The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Giving No-Preheat a Try

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Giving No-Preheat a Try

With warm weather and more time spent in the garden than in the kitchen these days, I finally decided to give the "no-preheat" method a try since ehanner, crumb bum, sourdough-guy, and many others seem to like the results and the ease (not to mention energy savings).

I must admit I have been very skeptical of this method, it goes so against the grain of how I have made bread my whole life - I couldn't bring myself to do it for the longest time after carefully making each batch of dough, not wanting to sacrifice it, and I was convinced people who liked this method didn't require a thick, crispy crust like my family does - maybe it works fine for sandwich loaves, but crusty, chewy hearth loaves? Bread is sacred to my French husband and not something to be trifled with (he often hovers about the kitchen while I'm baking to make sure I hear the oven alarm and don't ruin the precious bread...)

So this past weekend I made a double batch of both the Thom Leonard and the Columbia (both from Glezer's ABAA) and decided to try the Leonard as the no-preheat and compare it to the Columbia which I would do on the hot baking stone as usual. First, as I mentioned to Zolablue in another blog, this weekend's bake was different than any previous sourdough bake I've done since starting back in November in that with the warm weather and warm house temps (70-75F) my starter was incredibly active and I've never seen these same doughs rise as much in the same time period as they did this weekend, they nearly blew the lids right off the dough buckets I use.

So I was a little worried the dough would be over-proofed, but when I slashed the Thom Leonard loaves after flipping them out onto a cold parchment covered baking sheet they seemed to hold their shape well. I put them in the cold oven on the middle rack (baking stones removed) and turned the oven on to 425F to bake the whole time, no steam or mist (needless to say, my husband was probably more nervous than I was...). I kept the light on to watch, and I noticed the slashes opening up and the loaves spreading - and I thought "great, I'll end up with pancakes", so I was extremely surprised to check back about 10 min later to see the loaves had bloomed and rose up very high - good oven spring - I was impressed! I left them in for about 15 min. before I opened the oven and rotated the loaves, then let them get nice and brown for another 15-20 minutes. I took them out when they looked nice and brown and the internal temp was about 204 . The crust felt nice and hard as they always do when you first take them out of the oven, but I knew the real test would be once the loaves cooled and we could cut into them and taste them. I should also mention that I have a gas stove, so the oven pre-heated and reached 425F pretty quickly without the stones in there.

Results below: we were very pleasantly surprised at the oven spring and open crumb, and the crust was crispy, but thin. Still, I could live with that considering how easy this was to do, no waiting for the stone to heat up, no misting, etc.


For comparison, below in front are some Columbias that I baked on a hot stone that I let heat up to 500F after the oven was already hot from the previous bake, then turned down to 400F after misting first 2 minutes. No-preheat Leonards are in the back. I made these Columbias as very large 3 lb boules rather than the usual batards (I like this large shape as it seems to keep the bread fresh longer throughout the week with just the cut side wrapped partially in foil). These Columbias also had tremendous oven spring, height, and open crumb, in fact they had better height and more open crumb than the no-preheat Leonards, and they also had a very thick crisp crust, which we prefer over the thin.

That said, I am still very happy with the no-preheat results given how easy it is, and will continue to use this method throughout the hot weather when I'm using the oven less anyhow. So I tip my hat to Sourdough-guy, ehanner, crumb-bum, and others who use this method, I've learned much from your advice before, but on this particular one I was skeptical, I'll never doubt you again...

Still, in cooler weather we cook so much on the weekends in the oven that I prefer to keep the stones in place, and my husband definitely prefers the resulting thick crust. Here is a crumb shot of the Columbia baked on the hot stone.

Comments

Susan's picture
Susan

Thanks for taking the time to document this technique. Beautiful loaves!

Susan

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Beautiful loaves and nice photos. You have a lovely view.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mountaindog,

There is a trade off using no pre heat as you so artfully demonstrate. We actually prefer the thinner crust so it's a win, win.

It's always nice to get a peek of your wonderful views. Thank you.

