The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scoring Issues in NW Florida

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Dhaus's picture
Dhaus

Scoring Issues in NW Florida

For the past two weeks or so, I have been working a lot with highly hydrated doughs for baguettes, ciabattas,etc.  I am using slow fermentation in the frige and getting a good rise after 24-48 hrs in the frige then 2-4 hrs at room temp.


My problem is I am trying to achieve big ears and distinctive grins on my crusts while baking. 


I am using a stone in my electric oven which I preheat to 550 degrees before I put in my doughs.


I have a large steam pan that is cast iron(15") on a rack above the stone.  I add hot water to the pan then spray the walls of the oven at 30 second intervals three time then reduce the heat and bake untill finished. 


My bread is getting good color but how can I develop large ears on my crust with distinctive seams.  Thats what I am looking for but not getting while baking.


Can anybody help me or point me the right direction?


TIA for any help in Florida,


Darren

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Welcome.  There's an excellent scoring tutorial located on the right hand top of TFL's home page. 


 


 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Welcome to TFL, Darren!


Strange as it may seem, I found my loaves got ears and bloom much better after I 1) turned the oven temperature down somewhat from the levels you are mentioning; 2) used something like a roasting pan lid as a cover.


My sense is that in the home baker's oven the 550 dF temperature heats the outside of the dough, what will be the crust, so quickly, that it sets well before it has the chance to open up the incisions and for the dough underneath to thrust upward sufficiently to cause bloom and ears. Also, our steam techniques are inferior to those of professional bakers, who don't have to keep opening the oven door and losing heat to keep a humid atmosphere.


I now start many of my loaves at 450dF and lower to 430 and finally 410, and the color of the crust is evenly distributed and nice (picture follows). The use of the roasting pan lid was the clincher. All of a sudden all my loaves were getting better oven spring, and bloom, and ears! The humidity provided by the lid, and the protection from the drying of the oven, make this technique a winner, in my book.


Bloom and Ear


Hope this helps!


David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Dhaus.


Breads with high hydration may not be appropriate to score altogether. Ciabatta, for example, are not scored at all. They are just stretched and folded to shape.


What breads are you trying to score, and how high a hydration do they have?


David

Dhaus's picture
Dhaus

Soundman,


I used to tour and play music in another life.


That's a beautiful boule!  I can only dream of that kind of end result.  I am a little unclear on what you mean by using a roasting pan cover.  Would you mind expanding on that a bit?


David,


Sorry. I did not mean to include ciabatta on my examples.


The doughs that I have been currently working with are the french bread and the Pain a l' Ancienne recipes that come out of BBA by Reinhart. I have been weighing all my ingredients as opposed to measuring by volume, so I am assuming the hydration for these doughs are 65% and 79.6% respectively.


The taste and crumb structure I think are ok on the Ancienne, but the presentation, to put it best, is very mediocre.



This is my best attempt so far at the Ancienne.  I made the mistake of brushing some olive oil on the the bottom left loaf.


My baguettes have looked so bad that I have not photographed them. 


I am a little confused on baguette pans verses a couche.  I know the basics on how their used. Will they help me and do I need both?  If so, I have been looking at some on KAF and SFBI. Any recommendations on who has the best for the money?


I didn't mean to derail my initial subject of scoring, but I feel all this is probably related.  I currently have plenty of time on my hands due to a back injury and when I try something I can't quit until I feel that it's good.


As always, any help is greatly appreciated.


Darren


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Darren.


I wouldn't even try to score the pain a'ancienne. Just stretch it out and bake it. Look at the photos in BBA. They are meant to be "rustic" in appearance. With baguettes made with more traditional (65%) hydration, you should be able to score them and should do so. However, it does require you understand what you are trying to do, how to do it and lots of practice.


I think starting out with a single end-to-end cut might be the way to go. That lets you work on the angle of your blade to the surface of the loaf and the depth of your cut. Once you are comfortable with those parameters, then, try multiple cuts. With multiple cuts, there are three additional variables to worry about: 1) The length of each cut. 2) The angle of the cut with reference to the long axis of the loaf. 3) The amount of overlap of the cuts with each other.


