The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Getting better at this

DohBoy's picture

Getting better at this

I have just baked my 6th loaf of french bread, actually, it's a baguette recipe in the book "Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes", I shaped them into batards that resemble mishapen loaves. Pretty ugly, I need more practice in folding and shaping. The last 2 loaves were the best, except for the blow out at the seam like a hernia. Apparantly I lost track and had the seam out to the side. Lesson learned, know where the seams and folds are.

After having a hard crust that is quite dark gray in color, nearly burnt, I refined my methods, which may not be the best method. I score the loaves, mist them with water from a spray bottle, pop them in the oven on a pizza stone, and add hot water to a pan below. Oven set to 475 before poping them into the oven, then I monitor it for 400 degrees. So far, it's alright - taste is wonderful, texture so-so. What I end up with is a soft inside and hard, yet plyable crust, if that makes sense.

Also, after the final shaping, how much should the bread raise befor eit enters the oven?

The fun is in the work.

Any thoughts for improving the crust and bread overall?


gothicgirl's picture

Not knowing your formula I can't offer a lot of help except to agree with the other poster regarding hydration.  I use the pan of water trick for steam in my oven. I let the steam build for 5 min before I put the bread in, and I remove the steam pan after 15 min. I want a nice dry oven for the last 15 - 20 min of baking time to harden the crust.I also cook my bread a little lower than most recipes call for, around 10 to 20 degrees, but that may just be a oven quirk. (who knows!) I do preheat the oven to rocket hot, and turn it down when I introduce the boiling water to create the steam. By the time the oven is steamy the temp is about where I want it.As for improved texture ... I like long fermentation and long proof. I use the finger poke test to see if my bread is ready to go into the oven. If my finger mark does not fill in or fills in slowly it is ready to go. Higher hydration and proper folding during fermentation will help with texture. Practice makes perfect as always! "Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" is the text we use in my Breads & Rolls class, and the author offers a lot of good information for bulk and home bakers. His sections on steam, and about scoring are quite good. Lots of good info and diagrams.Good luck!

DohBoy's picture

Thanks for your tips!  1000% Flour 66%water %salt 1.1% yeast.  I'm a bit cautious of pouring water into a pan with the electric oven element below.  Perhaps heat loss is the problem.  475 preheat, open to add loaves to baking stone. pull out lower shelf with hot pan, add water to pan, push in shelf and close door.  I'll bet I'm loosing too much heat in this process. 


Darkstar's picture

In order to keep my oven hot when adding "liquid" to create steam I use a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven. I keep the edge of the skillet right by the oven door. That way I can take a piece of parchment or a flexible cutting board with a bunch of ice cubes on it and quickly dump them in the cast iron and shut the door.


I haven't paid attention to how long I get steam however the my crusts are usually decently thick and hard.

Paddyscake's picture

I preheat my electric oven with stone to 500. I have a 9x13 metal pan that I put about a 1/4- 1/2" of boilng water, then put the pan on the bottom shelf. I wait until I see the steam coming out of the vent..loaves go in. Depending on the baking temps, I take the steam pan out when the loaves are golden for a nice crispy crust.

Just take your time and pay attention when you put the pan of hot water in the prevent sloshing the water and burning yourself!!!