Eric

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey MD

Glad you gave it a try and it worked for you.  I like Eric also prefer a thinner crust.  I know I was very skeptical of this method when I heard about it and it sat in the "back burner"  of my brain for at least a year.   I was nervous as heck after slashing and putting it in the oven.  It seemed to sit there and spread out a little.  At this point I am thinking I am sooooo stupid to try this, its an internet hoax of the worst kind.  10 minutes later I took it all back and have not looked back since.  If nothing else its great to have optional methods given lifes time demands.  I have been toying with the idea of baking a batch of no preheat and putting the bake stone in the oven (not under the bread ) so it preheats during the bake.  This way you could do two batches and not waste any electricity with preheating.

Da Crumb Bum

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi Crumb-Bum, I use a flat non-stick cookie sheet or a 1/2 sheet pan upside down to bake on with the "No Pre Heat" method. The 30 minutes it takes to bake the first batch isn't enough to get the stone up to temp in my oven and it would suck energy out of the air as you are baking. I leave the flat sheet pan in and keep baking. The second loaf will have a more normal looking crust.

 Eric

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Ok, I'll have to try this with the weekend Desem. You've convinced me, MountainDog. Excellent write-up.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I just love this site! Seeing all of your results and reading your methodology helps me soooo much!

Thanks mountaindog!

jane's picture
jane

Beautiful breads and also background.

I always enjoy your post. I will go cold oven in summer but preheated oven in winter since my housemates love thick crust brea

weavershouse's picture
weavershouse

Those are beautiful breads. That last photo of the Columbia is awesome! Just perfect.  I don't know how you do it....all your breads are over the top.                                                                                           weavershouse

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

 My question to you is : have you tried this for baking cakes, pies etc?

Thank you MD for taking the time to document and explain your testing !! Great pics! I'm going to give it a go.

browndog's picture
browndog

Do you mind if I share what my experience has been? I have never given more than a cursory nod to preheating for any of my baking, if I turn the oven on 10 minutes before loading that's a lot. Usually it takes about 5 minutes to appease my conscience, that is I feel like I've gained a little security for the baked goods while not wholy throwing over my green sensibilities. I do have a gas oven. Now in the interest of full disclosure I'll admit that the first batch of cookies never bakes as tidily as subsequent ones, they spread a bit more and definitely take maybe 5 minutes longer to color, but they're still perfectly nice cookies. If I'm baking a 'fussy' cake I would certainly preheat 10 minutes but that does seem ample, my cakes turn out fine generally and they bake within recipe time specs. (You know, I say certainly but I don't watch the clock, I just go for 'abouts' and it seems to work.) For the most part my pies bake at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes, and I don't have over-browning issues at all, my crusts are usually 60/40 margarine/butter.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I guess my oven heats pretty fast. For 350-375 it's ready in ten minutes, so the point is moot. I do want to try the cold oven start with my bread, but gee...it's hard to change a routine you've done forever. Every recipe you've ever seen says to preheat! I have found my secure comfort zone with sourdough...giving up my stone, steam and preheat is like Linus giving up his blanket!

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I like the Linus analogy, that is exactly how I felt when I resisited trying this method too!

Cooky's picture
Cooky

Paddyscake, in my experience, it is difficult to get the right results with the sweet pastry-type goodies without a pre-heated oven. They are generally more delicate batters, and seem to need that fast blast of heat when they go into the oven. Otherwise, I've found I get flat stuff when I want light and puffy or crunchy/crispy (as with cookies.)

 Luckily, sweet stuff does not require very hot ovens; usually 350 is plenty and most ovens will get there pretty fast.

 All this comes from simple kitchen experimenting. I'm betting there are pro-type bakers looking at this site who might be able to share some more substantial wisdom on this question. 

 

 

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I am very interested to read about your results.  I also remain very skeptical of this method and am not sure I would be happy with the trade offs.  We also much prefer the thicker, crispy crusts.  However I am keeping an open mind and, like you, I will try this.

One of my questions about this method is just how much time are you saving.  I know it must vary but how much longer must you bake loaves of bread to ensure they are properly done?  Glezer says in ABAA that it is almost impossible (:o) to overbake an artisan loaf and basically when in doubt bake longer.  So in those cases, for those who are doing this for saving energy, I wonder what the savings is.  That is not my aim but more for the interest of planning (since I'm so bad at judging proper proof) and cooler kitchen during hot summer.

Also, I just baked two batches of Memo bread and started both with a cold oven.  But I was so afraid to know it was done and it baked so differently I ended up the first time baking at least an additional 5 minutes.  I think a bit more on the second batch I did yesterday.  So since my oven preheats in about 15 minutes and those bake in a loaf pan I'm not saving much and I felt the sides of the loaves were not quite properly baked being so much softer but that could be part of the crust issue.

