The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The loaf comes out, then you go to bed ... how to cool?

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mlucas's picture
mlucas

The loaf comes out, then you go to bed ... how to cool?

Last night I took my first ever sourdough miche (the high extraction Poilane-inspired recipe from PR's Whole Grain Breads, pictures to be posted later!) out from the oven just after midnight. The center temp was 207F and the crust felt very hard, without being overdone.


I let it cool on a cooling rack for about half an hour while I cleaned up, but then I had to go to bed. By this time it had cooled but was still warm. I was afraid to leave it uncovered all night as I thought it might dry out, so I wrapped in a tea towel.


In the morning I found the crust was a lot softer, still okay but I was wondering if maybe I should've left it alone?


What do you do when you have to leave a loaf to cool overnight?


- Mike


 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

I leave it on the cooling rack and lay a towel over it.


Jeff

althetrainer's picture
althetrainer

Wow, that's a lot of discipline on your side!  We can never go to bed without having a slice of our fresh bread!  :-)  If I must leave it overnight, I would do what Jeff said, just throw a towel over it on a cool rack, praying that my husband won't get up in the middle of the night and eat half of it.  LOL


Al



AndyM's picture
AndyM

I do the same, but without the towel.  Circulation all around the loaf is essential.  Especially for a bread just out of the oven, it is giving off a lot of heat.  Anything that covers the loaf up will tend to trap that heat and encourage condensation.  If that moisture comes into contact with the crust, the crust will soften, just as Mike found.  Leaving a loaf uncovered overnight will help the crust stabilize.  Part of this is that the crust will dry out, and I think that kind of drying out is a good thing.  The crumb inside should be just fine if left overnight, and usually I leave my breads out, cut-side down, for as long as it takes to eat them (usually 2-3 days). 


Andy

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Andy,


I agree with your take on this but one should factor in the humidity level in the house.  If the humidity is high, I would not put a towel over the loaf.  In very low Winter humidity I definitely cover the loaf.


Jeff

AndyM's picture
AndyM

about humidity.  Living in the pacific Northwest, I never have to deal with low humidity, so much more effort goes into preserving the crispness of the crust.  Ambient conditions should definitely be taken into consideration.


Andy

wdlolies's picture
wdlolies

I just leave the bread out, uncovered.

greydoodles's picture
greydoodles

I like a soft crust *evil-eye to those who object*, so I use tea towels, top/bottom/sides lightly and on a cooling rack, while cooling bread. There are a few breads I will leave out overnight without tea towels to cool completely, and they are fine in the morning. I am not about to lose sleep while watching bread cool.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I baked a pan de levain on Wednesday night that came out of the oven around 11PM. After about an hour, I opened up a large paper grocery bag, a 1/6 Barrel is what I've heard them called, and slid the cooling rack with the loaf inside.  I used a clip to hold the folded over end and then went to bed. 8 hours later, I sliced it and while the crust wasn't super crispy, it was very good.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

I don't want to trap any of the surface moisture as it cools so I never cover it, at least not until it has cooled completely.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

than the loaf... on the counter top below the cooling rack and on the towel.  If they touch the loaf, then they can leave the loaf moist.   Sometimes desired but tends to shorten loaf life.


Not only does the room humidity matter, but the room temperature also and what type of bread you are cooling.  If the room was cool, say below 15°C (59°F)  It wouldn't dry out at all while it was cooling.  Towels can also trap in heat so the loaf takes longer to cool, not good for a heavy rye for instance.  Better for the ryes (Rye flour over 50%) to cool open and then zip bag afterwards to soften the crust for another day.


Mini

davidg618's picture
davidg618

until it's completely cool. If, after bagging (paper, cloth, or plastic), and/or freezing, I want a crisp crust, I put the loaf in a 375°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes. The time depends on the shape, or, more specifically, the surface to volume ratio. Baguettes get 5 mins., 1 to 1.5 lb boules, and batards 5 to 6, and larger 7 minutes, but no longer. I'm just crisping the crust; don't want to start baking the loaf again.


I'm on the side of "put it on the cooling rack, and leave till morning".


David G

Futterbudget's picture
Futterbudget

after it has cooled (assuming the kids don't eat it all at once, and that you don't want a hunk of bread sitting cut-side-down on your counter all day)?  I've always put mine in a plastic bag to keep the cut side from drying out.  Would paper be better?

JeremyCherfas's picture
JeremyCherfas

I wrap my bread in a linen towel and put the wrapped loaf in a plastic bag. Keeps for a week or more that way.


Jeremy

wdlolies's picture
wdlolies

I find that plastic makes the bread very soft - I suppose it is a matter of preference, I prefer the crust as firm as possible and wrap my bread into paper, if I have to wrap it at all.  The cutting edge is better if the bread sits on it.


Greetings from rainy Ireland.


Wolfgang

mlucas's picture
mlucas

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I think one of the key points mentioned above is the ambient humidity; here in Winnipeg it varies a lot throughout the year, even within each season there are dry days and humid days.


I like my crust medium crunchy (but not overly hard), and the kids like it soft. So I guess no matter what I do, someone wins and someone loses. I should almost cut the loaf in half and put half in plastic, half in paper!


Cheers
Mike

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

But you don't want to cut it before it cools, so instead, make 2 smaller loaves, and then you can treat them differently.


Anyway, normally I just leave the bread out, uncovered; I live on a humid, semitropical island, though.