The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tartine bread wet after baking

mamacath's picture
mamacath

tartine bread wet after baking

i have been struggling with tartine bread.  after a fabulous first loaf, the next 4 loaves were flat and uncooked inside.  i discarded my original starter and have a month old starter which is rising and falling predictably. yesterday i baked beautiful loaves but they were a little wet, even when the exterior is dark and crusty.  anyone have this experience and found a solution????

jcking's picture
jcking

There was a post a few weeks ago about wet bread. It turned out the seal on the oven door was faulty.


Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Almost always if the bread is "too wet" it has something to do with how it was baked rather than something to do with how the dough was produced.


To judge doneness, get an "instant read" thermometer and test the internal crumb for desired temperature. It's typical to look for about 205F (although some folks and some breads prefer either higher or lower). Take the bread out of the oven temporarily and push the thermometer deep into the crumb (probably from one end) and let it settle. If it shows the temperature you want, turn the oven off. If it's not the temperature you want yet, take out the thermometer and put the loaf back in the oven to bake some more.


Crust color is a really really lousy way to judge doneness. The clock -which is fairly good on the second identical bake- is also a fairly poor way to judge doneness initially.


If you want to adjust crust color, there are a lot of tricks (including laying foil loosely over the top of the loaf in the oven) to do so without changing baking time.

booch221's picture
booch221

According to Cook's Illustrated, internal temperature itself is insufficient prove that bread is fully baked.  Testing showed that bread can reach 210 degrees long before it's done. They concluded internal temperature is less useful than appearance as a sign of a well baked loaf.


I rely on time, temperature, smell, sound, and appearance to determine donness.


This thread had a lot of causes and solutions for wet bread:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22892/help-wet-bread


 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

According to Cook's Illustrated, internal temperature itself is insufficient prove that bread is fully baked.


My experience is internal temperature measured with an instant read thermometer works just fine for judging doneness.


The Cooks Illustrated conclusion seems extremely suspect to me. It seems they really did say that  ...but I'd very much like to see the details of how they arrived at their conclusion (especially as it contradicts virtually everything reported here on TFL). I'm trying to approach this with an open mind, but unfortunately the details are only available to Cooks Illustrated "members" (and their "free trial" requires my credit card number [!]  ...which I won't give them).


My further experience is that it's very common to get bad readings from thermometers; this could easily account for the Cooks Illustrated (mis)conclusion: An instant read thermometer that's either inserted too shallowly (less than two inches) or inserted so deeply that it touches the crust on the other side will read high. And if the probe of an in-oven thermometer with a cable isn't inserted into the dough exactly right, the probe metal will pick up heat from the oven interior and/or the baking stone and read high (sometimes as much as ten or twenty degrees Fahrenheit!).

booch221's picture
booch221

I think the folks at Cook's Illustrated know how to measure dough temperature. In fact the article says they "placed temperature probes in the center of two loaves..."  So they were getting more than one reading. They seem to be very through in their testing and I don't doubt their conclusions.


Nevertheless, I baked a loaf as an experiment and tested the bread  at 30 minutes, instead of the full 40 minutes. At 30 minutes the bread already registered 210 degrees, but I could tell it was not done by the color and smell. I finished baking it for the full 40 minutes and it was perfect.


 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Well, we continue to disagree; future readers please supply your own grain of salt to go with this thread:-)


The full text of the relevant part of the Cooks Illustrated article makes it clear they a) tested with an in-oven probe "cable" thermometer rather than an "instant read" thermometer (both have "probes") and b) had a goal of 210F. From that they concluded that proper use of an instant read thermometer looking for 205F was not a good indication of doneness?


???


Note the bait-and-switch. Generally Cooks Illustrated is a solid organization with a fine reputation; it puzzles me that they'd be rather sloppy about their logic and procedures in this case.


 


(In my experience it's indeed true that internal crumb temperatures very close to the boiling point of water [i.e. 210F] are an unreliable indicator of doneness, and so need to be supplemented with other methods. Looking for internal crumb temperatures of 205F [the usual goal for most but not all lean recipes] though works just fine by itself as an indicator of doneness in my experience.)

jcking's picture
jcking

Chuck, I do like you do and get the same good results. What I wanna know is where the ATK reference came from?


