The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Silicone baking equipment question

Sticky_Fingers's picture
Sticky_Fingers

Silicone baking equipment question

I'm new to bread baking, starting this past summer, and have been very encouraged so far with the varieties of sourdough-based breads I've made with much help from this site and others.  In general, I've been working with 70% hydrated dough until I develop better baker's hands to work with something wetter and I bake either in a dutch oven or on a baking stone with steam for batards and baguettes.  So for Christmas, I received a Lékué silicone bread baking pouch.  While I don't expect it to replace the normal way I make bread, I'm sure there are good uses for it such as for no knead dough recipes and wondered if folks out there who have used one can advise me with some questions.

  1. The silicone would seem to make working with higher hydrated dough easier, if you don't have to transfer it or handle it much.  But wouldn't you still need to shape the bread before baking for good oven spring?  And if so, would that defeat the advantage of using silicone for wetter dough?
  2. The crust from pictures I've seen seems lighter than I prefer.  I'm not sure if that's because of the silicone itself, or perhaps the design.  Has anyone tried placing the open silicone pouch inside a dutch oven to maximize steam during the early bake?  Should the bread be removed from the pouch for the last part of the bake to create a better crust?
  3. Are there any other recommendations or suggestions with using silicone?

Thanks very much!

Mark

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Lechem mentioned using the Lekue in the past few days. I decided to try one also. I’m thinking it would be great for wet no knead doughs.   See link here

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/comment/395517#comment-395517

Dan

Sticky_Fingers's picture
Sticky_Fingers

Thanks, Dan!  I hadn't seen that thread.  It sounds like you can put the Lekue in a Dutch Oven -- I wasn't sure if direct contact with metal at say 430F would be a problem or not.  I plan to try it this weekend with perhaps some simple shaping inside the Lekue pouch and see how it comes out.  I'll post the results!

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Wouldn't go inside a Dutch oven. The dough goes in the lekue and the lekue in the oven. Can take temps of up to 220C (428F). There is no point in putting a dough in a lekue and then putting the lekue in a dutch oven. You might as well just put the dough in the dutch oven. 

Sticky_Fingers's picture
Sticky_Fingers

Thanks for clarifying.  I was thinking the Lekue allowed steam to escape, affecting the crust development, which by placing it in a DO,  would be an improvement.  I'll just see how it goes then just baking in the lekue if there's nothing to be gained.

 

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Sticky, my reason for trying the Lekue is for making no-knead, wet doughs. Hopefully it will produce a very open crumb. I’m wondering how Chiabatta would bake up with this. I’m not interested in mixing the dough in the Lekue as advertised. My interest is placing the slack dough into the Lekue after it is shaped. It looks like it will support the wet dough well. I will probably cold proof overnight, then bake straight from the refrigerator to the preheated oven. I think it’s worth a try.

As far as steam retention - Lechem told me that he wraps the open holes with aluminum foil for ten minutes or so. I’m going to give that a try also.

Dan

Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

shape won't be exactly like a ciabatta but as far as an open crumb with a wet dough with minimum fuss and less handling it's great. If you can get past the shape and just appreciate the crumb then it'll be fine.

It does provide a certain amount of steam retention as it is. If going the aluminium route then 20 minutes on, 10-15 without and then you can either open the clasp till it gets a nice crust or remove from the lekue (when the crust has formed enough to do so) and finish off as a freestanding loaf. It'll take a few bakes till you find exactly how you like it and how the bread performs in the lekue so it'll need a bit of trial and error at the beginning.

Be careful! when handling the lekue - it's very hot indeed. especially when you're doing all the fiddly stuff.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and baking.  Once you get used to wet dough it isn't a problem to shape.  I would still use Mega Steam and steam the oven when using the Lékué instead of trying to cover up the holes.  I would also take it out of the Lékué to finish baking.  5 minutes after the steam comes out them you can take the bread out of the Lékué and finish it on the stone , sns steam, to get that perfect crust every time.

Sticky_Fingers's picture
Sticky_Fingers

Thanks again for the replies -- this site is so helpful!  Hope to one day, with more experience, be able to contribute back.. I think the main use I will have for the Lekue is for no-knead wet dough if I'm in a hurry, want minimal handling, and not as particular about the results which I'm sure are still very good.  Otherwise, you end up mainly just using the Lekue as a mixing/bulk fermentation container, after which you still need to remove and handle the dough for shaping and may need extra steps during the final bake to add steam, etc -- might as well use the DO instead.  Now .. on to making some baguettes for cheese fondue for New Years (using more traditional methods :)!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I have not rec’d mine yet, but I don’t think it will serve me well for mixing or anything else, except proofing and baking the bread. I think it would be too flimsy and I’d rather use my mixing bowl. Maybe I’m wrong. Time will tell.