You have baked my two most favorite of all sourdough loaves.  I love them both and yours are beautiful as usual, MD.  I absolutely love that you baked the Columbia in a larger boule and note that it keeps fresher longer.  I will definately do that next time so thanks a bunch for that tip.

I did not realize you have a gas oven.  I have one gas and one electric oven in my range.  I have noted that I get far less oven spring in my gas oven.  What does that mean, I wonder?  Perhaps I should not have steamed in that oven.  You certainly have no problems with bread baking in yours.  Oddly, once I baked a large batard of Columbia in my gas oven while the exact same loaf was baking in my electric oven.  The one in the gas oven came out a totally different looking loaf - even had a greenish cast.  LOL.  I have no idea why to this day. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Cool that you have a gas and electric ovens side-by-side.  I can't remember pre-heating a gas oven for bread.  The gas oven that I last had was a American standard size and got hot quickly.  The last proof was only 15 minutes (rye)  and I let the oven do the rest but I did put in a pan for steam.  The loafs were about  1.5 to 2 kg and took one hour in the oven at about 200°c.  Not until I joined this site, did I raise my oven temp to 220°c (and more) and speed up my baking times.  My electric oven here is slow.   I find the lower temp does give a thicker crust.  I was visiting a friend's home and she put something into her cold convection oven using normal settings, then switched to convection, all the digital dials made an adjustment: the time was shortened, the temperature dropped, and the fan came on.   So what does that mean?  

And a totally different subject:  I asked my son to vacuum downstairs  while the vacuum was still plugged in and standing on the main floor.  After giving him instruction on which plug to use downstairs so that he could reach all the corners, I left the house.  I returned to find the vacuum still plugged in where I had left it and thus assumed he had only dragged the vacuum downstairs and too lazy to unplug it and reach every corner. Upon inspection, everything was clean.  My son then commented that he didn't have to unplug it to reach every corner.  The next time, I tried his method and I actually had more cable.   --Mini Oven

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Thanks everyone for all of your very thoughtful comments, much appreciated and I'm very glad if I can provide any useful tips along the way.

Paddyscake - no, I never tried this method before for anything else other than these breads, I have no idea how a cake would behave, but I may be afraid that it would dry out too much from the comparatively slow cooking ? Not sure...same for pies, I would guess you may have to cover the crust well with foil to keep it from getting overcooked or burnt by the time the filling is cooked through, but I really have no idea. Maybe someone else here knows. I think the advantage to doing bread this way is due to the yeast activity and how the slow preheat gives the yeasts a long slow warm-up to give off a lot more gas and get a good rise. Non-yeasted items, therefore, may not gain as much advantage from this method.

Zolablue - as far as time savings, I was pretty surprised at how fast the no-preheat loaves completely baked at 425F. I think my gas oven was preheated from a cold start in less than 10 minutes, I'll time it again this weekend to verify. Once preheated, the loaves baked for another 15 min. before rotating, then only about another 20-25 minutes or so until they were done. Total time of about 45-50 minutes.

With the baking stones in place (one on top, one on bottom), my gas oven takes about 25-30 minutes to preheat to 500F, then I would bake these same loaves at 400F for 40 minutes total (20 minutes - rotate- 20 more minutes), for a total oven heating time of 65-70 minutes.

So the no-preheat saves me anywhere from 15-25 minutes of oven time and fuel - not a huge savings considering I bake subsequent batches anyhow, but it does help if your loaves are proofed and ready to go in and you don't want to wait that extra 25 minutes to pre-heat. I'll do a more precise time tracking this weekend to verify how long the no-preheat takes compared to preheated stones for that particular recipe. I would think those using electric ovens would end up saving much more time and energy in not preheating than I do with my gas oven.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

re slow warm up increasing yeast activity. Thanks again!

