The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My 2nd Loaf - ideas and critiques

PNWBaker's picture

My 2nd Loaf - ideas and critiques

I made my 2nd loaf today. I modified the recipe in lesson 2 a bit by adding whole wheat flour, AP (unfortunately bleached - all I had on hand), and KAF bread flour. I used one of my tissue blades for the scoring, and I'm very impressed how well it worked. It was like slicing through air, absolutely no drag at all. Granted, tissue blades were originally used in order to take very thin slices of tissues for sampling, so I shouldn't be surprised. They're also used in some crafts (like beading) which is why I had some on hand.

I also cut down on the sugar. I practically inhaled the first bread, and I decided I really didn't need to be having that much sugar in the next one.

While the loaf's not bad, I'm definitely going to try some new things next time. For one, I need to increase the hydration in the dough. The crust really dried out on me this time, partly due to not enough water in the dough and also I think partly because I baked it too long. I cut 15 minutes off of the baking time, but I should have cut 25 instead. Next time I'll know not to ignore my gut instinct. Additionally, I'm going to try misting the crust with water and putting an upside down roasting pan on top of the bread for the first 10-15 minutes so I can get the crust I want without it drying out. I also need to shape it a little more firmly if I want it to retain its shape. This one expanded a bit more laterally than I expected.

Eventually, I also want to try to get a larger crumb. I'm going to experiment a bit with moisture content and see if that helps. I kind of want to 'perfect' this version before I move on to fermenting dough overnight, but we'll see if I get impatient. 

The official changes to the recipe were:

1 1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup white wheat
1 cup all purpose
1/16 cup sugar
about 1 1/2 tbs butter
1 scant teaspoon salt

After shaping, I put it in the slightly warm oven to rise for 40 min, baked a 75 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here's the first loaf I made, just for comparison. Also, any tips/comments are definitely welcome.


isand66's picture

Looks very nice.

May I suggest you buy an inexpensive digital scale?  If you want to have more consistency with your baking you must be able to acurately measure your ingedients in grams or ounces.  You can pick one up at Wal-mart, Target or Amazon for less than $20 USD.

Also, are you using a baking stone?  If not I highly recommend you try and get yourself at least one or 2 if you can afford it.  I keep one on the second lowest and 1 on the top.  I put a heavy duty rimmed sheet pan in the bottom shelf and pour 1 cup of hot water in the pan to create steam.  Other people use lava rocks and hot towels, but I find this works perfectly for me.

I have a good instant read thermometer that I use to take the guess work out of when the bread is done.  You usually want to bake bread to around 200 - 210 degrees F.

I find overnight fermentation really builds the flavor in my bakes so at some point you may want to give that a try.

Good luck in your adventures.