The Fresh Loaf

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Getting Ears* (not "Grigne"): An Observation

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thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

Getting Ears* (not "Grigne"): An Observation

I have the opportunity now to use steam injection in my baking. I was curious as to what effect the timing of steaming from the time of loading would have. I prepared a formula and created two identical loaves. I preheated the oven to 425º and loaded the first loaf dry with no presteam. After about 1.5 minutes, I loaded the second loaf in the same oven and steamed as soon as the oven door closed. I was amazed at the results:



The loaf on the left was the dry start loaf. There is actually a tiny bit of grigne ear* at the upper left side of the score but the score is otherwise flat. The loaf on the right started to bloom about 3 minutes into the bake and developed the gorgeous grigne ears* you can see.


My inference from this is that for maximum grigne ears*, the earlier the steaming the better. On a future bake, I will try a presteam just before loading as well as the initial loading steam to see what effect this will have. This also helps me understand one of the reasons I have had such a wide variation in the quality of my grigne ears* from bake to bake.


Hope this helps someone. Comments and questions are welcome.


*Edited on 4/8/11 to correct misuse of "grigne". The raised flap of crust is actually an "ear".


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You have actually demonstrated 4 effects of steam on the breads:


1. Better bloom


2. Shinier crust


3. Better ear development.


4. Better oven spring


There may be an additional benefit to the crumb structure. Did you find it so?


Steaming 15 minutes into the bake would have little effect. Steam's action is beneficial only before the crust forms and starts to color. A possible exception is that the later steaming might impact crust thickness. I'm not sure.


BTW, from your comment I wonder if you are misusing the French term "grigne." My understanding is that it is synonymous with the English term "bloom," that is the opening up of the crust where you've scored it. I think you are referring to formation of an ear. If I misunderstood, please forgive me.


Happy baking!


David

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

And that is generally the way I use the term. I think I got so excited about the results that I got sloppy. What I find interesting is that I have the impression that most people only talk about "grigne" when there is an "ear" present. For example the loaf on the left has a grigne but I don't think most people would refer to it that way.


Anyway, I can confirm that your other observations are accurate also. The crust was definitely shinier and there was greater oven spring, although only in the lateral dimension not the vertical. I think this could be due to the mechanical effect of the greater blooming allowing the loaf to expand in that dimension.


I, too, am very curious about the crumb structure but have been holding off on slicing the bread until later in the evening.


BTW, do you differentiate at all between "bloom" and "grigne"?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

FWIW, I had the exact same misperception for a long time. I don't recall why I started to question this, but I went to several online French dictionaries and French baking sites and got the terminology straight (I think.)


Some of what I found was rather amusing in that French bakers are as confused about English terminology as English-speaking bakers are about French terms.


Here's a nice, concise definition I found on www.baking911.com



Bloom refers to the way the top of bread opens up during baking along the cuts made in the top crust. The cutting creates "ears" (flaps of dough that rise up from the loaf and crisp up).



David

Sjadad's picture
Sjadad

thebreadfairy,

Your experiment is proof that small variations can make a big difference. You've baked a beautiful loaf and have shown that attention to details pays off.

Sjadad

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

It's so true what you say about small variations. It's one of the reasons I tell people, "It's not that difficult to make good bread, but very difficult to make great bread!"

ww's picture
ww

my problem is that i get oven spring, bloom and grigne all right but i watch in dismay as they close up.


I get plenty of steam - i think - because when i open the oven, i see the steam whooshing out (is that considered steam enough?? I would love to hear from others), so i still don't know exactly what the problem is.


Too much steam? overproofed dough? sigh

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm having a hard time picturing this. Do you mean your cuts open up then the area of bloom gets narrowing as the bake progresses?


If that's the case, the loaf must be collapsing, and the usual cause is over-proofing. However, usually there is very poor oven spring and the cuts never open much at all.


Can you be more graphic? Photos would help.


What kind of bread? What shape?