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hello Order of the Cold Oven

Just thought I would chime in on a few points regarding this method.  First of there is a bit of energy savings to be had using this method.  I think were the savings are really had is if you have one of those batches that the sourdough culture is taking its own sweet time and an hour of preheat later your loaf is still underproofed. If it takes another hour do you leave the oven on?  This takes some extra juice.  Bread is my passion though and if making great bread requires preheating I would not balk at using a few extra kilowatts.  Fact of the matter is this method works like a champ AND saves a bit of juice.  What I like most about it is I can wait until the perfect moment to turn on the oven and not have to plan or guess an hour before as to when the dough is proofed.  I also don't have to worry about where the kids are when I am loading the oven and tossing water for steam which is nice. 

I also think that there is a misconception that the crust is inferior.  This is simply not true.  It is slightly thinner but brown and blistery just like the preheated version.  As for crackly, my crusts crackle when cooling but soften after they cool.  I did not notice any difference in my breads on this point. When I bake using this method I put 1/2 cup of water spread around on the oven floor, put in slashed bread and turn to 525 for 15 minutes, I then turn down to 440 for rest of bake and then 10 minutes with door slightly ajar to bake out a little extra moisture.  This is a little different than MDogs method.  This could account for a different crust thickness?

To summerize, I don't do it to save electricity, The bread turns out great, it's a little safer in the kitchen, and you can wait until the very last minute to bake.  And best of all it's just a whole lot easier.  Don't get rid of your stone but do give this a try, just because the pros don't do this does not mean it does not work.  This thought held me back for quite a while before I took the jump.  To compare, who would have thought we could substitute 4 or 5 french folds for 10 to 15 minutes of kneading?

Da Crumb Bum 

 

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Hi Crumb Bum,

You make a good point - this method does not necessarily make an "inferior" crust at all, just a thinner one from my experience, but that may be because I did not do exactly what you just outlined above to get a thicker one. Anyhow, as other cold oven mavens have stated, they like the thinner crusts better anyhow (and easier on the teeth), so it really is a matter of personal preference, and I in no way meant to say that the thin crust was necessarily inferior, just that my family happens to like the thick better.

Question for you though: when you say above "When I bake using this method I put 1/2 cup of water spread around on the oven floor..." can you explain if you mean you literally pour the water right on the oven floor, or pour it into a sheet pan of some sort? I frankly have avoided the pouring of any water even when using a stone as I don't feel like bothering and risking scalding myself or ruining my oven in any way, preferring to just mist with a spray bottle instead the first few minutes if using a stone. But I'd like to see how you do it with the cold oven and maybe I'll try that to see if it makes my crusts thicker.

Good point too about having already preheated and your loaves are not proofed enough, I imagine that would help out a lot of people...so far I have not had that happen as I usually wait until they look like they are pretty much all the way proofed before I preheat anyhow, since it only takes about 30 minutes for my gas oven to get up to 500F even with 2 baking stones inside, but that just may be my oven for some reason.

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey MDog

First off I reread my post and I sounded a little defensive when talking about the differences in crust.  Sorry about that.  I think that "inferior" was a poor choice of wording.  The crust is different in my opinion in one way and that is the thickness.  The browning using the hot stone is further into the loaf.  The color and appearance otherwise is a wash.  I think that the loaf also seems to rise slightly different.  Look where the bottom meets the sides of the loaf.  I get a flatter bottom and a smaller curve up to the side than when I go hot stone.  Hope that makes sense. 

As for the water on the floor of the oven here is what I do.  I spread 1/2 cup or so of water around directly on the floor of the oven BEFORE I turn it on.  The reason I spread the water around is two fold.  If I were to put all of it in one spot it would make a puddle in the low spot that is not directly under an element.  By spreading it around I get it under elements and it seems to evaporate faster.  The window of my oven will be fully steamed over for the first 7 or 8 minutes doing this.  I also start my oven at 525 and lower after 15 minutes to 440. I am planning to try spraying the loaves with water before the bake and omit the 1/2 cup on floor of oven and see if the results are the same.

It sure is nice to see that the "Big Guns" of this site are trying this method and having good luck with it.  I know your write up will give this method the credibility it deserves.  It really is a great method that is not mentioned a whole lot in the bread baking world.

Da Crumb Bum  

xma's picture
xma

I have been following the threads on no-preheat for some time now but haven't tried it yet.  My dilemma is how to go about it, since I usually bake other stuff--cookies, quick breads, the occasional cake--when I make bread.  My usual practice is to bake the other stuff while my loaves are proofing, with the stone already in place.  When the other stuff come out, oven temp is at 350-375F / 176-190C as is usual for those items.  I then crank up the temp to the 450F/230C range, wait about 10-15 minutes until my oven thermometer registers the desired temp, and load my bread.

