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Help diagnose my lava rock steamed loaf

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emkay's picture
emkay

Help diagnose my lava rock steamed loaf

I finally found some lava rocks at the home improvement store and was excited to try them to generate steam in my oven. I preheated my oven to 500F with the baking stone and a pan of lava rocks. When the oven was ready, I loaded my bread onto the hot stone, put a perforated pie pan filled with ice cubes on top of the hot lava rocks, and decreased the oven temperature to 450F. I removed the pan of lava rocks after 20 minutes (all water was gone by then) and let the loaf bake for another 18 minutes.

The scored loaf bloomed open like crazy during those first 20 minutes. It's more bloom than I've ever gotten with a Dutch oven, combo cooker, stainless steel bowl cover, or hot soaking wet towels. I didn't get any ears and the bloom looks haphazard and out of control for lack of a better description. I also didn't get the lovely blisters and golden shiny crust that I normally get.

Using lava rocks, how do I get the blisters and shiny crust that I get with other methods? I like the bloom, but how do I get a bloom that isn't so haphazard?

Here are the details:

15% whole grain rye flour and 47% levain.

Hydration was 63%.

Bulk fermented for 3 hours at room temp (70F), shape retarded for 16 hours in the refrigerator (40F).

My oven is gas.

Amount of ice cubes = 300 grams.

june1a june1b june1d june1_crumb

Overall the bread tasted really good. The crumb was nice. The crust was still crisp on day 2, but still very easy to cut through.

Thanks!

Mary

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

 I see you say the scored loaf bloomed like crazy.  I think you have a great bread but it looks to me like you did not score it based on the photo of the dough...

But, since you say it was scored, I think you'll need to explain how you did it for a better diagnosis... how deep and at what angle to the bread....

emkay's picture
emkay

 but probably did a poor job. It was a single slash down the center at a 45 degree angle. Depth was maybe 4-5 mm deep.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I am sure that will help someone give you an answer. It seems like a very shallow score (not that I necessarily do it deeper, but when I see videos of people doing it, it seems like they may be scoring 1/2-1 cm.

nmygarden's picture
nmygarden

Wow, you did get bloom, any more and it may have burst through the oven door!

I can't help with your question, still new enough to feel more lucky than skilled when my bread comes out well. But I know it when I see it and I'm lookin' at it right now. Well done!

Cathy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

1. The overly exuberant bloom suggests you under-proofed your loaf.

2. The pale, dull crust suggests under-steaming. This is an issue with gas ovens which tend to vent more than electric ones. I have no really experience with gas ovens, but I have the impression Syvia's steamy towel method works best, if you don't want to cover the loaves with a bowl, roaster, or the like. 

Regarding scoring: 4-5 mm deep is fine for a 63% hydration loaf. You might try scoring at a shallower angle, like 30 degrees. But I suspect your explosive bloom obliterated your ears (Sounds like acoustic trauma, but ear plugs won't help this problem.), so, if you proof a bit more fully, you may find nice ears on your loaves. 

Let us know how you do next time.

David

P.S. We're fine tuning here. Basically, I think that's a fine-looking bread. Nice job!

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Your loaf looks beautiful to me, Artisan bread and Rustic.

You can  be proud of yourself.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

I sure like the way it looks.  Your crumb looks good and open.  Nice ear, too.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

As Petra said, it looks lovely and rustic.  I don't know what else you'd want.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

me too and you were likely  under proofed.  What you want to do is fill the pan at least half full of water and put it in the oven 25 degrees below your pre heat set point.  15 minutes later, steam will be billowing and will last for at least the 15 minutes rewired for a good steam ( it takes less time than when using a DO).  I also use 2 of Sylvia's steaming pans among with the lava rocks too.  This  will give you enough steam as you can get in a gas oven.  If you bake the dough cold right out of the fridge the blisters will reappear - most likely .....but less so with a more whole grain bread.

Now you are starting to cook with gas.  Well done and happy baking  

tchism's picture
tchism

I would increase your proof time by about 30 min. and see what that does for you. Also try misting your loaf just before you bake to help with blisters although the cold ferment usually is more responsible for that.

Over all a good looking loaf! The crumb is great! Looks yummy to me!

 

emkay's picture
emkay

I suspected that the extreme bloom was due to underproofing. I will make sure to proof the dough a bit more fully next time. I'm a bit clumsy with Sylvia's steamy wet towel method, but I will try it in conjunction with the lava rocks with the hope of getting more steam.

Overall I was happy with this loaf, but I'm still learning and always looking to improve.Thanks for all the help!

:) Mary

emkay's picture
emkay

I made David's San Joaquin SD, but I used 15% whole rye and 5% whole wheat. I did the bulk fermentation at room temp for 4 hours (with 5 S&F) and then retarded at 40F for 18 hours. Preshaped and bench rested for 1 hour. Shaped and proofed in baskets (one lined, one unlined) for 1 hour at room temp.

