The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Proper Loading Technique

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mmorowitz's picture
mmorowitz

Proper Loading Technique

Hello, I hope this is the right section of the forum for a newbie-baker question.


I am learning to bake bread using Reinhardt's "Bread Baker's Apprentice".  So far, I've been pleased with my results and my progress as a student.


The one sticking point that I have is the process of loading bread into the oven.  I generally proof my bread on semolina-dusted parchment paper and then slide my peel under it and then load it on my stone in the oven.


I've had more than one occassion where the dough will slightly sitck to my peel. Then, the movement of attempting to load will cause the whole loaf to lose shape.


To combat this, I've started to LIBERALLY dust my proofing surface and peel before using.  Unfortunately, this usually results in flour all over the inside of my oven, causing copius amounts of smoke and a burning odor.  Instead of the nice smell of baking bread, my wife often asks, "what's burning?"


So, what am I doing wrong? It seems to me that my choices are mis-shapen loaves that are hard to load, or a lot of smoke in my house and burnt flour in my oven.


(I've looked for loading tutorials or videos, but I haven't found much, any tips are greatly appreciated.)


Best,


Michael

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

"I generally proof my bread on semolina-dusted parchment paper and then slide my peel under it and then load it on my stone in the oven."


Umm, if you're proofing on parchment, why aren't you just baking on the parchment?  Just slide the whole thing onto your peel, parchment and all, and then load it right onto your stone.  Problem solved.



Personally, anything I bake freeform I bake on parchment.  French bread, pizzas, you name it.  You get great results, and it's dead simple.


By the way, if you're worried about the parchment burning, don't be.  I regularly bake at 500F on parchment and it works just fine (the parchment just gets a bit brittle).

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Michael.  Welcome to TFL.  Your bread will bake just as well if you leave it on the parchment.


Just proof it on the parchment, then transfer the parchment containing the proofed loaf to the preheated stone.  


When the bread is done baking, use your peel to slide it (and the parchment) out of the oven, then transfer the bread to your cooling rack. 


No mess, no burned flour, no stress.

mmorowitz's picture
mmorowitz

Thanks.  I'll give that a try next time.  Should I bother dusting the parchment with flour at all?


Best,


M

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

No, there's no need -- it's just creating more mess than necessary.


Lindy and Fancy summed it up very well.


--Dan DiMuzio

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I do the final proof with my shaped loaves on parchment that's resting on top of my peel.  That way I don't have to move anything  -  just slide the whole assembly off of the peel onto the stone.


I agree that dusting the parchment isn't necessary.  However, if you're a bit uncertain, it's OK to dust the parchment lightly.  You can always gently whisk away the dried (cooked) flour residue from the bottom of the loaf after it's cooled, using a dry pastry brush.


Sometimes a little flour residue on the bottom of the loaf (after you've brushed off all you can) adds character in the spirit of "artisan" creations.

proth5's picture
proth5

I had occasion to be baking in Scottsdale, AZ with a baker who usually works in a much more humid climate.  He just couldn't get over how big a difference this made in dough handling.  For example, for the doughs we were using, he would normally need to flour the work surface.  In AZ, we actually needed to constantly spray the dough and work surface with water (!)


I live in the Great State of Colorado - where the humidity is also pretty low.  I can proof on a nearly unfloured couche (I rubbed some flour into it a couple of years ago and that has been sufficient.) I then transfer my breads (all breads even higher hydration and pizzas) onto a wooden peel that has been lightly rubbed with all purpose flour.  They slide easily into the oven with no sticking and no burning smell from extra flour.


So you see how I might get baffled with all this fuss about parchment.  But there is more than one way to properly load and I wonder how I would fare in a more humid climate.


If they only made loaders for home ovens >>sigh<<<


I also am pining for a sheeter (if you've ever used one and you do a lot of doughs that require rolling them out, you know what I mean) but that's another story altogether...

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'm surprised that you are interested in getting a sheeter. I've made a lot of croissants over the years and never found it laborious rolling them out except for getting a proper angle and weight on them. I'm only 5'3" tall and always felt that if I had been taller, their rolling out would be easier. Years ago I began to employ a small sturdy stool for this purpose and find it works like a charm elevating me to nearly 6' and giving me a lot better angle and more weight for the final roll out. That and having the dough really cold makes all the difference for me.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

I roll out a lot of doughs.  I never have trouble, but the sheeter does it so quickly and easily that I wondered why I've been working so hard all these years. No. really, it was like a little miracle.  Just set the thickness, hit a button - shazam!


Of course, the expense, the size of the the thing, etc. make it impractical for me right now.


But it seems like a great toy - and I do love my toys...


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'd rather have a margarita machine :-) than a sheeter if I had to choose based on available space.


--Pamela

proth5's picture
proth5

I only drink martinis - shaken, not stirred.  Only need the shaker and an ice crusher.


Once a year I put myself through the agony of at least 8 hours of rolling and cutting to make a mere half batch of a special family cookie recipe.  I am actually considering renting a sheeter (if this would even be possible) to make this mammoth task more managable.  It would revolutionize my seasonal baking.


I would then have more time to drink martinis :>)


Happy Rolling!

dghdctr's picture
dghdctr

Sheeters are a blessing with the way that they (as proth says) just do all the work and give you an evenly rolled thickness.


It is straightforward enough to use a rolling pin with small quantities of dough, but I thought I'd mention the importance of rotating the dough and turning it over frequently as you extend the length or width.


