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ananda's picture
ananda

Laminated Yeasted Dough Construction

Hi,

I thought some detail on creating laminated dough for croissants etc may be a popular subject.

 

CROISSANT DOUGH

 

MATERIAL

FORMULA

[AS % OF FLOUR]

RECIPE

[GRAMMES]

RECIPE [GRAMMES]

Strong White Flour

100

600

1000

Salt

1.3

8

13

Milk Powder

5

30

50

Fresh Yeast

6

36

60

Cold Water

63

378

630

SUB-TOTAL

175.3

1052

1753

Butter

41.7

250

417

TOTAL

217

1302

2170

Method:

  • Mix the ingredients for the dough to form cool, developed dough.
  • Put in a plastic bag in the chiller and rest for 30 minutes. Cut the butter into 4mm thick strips and put back in the chiller.
  • Roll the dough out to a rectangle 8mm thick. Put the butter pieces flat onto 2/3 of the rectangle, and fold as below:

 

  • Turn the dough piece clockwise through 90°. Roll out to the same size as before, fold as above, and turn. Repeat once more.
  • Chill the billet for half an hour and give 2 more folds and half turns as described. This gives 168 layers of butter in the croissant dough. Chill again for half an hour.
  • Roll the dough piece out to 5mm and use a croissant cutter to cut out triangle shapes. Stack into piles of 6 and rest covered for 2-3 minutes.   You can use a template made from wood, or, cardboard, to cut out the individual triangle shapes instead.   Please see the video, at 1 min 35secs, for a brief view of the croissant cutter on the left of the screen.
  • Tease out each triangle, fold up the top edge and roll up tightly. Roll out the feet to pointed ends and move round so these feet join up to make the classic shape.   See Vicki demonstrating this in the pictuure below.   For Pain au Chocolat and Pain Amande, cut the dough into strips, 6 x 10 cm; cover with small chocolate chips, or a thin layer of almond paste, and roll up so the seam is well pressed down on the bottom.
  • Place on silicone lined baking sheets and brush with beaten egg.   For the pain amande, dip in flaked almonds
  • Prove at 38-40°C, 80%rH for 40 minutes.

Bake in a hot oven, 235°C for 12-15 minutes; a deck oven should be set at 7 for top heat, and 5 for bottom.   No steam is used, and a damper is not needed.

[Almond Paste to make Pain Amande]

150g Icing Sugar, 150g Caster Sugar, 300g Ground Almonds, 50g Egg, beaten, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice

 

 

Key Principles of successful laminated dough:

  • 1. The dough should not be too wet. If the dough is soft, it will stick to the bench and the pin, and the laminations will quickly be ruined. If the dough is too tight, it will be difficult to roll out without the dough insisting on springing back. Some have advised that the dough need not, therefore, be fully-mixed. This is because all the rolling and folding will continue the dough development. My own thought on the matter is that the dough should be developed to the level allowed by the choice of flour used. So if a top grade flour is used, the dough should be mixed accordingly. If the flour is not so strong, it will not tolerate intensive mixing anyway; by hand, or, machine.
  • 2. The best way to deal with dough which springs back is to allow extra resting time. Allowing plenty rest between turns is the first key principle to grasp. If you compare the folding process to working out bicep muscles in the gym, you should not go far wrong. Bicep curls would be repeated to the point where the muscle is so tensed up it cannot do any more. After a period of rest the same moves are repeated. The moves are designed to strengthen the muscle by continued work. But there has to be rest in between to allow the muscles to relax. It is exactly the same for the gluten-based protein fraction in the dough.
  • 3. The other key principle is to be able to work cold. It is generally cold and raining here in the UK, but I am aware many who write on this site have problems creating cool enough conditions in the kitchen to lessen the burden of making these items; I wish I lived where it was warm too, don't you believe it! Here are a few options:
  • Use a chilled marble slab, or, a refrigerated work surface.
  • Use crushed ice in the dough, or chill the dough water for an extended period prior to dough mixing.
  • A good trick is to chill the dough overnight. Give the dough 3 half turns, then bag and chill overnight. Waken up early the next morning, give the dough its last half turn and process from there. Bake off the croissants and serve straightaway for breakfast. You have just made yourself soooo popular with everyone in the house, forever!
  • 4. What about the choice of laminating fat? Commercial croissants tend to be made with specialised and plasticised fats. This means the final product tends to be just a lot of air! Worse still if the fat is cheap, the melting point will be high, and the product will stick in the roof of the mouth [palate cling] These fats are not exactly renowned for their health-giving properties, either. So they are used on cost and performance grounds. As far as I am concerned croissants are made with all-butter. It is possible to buy a concentrated butter commercially. This is great, because all the water has been removed, so it means the butter block can be rolled out to a sheet, without it melting. Household dairy butter has a water content of 15-20%, so the problem with not working cold, is that the butter can easily start to melt, meaning the death of all the laminations you have worked so hard to achieve. So, performance-wise, butter is not the best, but for flavour, it obviously has no competition. I'm pretty sure concentrated butter is only available commercially; this is definitely the case for the UK and rest of the EU too.
  • 5. Regarding lamination; due care and skill is the 3rd principle. I teach that croissant are given 4 half turns. Danish are often given only 3. Full puff paste employs equal laminating fat to flour used in the dough. This is usually given 6 half turns. The more turns, the more layers created. Above I state 4 turns gives 168 layers. Another 2 half turns works out as follows