If you haven't looked at the scoring tutorial, I suggest you do that.


Regarding your other question: A couche is a sheet of floured canvas on which you rest your formed loaves to proof (rise). You can also use a sheet of parchment paper. You make a fold to separate each loaf to support their sides as they expand and to keep them from sticking to each other. Linen has the advantage of absorbing some moisture from the loaf surface. It may result in a crisper crust. I'm not sure.


A baguette pan does more or less the same thing. Plus, you can bake in it. However, from what I've read, the best results come from baking directly on a baking stone. I have no personal experience with baguette pans, however.


Hope this helps.


David

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hey Darren,


Off Topic: Great to hear you too have the music bug in you. I played in bands my whole young life, and it was a blast at the time. (Now I look at the Stones and wonder, what do they think they're doing?!!!)


The roasting pan lid was a tip I got from the ubiquitous dmsnyder. Watch out, he's everywhere! He also has on his blog some great information about the Pain a l'Ancienne. He's baked it better than I ever did so you should check his blog on that one.


The roasting pan lid I use is an ordinary turkey roasting pan lid. It's a big thing, big enough to cover, just barely, 2 large boules. That's fortunate for me because I wouldn't want to bake them in series.


How I use it: I have a heavy-duty baking stone; I have a steam pan on the bottom rack; I score a loaf and load it and give a spritz with the spritzer and close the oven. I score and load the second loaf and give another spritz. Two minutes later I spritz the inside of the turkey roaster lid, open the oven door, and put the lid CAREFULLY over but not touching the two loaves. Then I close the door and drop the temp to 430 dF. After 15 minutes I remove the lid and the steam pan (and drop the temp to 410 dF). What's amazing about that moment is the loaves look almost the same color as when I loaded them (but much bigger). That would never happen w/o the lid -- unconvered they would have already gotten a lot of color, which means the crust is set. So after I remove the lid they CONTINUE to rise, take on nice color, and this latter rise is what gets the bloom and the ears.


The other beautiful thing about this technique is that once the crust looks nice and done, the bread IS done inside (208 dF). No more guesswork or instant-read thermometers for me anymore.


Remember, too, that I max the oven out at 450 dF. I took this step after reading a post from Mark of thebackhomebakery, who is an ace pro baker. He's got videos on TFL. Check 'em out.


If you want to try this method, I would do it with one loaf at first, so that you don't have to worry about lid placement over 2 loaves.


My very subjective and unscientific guess is, that if you have a baking stone, and you heat it to 550 dF for a good while, the heat transfer to the loaves (especially a baguette) will be very fast, and the heat around the loaves in that very hot oven will set the crust more quickly than you would want, if you want enough oven spring to get some ears.


I'm sure others have different experience on this. Everybody's oven is different. I'm just relaying what I have found, and since I used to do more or less what you are doing and made the changes I mention, I'm getting better looking (and tasting) loaves.


Play on!


David

Dhaus's picture
Dhaus

David,


Thanks for the tips.


I am getting ready to play with another batch of ancienne in about 30 minutes.  Reinhart suggests scoring ancienne, but he also states that the dough should be left alone if it does not want to cooperate.


We will see.


Darren

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27


I use scissors to nip the top of pain 'la ancienne when I feel so inclined.  Usually though it just lies there until I place it in a scorching hot oven.  It is so wet a dough that scoring or scissoring just adorns the top crust

Dhaus's picture
Dhaus

No, I mean the loud kind that has permanately damaged my hearing!LOL!


David,


Thanks for the good read and info.  It's 3:45 am and I am fixing to load  two 1.5 lb loafs into the oven.  The recipe I am trying is one of Hamelman's rustic breads. 


I have been working on these all night due to insomnia and the wife thinks I am going crazy.  I am taking some pics and will start a new thread that will be begging you guys for criticisms.  I can take it.


TIA,


Darren