The Fresh Loaf

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Poolish Baguettes

JMonkey

I don’t make white breads often, but there’s nothing quite like a few homemade baguettes to accompany an elegant meal. This recipe was adapted from “Bread” by Jeffrey Hammelman.

Overall formula:

    * White flour: 100%
    * Water: 66%
    * Salt: 2%
    * Instant yeast: 0.36%
    * 33% of the flour is pre-fermented as a poolish at 100% hydration with .07% yeast

Poolish:
    * White flour: 160 grams or 1.25 cups
    * Water: 160 grams or ½ cup + 3 Tbs
    * Instant yeast: Just an eeny-weeny pinch (about 1/32 of a tsp)

Final dough:
    * All of the poolish
    * White flour: 320 grams oz or 2.5 cups
    * Water: 160 gram or ½ cup + 3 Tbs
    * Salt: 9 grams or 1.25 tsp
    * Instant yeast: 1 to 2 grams or 1/2 + 1/8 tsp

The night before: Preferment
The night before, dissolve the yeast into the water for the poolish, and then mix in the flour. Cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 12-16 hours. Once the poolish has bubbles breaking on top and has started to wrinkle, it's ready. It'll also smell really nice - sweet and nutty. Mmmm.

Mixing and dough development
For the final dough, measure out the water and pour it into the poolish to loosen it up. Then pour the entire mixture into a bowl. Mix together the salt, yeast and flour, and then add it to the bowl as well. Mix it all up with a spoon and, once everything is hydrated, knead it the traditional way, until it passes the windowpane test. Cover and let it ferment for two hours, giving it a stretch-and-fold at the one hour mark.

Shaping
If you’re making baguettes, divide the dough into three pieces, and preshape into rounds. Cover and let them rest about 20 minutes. Then shape into baguettes about 12 inches longg and cover, letting them rise for about 1 hour to 90 minutes.

Score and bake on a preheated stone in a 460 degree oven with steam for about 25 minutes.

If you want to make a round or a batard, you’ll need to bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Norm's NY Style Onion Rolls-OMG- GREAT!

Norm's Onion Rolls
Norm's Onion Rolls
Onion Crumb
Onion Crumb

First off I have to say, stop what ever you're doing now and run to a store to pick up some dry onions so you can make these up tonight. This is an amazing recipe and your home will smell like heaven of roasting onions. Norm, I wish I could shake your hand in person. This is a home run (sorry about the Mets) and the recipe you posted worked perfectly for me, first time. I made a dozen batch and was planning on sharing with the next door neighbors but the sun got in my eyes and I didn't get to it lol.

There are several versions of this recipe on the site and I think I should show the link that I believe was corrected by the baker himself. This batch uses 32 Oz of flour and will make 12-4Oz rolls just like the ones shown above. For clarity, here is the recipe as I made it.

One last thought. Be sure to save the water from hydrating the onions and use it as part of the dough water. The improvement in flavor is amazing. To be honest I forgot that step until I was about to mix the dough. The water had so much aroma I threw the whole liquid part out and started over with the onion water. It only cost me an egg and a small amount of oil and yeast. It was well worth the extra effort.

I hope you enjoy this gift from our friend Norm.

 

Onion Roll Recipe -- per Norm

Topping:
1/4 c. dehydrated onion flakes
1T poppy seeds
1/4t salt
1T oil

Soak the onion flakes in boiling water until they're fully hydrated, then drain and add other ingredients; set aside until you need them. (BTW, according to Norm, you can also use this same topping for bialys). SAVE THE ONION WATER FOR USE LATER IN DOUGH

Dough:
32oz bread or first-clear flour (I used bread flour)
16oz water Use all of the water from hydrating the onion plus make up to 16 Oz.
1.5oz beaten egg
1.5 oz sugar
0.5 oz malt syrup/powder
1.5 oz vegetable oil
0.6oz salt
0.3oz active dry yeast (or equivalent cake/instant yeast) (2 teaspoons IDY)

1. Mix the water/malt/yeast and egg/oil separately; blend dry flour salt and sugar in mixer or by hand;

2. Add the liquids to the flour/sugar and hydrate well. This is a very stiff dough that will work either your back or your Kitchen Aid very hard.