168 x 3 = 504   504 x 3 = 1512.   So many layers is incredibly difficult to achieve.   Yet, to commercial bakers it is essential.   The number of layers dictates the amount of "lift" in the product, giving greater volume to weight ratio!   This affects product yield; well-aerated puff paste yield more products.   Given these doughs use expensive ingredients, a baker cannot afford to miss out on achieving correct product yield.

  • 6. In terms of volume and lift, it is important to explain how this works with yeasted doughs like these. When the product goes into the oven, the fat layers melt into the dough layers beneath, creating cavities between the dough layers. These cavities are filled with steam from the water content of both butter and dough. The steam exerts pressure on the dough layer above, causing the product to expand. See diagram below. So, it follows that the more layers, the greater the pastry will rise. So, what of the yeast? Well, the benefit is in terms of a first fermentation for sure, but it has to be achieved in cold conditions, as we have noted. This should mean the yeasts are far from worked through when the croissants are set to prove. Note the yeast level is relatively high. Any benefit has to be derived from rapid expansion as the croissants hit the hot oven. So, testing the dough for evidence that fermentation is slowing down is not a relevant test. We have no need for any sort of complex fermentation at this stage.

7. Lastly, oven treatment tends to be incredibly forgiving to croissants , so long as the oven is hot enough. Although, I think I'd be hedging my bets with items that were becoming tired and spent, in line with the notes just above.   My practical classes last anywhere between 3 and 5 hours.   3 hours is really not very long to make these items with skill from start to finish; and the resting between turns really can be so crucial here.   But I cannot think of a single class I have facilitated on this product where the students have been anything other than delighted by the tasks they have carried out, and the products they have made. It's the colour, and aroma; these items just look and smell great when they are baked. Fabulous!

 See the photos attached below, and the link to the video below that.

 

Here's the video:

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Firm Sourdough Starter - Glezer recipe

I’m finally getting around to posting Maggie Glezer’s firm sourdough starter recipe.  For those of you having problems with your starters you might wish to give this a try.  Most people here are using batter-style starters so it might be interesting to see if there is any discussion on firm starters.  Plus I need help in learning to convert properly for use in recipes which don’t use a firm starter and there are always questions that come up. I have photographed my starter from mixing the dough ball and pressing it into the pint-sized jar through several hourly increments where you can see how grows and finally it quadruples in 8 hours, or in this case just short of 8 hours, which is the “gold standard” Maggie talks about for a firm starter to be ready to leaven bread.


I realize there are many opinions and methods on sourdough starters and this is only the one I’ve chosen and that works for me.  But as many of you know, I’m a bread newbie and a sourdough newbie and I’m interested in all the information.  Some of you were asking about a firm starter so thought this might help. 

PHOTOS on firm starter: 

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/2617049#138085923

(NOTE: Edited to correct recipe 9-25-07 so if you copied it prior to this date please recopy and accept my apologies!)

SOURDOUGH STARTER DIARY – © Copyright, Maggie Glezer, Blessing of Bread

(How to make sourdough bread in two weeks or less)  

To begin a starter, you need only whole rye flour, which is rich in sourdough yeasts and bacteria, bread flour, water, time, and persistence (lots of the last two).  Amounts are small because I like to use the minimum of flour practical for building the sourdough, as so much of it will be thrown away.  If you are baking bread in the meantime, you can add any of these discards to a yeasted dough for extra flavor. 

