The Fresh Loaf

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whole wheat crust

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benjamin's picture
benjamin

whole wheat crust

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This was my latest whole wheat creation! It was a whole wheat honey dough. I find myself consistently disappointed with the crust of my wholewheat breads, they come out of the oven very crusty and hard, but then rapidly soften. I put a pan of boiling water in the base of the oven and i mist the walls to generate steam as I load the bread. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can solve my crust woes?!?! Also my scoring needs much improvement too, so any tips in that department would be much appreciated.


Happy baking


Ben


 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I don't see where your scoring is lacking at all; your bread looks fantastic!

benjamin's picture
benjamin

The problem I have is that no matter which instrument I use or which angle of cut, I cant help but snag the blade, producing slightly unsightly rough edges to the cuts. I'm stumped as how to get around it?! Maybe I'm doing something wrong with the dough itself?!


thanks


ben

leucadian's picture
leucadian

Is your dough fairly high hydration? If the surface of the dough is moist/sticky, it's very difficult to get a nice straight cut, and what you get is the jagged edges you describe. This is why ciabatta isn't scored: it's just too wet, and besides, it doesn't need scoring because the surface is so elastic. It expands all over, rather than bursting along a seam or a weak side.


It appears to me that you didn't get a lot of oven spring, since the scoring didn't expand a whole lot. Is that just the angle of the photo, perhaps? Do you steam the oven or spray the loaf as it goes in?


I would try to form a little bit of a skin on the loaf as it proofs. Don't cover it with plastic. rather use a floured towel. You could also let it rise upside down in a banneton again with lots of flour. (I use some cheap baskets with a floured piece of canvas.) The idea is that the flour dries out the surface of the dough, and prevents sticking to the cloth. Rolling the high hydration dough in flour is also a good idea (looks like you do that already).


What are you using to score? The specific instrument isn't so important, except that it be very sharp and not gummed up. I've used a razor blade, a chef's knife, a bread knife, and a serrated tomato knife. Wetting the blade helps avoid snags (and keeps it clean), as does a quick hand. The serrated blade was the easiest to use, especially for straight cuts, and the double edged razor, bent slightly, was the best for the angled cut in baguettes.


Finally, you might try leaving the bread in the oven for ten minutes or so with the door open, to dry out the crust.  

benjamin's picture
benjamin

Thanks a lot for the detailed response... lots for me to consider! First of all the hydration is not too high, its moist but not excessively so.


You were right about the oven spring, the bread plumped up a little in the oven, but no where near as much as previous attempts have. I spray the walls of the oven as i load the bread, but not the bread itself.


I do all my rising with plenty of flour (as you noticed) and with a floured towel over top. Sometimes a skin will form, and sometimes not... I think this may have a lot to do with the weather outside and climate in my apartment?! Will a skin help to form a better crust?


I have tried a few methods to score bread, i have tried razor blades, and a bread knife... The loaf in the picture was scored using a lame knife with the bent blade.


Thanks again for all the tips.


Regards


ben

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

What percentage of the flour in the recipe is white vs. whole wheat?  To what temperature do you preheat the oven?  And at what temperature do you bake the loaf?  Are you using a stone or tiles in the oven?


Jeff

benjamin's picture
benjamin

Hi Jeff,


The recipe was around 65% whole wheat: 35% White flour. I preheated the oven to 475, then turn down to 425 and bake for 10 min, before reducing to 400 for the final 20-30 min. Also I use a 1 inch thick piece of granite as a baking stone.


Thanks


Ben

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Ben,


For this recipe I would set your oven temp @ 550 degrees F and make certain that you preheat for an hour.  Steam the oven for a few minutes before putting the loaf in and then bake @ about 425-450 after 5-10 minutes @ 550.  This should solve your crust woes.


Jeff

benjamin's picture
benjamin

thanks Jeff, I'll be sure to give that a try later this week... ill let you know how I get on.


regards


ben