The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! Chalky crusted baguette!

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Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

Help! Chalky crusted baguette!

Hello,

I am a fairly new baker. I have been trying to bake baguettes from "The Bread Bakers Apprentice." I use the recipe in that book, however I make the baguettes entirely from a wild yeast starter. The baguettes come out very tasty, both crust and crumb. However, the crust appears very chalky on the top. The bottom lookd really nice!

I bake in a gas oven on a stone. The loaf goes in on a piece of parchment paper. Here is a photo of my baguette. Notice the bottom looks great, but the top is chalky. Any advice on what could be causing this? I've posted this photo on other forums. It seems to be a mystery!

Baguette with Chalky top

 

Any suggestions?

 

-Radicalkat

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Is your broiler or top flame burning during baking?

How much space is around your stone or between stone and oven wall? 

Mini O

Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

Mini,

 

In my gas oven, only the bottom flame is on.

Between the edges of the stone and the sides of the oven there is about 8 inches on each side. Between the stone and the front and back of the oven there is about 2 onches each.

Also, I have a rack on the botom rack of the oven with a silicone sheet. Under that (on the very bottom of the oven) I have a pie pan that I place water in to create steam (per BBA). I put the silicone sheet there to prevent water from sizzling and spritzing up onto the dough. I spritz the sides of the oven with a mister, but only under the silicone sheet, once again to prevent water droplets from sizzling and spritzing onto the dough. The stone is on the second rack (right above the rack with the silicone sheet)which puts it about 1/3 of the way above the floor of the stove.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Thanks!

Radicalkat

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

take out the silicon sheet

what I see looking under hi mag is a lot ot tiny bubbles on the crust

you want to have sizzling cause that means the water is turning into steam and filling the whole oven

this looks like the silicon sheet is preventing the steam from hitting the top of the loaf insulating the top of the bread.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try it without it. 

Mini O

susanfnp's picture
susanfnp

That chalky crust is definitely a sign of insufficient steam. See my comparison photo here:

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/02/steam

Susanfnp

http://www.wildyeastblog.com

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

heat travels 3 ways

conduction
direct transfer by direct contact .  a flame on the bottom of a pot or a heating elemant on a range or hot steam which directly contacts something to be heated

convection

AIR-  hot air transfer heat to the item cooking

Radeation (sp)?

microwave that causes food to get hot

if (is what i think is happening) the sillicon sheet is right under the dough iit is
1-absoubing needed by the bread to bake causing a cold(er)  colum of air encapsulating the bread as if it was in a jar.

2-Causeing water droplets to form in the underside of the sheet . the steam goes up to the top of the oven around the sides but  disapates as it gets to the top of the iven never realy hitting the bread and the water under the sheet is cause ing a cooling affest (the colume of cold air i am refering to)

since you are baking using a standard gas oven (this is a form of confection heat transfer ( confection ovens will blow the air with fans but a reg oven still uses hot air to cook but the air is still [not moving])

the sheet is preventing the air (convection) and the steam (Conduction) heat from reaching the bread.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Susan's picture
Susan

Great job of sleuthing! 

Susan from San Diego

Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

Hello all,

Thanks for all this advice!!! I'm definately going to take the silicone sheet out and be more attentive to the steam. However, my initial baguettes were baked without the sheet with the same effect. I started using the sheet because I thought the problem was caused by misted water and spritz getting onto the loaf. Is it a big deal if when I spritz the sides of the oven, I spritz the bread too?

Since I have a gas oven, I guess a lot of the steam I created gets vented out pretty quickly. Any advice for getting a humid, steamy environment in such a case? Is oven placement relevant to this? Lower in the oven? Higher?

Anyhow, I'm baking a baguette tomorow. I'll take a picture and let folks know how it turned out. Thanks for all the advice and attention!

 

-Radicalkat

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

your pie pan is not big enough.. place a full size tray or has others use a cast iron.  leave it in the oven during pre heating put the bread in the oven pour a cub of water into the hot tray or iron and close the oven door ---FAST__and dont openit for the first 4 minutes or so no matter how tempted you are,

then after5 minutes start spraying and yes spray the dough also  it will help with crust formation

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Susan's picture
Susan

RadicalKat, you might consider baking a round loaf in a preheated dutch oven, just to see if it makes a huge difference for you, in terms of steam and your gas oven. Below is a pic to give you an idea how it works. The boule is lowered into the DO with a wide strip of parchment. Be careful, please, don't get burned. Take the top off the DO after 15 minutes so the loaf can brown. No extra water in the oven, and no stone. If your DO doesn't have a heavy bottom, put it on a cookie sheet or other pan to create more thickness; don't want to burn the bottom! If that makes a difference, look for a squared-off roasting pan that will accommodate your baguettes. Or, there are specialized items like the La Cloche bakers that will do the same, but for more cash. Good luck!