3. Knead for about 10 min until the dough is very smooth and elastic, then set aside and let rise until doubled in bulk.

4. Turn dough, which will be incredibly silky, onto a dry board (no additional flour) and punch down, shape into 3-4 oz boules and let rest, covered, for at least 20 min.

5. Norm suggests spreading the topping onto the work surface and then pressing the boules flat into discs about 1/4"-1/2" thick. This works fine IF you let the dough rest, covered for at least 20 minutes as Norm suggests.

6. Preheat the oven to 450, Cover the rolls and let fully proof until about doubled in size. Just before loading into oven, press a dimple with your thumb in the center. Bake on parchment with a light spritz of water into the oven until they're nice and brown -- 20 minutes in my oven on a sheet pan.

bwraith's picture
bwraith

A Hamburger Bun

A Hamburger BunA Hamburger Bun

I just got a new barbecue grill, so hamburgers were in order. As a home bread baker, I've occasionally made homemade hamburger buns, and there is no question that a hamburger is just better with freshly baked buns.

If you've had the same thought, well here's a recipe for a hamburger bun. The recipe uses direct method instant yeast, so it only takes 3-4 hours. The hydration is a little higher than french bread, but still very easy to handle.

A Hamburger Bun

The Dough:

  • AP flour (I used KA AP) 650 grams
  • Water 290 grams
  • milk 200 grams
  • olive oil 30 grams
  • salt 13 grams
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Mix flour, water, milk together using frisage and a few folds, and let sit for 20 minutes.

Mix/Knead

Work yeast into the dough, then work salt into the dough, then work olive oil into the dough. This can be done with a mixer or by hand using frisage and a few folds. Then knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes workable, stretchy, and seems like it bounces back when you punch it, or whatever magic you use to tell if the dough is right. Add flour or water if necessary to make the dough elastic and not too stiff, but it shouldn't spread out when placed on a table. Place the dough in a container to rise.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding (about 2.5 hours)

When the dough has risen by about half, which should happen in roughly an hour, turn it out on the counter, spread it out a little, pressing on it gently. Then, pull a side of the dough and gently stretch and then fold it into the center of the dough. Do this for four sides. You will now have approximately a ball of dough again. Turn it over and push the seams created by the folding under it. Place it seams down back in the container. Repeat this again in about another hour when it should be about double the volume of the original dough when you first mixed it. Then, let it rise for another 0.5 hours or so.

Shaping

Split the dough into ten pieces. I use a scale and break pieces of dough off if necessary. Let the pieces rest for 5 minutes. Take each piece and do the same type of fold as above in the bulk fermentation. You press it down and spread it out gently, and then fold the four sides toward the middle. After folding, turn it over, and make it into a small boule by pushing the sides under and creating some tension on the top surface. Press down on it with your palm again, to seal the seams underneath. Shape all ten buns and place them on a peel or sheet, leaving some room. I had to bake these in two batches in order to have enough room in my oven. Spray them very lightly with oil. Cover them with a towel.

Final Proof

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 450F.

Prepare to Bake

Paint the buns with milk and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Press them down gently with your palm to spread them out a little.

Bake

Bake for about 15 minutes at 450F. The internal temperature should be around 207F

Cool

Let them cool for a few minutes at least.

Want to learn how to bake bread? Do it! It is about the cheapest, most enjoyable, most rewarding pastime I can think of.

I can't promise that these lessons will prevent you from making mistakes, because making mistakes is just part of learning (and something I still do all the time). But hopefully they'll give you some good ways of getting started and help you improve your understand of what is happening inside of your loaf.

