The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Too fluffy and soft crust - solutions?

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Salilah's picture
Salilah

Too fluffy and soft crust - solutions?

I made a version of Susan's Norwich Sourdough

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/08/my-new-favorite-sourdough/

with a variation of a higher percentage of starter:

400g white (very strong) rather than 450g
60g light rye
250g warm water rather than 300g
280g starter (mix white & rye) rather than 180g
10g salt
(i.e. same percentages flour and water if you take starter at 100% into account)

1 hour autolyse without salt, 3 S&F at 30min intervals, added salt, S&F to medium windowpane.  Left for an hour, S&F then left for 30m.  Did a rough shape then left for 30m.  Shaped thoroughly then proved (on flat tray) for 2.5 hours (around 21C) - it rose a lot!

Oven was at at least 260C (with tray of boiling water) + sprayed - 5mins at this, turned down to 250C (NB fan oven) for 5m.  It was getting very brown so took out tray of water and turned down to 200C for 10mins, then 180C for 20mins, finally 160C for 5mins. (45m total)

It is a good looking loaf, however - the crumb tasted very light and fluffy, whereas I prefer a more chewy crumb.  In addition, although the crust is dark, it is quite soft (day 2 as well).

Recommendations please - what should I do to get somewhat chewier crumb?  What should I do to get a crispier crust?

Many thanks!
Sali

jcking's picture
jcking

Looking at the Wild Yeast Blog formula, "With a thin, crisp crust and soft but substantial crumb" I believe you've gotten the soft/ light part called for. Perhaps a different formula might be more to your liking rather than reformulating this one.

Jim

Salilah's picture
Salilah

Good point, Jim - thank you for spotting this!  I must read closer...

cheers
Sali

mlucas's picture
mlucas

For the crispier crust, you need a lot of steam for that first 12-15 min, and you shouldn't turn the temperature down so much.

Try preheating oven to 260C (or whatever is max oven temp) but turn it down to 230C just before you load the bread. And try to keep it at 230C during the entire bake. You can try loosely placing some aluminum foil over the bread to keep it from browning so much (unless it was over-browning on the bottom as well?), but not until after the first 15 min, because you don't want to open the oven door during the steaming phase -- lose too much steam that way. Also, if you can turn your fan off you probably should, otherwise don't worry about it (although maybe use 220C instead of 230C in that case).

Do you have a baking stone? That will help a lot as well.

Finally, a really good suggestion for steaming is to use one or more kitchen/tea towels in the tray of boiling water. This helps in two ways: 1) the water is absorbed by them so it's not sloshing around, prevents spilling = much safer, and 2) I think they help 'wick' the water into a larger surface area, allowing the oven's heat to create more steam. I've done this a few times and the kitchen towels are none the worse for wear.

(Although my preferred method for steaming is still the "after bread is loaded, pour boiling water onto preheated rocks in pan, then quickly close the door" method, this seems to generate the most steam! I do use the kitchen towel method for pre-steaming the oven though.)

Salilah's picture
Salilah

Thanks for your suggestions!  I'll try the foil - and must get a stone (have one in the 'other' oven).  I can't turn the fan off sadly, it is fan or grill or defrost.  I'll also try the towels

What sort of rocks - lava?  Off to ebay to investigate!

cheers
Sali

mlucas's picture
mlucas

Actually the rocks are just stones from outside. My family used to live near the mountains, and brother collected rocks whenever we went hiking, and he gave me his collection when he moved to China. They were sitting in my basement for ages before I realized they would be perfect for bread-making.

In fact I also use two large, very flat rocks from his collection on the top rack to block the direct radiant heat from the top burner. Since my oven uses both top & bottom heat on Bake setting, I often found too much browning on top of my loaves, but since putting those rocks there I don't have to worry about using aluminum foil anymore.

Cheers
Mike