The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rise and Fall of Artisan Bread 'ear'

CUISINED's picture

Rise and Fall of Artisan Bread 'ear'

I've made many breads in my life and I've never got how to correctly perform a good ear in my breads.

Can you help in contributing what are the contributors and the destroyers of a good bread ear?

I've made a loaf recently and it got great ear but I cannot and do not know how I've come to have magic! 

I've seen this fantastic video about bread ears and I do everything right except maybe little over proofing...though I am not sure!

Is there a possibility of too much steam? I load my oven with 6-8 ice cubes onto a chain down on bottom rack and it creates enormous maybe this could be the Achilles Heel, is there too much steam?  


albacore's picture

I also have recently arrived ear issues, well a lack of them. I'm not sure why, so I look forward to any comments.

I also wonder about excess steam; I have seen comments in text books that too much steam can give a tough crust, but that's not the same as no ears.

I do know that in a well sealed deck oven, the steam injection time may only be 10 secs. The steam is then retained for 10 - 15 mins until it is vented.

I plan to do a trial of two retarded loaves, one baked with steam as described above and the other with continuous steam injection for 10 mins. - next weeks bake!


Filomatic's picture


BetsyMePoocho's picture


Believe me obtaining 'ears' is such an elusive mistress.  I feel your pain.  I'm presently 21 years on this journey and it's somewhat easier, but I still get kicked in the butt occasionally.

I'm sure you already know this, but here are a few pointers I've stumbled on after many hundred pounds of fine flour.....

- If hydration too high %.  During baking will allow softer 'skin' to develop therefore fast oven spring doesn't promote 'ears'.  Ideally you want a skin to develop and the inner dough to puff causing the development of the elusive 'ears'.

- Mixing or kneading extremely influences the structure and performance.  As you already know.  What a balance to achieve consistently.

- Steaming....  my best results is not to over steam.  You want to find the balance for curst and puff development.  This is one of the elusive dances.

- Baguette or Boule forming is also a key to what you are looking for .  The surface skin needs to be tight without over working the dough.  

So I guess what I'm saying is that there is not a regimented dance to achieve  perfection, but diligence will render some moments of smiles.  Keep struggling, developing, and building skills.  It will happen and the journey is a lot of fun.......