WEEK ONE: 

SUNDAY EVENING:  Mix 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) whole rye flour with 1/4 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) water to make a thick paste and scrape it into a clean sealed jar.

TUESDAY MORNING:  The starter should have puffed a bit and smell sharp.  Add 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour and 1/4 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) water to the jar, stir it well, and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula to clean them.  Reseal the jar. 

WEDNESDAY MORNING:  The starter should have risen quickly.  It is now time to convert it into a stiff starter.  In a small bowl, dissolve a scant 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) starter (discard the rest) in 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) water, then add 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour and knead this soft dough.  Place it in a clean jar or lidded container, seal it, and let it ferment.

THURSDAY EVENING:  The starter will not have risen at all; it will have only become very gooey.  Repeat the above refreshment, throwing away any extra starter.

WEEK TWO: 

SATURDAY EVENING:  The starter will not have risen at all; it will have only become very gooey.  Repeat the same refreshment.

MONDAY MORNING:  The starter will finally be showing signs of rising, if only slightly!  Repeat the refreshment.

TUESDAY MORNING:  The starter should be clearly on its way and have tripled in twenty-four hours.  Repeat the refreshment.

WEDNESDAY MORNING:  The starter should be getting stronger and more fragrant and have tripled in twenty-four hours.  Repeat the refreshment. 

WEDNESDAY EVENING:  The starter should have tripled in eight hours.  It will be just about ready to use.  Reduce the starter in the refreshment to 1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) starter using the same amounts of water and bead flour as before.

THURSDAY MORNING:  The starter is ready for its final refreshment.  Use 1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams/0.4 ounce) starter, 2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) water, and 1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour.THURSDAY EVENING:  The starter is now ready to use in a recipe or to be refreshed once more and then immediately stored in the refrigerator.

     

Refreshment for a complete Sourdough Starter 

MAKES:  About a rounded 1/3 cup (90 grams/3.3 ounces) starter, enough to leaven about 3 1/3 cups (450 grams/16 ounces) flour in the final dough 

This stiff starter needs to be refreshed only every twelve hours.  Use this formula to refresh a refrigerated starter after if has fully fermented and started to deflate.  If the following starter does not quadruple in volume in eight hours or less, refresh it again, with these proportions, until it does.  If your kitchen is very cold, you will need to find a warmer area to ferment your starter.

1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams/0.4 ounce) fully fermented sourdough starter

2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) water

1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour 

MIXING THE STARTER:  In a small bowl, dissolve the starter in the water, then stir in the flour.  Knead this stiff dough until smooth.  You may want to adjust the consistency of the starter:  For a milder, faster-fermenting starter, make the starter softer with a little more water; for a sharper, slower-fermenting starter, make the starter extra stiff with a bit more flour.  Place it in a sealed container to ferment for 8 to 12 hours, or until it has fully risen and deflates when touched.

  

Conversion of a Batter-Type Starter into a Stiff Starter 

MAKES:  About a rounded 1/3 cup (90 grams/3.2 ounces) starter, enough to leaven about 3 1/3 cups (450 gram/16 ounces) flour in the final dough

If you already have a batter-type starter – that is, a starter with a pancake-batter consistency – you will need to convert it into a stiff starter for the Glezer recipes, or to check its strength.

1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) very active, bubbly batter-type starter

1 tablespoon (15 grams/0.5 ounce) water

1/3 cup (50 grams/1.8 ounces) bread flour 

MIXING THE STARTER:  In a small bowl, mix the starter with the water, then stir in the flour.  Mix this little dough until smooth, adjusting its consistency as necessary with small amounts of flour or water to make a stiff but easily kneaded starter.  Let it ferment in a sealed container for 8 to 12 hours, or until it is fully risen and starting to deflate.  If the starter has not quadrupled in volume in 8 hours or less, continue to refresh it with the proportions in “Refreshment for a Completed Sourdough Starter” until it does.

 

Eclairs

eclair tray

Want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine's Day? REALLY impress your sweetie? Then make these éclairs.

They look like they'd be a ton of work, don't they? I thought they would be, but they really aren't that hard. From first flipping open the cookbook (the 1997 edition of the Joy of Cooking) to the moment I was getting blissed out eating them was under two hours. Not bad at all, and fresh out of the oven these were the best éclairs I've ever had.

