The Fresh Loaf

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Advice on white bread with French T55 flour?

breadpiglet's picture

Advice on white bread with French T55 flour?


I'm not sure I'm in the right place, but this is a very active part of teh forum, and I'd like to learn to make artisan bread, so I hope it's okay to post here.

I recently bought a large sack of French T55 flour. I live out in the wilds, and to have bought a small bag would have cost something ridiculous in postage, and so it seemed to make more sense to drive to the local town and buy 25kg. Um...

Anyway, I've been trying out the new flour, and I'm delighted with it. I've been using a very basic recipe, as follows.

500g flour

300g warm water

10g salt

5g yeast

1. Knead for about 10 minutes and leave to double in size.

2. Degass, and shape into rolls, baguettes and/or boules (or combination of the same), and leave to prove.

3. Bake.

The bread has risen very easily, which is a great relief because last year I had great difficulty getting wholemeal flours to rise at all here. (I moved to this house a year ago. It's a bit colder than where I previously lived (NW England--now I'm a bit further North), but not very different. Still, I had big rising problems. I suspect different flour was to blame.) Anyway, the T55 has risen and baked beautifully, and I really enjoy the bread it produces. It's crunchy on first coming out of the oven, and then next day the crust is very chewy.

Chewiness of the crust is actually why I'm posting now. I love dark, favourful, chewy crusts, but it's a matter of degree... This crust is so chewy that I reckon I'd need the teeth of a lion to be able to remove a bite without grinding! I have to pull so hard to separate a piece from teh roll that eventually teh roll tears and the filling falls out.

Can anybody tell me what I might be able to do that would result in a slightly less chewy crust? I know there are lots of techniques involving greater water content and less vigorous kneading that I have yet to learn. Maybe they're the way? Any advice very welcome.

Many thanks for any help.


PeterS's picture

How are you storing the bread? If it is too moist an environment or, heaven forbid, a plastic bag, the crust will get chewier faster. Any crusty bread tends to get a chewier crust in time as the moisture diffuses out of the crumb into the crust, too. Toasting or warming the bread can remedy that.

Steaming the oven when the bread goes in will help produce a thinner crust if you have an electric oven. If you are baking with gas, it is hard to hold the steam in--try steaming and turning the oven off when the bread goes in for 8 mins.  If you can't get any steam, try upping your hydration to something like 68-70% (340-350g water); you may want to up your hydration anyhow, it will give you better oven spring and a more open crumb.

Lowering you baking temp can also help produce a thinner crust--it will still absorb moisture over time, but there is less of it to do that.


breadpiglet's picture


Many thanks for replying.

I've been storing it in a tupperware container, so perhaps that's added to the ultra-chewy crust problem.

I try to steam the oven when I put the bread in but my efforts haven't been particularly successful. Basically, I throw a glass of cold water into a metal roasting tray at the bottom of the oven, just after putting the bread in. It doesn't produce a lot of visible steam, though.

I'll try what you suggest about upping the hydration, though I do find higher hydration doughs very difficult to manipulate.

Many thanks again--much appreciated.

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... like 50-60g of butter, or oil to the recipe. That will soften your crust and add flavour. And try spritzing the top of the dough with tepid water before loading into the oven, that will delay the crust formation a little, and help make for a thinner crust. Another vote for increasing the hydration of the loaf, too to 66%. You can add the extra water as you work the dough for ease of handling. (I keep a bowl of extra water beside me, and just keep dunking my hands in it every so often, then continue working the dough - which not only increases the hydration in an easy way, but keeps hands nice and clean too!

PeterS's picture

in an oven at temperatures above the dew point, in other words: you will never see steam in your oven. You have to infer that it's there from the amount of water that has evaporated. There are lots of good posts here about creating steam at home, try searching on steam and towels.