Given my baking practices, the questions that confound me are: should I load my loaves at 350-375 range and just turn up the temp? if so, should I leave out the baking stone?  what about the steam?  I use an electric oven, by the way.

If you guys think, "What on earth is your problem if your oven temp is already at that range and what difference would the 15-minute wait make?", let me know if I should just forget it... Seriously though, I feel I'm preheating the oven twice, once to 350 and again to 450, so I really want your thoughts on this.  Thanks in advance.

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey XMA

It sounds as though you have a great and efficient system worked out already.  If I were you I would continue as usual.  If you wanted to try not preheating I suppose you could bake your bread first from cold as described above.  Then you could turn down to 350 crack the door for 10 minutes (I do this on all my breads to remove a little more moisture).  Then you could bake the rest of your goodies at this temp.  I'm not sure it would save a whole lot but your bread would be baking while the oven is heating.  This is also provided that you don't bake your other goods on your stone.  Hope this helps.

Da Crumb Bum 

xma's picture
xma

Thank you, Da Crumb Bum.  I forgot to say I usually start baking early in the morning, and therefore, other than working my way up the temperature of the oven, it makes sense for me to do my other goodies while proofing; otherwise I'll have to wake up earlier. Someday I'll try this no pre-heat.  I'm thinking I'll even try loading a loaf at 350 next time I bake, just to be able to compare the result with those I'll load at the right temp. 

browndog's picture
browndog

sounds like a really good idea to me, xma, loading at 350, a best-of-both-worlds approach. I'll bet you don't notice any loss of quality in your bread--give it a try and let us know.

xma's picture
xma

Hello again, no-pre-heat gurus.  My "someday i will try this method" came sooner than I thought it would.  I just came back from a diving trip in a very remote place, and while out there in the middle of the sea I swore I had a recipe for bread that asked for seawater, so I figured, I am in as remote a location as I could be and what better place is there to get seawater from?  So there I was, scooping water out of a really crazy current--the boat crew called it 'a washing machine'--and refrigerated my precious saltwater.  It was really as clear as bottled water, although I doubt if that would prevent gasps about the less-than-sterile conditions of my water.  So anyway, when I got home, what else would happen except for me being unable to find the recipe I was talking about!  So I just made the bread roughly approximating the rustic bread percentages, of course omitting the salt and dispensing with the sponge but instead retarded the dough overnight, and finally tried no pre-heat (oh yeah, that's what this entry is supposed be about, heh heh).  I followed Da Crumb Bum's method of putting water on the oven floor prior to turning it on.  The loaves rose magnificently! My only mistake was, since I haven't baked bread on a cold pan for so long, I have forgotten that bread sticks to it, so the bottom stuck.  I also had a problem with one loaf which I seem to have scored unevenly because it looked like a camel with a misplaced hump.  But the other loaf was a real beauty.  I would have uploaded a photo if I were a techie, but by the time I thought about asking someone else to do it for me my colleagues have gobbled up the loaf I brought.  I went home hoping there was still some of the other loaf but alas! it was also gone.

This weekend I plan to try what browndog called 'some pre-heat' and load my loaves at around 350F, and I will give an update afterwards.  Thanks!

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Glad you had good results, xma. I'm intrigued by your seawater bread recipe - and really surprised, though, that you were able to make anything edible using sea water! Other than for boiling a lobster or steaming some clams, I would think it would be far too salty, no? We made the mistake once, when kayak camping on an island off the coast of Maine, of cooking pasta in sea water - our fresh water rations were a bit low and it seemed like a good idea at the time to save it for drinking. Ugh! the pasta cooked in sea water was horrible, totally inedible, way, way too salty - and we were hungry enough to try eating it anyhow but it was impossible (and it made us even thirstier!).

xma's picture
xma

Hi, mountaindog. More than anything else it's curiosity that made me want to try the sea water bread, although up to now I'm scratching my head about having been so sure I had such a recipe. The closest I came to finding anything was in The Italian Baker where it mentions that some bakers, either during or after World War II, resorted to the technique for lack of salt. But since I already had the clean-as-can-be saltwater (or so I think, without resorting to boiling it) I just went ahead and gave it a try.

