The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Crackly French Bread

Ramses2's picture
Ramses2

Crackly French Bread

Hello All,  I read somewhere that adding 1 TBLSP of baking soda to a recipe for French Bread would result in getting a thin and crackly crust. I tried that with my own recipe but it turned out to be a BIG mistake. It seems that the baking soda interfered with the action of the yeast. The loaves never even rose after being shaped. Does anyone know why that happened ? Thank you

 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Seem to ve a dime a dozen and reason for the tricks is that French bread is incredible because the French are bread masters.  Of its really important to you because you maybe have had bread in France then trick,w/o probably only disappoint.  As to why the loaves didn't rise - I couldn't say as I never tried adding anything other than flour yeast salt an water (and may be a tad malt), the trick to crust has a lot to do with steam and the right amount of steam, heat (aka oven kick) and many factors.  Took me a good many loaves as in hundreds before dead pale crust started to come to life - ya gotta go traditional with stuff ! 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Baking soda sounds like a terrible idea. Can't do any favors for the taste.

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

You were supposed to add BAKING POWDER, not SODA.

Ramses2's picture
Ramses2

The information I have says baking soda. 

Ramses2's picture
Ramses2

Baking soda didn't work but it was worth a try.  In any event SODA negatively effects the yeast. just wondering why?

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Baking soda would neutralize the ph level of dough, yeast likes ph level that is a little acidic so that might have been the issue.

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

I have seen a few recipes using baking powder, but none using baking soda.  In fact, I'm now letting a batch of dough rise that includes the powder.  First time with powder (and ascorbic acid).  I suppose the ascorbic acid provides the ph conditions to offset the effects of the powder.  I will bake it this afternoon and let you know how it comes out.

AndyPanda's picture
AndyPanda

My understanding of soda for rise (though I've never used it - so I may have this all wrong) is that if you have sourdough starter where the LAB (acid) is very active but the yeast isn't very active (so you have lots of sour but not much rise) then you can add soda (I would think you do this after all the kneading etc and just before shaping and into the oven) and the soda neutralizing the acid creates gas bubbles.   But this may not apply since you're talking French bread, not sourdough.

People do the same with buttermilk pancakes using the acid in the buttermilk and the soda to create gas bubbles. 

tgrayson's picture
tgrayson

Sure, but a little baking soda goes a loooong way. A tablespoon is a lot and may push the dough into alkaline territory. This can make things taste soapy.

For reference, baking soda, when there is enough acid present, is about 4 times more powerful than the same quantity of baking *powder*.

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

Well, I was using a recipe for Vietnamese banh mi bread.  I thought I followed the recipe properly, but something went wrong.  The preferment went according to plan, but the finished dough never firmed up.  After three hours of rising, it had a consistency nearly that of pancake dough.  So for only the second time in my brief baking career, I poured it down the drain.

Here's what I was trying to accomplish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vIsu2ZeJn0

Maybe there is a semantic difference between corn flour (I used Bob's Red Mill) and corn starch.  I dunno.  I'll give it another try and report back.

Old Baker's picture
Old Baker

In my previous post, I recounted my failure with baking good banh mi bread.  I had made a couple of mistakes with the quantities of flour, salt, and baking powder.  Turns out that I was 50 g short on the flour and probably way over on salt and baking powder.  No wonder I could pour it.  Long story short, I made another batch today using the right quantities and the bread turned out great.

For the recipe, see the link above.

 

dlassiter's picture
dlassiter

This is an interesting thread, but seems to be largely about why baking soda is bad. I'd like to get back to the question of possible additives that make crust crispier. Ideas?