Dutch OvenDutch Oven

Susan from San Diego

Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

OK, I just baked another baguette. I did it before I read your reply, Pro Baker, so I spritzed every thirty seconds for 2 minutes and used a pie pan on the bottom of the oven. I took out the silicone sheet and didn't worry about getting spritzed water onto the loaf. I really sprited away trying to get the humidity up. Hear are the results.

 

Here's a closeup.

 

 

For my next loaf, I'm going to pick up a larger pan to put in the botto of the oven for creating steam. I'll also refrain from spraying for five minutes as suggested by Pro Baker.

Any other advice would be most welcome.

 

-Radicalkat

Susan's picture
Susan

Radicalkat, are you proofing your loaves using a couche? If not, how? What flour are you using to dust the couche? Is the discoloration IN or ON the crust? At what temperature are you baking? Are you preheating the oven? Please give us all the info you can.

Susan from San Diego

Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

Susan,

Here are some answers. I shape the loaves and them place them on a piece of parchment paper in a deep baking pan. I use the deep pan so that i can cover it with plastic wrap without the loaves rising into the wrap and sticking to it.

Before shaping, I dust my counter top with King Arthur AP flour very lightly. After shaping I don't dust the parchment, because I place it (along with the baguette) onto the stone.

As for the discoloration. It cannot be rubbed off, so I guess it's "in" the crust but at the very surface.

I preheat the oven to 500 with the stone and pie pan (for steaming) already in. When the oven indicates it's preheated, I let it continue at that temp for 45 minutes to let the stone get nice and hot. Then I put the dough (and parchment paper) onto the stone. I put a cup of water into the pie pan, and spritz the sides of the oven with a plant mister. This time I spritzed 4 more times at 30 second intervals. Then I watied a about 2-3 minutes and took the pie pan out. I lowered the temp to 450 for another 15 minutes (at which point the internal temp of the loaf was 207.

I pretty much follow the "Bread Bakers Apprentice" baguette recipe except I use a wild yeast starter instead of instant yeast.

Thanks for your attenstion!

-Radicalkat

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

this is a puzzel

i am wondering if it is something with your oven while the bread realy looks good

the last pic shows the top color is going from a medium dark color at one end getting lighter as you go down the loaf to the other.  the cameria flash??  or the bread??

the light spots look like hundreds of tiny bubbles in the crust.

strange!!!!

flours can vary a lot even from the same brand lot by lot.

is there a batch number on the flour bag.  you could try a diferent brand of the same type of flour or even the same brand but to see if you could get a diferent batch number.

Pro Baker for over 25 years-----Ret

Susan's picture
Susan

Seems like you're doing everything just fine! Why don't you take that deep baking pan and turn it over right on top of the loaves when you put them in the oven, and bake with that on for 10-12 minutes, then take it off and continue baking? If it has handles that will accommodate that use, that is. Don't want you to mess up your kitchen equipment. No pie pan, no spritzing anything. I'm trying to take the atmosphere in the oven out of the equation for the period that the dough is springing. Have you checked the oven temperature with a separate oven thermometer to be sure it's accurate?

I keep thinking about that pie pan. Here's a question that's way out in left field: Are you using one of those aluminum disposable pie pans? If so, don't. Use a heavy steel or cast iron pan on the shelf below the bread.

Nbicomputer's suggestion of trying a different flour sounds like the next step to take. I'm sorry you're having this trouble, and wish that I snap my fingers and make it right.

Anyone else have suggestions?

Susan from San Diego

L_M's picture
L_M

Radicalkat if you are still up to trying something else, maybe lower the temperature of your oven - I've found that in my smallish electric oven (not your case, but could be the same problem) most of my rustic breads would come out this way until I decided to go against the advise in my baking books, and just lowered the baking temp. I've checked my oven and it is fine, but for some reason the suggested temperatures for this type of bread are always too hot and I'd get the chalky look. In my oven, with the amount of steam I can create, 215 C seems to be the magic number, no matter whether I bake on a preheated stone, in a covered bowl or on a baking sheet.

L_M

Radicalkat's picture
Radicalkat

Thanks for the advice, folks.

 

I'm going to try to make a small roll from some baguette dough and cook it in a garlic roaster.  This is essentially a mini-la closhe.  I'll also try a different flour and varying oven temps.  I'm also going to try wetting the loaf itself before it goes in the oven and see if that has any effect.  

Wish me luck!

 

-Radicalkat 

mike721's picture
mike721

I think you might hit gold with the wetting of the loaf, I was having problems with some sourdough boules that had crust looking similar to your baguettes. Then I tried spraying the proofed loaves with water before I put them into the oven ( I spray them, slash them, then into the oven) and this seems to have solved the problem. It also makes it easier to slash the dough, the water on the surface makes the blade glide easier, so it helps on two fronts. For the record, I also have a heavy steel water pan in the oven for steam, and I spray the oven a few times during the first 7 minutes of baking too, I don't think a home oven can be too wet during the beginning of a bake.

Good Luck!