When I first tasted the dough right after mixing, my initial reaction was that it's too salty. At the time I regretted using only sea water for my liquid. But when I finally had my first bite of the bread, my reaction was that it's even less salty than bread with salt in the 1.8 to 2% range. As we continued to eat chunks of it, no one complained of it being too salty or not enough. But it's certainly more than palatable, it's actually good. Out of the dozen or so people who got to try it, only two, myself included, detected a hint of an after taste. The other person said she only detected the after taste in the crust. I joked that it tasted of plankton, and someone who was with me during the trip joked back that it's because I scooped the water during lowtide, and it would probably taste better if I got the water during high tide.

Other than the taste, I noticed that I used more water than had I used regular water--I started with 69% hydration but added some more during mixing, and probably ended up with 73 or so. The dough was also a bit sticky, but I don't know how much of that is due to the saltwater and how much is due to the 5% rye flour I used. What's more, I got nice big holes, not overly large but the bigger ones were in the 1 cm diameter range.

If you're curious enough to try, I sure would like to know how it goes for you!

bwraith's picture
bwraith

In a couple of articles on the internet it seems to say that salinity of water in open ocean is around 30 to 35 "parts per thousand", which means your sea water probably had something like 30 to 35 grams of salt per liter. If you guess 32.5 parts per thousand and use a 75% hydration, then you would have 2.43% salt in baker's percentage. That's not that far from 2%, so I see that it would work but be a little too salty. Mountaindog, you're right that sea water tastes very salty - disgustingly so. However, if you mixed the 2% salt in bakers percentage with 65% water for a typical dough the salinity of the water would be 2/65 or about 3.1%, which is in the same range as sea water and would taste disgustingly salty also, is my guess.

If you mixed 4 parts sea water with 1 part fresh water, that would be about right for use in bread if you wanted to just omit the salt in the recipe. I guess that's what I should be doing when I'm off the coast of Maine this weekend sailing. It was one objection I had to boat bread - used up my fresh water. However, now I see you could be very efficient by using seawater in the bread as long as you're not worried too much about water contamination.

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Bill, thanks for calculating out the percentage of salt in sea water and comparing it to the baker's % in dough. Now I see how it can be done and that would be a really interesting thing to try. Obviously with pasta or any other absorbent food cooked in sea water it would be too salty as the food absorbs much more water, but with a limited amount of water in dough it seems OK as you state. After all, I like to use sea salt anyhow in my dough. Depending on how nutrient rich the water is, you may get a bit of a fishy aftertaste though as xma mentions, but hey, I like seaweed in my miso soup anyhow so maybe this will just be a new flavor of bread xma invented, rich in kelp and other sea vitamins ;-)

Bill - if you make bread on your boat this weekend in Maine give it try and report back, I'm fascinated now. If you are out near the offshore islands in Penobscot Bay or further Downeast, I find the seawater to be exceptionally clean and clear, besides, the baking temp should kill any bad bugs. If this works well it would be a way to save your fresh water as you say, and something I'll keep in mind next time I am island camping for an extended time and want to make camp bread. (We're spending 2 weeks in Maine in September but I wish I were there now!).

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Mountaindog, 

Sometimes we get busy with other things, and the bread goes by the wayside. I've kept my mates up too late waiting for bread to rise a couple of times, and we could have a mutiny on our hands if I start with the bread thing yet again. On the other hand, we've also had some very happy freshly baked boat bread eating moments. We'll be between Portland and Camden. This is a great time of year to be there. I usually make it out to Monhegan, which is beautiful this time of year. I don't really see much problem with using sea water out there. As you say, it's clear as can be and baking it at 400F ought to take care of most anything. I have a salt water pump to bring it right into the galley sink for dish washing at sea, so I don't even have to use bucket and lanyard or have it sloshing about in the galley.

Sea water bread does sound interesting. Thanks for the idea xma.

Bill

 

xma's picture
xma

Bwraith, the information you gave had me checking the salinometer of our marine aquarium, which showed that sea creatures need 2.0 to 2.6% salinity, which in itself is a problem unless you want to use a salinometer and compute each time you make bread.  But assuming that salinity is at 2.5%, you would end up with 1.8% salt at 72% hydration, up to 2% salt at 80% hydration, and I am surprised at how ideal this is for bread.  At first I got excited by the thought of being able to use regular water for a pre-ferment and saltwater for the final mix, but if I do this I would end up needing to add salt.  Also, during the trip I remember commenting to a friend that the water seemed less salty than usual, probably because it was raining hard each night (although I can't imagine rain having that much of an effect considering the ratio between the ocean and rainfall).  Now it makes sense to me why I said I felt that the bread was even less salty than usual.  And I ate it plain so there wasn't anything to add more salt.