Also, check out some of the tremendous lessons that community members have contributed:

Lessons

buddye's picture
buddye

Sourdough Banana Bread

This is an outstanding sourdough banana bread that I would like to pass on. This came from Don and Myrtle Holm's Sourdough Cookbook in 1972. I have used it many times with excellent results.

1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla or 1 tsp grated orange rind

Cream together the shortening and sugar, add egg, and mix until blended. Stir in bananas and sourdough starter. Add orange rind or vanilla. Sift flour, measure again with salt, baking powder, and soda. Add flour mixture and walnuts to the first mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour into greased 9x5" loaf pan. Bake in moderate or 350� oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Hint: I used 1/2 cup cooking/baking Splenda for regular sugar. Came out beautifully.

Steve Petermann's picture
Steve Petermann

Soaker Ingredient Hydration Percents -- Some Data

I really like to use soakers but it can be a pain to try to get the final dough hydration right when playing around with different soaker ingredient combinations and ratios. The problem, as I see it, is that the water absorption of soaker ingredients can vary drastically depending on the ingredient. So what I wanted to do was parameterize the hydration levels of the various ingredients.  I decided to do some tests to see if I could get some reasonably accurate hydration percents for the ingredients and avoid a lot of trial and error.  

So the first thing I did was measure out a known weight of an ingredient. Then I'd put it in a great excess of water (both room temp and boiling) so that I know it would get fully hydrated.  I let them soak overnight. Then the next day I put each soaker mix in some cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the water as I could.  Then I weighed that again (minus the cheesecloth) and that gave me the supposed weight of water absorbed, and the hydration percent.  What I found was this seemed to work pretty well with some ingredients like most seeds but was a bit dicey when it came to ingredients that made a goo like oatmeal and flaxseeds.  So, I wasn't too sure how accurate that was but it gave me a baseline to work with for the next step.

The next step required some subjectivity like when we make hydration adjustments to a dough. So I got some store brand whole wheat for the tests.  I made three small batches of dough.  One was the control with no soaker and a known hydration.  I chose 67% because it was stiff enough to get a good feel for its hydration.  For the two soakers (room temp and boiling) I used the first cut hydration level to calculate the water needed for the soaker to get fully hydrated and also added another 100% water to make sure they would be. So, I had the supposed free water amount with the soaker.  Then I could adjust the amount of water I put in the dough (without the soaker) such that at the end I should have the right final hydration.  Now, I figured that the first cut soaker hydration percents were really too high and that there would be more free water than the hydration said.  What that would mean is that when I mixed the soaker in with the dough it would be too loose -- at least I hoped that.  It turns out, in many cases, that was true.  So then I could add flour to the dough until I got the same hydration feel as the control dough. I had weighed an excessive amount of flour before and after so I knew how much flour I added.  Then it was a simple calculation to determine the amount of real free water in the soaker and the real hydration % of the ingredient.  So, I had to adjust the hydration percents down for many ingredients except the hard seeds.  

Now in making a real loaf, I could know how much water the ingredient would absorb and then add 100% more to the soaker to make sure it got fully hydrated.  So finally, that told me how much to decrease the water I added to the final dough (because of the excess water I added to the soaker).  The nice thing about it is that you can use any combination of grains, meals, seeds, etc. and still get pretty close.  Of course, some final adjustments may still be needed -- just like with different flours, but in my experience, they aren't that significant. The breads I've made using soakers and this method seem to be pretty close. I haven't made real bread loaves with all these so if anyone tries something and finds it off, I'd appreciate the info.

I have a spreadsheet that does the calculations for all this and will be posting it here as soon as I get a help video done but here's the data. 