Here's one.The ATK Baking Book, Pg 121 "Rustic Breads" section 9. Take the temp to tell doneness: the best way to test the doneness of a loaf is internal temp... Bread is generally done baking when its internal temperature registers 200 to 210 degrees.


they go on to say that care must be taken when measuring to avoid fillings in the dough that may effect the temp reading.


Jim

booch221's picture
booch221

The Cook's Illustrated reference came from


Testing Bread for Donness, May 1, 2011 (subscription required).


http://www.cooksillustrated.com/howto/detail.asp?docid=23646


The recipe called for baking two loaves of rustic Italian bread for one hour. Halfway into the baking time, the internal temperature of the loaves already passed 200° and reached  210°   15 minutes before the end of the hour-long baking time.  They pulled one loaf from the oven as soon as it neared 210°  and left the other in the oven for the full 60-minutes. 


The loaf removed early was pale and a gummy, while the loaf that baked the full hour was nicely browned, crisp, with a perfect crumb.


They suggest sticking to the recommended baking time  and making sure the crust is browned before removing the loaf from the oven.


Makes perfect sense to me.  I can't imagine any bread baker removing a pale loaf from the oven based on temperature alone.

jcking's picture
jcking

Were they using those meat type probes where the wire is wedged between the oven door?


Jim

booch221's picture
booch221

I don't know the answer to your question. The article doesn't go into that detail. It just says,


"We placed temperature probes in the center of two loaves of rustic Italian bread and monitored them as they baked."



jcking's picture
jcking

That sounds like the probe one would use to test the temp of a large meat item. Try and stick one of those into a soft piece of dough and try to keep it centered for an hour while it bakes. I very seriously doubt any home baker is using that technique to test doneness. ATK has taken things too far, and out the realm of home baking. Let's be practical. With the temp taking we use now, you know your bread in done between 200F and 210F. How dark, and thick, you like your crust is up to you.


Jim

G-man's picture
G-man

I've been following this thread for a while and not saying anything because I've had this problem as well, and I wanted to see if anything useful was discovered.


 


I've tested bread with a probe thermometer and with an instant read, and bread is not uniformly done at 210. There are other indicators that have to be taken into account. Pulling out the bread at 210 can leave you with a soggy loaf.


 


It is far from scientific proof, being my own personal experiences, but my own personal experiences are no less valid than yours. You have apparently achieved different results. Good for you. Denying there is a problem does nothing to solve the problem for those who are experiencing it.

jcking's picture
jcking

G-man,


It seems that I have drifted off topic. Are you using the Tartine method? It seems to be a problem with a few people lately. My next guess would be; I have a gas oven, do the people with problems use electric? The only way to solve this is to eliminate things one by one.


Jim

booch221's picture
booch221

I suspect that most people never take the temperature 15 minutes before the recommended baking time, but bake it very close to the recommended time. So their bread is done properly and registers ~210° and therefore they are convinced that temperature is all you need to judge when a loaf is done.


My experience like yours is quite different. I started with the NY Times Sullivan Street Bakery No Knead Bread Recipe, then I started changing it. I retard the dough in the fridge overnight, I bake it in cold cast iron skillet, I bake half loaves.


All of these changes required me to adjust the baking time. I started out 15 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered. The bread reached ~210° so I thought it must be done, but it was too wet in the center. I upped the time to 20 minutes covered and 10 uncovered. The temperature was still ~210 and it was still too wet. I bought a new ThermoWorks digital thermometer and the bread still registered ~210. I kept increasing the covered baking time until I got to 30 minutes covered, 9 minutes uncovered. My bread was ~210°, no longer wet, and not too brown. 


You are indeed correct, there are other indicators that have to be taken into account. In fact, I rely more on time, smell, and color.

mamacath's picture
mamacath

thank you for your answer.  i have never had this problem before and have always relied on the predictibility of my oven as well as color and sound (hollow) of a thumped loaf....but this tartine loaf is truly a challenge.

jcking's picture
jcking

Have you tested your oven temp? What temp are you baking at? Too low of an oven temp will cause a damp interior that longer baking will not solve.


Jim

mamacath's picture
mamacath

i am starting out preheat at 500 and turning down to 450..... i have produced great tartine loaves but the last ones were wet....even my no knead were wet so i am going to try less water  and if that doesnt work, i will purchase an oven therm ometer.  i purchased a digital therm for the interior of the bread but it doesnt sound like that will give me the info i want.  thanks so much for your time.