Eclairs

There are three parts to éclairs: the pastry (pâte à choux), the filling (crème pâtissière), and the topping (chocolate ganache). If you are strapped for time you could cut corners on one or more of the parts by doing things like using frozen puffed pastry for the pastry, pudding or whipped cream for the filling, or some other frosting for the topping. Take a look at the recipes before doing so though: none of the pieces are that hard. There are a few places where you have to bring things to a boil carefully to prevent scalding, but I've found that if you warm the ingredients in the microwave before combining them in your sauce pan you can easily cut 10 or 15 minutes of stirring out of the process.

Choux Paste (pâte à choux)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup milk

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

Combine the water, milk, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil. Stir in the flour and, while mixing, cook another minute or 2 to eliminate excess moisture. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

choux paste

Beat in one egg at at time. When they have all been beaten in and the paste is smooth and shiny, set aside to cool. The paste may be use immediately or covered and refrigerated for later use.

Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)

1/3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons corn starch

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the sugar, flour, corn starch, and egg yolks in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.

egg mixture

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture, stirring it in as you do so. When fully combined, pour all of it into the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes then remove mixture from heat. Stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.

Cover the top with wax paper or parchment to prevent a skin from forming. This cream may be refrigerated for a day or two before use or used immediately.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Heat the cream. Stir in the chocolate and continue heating and stirring until all of the chocolate is melted.

ganache

Éclairs: Assembly

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Form small logs out of the Choux paste on a baking sheet. If you have a pastry bag with large tips, you can squeeze them out neatly. I do not, so I just formed the logs with a spoon and my fingers.

eclair shaping

These were about an inch across and 3 to 4 inches long.

Bake the pastries for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the eclairs you are making.

When they are golden brown, turn the oven off. Poke a hole in the small end of the eclair and place them back in the oven for another 10 minutes to dry out. Remove the eclairs from the oven and let them cool a few minutes.

baked eclairs

For the topping, dip or dribble the eclairs in the chocolate ganache.

eclairs

To fill the eclairs, you can either use a pastry bag and squirt the pastry cream in through the drying hole as I did. Or you can slice the eclairs lengthwise and scoop the filling inside and place the top half back on top.

filling eclairs

There you have it: chocolate, creamy bliss.

The eclairs keep OK for a few days in the refrigerator in an air tight container, but they are not nearly as good as when they are first assembled. Take my advice: make all of the elements in the same session, bake them up and make a fresh pot of coffee, and enjoy them immediately. You won't be sorry!

tray of eclairs

Related Recipes: Pain Rapide au Chocolat, Brioche.

Syd's picture
Syd

White Sandwich Loaf


Poolish

250g all purpose flour
250g water
1/16 - 1/8 of a tsp yeast (more if it is cold, less if it is hot)

Mix together and leave for 12 hours.

Dough

300g white bread flour 
130g milk (scalded)
unsalted butter 6g
10g salt
3g instant yeast
a little less than 1/4 tsp of ascorbic acid


[Hydration = 69%]

Scald milk and add butter and salt to it. Stir until dissolved. Allow milk to cool to room temp.  Add to poolish, then add dry ingredients.

Knead for 5mins - rest for 5mins - knead for 5mins. Allow to proof until doubled. A stretch and fold half way through fermentation is necessary not so much for gluten strength, as it is to degas the dough.  Pre-shape. Shape and put into a two pound tin. Let it rise until coming about an inch over the top of the tin. (My tin is a 10x19x11cm 900g loaf tin).

Bake at 230 C with steam for 15 mins and without steam at 190 C for 35 mins. Remove from tin for last 10 mins .


 



This loaf has a crisp crust and a tender, moist crumb.  It toasts very evenly and makes a good sandwich.  It keeps well, too.


Syd


 

LilDice's picture
LilDice

Quick Rustic Ciabatta Pizza - Recipe, Full Howto with Pics

 

I started making this pizza after I had left over dough from my quick ciabatta recipe, (which you can make by following the same instructions but doubling the ingredients). Anyway, I like this better than the traditional olive oil enriched overnight proofed pizza doughs. It takes only about 2 hours start to finish to make, so you can make it after work.

A kitchen aid style stand mixer is required, unless you're comfortable working with high hydration doughs and hand mixing. People have assured me it's possible, but it's much easier with a mixer. You could also use a food processor to mix the dough, but the time will be much shorter. Probably less than a minute.