I used two different methods for steaming. The loaf on the left was baked in an enameled cast iron pot. The loaf on the right was baked on a stone with lava rocks, hot water and ice cubes in conjunction with Sylvia's steaming towel method. Baking time was 38 minutes at 450F (19 minutes with steam and then 19 minutes without steam). Both loaves "sang" while cooling. [Ugh! My shaping technique definitely needs some work.]

sjsd_june9_caption

I got what could be considered an ear using the cast iron pot. And even though you can't really see them in the photo, I got blisters too. The lava rock loaf had barely any ears and there were no blisters.

sjsd_june9_ears

Considering it was 20% whole grain, both loaves were remarkably light and airy. The crumb on the cast iron loaf was nice, but it wasn't as open and holey as the crumb on the lava rock loaf. I preferred the crumb of the lava rock loaf.

sjsd_june9_crumb

Both loaves were delicious, so it was a very successful bake. I will try to make more steam next time by using even more lava rocks and an additional loaf pan with steaming towels.

Mary

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The bloom is nice without being over the top. The crumb photos suggest optimal fermentation and proofing. Pretty much perfect, I'd say. The slice profile certainly doesn't suggest poor shaping. I suspect you might still be scoring a little too deeply, resulting in collapse of your ears ... well, the loaves' ears.

The big difference between the loaves is the crust, and that reflects the difference in steaming. I wouldn't discourage you from trying to get more steam to stay in your oven. Sylvia's steaming towel technique is probably your best bet next to covering the loaves or getting an electric oven. 

Good luck with your quest!

David

emkay's picture
emkay

Dr David - It never occurred to me that the ears collapsed. I will be sure to be more careful with my scoring next time. Fingers crossed!

I've considered buying an inexpensive dent-and-scratch electric oven to put in my garage for baking bread. The breads that came out of the SFBI home-model oven with the lava rocks and ice looked great and the crumb was just like the ones we baked in the pro deck oven. Miyuki said they just went to Lowe's and bought the cheapest electric oven they could find.

I forgot to mention that the SJSD is wonderful bread. Even though the SJSD ratios are very similar to the Tartine basic country, the resulting bread is quite different. Does it have to do with the cold 18-24 hr bulk fermentation ala Bouabsa? I think I might try a long, cold bulk with my next Tartine loaf to see what happens. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, I have little experience with gas ovens. One of my sons - the one I infected with lactobacilli - has one. He does well, using Sylvia's steaming towels, I think. I'm going to visit him tomorrow and will check on this. But, I'm sure, there is a lot of variability in how vigorously gas ovens vent your steam.  Getting an un-fancy electric oven may be the best solution. At least in my area, most garages are wired for appliances. Just check the reviews. Even and accurate heating is important, as you know. 

It seems to me that the flavor of the Tartine BCB and the SJSD are pretty similar, but not identical. Besides the basic formulas, they also have in common an initial longish bulk fermentation. That's the single biggest factor in flavor, I think. The cold retardation is a factor, certainly. The procedure of dividing the dough and pre-shaping then an hour's rest before final shaping and proofing is unique to the Bouabsa technique.

If I remember correctly, Bouabsa developed these procedures with scheduling in mind more than flavor development. It certainly does develop the flavor though. It is also the one bread I make without ever consulting a written formula. I make it so often .... Well, I haven't actually baked any since ... yesterday.

Happy baking!

David

golgi70's picture
golgi70

pour cold water into the lava rocks right before closing Oven door. That along with a pan of steam towels is the best I've been able to muster in my gas oven.

I score loaves and loaf on stone. Grab my tongs and slide tray with rocks out just enough to pour into and so the oven door will push it back in after. I'm very careful to pour away swiftly so I don't get bit by the steam. An oven glove might help here.

I use a roaster pan for the rocks and pour about 3 cups of water in. I put my steam towels in 20 minutes before loading. It's a bit dangerois but not so bad as long as your careful. This adds the big burst of steam at the onset and the combo adds good residual steam.  I pull them bout 17 minutes and both pans are still steaming pretty strongly. 

cheers

josh

emkay's picture
emkay

Your loaves always look great, Josh. Do you bake in a gas oven? I will take your advice and try towels for presteaming and a bigger pan of rocks. Right now my pan is only 10x10-inch. Nice tip about using the oven door to slide the rocks back into the oven.

golgi70's picture
golgi70

I bake in a gas oven.  that's why I shared my technique as it does pretty good. if add water at last second u can see your oven load up and vent tons of steam and at the most crucial time. again just gotta use care. Steam burns hurt. 

Josh

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

on the steamed loaf being better inside but also better outside.  The bold bake has to make the crust especially delicious.  Looks like you are well on your way to getting a very fine bread about as good as it can be - as long as David  (who Lucy calls 'The King' around here) isn't making and baking it:-)  Well Done and

Happy Baking

emkay's picture
emkay

Yes, the crust was wonderful on the lava rock loaf. The cast iron loaf's crust softened by day 2, but it's understandable considering the increased steaming from using the pot.  David's SJSD is a great bread. The hubby said it's a perfect everyday bread.