The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

4 Tips For Baking Authentic Rustic Breads

swissbake's picture

4 Tips For Baking Authentic Rustic Breads

Wetter is Better

European rustic bread requires very high levels of hydration, anywhere from 60% to 75%. That means for every kilogram of flour you use, try to use almost 3/4ths kilogram of water.

Slow & steady wins the race.

It takes a time to really invoke the best flavors from your grains. The more you slow down the fermentation process, the better your loaf is likely to taste.

The exceptions to this rule are bread with a lot of sugar in them. Sugars are yeast's food. If you increase the fermentation time for dough with lots of sugar in it, you are likely to get something that tastes overly fermented, perhaps like beer.

But almost all the European bread including French bread will benefit if you reduce the amount of yeast in your recipe and increase the time you allow the dough to ferment.

Bake with High Heat

Every baker wants to get the most oven spring. "Oven spring" is the final rise that happens within the first few minutes of baking once the loaf is kept in the oven. Good oven spring can make the difference between mediocre and great bread.

When preheating the oven to bake European bread, turn it up to the maximum temperature of about 300ºC. Once its time to load the proofed loaves in the oven turn down the temperature to 230ºC – 240ºC and immediately load the loaves for baking. The additional temperature during the first few minutes helps compensate for the heat lost while loading the oven and creates a nice, hot environment that will maximize yeast activity.

Bread requires a hot oven to rise completely so ALWAYS preheat your oven before baking.

Steam the Oven

Professional baking ovens have steam injectors. Right after placing the loaves inside, give them a good blast of steam. The steam keeps the outside of the loaves moist and supple so that the bread can spring for as long as possible. Once the outside of the loaf begins to dry out, it hardens, preventing further spring. Then the crust begins to form.

 These Tips are provided by SwissBake



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and can be interpreted as offensive.  ...So can my mentioning of it.  :)

Edit:  Thank you  SB


pmccool's picture

how many professional bakers working in Europe are members of the TFL community or lurking.  Makes me curious as to how much bang for their buck swissbake is getting with the recent round of advertising posts.  Or if they have had the decency to compensate Floyd for access to TFL.

Although I'm always interested in new formulae, my interest tends to wane when a formula requires some proprietary ingredient that is only available on the other side of the pond.  And, since I reside in the middle of the North American wheat belt, it amuses me to see 60% listed as a very high hydration.  That would make a moderately dry sandwich loaf with the flours available to me.

I'd love to see swissbake (person, not corporation) be a contributing member of the forum, particularly if they can bring something of value for home bakers rather than more brochures.


RoundhayBaker's picture

Surely they meant 69%? 

Also, very few domestic ovens can achieve 300℃, so that point is impracticable.

Mini, who, as ever, is ALWAYS right, is CORRECT: the advice is TOO rigid. Not much use for anyone. 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the poster as a person and not a advert office.  All the "slow and steady" tips but the posted recipes on the blog are pushing for fast fermenting times.  Such a contradiction.   No real practical tips above about how to get steam into the oven, lots of talk about what it does but no solutions for the home oven.  I feel I'm being lectured to.

I can also think of exceptions to preheating an oven.  "ALWAYS" doesn't always happen.  What about when you go to put in the loaf and the oven is cold?  That's happened to me several times.   Or what if I didn't have time to wait for the dough or the oven to preheat.  I've stuck a partially risen loaf in the oven and set the timer to go on and off adding 20 minutes to the baking time and still came out with a decent loaf. 

I wonder if they ship to Laos?