The resulting pizza is light, delicious, and full of huge holes in the crust. If you grow tomatoes and basil in your garden, this pizza is just the ticket.

Also I created a page on google for this whole article that's more linkable if you'd like to share this with other - http://hollosyt.googlepages.com/quickrusticciabattapizza

Ingredients

Crust

  • 250 g Bread Flour (All Purpose will also work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 7 g salt

Toppings

  • 2 Tomatoes
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Mozzarella Cheese

Step 1, make the dough

Mix the flour,yeast,salt & water in your stand mixer with the paddle on high speed, it won't look like it is doing anything for a while. Then after about 10 minutes or so it will start to come together

Initial Ingredients


Initial mixing, notice the dough is sticking to the sides

 

Dough is done as soon as it stop sticking to the sides and is just coming off the bottom. It has the consistency of rubber but is very sticky.

Step 2, proof until triples.

I like to proof this dough in a narrow plastic container that has markings on it, it's important that the dough triples so it's easier to observe that then just throwing it in a bowl. Spray the container you use with spray oil, you'll thank me later.

Be quick moving the dough from the mixer to the proofing container. You'll probobly still end up with a little dough stuck to your hands, because it's very wet.

Here's my dough, now it will be very easy to see when it triples.

Step 3, heat oven and shape pizza.

Place your pizza stone into the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Now on a heavily floured counter, pour out your dough into a nice blob.

Now turn a baking sheet upside down and cover it with parchment paper. Not wax paper! Parchment paper is silicone treated and won't melt or light on fire in your hot oven. It will make getting this thing in the oven much easier.

I like to get the dough into a rough pizza shape while on the counter by grabbing it from underneath and stretching. Since the dough is floured on the bottom, you won't stick too much. You don't want it paper thin, but fairly thin in the center

The next step is tricky, we need to get our pizza to the parchment paper on the baking sheet. If you have corn meal handy, you might dust the parchment with that for re-shaping once we get the unruly dough on.

So pick up this thing and quickly move it to the parchment, if you need to do some reshaping once it's on the parchment move fast. It will eventually stick to the parchment. Then your only choice is to dump it out and try again with fresh parchment.

Phew! That was a close one, but I got in on the parchment. And it resembles a pizza dough!

Now it's time to top the pizza, I really just want some light olive oil, garlic powder, fresh tomatoes, basil and cheese. If you want sauce, you're on your own. You can really do whatever you want from this point.

 

One thing I've noticed with my oven though is that if I put the cheese on from the start, it'll burn and I'll have a raw pizza with burnt cheese. So I usually add cheese 2/3 of the way through baking.

Step 4, Baking

Time to bake! I always trim the parchment so it fits the pizza since loose parchment will brown a bit and might even catch on fire in the oven. So you can see in the photo above I've trimmed it up.

Once your oven has hit 500 degrees, slide your cheese-less pizza on to the pizza stone using the baking sheet. If you don't have a stone, just leave it on the sheet.

After 5 minutes my pizza looked like this, nice oven spring!

Once the crust has just started to brown (after about 8 minutes for me). I add the cheese.

Now I just let the cheese get to the point that I like and the crust to be nice and brown and I'm done. The all together baking time for this pie was 14 minutes.

Finished!

Looks good to me, though maybe i put on too much olive oil since it kind of pooled in the center. Also I probably could have put the cheese on a minute or two earlier since it's not brown all over.

Yum, yum yum.

Crust is looking perfectly golden.

Once again, nice airy crust, not dense and sticky, but light and delightful. That's the pay off from our 100% hydration ultra lean sticky dough.

Lessons

Want to learn how to bake bread? Do it! It is about the cheapest, most enjoyable, most rewarding pastime I can think of.

I can't promise that these lessons will prevent you from making mistakes, because making mistakes is just part of learning (and something I still do all the time). But hopefully they'll give you some good ways of getting started and help you improve your understand of what is happening inside of your loaf.

Also, check out some of the tremendous lessons that community members have contributed:
Floydm's picture
Floydm

English Muffins

Today I tried making English Muffins for the first time. They turned out pretty good:

I think I made the dough a little too dry, so I didn't get the big holes inside that you want, but they still tasted good.

I used the recipe from Beth Hensberger's Bread Bible. I may try another next time, but no complaints about this recipe.

