The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Failing French "Bread"

ginviking's picture
ginviking

Failing French "Bread"

I am a new bread baker and am having a terrible time with French bread.  I am using Peter Reinharts recipe for French baguettes and following the recipe. I shaped the baguettes, placed them in a cloche and covered with plastic wrap.  After rising I removed the plastic wrap which stuck to the loaves and deflated them.  I went ahead and baked them anyway as I was afraid they wouldn't rise again, but the interior was dense and soggy.  What am I doing incorrectly?

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You deflated them. The result you experienced is as it should be: dense and soggy. It's dense because of the deflation; it's soggy because it's a lot more difficult to bake dough from the outside in.

Had they not been deflated, the air captured inside the loaf would superheat and cook the loaf from the inside out, setting the holes and creating the light, airy crumb structure we associate with good bread.

ginviking's picture
ginviking

Thank you for the explanation, but what could I have done to avoid the deflation?

 

 

 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You could lightly oil the plastic wrap or the loaves or both. Peter Reinhart, for example, is partial to using spray oils (aerosolized oils) like PAM, then inserting the loaves into foodsafe plastic bags for proofing.

You could dust the loaves with flour.

You could place the plastic wrap such that it doesn't touch the loaves, like a tent.

There are so many other things you can do, but the important point is to realize that fully-proofed bread is very delicate. It must be handled lightly, but quickly and placed into a very hot, preheated oven as fast as possible and with a minimum of disturbance. (I was about to suggest treating it like a sleeping baby, but that analogy doesn't work so well consider that most loaves are scored and put into 550 F ovens!!!)

ginviking's picture
ginviking

I am trying again tomorrow so I will definitely follow your advice.  The upside is I  am using the bad bread for bread pudding.  Hope that it turns out.  Thanks again.

alabubba's picture
alabubba

Failed loaves also make excellent breadcrumbs!