IngredientWater Temp% Hydration
   
BarleyRoom Temp138%
BarleyBoiling156%
Barley FlakesRoom Temp125%
Barley FlakesBoiling200%
BuckwheatRoom Temp88%
BuckwheatBoiling91%
Chia SeedsRoom Temp237%
Chia SeedsBoiling276%
Coarse CornmealRoom Temp58%
Coarse CornmealBoiling173%
Cracked WheatRoom Temp178%
Cracked WheatBoiling225%
FlaxseedsRoom Temp130%
FlaxseedsBoiling136%
MilletRoom Temp48%
MilletBoiling48%
Oat GroatsRoom Temp60%
Oat GroatsBoiling85%
Oats, RolledRoom Temp90%
Oats, RolledBoiling206%
Oats, Steel CutRoom Temp70%
Oats, Steel CutBoiling104%
Pumpkin SeedsRoom Temp38%
Pumpkin SeedsBoiling48%
QuinoaRoom Temp78%
QuinoaBoiling104%
Rye ChopsRoom Temp65%
Rye ChopsBoiling154%
Sesame SeedsRoom Temp58%
Sesame SeedsBoiling68%
Sunflower SeedsRoom Temp80%
Sunflower SeedsBoiling80%
TeffRoom Temp72%
TeffBoiling76%
Wheat BranRoom Temp96%
Wheat BranBoiling168%
Wheat FlakesRoom Temp100%
Wheat FlakesBoiling180%
FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Work has kept me busy and away from posting as often as I'd like, but I'm happy to be able to share this recipe. These are completely amazing cinnamon rolls. They've conquered my heart, and I don't even really like cinnamon rolls. Except these.

 

Tang Zhong Milk & Honey Sweet Dough 

The cornerstone of this recipe is the soft, moist and tender sweet dough. It uses honey and a roux to tenderize and hold in moisture. And the long kneading time yields a wonderfully light, ethereal texture.  

Cinnamon Rolls

 

 Crazy Good Cinnamon Glaze

Instead of the traditional plain powdered sugar frosting, these have a richly flavored, creamy glaze that rounds out the cinnamon with butter, vanilla, cocoa butter and coffee. While testing this recipe, my office mates repeatedly offered to lick the bowls, whisks, serving plates, you name it. 

This was a recipe I developed for Brod & Taylor for the roll-out of their new shelf kit. (If you haven't seen the shelf kit yet and would like to, it is here.)  It includes directions for the Folding Proofer with a shelf kit, but can also be made using a warm-ish (85F) proofing spot.

Yield: 12 Cinnamon Rolls (double the recipe to make 24 rolls). Make 12 rolls in two 9” (23cm) round cake pans or one 9x13" pan. Make a double recipe in two 9x13” (23x33cm) rectangular pans.

Timing: On day 1 the dough can be made, chilled, rolled and cut, then the rolls are refrigerated overnight. On day 2, pull the rolls out of the fridge about 2¼ hours before serving time, then proof and bake.

Milk & Honey Sweet Dough

 VolumeGramsOunces
Unbleached flour, 12% protein2 c spooned2508.8
Milk¾ cup (180 ml)1826.4
Instant yeast1½ tsp4.80.17
Salt¾ tsp4.50.16
Honey3 Tbs602.1
Egg yolk1 yolk150.5
Water1 Tbs150.5
Butter, very soft4 Tbs572.0

Make the Roux. Measure the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk to a small saucepan and whisk in 3 Tbs of the flour from the mixer bowl. (If you are weighing ingredients, put 30g/1.1oz of bread flour into the milk and 220g/7.8oz into the mixer bowl.) Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until uniformly thickened and bubbling, about 20-30 seconds after the mixture first begins to boil. Cover and chill until cool to the touch.

The butter will incorporate more easily with the dough if it is so soft that it’s gone all melty at the edges. If you have a Folding Proofer, the butter can be warmed at 85F/29C. To prepare for rising the dough, lightly oil a container and mark it at the 4-cup/1 liter level (8-cup/2 liters if making a double recipe).

Tang Zhong Sweet Dough

 

Mix the Dough. Add the instant yeast and salt to the flour in the mixer bowl and stir to combine. Add the water, cooled roux, honey and egg yolk. Mix on low speed until flour is moistened. Once the dough comes together it should stick to the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add 1 more tablespoon water to achieve the right consistency.