Traditional English Muffins

1/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast (or a little less than a tablespoon of instant yeast)
Pinch of sugar
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Cornmeal (for dusting)

If using active dry yeast, combine the water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. If using instant yeast, as I did, you can just mix the yeast in with the flour and omit this first step and the sugar.

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in egg, milk, butter, and yeast mixture. Mix until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring in each time, until you have a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Return the dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Sprinkle a work surface with cornmeal. Pour the dough out of the bowl and onto the surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cornmeal and then roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter or an upside down drinking glass to cut the muffins out of the dough.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the muffins onto the skillet and let the bake for 5 to 10 minutes until quite dark before flipping.

An optional step, if you are concerned about baking them all the way through (which I was), is to have your oven heated to 350. After baking the muffins on the griddle for 5 minutes on each side, place them on a cookie sheet and place them into the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. This assures that they are baked through.

Enjoy!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Bread Scoring Tutorial (updated 1/2/2009)

 Please Note: This tutorial has been updated extensively with additional material and new and improved videos. Here is a link to the updated Bread Scoring Tutorial: Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

Scoring Bread

 

What is scoring?

“Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.

When is scoring done?

Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven.

Why are breads scored?

The purpose of scoring is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.

The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts also influence the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.

The pattern of cuts also can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.

The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.

How are breads scored?

Breads are scored with very sharp cutting implements. These may be straight or curved razor blades, which may be held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades. Some examples are pictured below:

Lame

This is a “lame,” the French term for a razor blade used to score bread. This one is permanently mounted on a handle. Others are made with replaceable blades.

This lame holds the blade in a curved position. Others hold the blade straight. The curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf. The cuts are made with the blade held at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf, about 20-30 degrees or so. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”

Serrated knife

Serrated knife

Tomato knife

Tomato knife

These are examples of serrated, straight bladed knives. The first one is made expressly for scoring breads. The second one is manufactured as a “tomato knife,” but it is very sharp, holds its edge well and has been found to work very well for scoring bread.

Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). However, they can be used for the same kinds of cuts described above as well.

The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. This type of cut is usually made ¼ to ½ inch deep.

Wrong lame position

 

If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, like this:

Correct lame position

This type of cut should be shallower than the cuts made with the blade vertical to the loaf – about ¼ inch deep. A deeper cut will result in the flap closing from its own weight rather than separating from the surface of the loaf to form an “ear.”

The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)

 

The effect of scoring on loaf shape

Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.

According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally).

Classic cuts

Classic Cut – Single and multiple cuts

However, for breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Boules are scored in a variety of patterns, again with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.

Boule with tic tac toe

Boule scored with “tic-tac-toe” pattern

One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.

 

What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!

This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.

Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.

These San Francisco Sourdough breads illustrate a more "advanced" aspect of scoring that is alluded to by both Hamelman (in "Bread") and Suas (in "Advanced Bread & Pastry.")

San Francisco Sourdough Breads (from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb")

Bloom

Detail of bâtard crust, with "ear," grigne" & "bloom."

 

What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."

The angle is also important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)

The second photo, above, illustrates a fairly nice "ear," but it also shows that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from left to right. The darker part on the left obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.

This boule was slashed with the blade held at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. Note the even coloration of the bloomed crust.

In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:

  1. The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

  2. The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.

  3. The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.

Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.

Happy baking!

David

P.S. I have made a video version of this tutorial. It was my first attempt at editing a video. I am not delighted with the quality, but I hope I can show it and, maybe, get some help improving it. Here is the link:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4381896920195658969&hl=en (for slow connections)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6866686363544546201&hl=en (for broadband, e.g., DSL or cable)

 

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Pizza Bliss

I like pizza quite a lot, but my wife loves it. She told me last night that Pizza is the one food she can “over-eat.” I could not start to list the foods I will predictably over-eat given the opportunity, but my wife has this super-human self-control. So this confession tells you that pizza is really special to her.

I've made some pretty good pizze and some not so good. Last night I made the best pizza I've ever made by a long shot. In fact, I do believe it was the best pizza crust I've ever eaten.

The crust was based on the “Overnight Pizza Dough with Levain” from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I say “based” because, while the ingredients and procedures were pretty much as Forkish prescribes, the timing of many steps was different. Some of those differences were planned, and some were …. accommodations. I'm not going to claim that the crust turned out so well because of my baking genius, but I am going to try to capture what I ended up doing so I can do it again … on purpose next time.

