The Fresh Loaf

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I screwed up my french bread-why?

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kgreg's picture
kgreg

I screwed up my french bread-why?

Hi All,

It a bad day in Minnesota today. My bread looks REALLY BAD.

I need help with the recipe in BBC for french bread.  I used a stone in the bottom of my oven and followed the recipe exactly.  (I did have a little problem shaping, instead of 3 baguetts, it turned out  2 batards)

The internal temperature was 205 degrees BUT the bread did not have any color.  They were white with a touch of brown, but not beautiful brown color like you see everywhere else.  I thought about keeping them in the oven longer but they were already at ideal temperature.  Also they did NOT have a open crumb.  Anyone know what I did wrong?  I appreciate your help.

One more thought==it tastes great!! just looks UGLY 

Thanks

 

 

dstroy's picture
dstroy

I suspect a lot of it is just practice getting the "zen" of the mix right. Did you see how Floyd's bread in lesson one was so pale? No sugars gave it that ghostly look. That said, I keep running across pictures of breads he did the year before and there were some very funny looking breads back then! They tasted better than anything we got at the store though, so who can complain?

And even in the year since he started the site his breads have gotten prettier.

 

Floyd put together some of his key tricks and tips here: Ten Tips For Better French Bread

Hopefully something there may be useful to you! And I'm sure there may be more that you just get as you get the feel of it from repeated tries...

In the meantime, just keep practicing :) And getting to eat possibly "ugly" but tasty bread isn't necessarily a bad thing, right?

kgreg's picture
kgreg

Thankyou to all for your advise. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mij.mac's picture
mij.mac

You over fermented. If all the sugars in the dough have been used up there's none to caramelise in the crust so no colour. 

This isn't the same problem as over fermenting a starter then having to low a pH. It's your dough you've over fermented.
mac

kgreg's picture
kgreg

thanks mac, tried it again and was still pale white.  How did I over ferment the dough?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Kgreg,

What is BBC? Thought I'd take a look at the details of the recipe. What flour do you use in the recipe? Different flours have different amounts of gluten and water absorption. To some extent you have to adjust the water/flour ratio to get the right dough consistency. Some flours, particularly if they are organic or relatively unprocessed, may need some "diastatic malted barley flour" added. It adds enzymes that break down the starch into sugars, which will caramelize and give a darker color. As mij.mac says, you may not have any sugar left in the dough to give it the color you want. Overfermenting means letting it rise for too long. The yeast eats all the sugar and none is left to caramelize in the crust. Also, are you using a scale to weigh ingredients? Wrong amounts of salt is sometimes a reason for texture differences in dough, and the same volume measure of salt can be very different in weight depending on the type of salt. I wouldn't be afraid to let it bake for a little longer. Having a really high oven temperature at the beginning can help. You lose a lot of heat just opening the doors of the oven. As dstroy mentioned, a lot of the result is in the mixing techniques. I can't remember where, but there are some videos on a Julia Childs related web site that show typical mixing and kneading techniques, if someone knows the link.

Thanks, Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

If you go to http://www.pbs.org/juliachilds and go to Prime Video Cuts and search for videos by chef Danielle Forestier, there are a couple of videos on making traditional french bread. I'm sure there are lots more on the web and probably quite a few listed on this site somewhere, but at least that's one example.

Bill

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I was taking my bread (sourdough baguettes, if it makes any difference) out of the oven as soon as they reached the right temp, and they were very pale, too!  I realized then what is written in Hamelman's book about a full bake--bake until it's the required temp and the right color.  Am I right on this one?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Underbaking is easy to do, maybe easier than overbaking, unless you're forgetful and absentminded like me. Then, you can't remember to fold the dough on time, oveproof half the time, underproof the other half, and overbake if not burn the living daylights out of it.

The difficulty with using a thermometer, which I use extensively, is that the internal temperature measured is affected by exactly how and where you insert the probe, how fast your thermometer responds, and how long you wait while you probe it. The internal temperature that is ideal varies by type of bread, altitude, hydration, and personal taste, at least. I've found that the internal temperature using a thermometer is an invaluable tool, but it isn't that helpful for a precise doneness measure until you find out what internal temperatures really work for your conditions, type of thermometer and probing technique, and type of bread. Once you get that figured out for your case, it is a very easy way to tell what's happening with the thermometer and is very reliable. However, before getting the experience with the thermometer, the results may actually be more reliable by just noticing the color of the crust and stopping when it looks about right. Most breads are forgiving of overbaking, so it is usually OK to lean in the direction of baking longer.

staff of life's picture
staff of life

In the intro to BBA, Reinhart says something about retarding his loaves overnight, rather than letting them proof at room temp and baking that day, in order to allow the yeast (or bacteria) to convert the starches into sugar and give a more handsome color to the crust.