Mountaindog, I'm not sure if you wanted the exact recipe I used in my experiment, but I used 90% unbleached flour, 5% whole wheat and 5% rye (just a little to break the monotony of plain white).  I started with 69% saltwater but added more, so I ended up with maybe 72-73%.  I used 1/2 teaspoon of yeast for 600g total flour.  I skipped the pre-ferment because I was using saltwater, so I retarded the dough overnight instead.

Good luck to you both, and I'm interested to know how your breads turn out.  I was scared of an outcry for using 'contaminated' water, but now this sounds fun.  A friend already said she's bringing me saltwater when she heads out to sea so I can make her some of that bread because she wasn't able to taste it the other day.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Mountaindog, xma,

This was an interesting site on the subject of sea water salinity: http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm#salinity.

Bill

xma's picture
xma

Hi Bill, I'm now wondering what the unit of measure of our aquarium salinometer is.  Actually, the graduations were 1.01, 1.02, 1.03 and so on. It didn't state the unit of measurement and I assumed the last digit meant percentage. What matters anyhow is taste, and in response to mountaindog's query, the resulting bread of my experiment was certainly more than just palatable; my officemates just raved again over lunch today how good the sea water bread was.  I imagine you'll be leaving for your sailing trip soon, so if you get to try the bread this weekend, mountaindog and I are eager to find out how it turns out.  I'm already thinking that if I ever have the chance to try this again (meaning I have access to what I deem to be very clean sea water), I'll try doing a pre-ferment first with regular water then using saltwater only in the final mix.  But I think you'll be able to try that part-fresh part-salt water thing ahead of me, so please let me know.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Hi xma,

Yeah, well I'm no expert here on salinity. I don't doubt your flavor results. The site does seem to imply sea water is about 3.5% grams salt per grams water. If that's correct, maybe it's just that 2.5% salt in baker's percentage is perfectly palatable. I've never put an extra 25% salt in my bread, but it doesn't sound like all that much more. Maybe it would taste good. I was thinking about the same thing, too, fresh water preferment, and sea water for the dough.

I am interested to try it, but as I mentioned, bread doesn't always make it all the way to the implementation stage. Hiking around on the islands, watching for seals, ospreys, and eagles, a little fishing, checking out some lobster spots, and who knows what else compete agressively with bread making. I'll be sure to report back if we do it.

Bill

xma's picture
xma

Oh yeah, sure, Bill, I didn't mean to imply that you try this sea water bread soon. There's no urgency at all.  Mountaindog already said she'll try it during her September trip, and I also don't think I'll be able to try this again in the next couple of months.  So I imagine we'll be going on about this until October. :)

bwraith's picture
bwraith

xma, mountaindog,

For what it's worth, I tried the seawater bread. I had some fun blogging it. It works...

Bill

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Da Crum Bumb,

When you say you crack the oven door open 1/8 inch, what do you use to accomplish this? I have been thinking about how I could do this as the concept seems like it would help give me a more crispy crust during the warmer weather seasons. I have been blocking my front vent in my electric oven with a towel for the first 9-10 minutes then after removing the towel I open the door for a few seconds to let the moist air escape. Still, I haven't been getting the nice crunchy crispy crusts I was getting during the winter Months.

Eric

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Of course that opens it more than the 1/8" specified by DCB but you might try using a stainless teaspoon or soupspoon or fork for that and I bet the opening would be about 1/8"!

 Necessity is the mother of invention you know! Or at least..."Never underestimate the powers of Aggie engineering!" ;)

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey Eric

I use a steel spoon for cracking open my door.  I need to find a better device for this, I'm scared one of my kids will see this "out of place item" and grab it. 

Question to you, how crispy are your normal crusts and finally how long do they stay crispy after baking?  My crusts seem to crackle when cooling but soften up by the next day.  This happens whether I use the traditional stone technique or the no pre heat.  Am I missing out on something?

Da Crumb Bum