The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I think I may have really done it this time

Yumarama's picture

I think I may have really done it this time

From my new bread blog:

Loaves May 29, 2008

Weeeeeellll doggone. It’s actually possible to get not too bad loaves made after all!

So this time around: double (or full) recipe, still working with Susan's Norfolk Sourdough from the WildYeastBlog since we know it works and don’t want to introduce new variables yet but I decided to make four loaves since I felt rather confident due to the last loaves, that I had the more destructive kinks under control, namely burning oven and poor proofing.

Now I still don’t have an accurate thermometer so I’m still completely in the dark as to what the real oven temp was today. I do know it took a good 7 - 10 minutes longer than the recipe calls for so my guestimate of 420ºF to get about 475 was too low. Next time we do 440.

The proofing was again done in the couche:

Four couched loaves rising

This time, though, the loaves were then put into a big plastic bag so they wouldn’t dry out. Result was perfect, the loaves came off the 50/50 rice/UAP floured canvas without a hitch so no deflating of any sort.

My slashing is still very primitive and I’m still not sure what I’m doing. I decided, as you see in the top pic, to do three diagonal slashes in some loaves. However, this did cause issues. The slashes were too far apart and the tight surface between them was wide enough to hold the bread back from rising to it’s fullest.

This may also have been due to the slashes being too shallow. I’m still reluctant to gouge the bread too much. The slash angle was good this time, not vertical but diagonal. The reluctant slashes show up most on the two loaves at left. The double long slashes definitely could have been done better to allow the neat ‘curves” that supposedly can happen. I may have needed to make them a tad closer together as well.

What would be really cool is to try different types of slashing to see what they’d each do. But I don’t have the time of multiple balls of dough to do such a practice. So I’ll just have to play with it, four loaves max at a time.

Lesson for next time: do slashes and overlap them some, keep them closer. Also a bit deeper.

Last look at these loaves:

The crumb is pretty much spot on, I think. (?) The crust is nice and crispy and a little chewy. I may stick one of these loaves in a plastic bag once it’s cooled so Mark can have his “softer” crust.

So there you go, four loaves, none burnt or flattened and the inside is decent and the taste is… well, we ate the cut chunk pretty much as soon as these were out and cool enough to not squish when slicing even though I know it’s supposed to be left alone for several hours/a day and the flavour is supposed to develop. But it’s still darn tasty even just 15 minutes after coming out of the oven! This was a 2.5 bulk rise and a 2.5 hour loaf proof so it didn’t have a lot of time to get “tangy” I’ll have to try putting it in the fridge for up to 16 hours after a 1.5hr initial loaf proof. See if that kicks the sourdough tang up much.

So… HOORAY!! I think we can call this one the “first” successful loaf!

I am happy.

foolishpoolish's picture

They look great! Slashing looks good (I'm just starting to get to grips with this myself).


Yumarama's picture

I'm following your journey as well and am picking up lots of pointers along the way that have helped me figure this stuff out. I've so much farther to go, just staring at these babies cooking (yes, I seriously watched them the entire 40 some minutes) I was thinking I have to learn about this, and why is it doing that, must find out about that... And that was just the baking. So many little variable. 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

bubbly!  Here's to ya!  Cheers!

Now pass the bread, please.

Mini O

Yumarama's picture

Thanks for your encouragement in the whole journey, Mini, you've been beyond helpful.

A toast to you (with Saskatoon Berry jam, too!)


Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark


This video helped my slashing a great deal (I wasn't quick enough)

Click on "videos" and scroll down to "La scarification" It's in French, but a picture is worth a thousand words. There is also a section of pictorials on shaping that is interesting.



Yumarama's picture

Watching this guy slash a whole batch of different styles (and the results) makes his technique a little more obvious than even watching the Vincent youtube vid where he was zoom zoom zooming through a dozen loaves.


kanin's picture

Thanks for posting that really helpful video. I really like the different techniques for scoring batards as well.

weavershouse's picture

Geat looking bread and good to see you happy with it, you worked hard to make it happen.                                                                          weavershouse

Marni's picture

I've been following all your hard work, I'm glad you've made loaves you're pleased with. 


Paddyscake's picture

What's not to like..good crumb, crust and tasty to boot!

Eli's picture

Those are gorgeous!!

KosherBaker's picture

Thumbs up. Those look great.


susanfnp's picture

 Nice looking loaves, Paul! I tried to leave a comment on your blog but it said I had to be logged in.


Yumarama's picture

 Sorry, I left the default settings on. I've fixed it.

And a big thanks to you too, Susan, for that Norwich Sourdough great recipe. Nice, simple to make, easy to schedule too with the "bake it now or later" aspect. And of course, tasty!


KristinKLB's picture

Those look great and it's good to hear I'm not the only one who sits in front of the oven the whole time!