Knead Intensively for an Ethereal Texture. Raise mixer to medium-low and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should still be sticking to the sides of the bowl. Add the butter in four parts, kneading until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once all the butter is incorporated, knead for 10 more minutes on medium-low. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, although it may still stick on the bottom.

Ferment the Dough. Scrape the dough into the oiled container, place in the Proofer if you are using one and allow to rise until doubled, about 75-80 minutes at 85F/29C.  

Fold and Chill. Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and stretch and fold all four sides to the middle, creating a square package. Wrap loosely and chill (a relaxed, cool dough will be less sticky and easier to roll out without adding too much flour). After 30 minutes, deflate the dough and re-wrap. Chill 30 more minutes or until it’s convenient to roll the dough, up to 24 hrs.

Cinnamon Pecan Filling

 VolumeGramsOunces
Butter, melted and cooled4 Tb572.0
Light brown sugar2 Tb271.0
Cinnamon2 tsp2 tsp2 tsp
Vanilla½ tsp½ tsp½ tsp
Egg white, cold1 white321.1
Pecans, chopped¾ cup853.0

While the Dough is Chilling, Make the Filling. Butter the bottom and sides of the pans and chop the pecans finely. Whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined. Quickly whisk in the cold egg white to thicken and emulsify the mixture.

 

Roll and Fill the Dough. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough, then roll out to a 12 x 14” (30 x 36 cm) rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough, extending all the way to the edges on the short sides and leaving a small bare border on both long sides. Sprinkle the nuts over the filling. Starting from a long side, roll the dough into a log and press lightly to seal the seam. Use plain dental floss to cut the roll into 12 pieces. If using a knife to slice rolls, it may be easier if the log is chilled first. Arrange the rolls in the pan with smaller rolls in the middle. Cover and chill overnight.

 

Proof the Cinnamon Rolls. Set up the Proofer, if using, with plenty of water in the tray. Use the rack with the fold-out legs on the lower level to raise the pan off the warming element so that the lower level and upper level proof at the same rate. Set the thermostat to 90F/32C. Place one pan of rolls on the lower rack, off to one side. Then add the shelf supports and shelf and place the second pan on the upper level, off to the opposite side. Close the lid and allow the rolls to proof until the dough springs back slowly when the side of a roll is dented with a finger, about 90 minutes. Half way through proofing, rotate the pans 180 degrees.

Cinnamon Mocha Topping

 VolumeGramsOunces
Fine quality white chocolate barone 3oz bar or
⅔ of 4.5oz bar
853.0
Butter2 Tbs281.0
Cinnamon¼ tsp¼ tsp¼ tsp
Coffee or Espresso (brewed)1 Tbs150.5
Powdered sugar2 Tbs140.5

Preheat the Oven.  Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375F / 190C.

Make the Glaze.  Break or chop the white chocolate into pieces and put in a small bowl along with the coffee, cinnamon and butter. When the cinnamon rolls are fully proofed, remove them from the Proofer, then turn the thermostat up to 120F (49C). Remove the upper rack and fold up the legs on the lower rack so that it rests close to the warming element. Place the topping mixture in the center of the rack and close the lid. (Because the white chocolate is being melted with coffee and butter, it’s OK to leave the water tray in the Proofer - a little steam won’t hurt it.)  If you're not using a Proofer, melt the glaze over a double boiler or with short bursts in the microwave.

Bake the Cinnamon Rolls.  Cover each pan of rolls with aluminum foil (to seal in moisture and encourage the fullest oven spring possible) and place in the oven on the lower rack. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil, rotate pans 180 degrees and place on upper rack to encourage browning. Bake 15-20 more minutes, until nicely browned and the rolls reach an internal temperature of 190F (88C).

Cool and Top the Rolls.  When the cinnamon rolls are done, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While the rolls are cooling, whisk the melted glaze ingredients until they emulsify and are thick and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Unmold the rolls onto a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.