 

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I would suggest you go ahead and buy the oven thermometer without waiting. Often they're only around $5. Home oven controls are frequently not quite right. When the knob says 450F, it's not at all uncommon for the actual oven temperature to be as low as 400F or as high as 500F.


You're right, most digital thermometers for measuring the internal temperature of a loaf are not made to go inside the oven. If you try to use one of those as an oven thermometer, you will at least kill it, and probably be faced with a melted gooey mess too  ...and possibly even cause a battery to explode.

mamacath's picture
mamacath

i always use smell, time and color of crust as determinants for doneness.  it just isnt enough for me at the moment.  i havent tried less water in the dough but that is the next step.  thank you all for your time.


 

jcking's picture
jcking

Water boils at 212F I believe, at 210F it's almost there it's vaporizing. The moisture has to escape, right? If the crust sets too soon would it cause the loaf to retain moisture? Is there enough steam in the oven to keep the crust from forming too soon? Just speculating here.


Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

...If the crust sets too soon would it cause the loaf to retain moisture?...

Yep crust is more of a moisture barrier than bare crumb or raw dough, for example an intact crust typically helps loaves keep a day longer. But it's just a matter of degree, not an absolute. A lot of moisture goes through the crust while the bread is cooling (that's why crust often softens as loaves cool:-). And even more moisture passes through the crust in the heat of the oven.

 

jcking's picture
jcking

Let's focus on the oven for now. A recent post, Failed Focaccia~march 26, 2011 by kate2011, (wet sticky loaf interior) turned out to be a faulty oven door seal. A tech found the oven was losing heat, a new seal was installed, and the problem solved. And this result led me to believe (see above posting) the wire probes used by the Americas Test Kitchen to have flawed readings. The probe wires interfered with the seal.


The first response to this post questioned the oven door seal. Has anyone with the wet dough syndrome actually visually inspected their seal? Then there's the problem with older/inexpensive ovens and oven temp swings. I don't think home oven designers take artisinal bread baking into consideration. A Thermal Mass could help any old oven.


What oven setup are the problem havers using? What temps? Setting the oven 50 degrees higher to compensate for the loss of heat that occurs when loading and steaming the oven, then turning it down after a few minutes? Many factors to consider.


Jim


 

G-man's picture
G-man

Not certain offhand what my oven is. It is electric, I know it's fairly new, it was installed less than a year before I moved in to my apartment. That said, it is probably a fairly cheap model. I do have a baking stone, it's about 1/2 inch thick. It could probably stand to be replaced if I could find a place to get quarry tile around here.


 


 That said, I've only had this problem with my last couple loaves and I don't feel like I've changed anything as far as method is concerned. I've tried setting the oven higher and then adjusting lower and it doesn't fix the problem.


I suspect you're right that it is an issue with the oven's temperature. When we moved in the oven had an oven thermometer but we found out that it was broken when it didn't move while the oven was on and hot so we tossed it.  I haven't had anything in the oven since I picked up a new oven thermometer, since the temperature hasn't been an issue for anything else I only just bought one, so I'll give it a shot within the next day or so.

jcking's picture
jcking

One other thing that may help is after the I'm satisfied with the loaf temp and color I leave the loaf in for another 10 mins with the oven off. Hope to hear what you find with the oven temp.


Jim

mamacath's picture
mamacath

thank you for that advice.  i will try leaving the loaves in an extra 10 min.  do you cook in a pot?  if you do, do you turn the oven off and leave the loaf in the pot for the extra minutes?


 

jcking's picture
jcking

I use a Cloche clay vessel. For the last 10 or so mins I take the lid off. After that I check the temp, when I'm happy with the crust color, I move the loaf off of the base ( or you would remove it from the pot) turn off the oven and leave it in the oven for an extra 10 mins.


If you're using a pot with a lid, try removing the lid for the last quater (25%) of your baking time. When you're happy with the temp and color, turn off the oven and move the loaf out of the pot, onto your oven rack, and leave it in the oven for an additional 10 mins with the oven door slightly open. After removing the loaf from the oven wait at least 1 hour before slicing. I hope you're using oven mitts to move the hot loaf.


