April 30, 2010 - 1:44pm
The loaf comes out, then you go to bed ... how to cool?
Last night I took my first ever sourdough miche (the high extraction Poilane-inspired recipe from PR's Whole Grain Breads, pictures to be posted later!) out from the oven just after midnight. The center temp was 207F and the crust felt very hard, without being overdone.
I let it cool on a cooling rack for about half an hour while I cleaned up, but then I had to go to bed. By this time it had cooled but was still warm. I was afraid to leave it uncovered all night as I thought it might dry out, so I wrapped in a tea towel.
In the morning I found the crust was a lot softer, still okay but I was wondering if maybe I should've left it alone?
What do you do when you have to leave a loaf to cool overnight?
I leave it on the cooling rack and lay a towel over it.
Wow, that's a lot of discipline on your side! We can never go to bed without having a slice of our fresh bread! :-) If I must leave it overnight, I would do what Jeff said, just throw a towel over it on a cool rack, praying that my husband won't get up in the middle of the night and eat half of it. LOL
I just leave the bread out, uncovered.
I like a soft crust *evil-eye to those who object*, so I use tea towels, top/bottom/sides lightly and on a cooling rack, while cooling bread. There are a few breads I will leave out overnight without tea towels to cool completely, and they are fine in the morning. I am not about to lose sleep while watching bread cool.
I baked a pan de levain on Wednesday night that came out of the oven around 11PM. After about an hour, I opened up a large paper grocery bag, a 1/6 Barrel is what I've heard them called, and slid the cooling rack with the loaf inside. I used a clip to hold the folded over end and then went to bed. 8 hours later, I sliced it and while the crust wasn't super crispy, it was very good.
I don't want to trap any of the surface moisture as it cools so I never cover it, at least not until it has cooled completely.
than the loaf... on the counter top below the cooling rack and on the towel. If they touch the loaf, then they can leave the loaf moist. Sometimes desired but tends to shorten loaf life.
Not only does the room humidity matter, but the room temperature also and what type of bread you are cooling. If the room was cool, say below 15°C (59°F) It wouldn't dry out at all while it was cooling. Towels can also trap in heat so the loaf takes longer to cool, not good for a heavy rye for instance. Better for the ryes (Rye flour over 50%) to cool open and then zip bag afterwards to soften the crust for another day.
until it's completely cool. If, after bagging (paper, cloth, or plastic), and/or freezing, I want a crisp crust, I put the loaf in a 375°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes. The time depends on the shape, or, more specifically, the surface to volume ratio. Baguettes get 5 mins., 1 to 1.5 lb boules, and batards 5 to 6, and larger 7 minutes, but no longer. I'm just crisping the crust; don't want to start baking the loaf again.
I'm on the side of "put it on the cooling rack, and leave till morning".
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I think one of the key points mentioned above is the ambient humidity; here in Winnipeg it varies a lot throughout the year, even within each season there are dry days and humid days.
I like my crust medium crunchy (but not overly hard), and the kids like it soft. So I guess no matter what I do, someone wins and someone loses. I should almost cut the loaf in half and put half in plastic, half in paper!
But you don't want to cut it before it cools, so instead, make 2 smaller loaves, and then you can treat them differently.
Anyway, normally I just leave the bread out, uncovered; I live on a humid, semitropical island, though.
I like a crispy crust; for wheat breads (typically high whole wheat), I turn the oven off, take the bread out of the dutch oven, and leave the loaf on an oven rack with the oven door ajar. It usually takes 1.5 - 2 hrs to cool, based on touch.
This helps vent the steam coming off and keeps the crust crispy. I slice and/or wrap the bread in a towel only after it's cool.
I have been doing the same with rye breads; but if Hamelman says so, I don't slice the bread for another 24 hrs. Apparently the 24 hr + rest is not necessary for all ryes but does benefit wheat miches. I'm trying to find out more on rye.