The Fresh Loaf

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Followup question on scoring/transferring to oven

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venkitac's picture
venkitac

Followup question on scoring/transferring to oven

I've had much greater success now with scoring and transferring the proofed loaf to the oven. (Thanks for all the tips). I've a followup question, though.



 


The above bread was baked with seam side up, as you can see from the photo. What happened was that I proofed it on linen seam side down, scored it, and then tried to get the bread in an enamel pot off the proofing cloth. The bread landed seam side up instead of seam side down, poof, there goes my first good scoring effort. Still got good oven spring and tasted well, but I was bummed. This time, I was baking in an enamel pot. Am I supposed to proof seam side up, invert it into the enamel pot, and then score the bread? Or is getting it off the cloth into the pot seam side down a skill I'll eventually develop?


(I tried a second loaf just now. This time, I was using a stone, and I tried putting the loaf on the stone from the proofing cloth. Same result, loaf landed with the side that was touching the proofing cloth facing up - in this case too, seam side was touching the cloth, so bread ended seam side up. But I scored anyway after putting it on the stone, and I got the best oven spring I ever have).


A tip which may be useful to newbies: if you don't want to mess with parchment or peels, you can put baking stone in the oven as it heats up and proof bread on proofing cloth. After heating the stone for the right amount of time, take out baking stone using good oven mitts ($10 each), transfer dough from proofing cloth to stone. Score, put stone back in oven, bake. I would rather score and then transfer to stone, but that depends on the answer to the above question. If dough is supposed to land upside down on stone, then you can score only after dough lands on stone. Either way, seems easier than using peels.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Still got good oven spring and tasted well, but I was bummed."


Oh dear!   And a loaf like this is on the cover of "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman. 


I think your "Krusty Bread"  loaf looks good!


Mini

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Thanks! Yes, it was good bread:) I was bummed only because I went to great lengths on this one to get a really good score, only to see it land scored side down:)

Pablo's picture
Pablo

If you're proofing your loaf free-standing on your proofing cloth, as opposed to in a banneton, you can just slide the whole parchment paper right onto the stone, no transfer involved.  Just proof on the parchment, slide the parchment paper with the loaf on it onto your peel, slash and slide the whole arrangement onto the stone.


:-Paul

venkitac's picture
venkitac

Hi Pablo, that works perfectly well for me, thanks. The reason I asked is, I want to learn the "proper way" to do this without using parchment....

Pablo's picture
Pablo

There are those who can do this, I am not one of them.  You sound pretty motivated, I'm sure that you'll get it.


:-Paul

AndyM's picture
AndyM

Sounds like you've discovered several of the ways to get a loaf from its proofing place to the oven already, and I'd echo the above comment about how pleasingly your seam-side up loaf turned out, even if it was not what was intended.


It sounds like what you want to do now is add a free-standing loaf proof to your repertoire.  You seem to have all the basics in place, and what I'd recommend you do is proof just like you did with the pictured loaf (i.e. seam down), but proof it on a solid surface instead of on linen.  I use my peel for this these days, because I don't really use a peel to load my oven at home (in fact, I do just what you suggested in your post, particularly when baking in a pot).


The solid surface should be floured (I've used a mix of rice-flour and cornmeal in the past for minimal sticking, but these days I just use plain old white flour and it has worked just fine), and then you place your newly formed loaf on the floured surface, seam-side down.  A loaf proofed this way will have less support during proofing, so you might want to choose relatively stronger doughs to experiment with.


When the loaf is fully proofed, you need to get it from the proofing surface onto the baking surface, but the loaf will be slightly stuck to the proofing surface (despite the best attempts of pre-flouring it).  I use a bench knife to slide up underneath the loaf -this motion must be rather gentle, but also with enough speed and force that the dough doesn't start to stick to the bench knife.  In other words, it should be quick and assertive, but not rough or aggressive (I think of this as a variant of the comment of the idea that baker's hands should be "iron hands in velvet gloves" - strong and solid, but with a light, gentle agility).


I am right-handed, so I hold the bench knife in my right hand, and as I slide it under the loaf, I use my left hand to steady the loaf on the other side.  Then, once the loaf starts to come off of the proofing surface, I use the bench knife in one hand and my other hand as support to lift the loaf up off of the proofing surface and move it quickly, but gently, onto the baking surface, placing it seam-side down (i.e. exactly the same orientation as it was when it was proofing).  This transfer usually results in some minor distortions to the loaf shape, especially with football-shaped loaves (round loaves are usually a little easier for me to control).  I don't worry about these minor distortions - with proper baking technique, I find that the vast majority of them essentially correct themselves in the spring. 


Then you can score the loaves and set them in the oven.  From start to finish, this whole transfer process should take about 1/10 of the time it takes to describe it.  Really, it's quite quick, especially if you are efficient about the scoring part.


This method will produce a loaf without a floured top.  It would also be possible to sprinkle some flour on the top of the loaf just before scoring, but if you are looking for a floured top, I would suggest proofing in a couche, where the floured top is a by-product of the process itself.


Hope this helps - post some pictures if you give it a try.


Andy

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

You might be able to accomplish what you want without parchment but a peel is essential--if budget is an issue use a flat cookie sheet, a cutting mat, or even a piece of cardboard.

Proof th freeform loaf seam down (if you are using the canvas as a couche you should look at flipping board videos and in that case it's seam side up) and scoop the peel under the bread (parchment makes this SO MUCH easier!!!).

I cut parchment into a round the approximate size of my clay baker (slightly larger than the raw dough) and it's easy to drop it into my baker from the peel. If needed, I use kitchen tongs to garb the edge of the paper and reposition.

venkitac's picture
venkitac

I've nothing against a peel, I just mentioned that you could do without a peel, that's all. Re. Parchment, I want to learn how to live without it..:)

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

If you're proofing on linen, whether a linen-lined basket or a couche, just proof seam side up, and invert onto cornmeal-covered parchment paper then gently peel the linen away if stuck.  Now it's seam down on the parchment. Score it now. Lower the parchment and dough together into the enameled pot, cover, and bake. When you check it after 15 minutes, grab the parchment and slide it out from under the loaf to remove it (if desired).

venkitac's picture
venkitac

In summary, it seems there are two legit ways to do this:


- As dragonbones said, proof seam side up, invert (like what happened to me), then score. I can kinda do this now, needs to be seen whether I can do this consistently.


- Andy's technique to proof seamside down, then transfer the loaf seam side down onto stone. This I definitely need to learn. I will definitely try this technique and post results back here. (But as it turns out, I won't be baking freestanding loaves for atleast a month. Don't ask. Argh).


 


Thanks, all, for the help!