When you lean down with the pin against the edge of the counter that is near you, you are using a different force than you do when you're reaching toward the opposite side of the counter.  That usually makes the dough a bit thicker on the side that is closer to you after you have pushed away from your body, and thinner where the dough surface is farther away from you.


Rotating and flipping the dough as you roll it out can even things up.  Also, be sure to let the dough relax before trying to cut croissants or danish.  After you sheet it, put it back onto a tray, cover that with plastic, and refrigerate for 15 or 20 minutes, just like you should for a pie shell.  If you don't let it relax before cutting, then the pieces you cut will shrink before you shape them, and you'll have 3-inch wide squares instead of 4-inch wide squares.

proth5's picture
proth5

Yes, been rotating, flipping and relaxing for years.  Works great - like the man says...


But they had to tear me away from that sheeter.  They did.  Where had it been all my life?  Although I always enjoy using the big spiral mixers when I get a chance, the sheeter was true love! :>)


Happy Baking!

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

"If they only made loaders for home ovens >>sigh<<<"


They do, sort of.  It's called the Super Peel (www.superpeel.com) and it works great!  It is a reasonably priced home "loader"  I replace the cloth belt with parchment and have the best of both worlds.


I have asthma and the excess parchment paper around my loaves is still a concern for me because it definitely gets "crispy" if nothing else.   Grocery store parchment is only rated to 425 degrees and I bake at higher temps than that.  It is silicone treated, and I don't need that to be aerosolized and going into my lungs.  So if I am baking on parchment, I trim the parchment closely around the dough. By replacing the belt on my Super Peel, I have a non-stick flourless loader (I can't tolerate burning flour and cornmeal, either) that works well--then there's nothing to burn in the oven.


The only problem I've been having is that I recently got a clay baker.  It's not a fancy Le Cloche--it is an "Apple Baker".  The base is a few inches deep and I'm having trouble using my peel to put the dough neatly into the very hot deep base.  I think I need to load it directly from the banneton into the base and skip the peel, but I'm chicken because my oven mits are too thick to do this deftly.  So next on my wish list is a pair of oven gloves. 

proth5's picture
proth5

I have looked very closely at the Super Peel in the past.  I am sure it is a great product.  Since I don't have trouble using my current peel, I don't feel I need it, but I have heard a number of other folks praise it.


Just a note on my perspective. From time to time I get to use commercial bakery equipment.  Never often enough, but enough to get a little spoiled.  While we home bakers can use techinques that would not be commercially viable (and get great results, BTW), I envy some of the professional equipment.  Steam the oven?  Just turn this knob or press this button.  Put 20 baguettes on a loader and just get them in the oven? >>Tim Allen grunt here<< 


The Super Peel would be like kissing your brother.  It's just not the same. :>)

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Why wouldn't you like kissing my brother?  :)


SteveB


http://www.breadcetera.com


 

proth5's picture
proth5

 LOL !  Meant "my brother"  Not so much so from what I've heard...

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I guess I'm safe ;o)


Not having the chance to work with commercial bakery equipment, I make do with what I can at home.  I'm impressed with what I can turn out in my home oven with my two hands and rudimentary equipment.  But if I had to do volume work at commercial speeds to make a living, it would probably suck all the fun out of it. 


 

proth5's picture
proth5

home bakers can get great results with minimal equipment.  "Tools were made, born were hands."


But I will add that I get a certain amount of enjoyment in working with large equipment and larger amounts of dough.  I think that the industrial engineer in me gets a small thrill from figuring out techniques and efficiencies on a larger scale than I can at home.  It's the same kind of "kick" I get when in my current profession I get the chance to work in a steel or aluminum mill.  The job isn't all sweetness and light, but there are always some small things to make my day.  I think about this from time to time...


Happy Baking!

jackie9999's picture
jackie9999

Since a question I have seems to relate I hope mmorowitz doesn't mind if I add to his thread...


Lately I've been doing my final rise in a linen lined basket. To load to oven:


I dust risen loaf with semolina, lay piece of parchment on top and flip over (carefully) onto a flat cookie sheet..give it a quick score and slide the parchment onto the stone in oven and cover with my clay pot.


Is my method correct?


 

sephiepoo's picture
sephiepoo

jackie9999, your method sounds fine.  I believe you may not have to dust with semolina, but if you like the crunch, it's perfectly fine.  I do the same thing with my loaves that rise in a bowl or couche (without the extra dusting).  Lately, I've been disgusted with myself because I'll accidentally forget to slash the loaves before they go in the oven, in my hurry to get them loaded quickly! ::headdesk:: As long as I catch it quickly enough, I can pull the rack out for a moment to slash, but it's not the best, obviously :)

jannrn's picture
jannrn

I just LOVE reading these posts!! SteveB I just went to your site and bookmarked it. I almost feel guilty (good southern raising) for getting all this information! I just THOUGHT I was a Bread Baker!! I am so outta my league....but I DO want to be doing more! I started making bread years ago to keep from feeding my daughters sawdust and plaster of paris....which seems to find its way into "Enriched" and "High Fiber" loaves. I still do it because of the nutrition but even more because it is just FUN! I have now turned my daughters on to making breads. Reading yall's posts gives me the courage to try loaves that I didn't have the guts to try before! I even saw where someone made their own couch.....I would LOVE to know how to do that!! My boyfriend (hate that term 'cause we are so old) loves to cook and is interested in baking some too...but when we retire, we plan to raise goats and make cheese as well!! Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions you have for making home made tools, I am ALL for!! Thanks again for sharing with me!! Oh and SteveB and Proth5, yall are too funny!! I love it!! Oh and I understand what you mean about kissing brothers....even a friends brother is a bit weird!!