Alternative Timing:  The rolls can be made all in one day.  After the first rise/bulk ferment, chill the dough only for the minimum time of 1 hour.  Then roll, fill and cut the rolls.  Skip the overnight time in the refrigerator and shorten the final proof to 70-75 minutes (the dough will be warm and will take less time than refrigerated dough).  All in, start these rolls 5½-6 hours before serving time.

 

 

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Pugliese Capriccioso

Last week's successful experiment making an “Italian” bread with bulk retardation has made me want to try other types of bread using that technique and other Italian-style breads.

I've been thinking about making a Pugliese bread ever since I first read about it in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Have you noticed that some thoughts take longer than others to get translated into action? Well, this one has taken about 4 years. In the interim, I have accumulated a sizable number of other bread books, and several have formulas for Pugliese. Consulting these, I find amazing variation, particularly in the flours used. Some use part or even entirely Durum. Some use partly whole wheat. What they have in common is 1) Use of a biga, 2) Relatively high hydration. Most recipes specify shaping as a round loaf with no scoring. The lone exception is The Il Fornaio Baking Book which shapes and scores Pugliese like a French bâtard. None of the formulas in the books I consulted use a sourdough biga.

The formula I ended up using is my own notion of a good rustic bread baked as a large round loaf, with a nod to Puglia. I suppose I could call it “Pugliese Capriccioso.”

 

Ingredients

Wt (g)

Baker's %

AP flour

375

75

Fine durum flour

125

25

Water

360

74

Salt

10

2

Active starter (100% hydration)

100

20

Total

970

196

Note: For greater authenticity, one would use a firm starter. If you do, the water in the final dough should be increased and the flour decreased to keep the hydration the same in the formula.

Method

  1. Refresh your sourdough starter 8-12 hours before mixing the dough.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, disperse the active starter in the water.

  3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass.

  4. Cover the bowl tightly and let it rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes. (Note: There is no harm in autolysing for longer, but do not decrease the time to less than 20 minutes. I often go out and run errands for an hour or more during the autolyse.)

  5. Add the salt to the dough and mix it in thoroughly.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, clean bowl and cover tightly.

  7. After 30 minutes, do a “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 15-20 strokes. Repeat 3 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  8. When the dough has expanded by 75% or so (about 30 minutes more), transfer it to a floured bench.

  9. Pre-shape into a ball and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to relax the gluten.

  10. Shape the dough as a boule and place it seam-side down in a floured banneton.

  11. Place the banneton in a food-safe plastic bag or cover with a damp towel. Proof the boule until the dough springs back slowly when you poke a finger into it.

  12. 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 490ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  13. Transfer the loaf to the baking stone, seam-side up, steam the oven and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  14. After 15 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus. Bake for another 30 minutes or until the loaf is done. The crust should be nicely colored. The internal temperature should be at least 205ºF.

  15. Leave the loaf on the baking stone with the oven turned off and the door ajar for another 10 minutes to dry the crust.

  16. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

 

Pugliese Capriccioso crumb

The crust was crunchy, and the crumb was quite chewy. The flavor was remarkably sweet, especially given that there was no sweetener in the formula. The nutty flavor of the durum flour came through and was even more present than in the breads I've baked with a higher percentage of durum. There was little sourdough tang, although that might increase by tomorrow.

This is a bread I will be making again. I think it could stand an increase in hydration, maybe even up to 78% or so.

I also made a high-extraction miche today. This followed my formula and procedures for the San Joaquin Sourdough. The only changes were 1) I used Central Milling's “Type 85 Unmalted” organic flour for the final dough, 2) I added 5 g of diastatic malt powder to the mix, 3) rather than pre-shaping and resting for 60 minutes, after cold retardation, I let the dough ferment at room temperature until almost doubled, then pre-shaped and rested for 20 minutes, and 4) I made one large boule with the entire dough.

 

The crust was quite crunchy with a sweet, caramelized sugar flavor. The flavor of the crumb was sweet and earthy with moderate sourness. It was quite delicious 3 hours out of the oven, and I think it will have a long shelf life and make wonderful toast.

This is another bread I expect to be making again.