David

rolls's picture
rolls

Hi first of all, that looks absolutely gorgeous! secondly, when you all talk about steam, what method are you talking about really, as in do you spray as soon as you pop the loaf in the oven. I've never tried that myself. and do you think that baking within a pot would give the same result, and is that enough steam inside being given off by the dough and enclosed within in?


 


thanks off to finish my dough for floyd's 'my daily bread' :)

thebreadfairy's picture
thebreadfairy

Rolls,


The steaming that I did here was in a commercial oven generating "true" steam. Prior to this I have been able to get some good grigne and ears using a Combo-Cooker style cast-iron pot as described in "Tartine Bread". With that setup, I found that passive steam from the loaf was not enough and I had to add a few ice cubes to the cast iron pot to get enough moisture inside the pot at the beginning of the baking to get good blooming and ears.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Beautiful Loaves! Yum!


I read a thread recently ( I think it was an older thread) that talked about wringing out soaked hand towels,microwaving them til steamy and then placing them in the hot oven in loaf pans so they could pre-steam the oven, make steam while the loaf was baking and ,I suppose, dry out enough that the loaf finished up nicely. It works quite nicely but I did remove the loafpan and towel after the crust was set.I didn't want a chewy crust. I got a nice crunchy crust and great spring!


Alternately, I throw about 1/2 c water on the bottom of my oven floor right before putting in the loaf (watch out for steam when you open the oven door to load the dough!) and throw more in every 5-7 minutes until the crust is set. DO NOT do this if you have an oven window-it will SHATTER if the water drips on it!


I've also used iron frying pans but my element config made this awkward and, besides, cooked the seasoning off my pan and I use them everyday for cooking meals.


The towel method worked much better but the loud hiss of water hitting the oven floor was very satisfying!I have an electric oven that is 35 yrs old.No problems.


Thanks !

ww's picture
ww

Dear David,


thanks for chipping in.


i do get oven spring, something like 15 mins into the bake. It can be moderate to surprising. Sometimes it amazes me when my overproofed or too loosely shaped loaf springs up and is partially redeemed.


you're right, it's the cut that opens up then closes up. I'm trying to recall but it may be when the oven spring occurs, such that sometimes what i have left iare traces of the opening up of the slash.


i'm wondering if perhaps the cut doesn't open up wide enough in the first place. Is it suppsoed to be a huge split that stretches from one side of the loaf to the other?


i do sometimes achieve grignes but would like to get a better grrip on what's happening,

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi,


"Grigne" is the French word for "bloom." I'm wondering if what is "collapsing" is the ear - the flap of dough that rises off the surface of the loaf along one margin of the bloom.


If that's the case, I humbly suggest you read the Bread Scoring Tutorial (updated 1/2/2009), especially the section on "ears."


David

jcking's picture
jcking

Bread with ears? What will they think of next? ;-)

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

"Hi, I'm a Cheshire Loaf.  And if you don't like my silly grin, you can just bite me."


IMG_2299


 

ww's picture
ww

hi david,


checked out your post and video. If nothing else i can see that your loaves in the video are a lot firmer than mine. So that's one thing to take note of already. Mine are more slack. So either they are over-proofed or lack strength. i could start with "under-proofing" for a start.


Thanks!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The dough I used for the tutorial video was about 68% hydration.


If your dough is higher hydration, your scoring should be more shallow. Good gluten development, good shaping and optimal proofing do help, of course.


David

Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Hi,


Can you tell me to which video you are referring? Thanks.


Barbara

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I believe the videos referred to are those with links at the end of the TFL Handbook Scoring Tutorial.


David

Karil's picture
Karil

Perhaps, for those of us who bake bread in Dutch Ovens, one might steam the oven and then only close the Dutch Oven with the lid after several minutes in orderr to achieve such pretty ears???

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Baking in a DO with the cover on for the first part of the bake achieves a steamy environment with water that evaporates from the loaves. What you suggest would be defeating the benefits of the DO.


David