The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rice flour and chewy crusts?

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Rice flour and chewy crusts?

I mentioned this in my blog, but thought I'd bring it to the forums as well where it might get more attention -- for those who've already seen it, I apologize for the repetition.

So, the issue. I made a big 2.5 lb. boule of desem bread over the weekend. It turned out beautifully as far as color, lightness and flavor are concerned, but, for the second time since I started using rice flour to dust my bannetons, the crust was not so crispy.

I'm wondering, could it be the use of rice flour to dust my banneton that's the culprit? I love how effortlessly even the stickiest dough pops out of the banneton or couche with just a thin layer of rice flour, but since I started using it, I've gotten chewy, not crispy, crusts, and they should be crispy at 500 degrees F in a cloche. And before, when I dusted my banneton with wheat flour, I got a nice, crispy crust.

Anyone else have this experience? I don't mean to malign the rice flour, but it's the only thing I can think of that I'm doing differently.

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

You could make a loaf using rice flour on one half of the banneton, and wheat flour on the other half. That way you could be sure that other factors aren't to blame. You'd have to think of a way to remember which half is rice flour after inverting, baking, rotating halfway through baking, and then cooling. It would be so easy to lose track of that.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Sounds like an interesting experiment -- not sure I could evenly divide the two flours for dusting though. I think I'll just try wheat for this weekend's desem and see if I get a nice, crispy crust. Last time I used wheat flour, I could hear the loaf "sing" as I took it out of the oven.

Susan's picture
Susan

As we suspected, I am getting more crispy crusts again after switching back to wheat flour for dusting my "basket cloths." Am still using rice flour on the peel, however.

Susan

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I too experience that problem with rice flour, although I never thought of it that way until you said it!  I wonder if dusting the basket with rice flour and then with wheat would work...I have found that with the right pastry brush, rice flour brushes right off (enough so that I even sometimes use an egg-white glaze on the loaf), but wheat never does. 

merrybaker's picture
merrybaker

Wait a second! What rice flour are you using? Is it ground from sticky/glutinous rice? One seller says, "Because of its chewy texture, glutinous rice flour is a favorite base for dumplings, buns and pastries." So it might also make for a chewy crust.

Non-glutinous rice flour is often added to the batter for fried foods to make them crisp. And Rice Krispies are crisp! They don't sing like bread, but they do snap, crackle, and pop!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Not sure, actually. I've got a home grinder, so I just grabbed a cup of medium brown rice from the pantry and pulverized it in my WonderMill.

Maybe it is sticky rice? Anyway, this weekend, I'll go back to dusting my banneton with wheat flour and see if I get the crispy, melodious, singing crust I've come to love ....

longlivegoku's picture
longlivegoku

You definitely don't want to use brown rice flour for dusting bannetons.  It does just as you are describing.  White rice flour is preferable and works wonders!  I have a Vitamix and just take some Jasmine rice to grind my own.

 

Ed 

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Well, that's good to know. No more brown rice in the banneton for me! I'll pick up a small bag of Jasmine white rice at the store next time I'm there and grind it up. I'll report back on how it goes! If I can get the "WOW, this bread is like glue and it STILL popped right out of the banneton!" with a crust that sings and crunches, I'll be elated!


Thanks!

leemid's picture
leemid

This is  interesting... I just got back from an extended working trip to central California, in the middle of which I went to Boudin's bakery on Fisherman's wharf in San Francisco. They talked about using rice flour on their loaves, which have a dense chewy crust instead of crisp (at least the boule I bought did). I liked the crust and wondered how they got it just so... perhaps now I know?