 

I enjoyed a slice of each with our dinner of Proscuitto with melon and Fedelini with roasted San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, bread crumbs and fresh basel.

David

 Submitted to YeastSpotting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoring Bread

 

What is scoring?

Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.

When is scoring done?

Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven. French rye breads (pains de siegle) are sometimes scored right after shaping, before proofing.

Why are breads scored?

Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.

The type of scoring performed controls the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.”

The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts influences the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.

The pattern of cuts can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.

The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.

What do you use to score bread?

The blade used to score bread is often referred to as a lame (pronounced “lahm.”) This is simply a French word with means “blade.” Breads may be scored with straight or curved razor blades, either held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades.

For some types of scoring, a straight blade is preferred. Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). For other types of scoring, a curved blade works better. Curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

Video on Choosing a Blade: http://youtu.be/vF7eFluzHXc

How are the cuts made?

The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)

The cuts should generally be 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. A wet, sticky dough requires a more shallow cut than one would make in a dryer dough.

Scoring a boule (round loaf)

The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, as is traditional with round loaves (boules), the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf.

Video on Scoring a Boule: http://youtu.be/gnL7mvR9wFg


Besides the “tic-tac-toe” pattern, boules can be scored with diamond patterns, simple crosses or much more elaborate and creative patterns.

Miche scored with a diamond pattern

Scoring a long loaf (bâtard)

If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” as is generally desired with long loaves (baguettes and bâtards), the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, at about 20-30 degrees or so. Many find using a curved blade helps make this type of cut. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”

Video on Scoring a Bâtard: http://youtu.be/UC5HLCWAyMo

 

Bâtards

 

Baguettes

The effect of scoring on loaf shape

Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.

According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally). This pattern promotes sideways expansion of the loaf, resulting in an oval cross section when the loaf is sliced.

 

Baguette showing overlapping cuts, almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf

For breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.

"Sausage cut" on the left. "Chevron cut" on the right.

Boules are scored in a variety of patterns with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.

One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.

 Two boules scored differently. Note the effects of the scoring pattern on the final shape of the baked loaves.

What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!

This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.

Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.

What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."

The angle of the blade is important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)

These photos illustrate nice "ears," but they also show that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from left to right. The darker part on the left obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.

In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:

  1. The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

  2. The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.

  3. The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.

Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.

A final word

This tutorial focused on the mechanics of scoring, but the other steps in bread making impact the behavior of the cuts you make and the final appearance of your loaves. In fact, every single step, from your choice of ingredients and their proportions – your formula – to how you steam your oven plays a role in how your cuts will open. Your best looking loaves will result from a series of choices that are mutually dependent, where how you score a loaf takes into account the other choices you have made about the formula, mixing, fermentation, shaping, proofing and baking.

Happy baking!

David

Syd's picture
Syd

White Sandwich Loaf

Poolish

250g all purpose flour
250g water
1/16 - 1/8 of a tsp yeast (more if it is cold, less if it is hot)

Mix together and leave for 12 hours.

Dough

300g white bread flour 
130g milk (scalded)
unsalted butter 6g
10g salt
3g instant yeast
a little less than 1/4 tsp of ascorbic acid

[Hydration = 69%]

Scald milk and add butter and salt to it. Stir until dissolved. Allow milk to cool to room temp.  Add to poolish, then add dry ingredients.

Knead for 5mins - rest for 5mins - knead for 5mins. Allow to proof until doubled. A stretch and fold half way through fermentation is necessary not so much for gluten strength, as it is to degas the dough.  Pre-shape. Shape and put into a two pound tin. Let it rise until coming about an inch over the top of the tin. (My tin is a 10x19x11cm 900g loaf tin).

Bake at 230 C with steam for 15 mins and without steam at 190 C for 35 mins. Remove from tin for last 10 mins .

 

This loaf has a crisp crust and a tender, moist crumb.  It toasts very evenly and makes a good sandwich.  It keeps well, too.

Syd

 

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