The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sad newbie....tops of bread dry out too much to score

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darkmoondreamer's picture
darkmoondreamer

Sad newbie....tops of bread dry out too much to score

I have tried proofing my loaf bread 3 different ways...on the countertop and covered with a floursack towel, in my oven (not on) and covered in same towel, and proofing in my expensive Excaliber Dehydrator that I quickly discovered never gets used for anything, but it does have a bread proofing setting.


 


Whatever I do, my dough turns dry and tough where it reaches the air and slashing properly is impossible. The dough just tears everywhere. Today I tried spritzing the top of the loaf with water before slashing and it didn't help. Can someone please tell me how to keep that top moist for perfect slashing? Thank you

Ria's picture
Ria

You need to retain the moisture in your dough. Put the loaf pans in a plastic bag, saran wrap, or something similar to hold in the moisture.  The towel isn't keeping the moisture from evaporating from your loaves.


Ria

darkmoondreamer's picture
darkmoondreamer

Thank you Ria! I "do" like the way that proofing them in the Dehydrator rises them quickly and well in a temperature controlled environment, however, it operates on a fan system....Do you think I could still use it to proof with the dough bagged?

halfrice's picture
halfrice

My gut feeling is that your dough may be too low in hydration. If I am proofing a dough in a basket, I put the basket inside a large plastic bag. If I am proofing french bread, I just cover them with linen. Either way, they won't dry out.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I use (and reuse) large plastic oven bags for proofing. They're large enough to place an entire banneton into.  Be sure to sprinkle the top of the dough with a little rice flour to keep the plastic from sticking to the dough. 


+Wild-Yeast

Ria's picture
Ria

I'd check the hydration on the dough as well; I wondered if perhaps it's a little too dry to begin with. I think I'd try adding a little less flour and bagging the loaves before putting them in the dehydrator to proof. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Good luck!


Ria

darkmoondreamer's picture
darkmoondreamer

Thank you all, I will definately use the bag method next time. Hydration was pretty high, it was a very wet dough, although I'm a new bread baker and have no eartly idea how to tell you in percentage....today's dough was Memo's brown bread. Although it wasn't pretty on top it was heavenly moist!!!!

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I have a couple of strategies:


For anything proofing in a container (i.e. loaf pan, banneton, etc.) I use plastic shower caps I buy at the Dollar Tree--a dozen of these things for a dollar.  (I also "collect" them when I stay at hotels).  These can be sprayed inside with oil to keep them from sticking if the dough touches them, but they are generously sized and rarely touch the dough.  I sort of "tent" them over the dough so they don't touch.  I wash the caps out after each use and reuse them until they fall apart.  It's still plastic but a little goes a LONG way. 


When I'm proofing something on a flat surface, I try to use a container of some sort over the dough to proof it--i.e. a big bowl or even a stock pot.  I have deep, jelly-roll baking sheet pans, so for things like english muffins I cover one  pan with the other upside down for the proofing stage. 


Sometimes, the only resort is plastic--e.g. my challahs.  I lay a sheet of plastic wrap lightly on the dough, spray it with oil, and then turn the oiled side down.  I try to use the plastic wrap sparingly. 


If I had a place to store it, I'd invest in a large rectangular plastic box I could turn over on top of things like this as a sort of "proofing box".  But there's no place to store such a box between uses. 

darkmoondreamer's picture
darkmoondreamer

Thank you , Jan! I like that idea and happen to have a pack of showercaps already. I'll give it a try!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

if your dehydrator has a fan it is likely the air movement that is causing a skin to form, any draught will do that. Covered in a plastic bag will stop the draught, trap air in and it usually stays off the dough piece and even if it touches, it seldom sticks due to the moisture being retained rather than evaporated away.


Regards Yozza

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

You can use a plastic tote bins purchased at any store, just find a sheet pan the size you usually use in the baking aisle and make sure it will fit inside the box. The ones I use are only 6 inches tall since that's all you really need for most bread loaves.


You can also put a pan of hot water in the oven with the proofing dough, it will keep the inside humid so the dough won't crust over.

bassopotamus's picture
bassopotamus

Take your flour sack towel, soak it, then wring it out so it doesn't drip. I've made literally a thousand loaves this way, and only had one problem- if the towel dries, it may stick to the loaf, in which case, spritz the towel again and it peels off.

jbaudo's picture
jbaudo

I have tried proofing with a wet towel and the plastic wrap and had to admit defeat because the plastic wrap (coated with cooking spray to avoid sticking) keeps the moisture in better.  I really wanted the towel to work to avoid more waste but since I am not making as much bread now as I used to I just use the plastic wrap.  As long as it is well oiled it doesn't stick to the dough even if it is touching. 


Also one really good tip I got from one of the top bread books (can't remember who) was to keep a spray bottle with water and spritz the top of the loaf after the final proof to help with oven spring.  This could serve a double purpose in helping to soften the dough for scoring.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

And if your slashing still doesn't work out well, don't take it personally.  Even the most expert among us have difficulties with that step.  It's an art in itself.


Rosalie