The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough transfer killing my ears?

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dwfender's picture
dwfender

Dough transfer killing my ears?

Out of curiousity, I'm wondering what more experienced bakers opinions are on how you transfor the dough from couche to stone and whether or not that has a sever impact on obtaining a grigne on slashed doughs. I, like every other novice baker, am trying to widdle down why sometimes I get ears and sometimes I don't even though I try to use the same technique each time I slash. I will say, the one time I got a great ear, it was a lower hydration baguette that I slashed with a serrated kyocera ceramic tomato knife. They came out insanely good. The other thing I think I may be messing up is the amount of steam. Causing the entire loaf to grow in size as opposed to letting the baguette naturally develop with steam from the moisture within. 

wally's picture
wally

Most folks use something called a flipper board to transfer baguettes and batards from the couche to a peel (wooden or metal) which ultimately is used to slide the dough onto the baking stone.  My flipper board is homemade: thick rectangular piece of cardboard 18"x4.5" and enclosed in a piece of nylon hosiery (which can be lightly floured so the dough doesn't stick to it).

Once transfered from couche to peel, the dough is then scored.  Getting good ears takes a ton of practice.  You can get some good info on this site here.

As for moisture - especially with baguettes, but for nearly all hearth breads - you want steam in your oven for the first 10 minutes of your bake.  It is steam which allows the top of the dough to avoid crusting, thereby sealing your slashing before it can open and bloom into those beautiful, sought-after blooms!  If you are baking in a gas oven then this is a challenge, because gas ovens vent so to enable oxygen to keep the flame.  You can search on this site for innovative techniques to achieve this.

Good luck!  Keep at it.

Larry

dwfender's picture
dwfender

I use a flipper board and transfer from peel to stone the same way you would a pizza. I always score immediately before baking and generally after a slight skin has developed. I've noticed that the skin can go too far very quickly, creating what looks like a wrapping around the dough. 

The idea of moisture being a suspect probably makes the most sense. I use a veyr crappy gas oven with a gigantic vent. The only time I have ever had a proper ear was in my fathers oven (same recipes and techniques) with a smaller vent and a much more insulated environment. I always blast with about a cup of water when I place the bread on the stone but I notice that my cast iron pot looses heat quickly enough that the moisture doesn't fully release as steam and eventually after 5 or so minutes water is still pooled. It evaporates before baking is finished but I dont think its enough moisture to affect the dough.

What I think I might actually do is somehow manage to run moisture in from the bottom of the oven. Maybe through the broiler that will evaporate or turn to steam and rise through the oven. I can also attempt to cap the oven vent maybe and play with controlling the temperature myself. The ideas are flowin!

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

I got great ears on my last bake, and I was actually aiming to improve the ears, so I surprised myself. What I did was specifically angle the slash as all the books say to do. Made all the difference for me. So the blade was at an angle to the dough surface, not anywhere near vertical.

I wonder when you are slashing, since you think the transfer could impact the ear. The slash should be the last thing you do before the loaf goes in the oven. It seems improbable to me that the transfer would have any impact on the ear unless you are slashing while the loaf is proofing and not just before baking.

jaywillie

dwfender's picture
dwfender

I have played with the "keyturn" angle myself. The reason I was thinking it may be the transfer is when I baked my last 2 doughs, 80% pugliese, I noticed that after I transfered the dough to the oven the slashed area had opened and spread about 1 inch horizontally. What would have turned into the ear had been completely exposed to the immediate heat of the oven which in turn baked itself into a closed surface. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

You would slash vertical - straight up and down, since no ears at all is what you would be going for.  The spread at the cuts, with no ears intended, is called 'bloom' and the bigger the better.  Pulgliesi Capriooso is baked 'upside down' with the seam side up and the boule is not slashed at all.

dwfender's picture
dwfender

so when referring to bloom you would be assuming that I was looking for a traditional approach to pugliese?  I have yet to make an actual boule for the dough. The recipe I have, which coincidentally is from a reliable source (maybe not anymore), intstructs to shape into batards and score. It also calls for bread flour and not the use of semolina which I know is also not traditional. I guess in essence this is really just a french bread made with a larger amount of biga. 

Does gluten development corrolate directly to gaining proper ears? As my baking progresses, I'm beginning to think that in general my gluten is underdeveloped before I let it hit the first bulk ferment. I know the last pugliese attempt was definitely underdeveloped and the dough collapsed on itself. The crumb was ridiculously open @80% regardless but the dough didn't hold it shape at all. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

collapsed, it probably was over proofed rather than under developed, but it could have been both too. There are all kinds of pulgiesi, all kinds of shapes for it and many don't use semolina or bread flour.  The great thing about bread is its variety and different recipes for the supposedly the same thing.  Very confusing sometimes!

Proper development, hydration and proofing will give you the ears you seek on batards or baguettes, or boules if that is the look you want for your bread.  There aren't any rules accept the ones you like :-)  But, there are rules for method for each recipe that if followed will produce a nice bread most always.  Practice makes perfect and we all have a lifetime to get it right.

Do you do S & F's or use a mixer or both?  Can you post your recipe and method?  Maybe a picture of the crust and crumb?  All of these would be nice for the TFL'ers to help you solve this problem.  I'm sure it is something simple too.

 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I think it helps if you let the loaves form a slightly dryish skin just before scoring at an angle. I think the dryish skin prevents the entire dough from expanding  but allowing the dough inside to expand outward from the cuts. The ears seem to form when there is a dryish crust as opposed to a moist surface. Well, that's what I always notice.

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Just as a follow up I thought I would post my last batch... I looked into my technique and critiqued everything to make sure it was spot on. Here's what I came up with .