The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

obtaining the pefect crust

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Srvchef's picture
Srvchef

obtaining the pefect crust

in order to obtain the perfect crust,which if any ingredient on the surface of the bread will perfect the crust?

 

thanks

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

You must first define the "perfect crust".  The factors that affect the crust are many from ingredients, to technique, oven type, steam or no steam, covered or uncovered, and so on.

Jeff

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

I agree with Jeff that you must be clear about your definitions.  Consider this:  would you want the same crust on a white sandwich loaf as you would want on a baguette?  I think not.  Northern European loaves, the low hydration ones with a cake-like crumb, general have a very thin and rarely crisp crust which may or may not be shiney depending on what the baker may have chosen to brush it with prior to baking (egg wash, butter or oil, for example.)  Southern European loaves, the high hydration loaves, generally have thicker crusts which are formed because of the presence of humidity in the baking environment.

I suggest two things:  1.)  buy a text book (a good beginner's text is DiMuzio's Bread Baking or Floyd Man's The Fresh Loaf) and study these two kinds of loaves  2.)  put the word crust into the search box and read everything that comes up.

Richard

 

 

Srvchef's picture
Srvchef

your absoloutely right!

apologies for not being clear...

im trying to obtain a crispy,slightly chewy crust for a baguette....

rather than telling you what ive tried,its obvious that ive failed so please advise as if i know nothing...many thanks

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

Again, you, as a newbie, should remember the importance of learning from recognized experts.  Buy a text book.  Read about baguette crusts using the search function.

In the immediate moment, I'll say this:  high hydration breads, of which baguettes are an example (learn about baker's formulas so that you know what high and low hydration mean), develop crusts best when baked in a hot oven 500 degrees in the presence of a certain amount of steam during the first 1/3-1/2 of the baking period.  Use the search function to learn about how to produce steam in your oven.  Measure your oven temperature with a thermometer.  Don't trust you oven dial.  Bake your baguettes on a surface which has been heated in  your oven while its temperature has been climbing to the desired level.  Preferably bake on a stone or unglazed tile surface.  Use the search function to read about all these things.

Srvchef's picture
Srvchef

Thanks for your time....appreciated

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

While I do not want to discourage anyone from baking any sort of bread..............the baguette is one very tough place to go when new to bread baking.  This is the bread that tests ALL of the skills that a baker has and, in the end,  promises to reveal each and every shortcoming along the way.  This bread requires mastery of mixing, kneading, fermenting, preshaping and shaping, scoring (that's a big one) and finally baking.  The baguette shows no mercy to those who become careless at any point along the way.  It is, in every sense, unforgiving.

If you are new to baking I would point you in the direction of practicing each of the aforementioned skills necessary to produce a baguette.  Certainly the "how" of getting the proper crust is a big big part of the baguette.

King Arthur flour has a number of excellent videos on line that discuss the baguette, I would watch those, many times.  Ciril Hitz also has some on line videos that deal with the baguette, watch those too, many times.  Their are a good number of books that deal with the subject of the baguette and I would read those.  By the time you can make a great baguette, all of your other breads will be first class as well because you will have learned so much along the way.

Happy Baking,

Jeff

Srvchef's picture
Srvchef

thanks jeff for the advice and while i totally agree,let me explain how i got into this....

ive been a professional chef for 15 or so years and only in the past 2 have i discovered the magic and reward of baking,and in particular,bread..

i make bread every day,completely self taught....

ive learned that bread and more importantly the "level"of bread proficiency you should aim for needs to be the result of how much you can put into it CONSISTENTLY...daily..

i am nowhere near the level that many if not all of you guys are at but iam extremely enthusiastic,i literally think about bread 24/7...to the point where i    actually questioned wether or not i need help!!.....relax im not a complete loon but i challenge myself,while i have all the time and evergy,to absorb absoloutely everything.....

you seem really knowledgeable and id love to show you some pics for your advice

 

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Aha............I understand completely.

I see that you have already renconciled the differences in the world of baking vs. the world of cooking.  Furthermore you have identified that mindset necessary to good bread production that differs dramatically from keeping a dinner menu interesting and enticing.  On top of that you have the necessary self awareness that tells you that this whole bread affair may involve some degree of looniness.  We most definitely have ground rules that we can work with and I would be more than happy to look at pictures and give whatever advice I can.  I'll send you a message through TFL and we can go from there.

Jeff

Maverick's picture
Maverick

I agree that seeing pictures of the results you have obtained will help people here to give you advice on what needs tweaking.

badmajon's picture
badmajon

Hello. I understand what you are asking. Basically its not really ingredients per say that make a great baguette but the way you craft it, and importantly, how you bake it. The first thing you should do if you already know a little bit about baguette baking is to buy a pizza stone, or do what I did, use an unglazed quarry tile. The tile cost me $5, but improved my crust quality 400%. I can't exaggerate how much better my crust is when I bake on it.

Secondly you need a good book. I learned using one called "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart.

I disagree with the poster that says you should not start with baguettes. The whole tao of baking is contained in the baguette. Once you can make a half decent baguette then learning everything else is relatively easy. It's like being fluent in Latin then studying the various romance languages. I have made about 30-40 batches of bread over the last 90 days, its my main hobby while away on business, and it took me about 20 tries before I finally felt like I even half understood (this is with the book mind you) how to make a decent baguette and to get a feel for the dough.

It's a craft, maybe an art even. You get to know the dough, how it feels, you know before you even put it in the oven how it'll be when its baked. I'm staying in a hotel 8000 miles away from my family so my main activity is baking that perfect loaf of french bread... although now I've started trying to use wild yeast and experimenting with rye to keep things interesting.