The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yikes - my cuts opened up

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varda's picture
varda

Yikes - my cuts opened up

Over the past few weeks I have been trying to "take it up a level."   I had hit the wall on getting properly shaped and slashed naturally leavened loaves.    LindyD's recent post http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21045/fire-and-ice-great-oven-steam on generating steam set off a lightbulb in my head.  The symptoms I have been trying to cure are cuts that open a little and then seal over, and a split side.   I had been convinced that this was caused by underproofing even though I was doing my best with the poke test, rise times and so on.   When I read her post I started to wonder if I was having trouble with steam.   I had been preheating a dry jelly roll pan on the base of the oven and pouring in cold water at the same time as loading the loaves.  This sets off a cloud of steam and then the water continues to boil for around 15 minutes before it evaporates completely so I thought I was all set.   But I do have a brand new gas oven and after reading Lindy's post, I began to suspect that it was efficiently venting out steam as fast as I could generate it.   After surfing around a bit, I found the following excellent comment in a post on side splitting  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/10363/my-bread-keeps-quotsplittingquot-side#comment-54369.   So I surfed around some more for steaming methods that didn't involve going out and buying rocks and I found the following:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20162/oven-steaming-my-new-favorite-way and I tried it and dramatic improvement.    But it involved a little too much mucking around with steaming hot towels so I experimented some more and came up with a similar, but what seemed to me like a simpler and safer method.   I placed some soaked towels into bread pans half filled with unheated tap water on each side of my stone half an hour before loading the loaves, and let them preheat with everything else.   By the time I loaded the loaves, I got hit in the face with a cloud of steam.   Then fifteen minutes later, I removed the bread pans (with a long tongs) and once again got hit in the face with a cloud of steam, so I figured that the oven had been steamy enough in the interim.    The bottom line is the cuts opened, and the sides did not.   In fact they opened too much.   I have overdone it.   Too much steam?   Something else?   By the way, this site is just fantastic.   I would still be baking out of Clayton using speed em up 70s methods if it hadn't been for all of you.


Comments

LindyD's picture
LindyD

It's just super that you've found the sweet spot of steaming your oven so that it retains the moisture.  Doesn't that make you feel great???   It sure makes me happy for you!


I don't think you have too much steam, but maybe the placement of the cuts have too much of an angle across the bread.  Those are batards, right?  Next time just try one cut down the loaf, off center, and see what happens.


Quoting from Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread: "If you want the loaf to have pronounced 'ears,' make shallow cuts at a very low angle (almost horizonal) to the dough."


Congratulations and hip, hip hooray!

varda's picture
varda

Yes, they were actually pretty nicely shaped batards before they exploded.   I changed my shaping method to the one in the Hitz video that you recommended, which I find much easier than the Hamelman method I had been using before.   I will try the scoring method you describe, but let me ask you how you scored the one with two scores in your Fire and Ice post?   Thanks!  -Varda

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I messed up on those scores, placing three cuts when I really should have used only two.  I also should not have angled them as much as I did.


On the bright side, now that the steaming issues are solved for both of us, we can concentrate on our scoring techniques.  Another step up the big bread mountain!

varda's picture
varda

But I still don't understand how it can be so hard.   Only four ingredients for crying out loud.  It's annoying.  Anyhow, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.   -Varda   

Mateo Feo's picture
Mateo Feo

please make certain that anyone who does the towel steaming washes clothes with fragrance-free detergent.  "Tide" loaves would not be a good thing.


I'm still working on the slashing myself.