  

Total dough

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Levain

 

10*

Caputo 00 flour

980

98

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

20

2

Water

700

70

Salt

20

2

Total

1720

172

* Percent of total flour that is pre-fermented.

 

Levain

Wt (g)

Baker's %

Mature, active levain

25

10

Caputo 00 flour

100

80

Giusto's fine whole wheat flour

25

20

Water (90 ºF)

100

80

Total

250

190

 

  1. Dissolve the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Ferment at room temperature until expanded by 2 to 2.5 times. (Note: Forkish specifies fermenting for 8 to 10 hours. My levain was ripe in 6 hours. So, I went to step 4.)

  4. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

 

Final dough

Wt (g)

Caputo 00 flour

900

Water (90-95 ºF)

620

Fine sea salt

20

Levain

180

Total

1720

  1. Take the levain out of the fridge 1-2 hours before mixing the final dough.

  2. Mix the water and flour to a shaggy mass and allow it to rest, covered, for 20-60 minutes (autolyse).

  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and add 180 g of the levain divided into 4-6 pieces. Mix using the “pinch and fold” procedure described by Forkish.

  4. Bulk ferment for 5 to 14 hours, or until the dough has expanded 2 to 2.5 times. Do stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals 2-4 times . Then just let the dough ferment undisturbed. (Note: I know this time range (5 to 14 hours) sounds absurd. Forkish's instructions are to ferment overnight for 12 to 14 hours, but my dough had doubled in 5-6 hours and was very bubbly. If I had let it ferment for another 6 to 8 hours, I would have had soup.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board. Dust the dough and your hands with flour. Divide the dough into 350 g pieces. (You will get 4 pieces of 350 g and one that is larger.

  6. Shape each piece into a fairly tight ball and place them in ZipLoc-type sandwich bags with a tablespoon of olive oil in each.

  7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and for up to 3 days.

  8. When you are ready to make your pizza/e, 2 1/2 to 4 hours before shaping the pizze, take the number of dough balls you will need out of the fridge. Let them warm up at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The balls should expand by a third to a half.

  9. Put the dough balls back in the fridge for the last half hour to an hour before shaping them into pizze. This is because the dough is a bit more elastic and less fragile when cold.

  10. Take one ball of dough at a time out of the fridge. Shape it. Top it. Bake it. Enjoy!

 

This “in and out of the fridge” stuff may seem unduly complicated. It happened because we changed our minds about going to a concert a couple times before finally deciding to stay home and make pizza. See, if we had decided to go, there wouldn't have been time to make pizza and eat it beforehand. But, in hindsight, this procedure makes a lot of sense. A longer fermentation improves flavor, but retarding the dough in the fridge was needed to prevent over-fermentation. The warm-up in Step 8. just completed the fermentation to an optimal degree. I could have just let the bulk fermentation go a bit longer – say about an hour – and then not needed Step. 8 and 9 at all.

This dough was a delight to shape. It had just the right balance of elasticity and extensibility. When baked at 500 ºF for 10 to 11 minutes, the edges puffed up beautifully. They were crackling crispy. The dough under the toppings was moderately chewy but not at all “tough.” The most remarkable feature was the flavor. It was mildly sour but very wheaty, sweet and complex. It was astonishingly delicious. My wife, who often leaves pizza crust un-eaten, actually left the center part un-eaten and ate the outer crust in preference.

How much of this was the procedures and how much the use of 98% Caputo 00 flour? That's hard to answer. I suppose I need to make this dough again using a good AP flour to find out.

I made two 10 or 12 inch pizze. One was a classic Pizza Margherita made with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, fresh, locally grown San Marzano-variety tomatoes which were par-boiled, skinned, seeded and cut into strips and fresh basel leaves from our garden, added after the pizza was baked.

 

The other pizza was topped with a heavy spread of good olive oil, fresh, finely chopped rosemary and fleur de sel. After baking, the top was rubbed with a cut San Marzano tomato which was then hand-shredded and spread over the pizza. (Note to self: Lose the salt, if you don't want Susan to complain. Substitute thinly sliced garlic.)

 

Well, we do have 3 pizza dough balls left, including a 380 g one. I am going to make a potato pizza that's been on my “to bake list” for a few years, ever since I first read about it in Leader's Local Breads then again in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Breads.

Yum!

Happy baking!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

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