to mix the dough. When all of the ingredients have been combined I knead the slop using the slap-and-fold method until it becomes a dough. I flour a stainless steel mixing bowl, preshape my dough into a round, and allow the round to rise, again in the unheated, dark oven, for about an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size. While it's rising, I flour the only thing I have to bake bread on, a cookie sheet. After the dough has doubled, I weigh out pieces around 250 grams. Typically I have one that I can make exactly 250 grams, and one that is slightly larger, or smaller. Again, I preshape these pieces into rounds and allow them to rest for twenty minutes. Immediately afterwards I use my hand to flatten them into squares, fold each of the top corners in like a paper airplane, and then fold the new triangle down, and the bottom up creating a kind of cylindrical shape, then I carefully roll the baguettes out on the clean floured counter-top. I place the newly shaped baugettes  onto the cookie sheet, and put them in the unheated oven to rise for about an hour and a half. When their finished raising I preheat the oven, and before I put them in at 425 F I score them. When the bread goes in I steam the oven by taking some water in my hands and throwing it onto the heating element of my oven. I bake until I can flick the bread and it sounds hollow, typically around 20-25 minutes. 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

your description takes to a single direction: you are using a flour too rich in gluten. The result is what you can see: awful gumminess all around.  Hard wheat flours take too much chew if used in purity.

Try to cut that flour with half cake flour, or use a flour with significantly lower protein content (although I prefer the first method). Keep in mind that french flours are much weaker than american ones (even slightly weaker than the crappy italian flours!) and prone to yeald doughs that are much more extensible and much less elastic.

 

 

 

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Well, I' not getting that chewy texture, I'm getting a dry bread. In fact, I'm trying to attain what you probably think is terrible bread, I want that chewiness.

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

actually I hate chewiness more than anything else:), but if you say your crumb is dry  the first thing to analyze is hydratation. How much water do you use? With higher hydratations (~70%) you are forced to knead extensively to develop a very resistant gluten that will result in the chewy crumb you are looking for, unless  you  retard your dough for a significant amount of time.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

so the insides don't dry out so much.  Higher heat traps more moisture in the crumb during baking.