Jim

Baker Chris's picture
Baker Chris

If like me you are following the Tartine Bread Basic Country Loaf precisely, the issue with the door seal should not be a factor in terms of the first bake moisture/steaming, b/c it is in the combo cooker (I initially used a large LeCreuset dutch oven, which also worked just fine); although the oven temp could be an issue...

I've been producing increasingly consistent results following the recipe and method to the letter for a couple of weeks.  With the crust and the crumb appearing (pretty much) exactly the way they look in the book (and in pictures of others' efforts when they are satisfied with their results), my crumb is kind of tacky moist - I'd say mine is rather comparable to what the adhesive on a Sticky Note feels like, for lack of a better benchmark.  I've got good aeration, including oven spring (although I'm not entirely satisfied with it).

My question is this: is this what the recipe intends?  It isn't objectionably wet, but definitely different from anything available from my local bakery.

Has anyone purchased the country loaf from Tartine, can you describe the crumb and in particular the moisture, stickiness, how it feels when you tear it, etceteras?  Not the appearance, but how it feels to the touch...

Thanks.

jlew's picture
jlew

I have had similar experiences with Tartine loaves, done on the outside and a bit moist and tacky.  I have also found that to produce even this, it takes far longer in the oven (20-30 minutes beyond the 20 + 20 from the recipe) to feel "done" (no longer leaden, hollow sound when tapped.)  I'm going to see if my oven is keeping the correct temperature, though it is new and reasonably good quality.

mamacath's picture
mamacath

the tartine loaf is not moist at all, but the most delicious loaf i have ever tasted.  that is why i struggle so.

Gunnersbury's picture
Gunnersbury

Been baking bread for over thirty years, and agree that temperature is only one indicator, and insufficient: unless baking a rich dough that is "done" at 195 deg F. When it reaches that temp, it's done.  

But for temps over 200: Just as water will reach 212 and stay there no matter how long you boil it, so that when something comes to a boil we start timing (think hard boiled eggs) bread can reach say 205-210 and still require "cooking" inside. Probably the most reliable, low tech method for testing doneness is tapping the bottom: You will recognize that wonderful hollow feel and sound and it's done!  I use a digital instant read thermometer and tapping the bottom. 

G-man's picture
G-man

So I've changed a few things. One, I've modified my shaping just a tiny bit, for now. I had been going based on outside feel of the "skin" of the loaf but in watching the shaping videos from Hamelman and KA, I noticed he mentioned being able to feel the "inside" of the loaf. So going that extra step maybe didn't change much but maybe it did. I always like learning more, in any event. It has enabled me to get extremely consistent results in terms of product size and shape. Consistency is good when testing for things. This is something I'm doing for ALL my loaves from now on, if I'm going to be shaping them at all.

 

The next thing I changed was the temperature. My oven bakes very well. If anything it's maybe a few degrees on the warm side. Anyway, I end up with a very deep brown loaf after about 30 minutes every time. I usually give it 10 more minutes while the oven cools, with the door open. That's been giving me some moist loaves. So I turned the oven down by five degrees and left the loaf in for five more minutes before going through the usual finishing process...opening the door for 10 minutes, putting it on a rack to cool when done. The inside of this loaf was almost perfect, though the very center was a little bit wet.  (and yes...I know Tartine basic country loaf calls for more time, but burning it is a serious consideration here...)

 

In addition to these changes, I set the next on its rack by the open window. It's spring here, barely, and that day it topped out at maybe 65. Now, maybe this doesn't have anything to do with the inside of the loaf. I'm inclined to believe it might have a bit to do with it, but it's not really what I was aiming for. I had sort of figured that crackling crust had to have something to do with the temperature of the crust and the inside of the loaf, so I got my cracked crust, but also this loaf was perfectly dry on the inside. I used the same weight of flour and water to 1/10 of an ounce as last time. I made certain to write it all down.

jcking's picture
jcking

Mystery solved. Your feed back will help others with the same/similar problems. This is the best part of the post!

Jim

mamacath's picture
mamacath

my oven runs 25 degrees hotter and i also need an extra 20 minutes to acheive the hollow sound. 

i also noticed that my tartine loaves are not really sour.....although my starter is months old and fed pretty regularly.....

thanks for your post.

leavenguy's picture
leavenguy

The Tartine loaf is not meant to be very sour. It's a mild sourdough bread.