Pan de Cristal - cracking the code
Pa de Vidre / Glass Bread
I’d made this once before a few months ago after warehousing Abel’s posting for over a year. Time to try again and figure out the mysteries & miseries of how to make this bread “properly". And it took about 4-5 iterations over the course of a week, each time trying a new thing or two. Until I had a breakthrough two nights ago in the mixing phase on my final failed attempt. But with some additional tweaking, last night’s product came out of the oven looking pretty darned close to what I was after.
There were two key elements to the success. The first was to the initial mix being performed by hand rather than relying solely on my mechanical mixer. This step now develops a smooth fully incorporated dough ready for the mixer. The second was the careful handling of the dough during the transfer from bench to oven peel. the “wettest” and lightest handling of the divided dough as possible.
Pan de Cristal is a fairly amorphous animal that dares the baker to move it from bench top to oven peel without partially or totally destroying the anticipated shaping or the structure of the dough. At a total of 95% hydration (90% water, 5% oil) with 90% white flour, it is not one to accommodate any type of man-handling. So I knew and so I’ve learned.
My first attempts last week varied the hydration from 95% - 85% in failed effort to get the dough to behave. But the hydration isn’t really the issue. It’s like having musical notes on a page - which account for only 10% of what the final sound is - the other 90% is the skill and soul of the musician.
When I decided to forego the dividing and shaping altogether by placing the entire BF'ed mass into a baking dish, the notes didn’t play so well. But at the point I had already unlocked the “secret” to getting a well mixed and well developed dough.
This dough rises very fast due to the IDY, Levain and sugar. In my kitchen, 90 minutes was about all it took to triple in size. The addition of Letter Folds at 0, 30 and 60 minutes provides the strength this dough needs to be workable at all - at least to me.
|Pan de Cristal, Levain Formula|
|Abel Sierra, alfanso|
|Total Dough Weight (g)||1250||Prefermented||20.00%|
|Total Formula||Levain||Final Dough|
|Total Flour||100.00%||624.0||100.00%||124.8||Final Flour||499.2|
|Bread Flour||90.00%||561.6||100%||124.8||Bread Flour||436.8|
|Olive Oil||5.00%||31.2||Olive Oil||31.2|
|Alternate mixer speed slow and fast while incorporating all ingredients.|
|Add Flours,intial Water, cold Levain, IDY. Hand mix well. Autolyse 20 min..|
|Hand mix/add Salt, Sugar to incorporate. Dough is wet enough take it well.|
|50 French Folds. 5 min rest. 50 French Folds.|
|Into mixing Bowl. Slowly add Bassinage alternating hand and machine mixing.|
|Once dough starts to form ridges in the mixing bowl, slowly add Oil and finish mix @78d|
|Mix is done when dough slaps against sides of mixing bowl and hook alternately picks up and drops dough back.|
|Dough into oiled tub, immediatly fold well. Allow to triple in height. In my warm kitchen tthis was ~1hr 40 min.|
|Spill onto well floured workbench. Will likely be goopy.|
|With wet hands and wet bench knife (at all phases) square off edges and divide as desired.|
|Pick up and place onto parchment paper on peel. Try to not compress, squeeze or stretch the dough in the transfer.|
|Oven should have been preheating at 480dF.|
|Bake at 460 ~13 min. w/steam.|
|Release steam rotate loaves, continue baking at 440dF for up to 30 min. Oven off, vent for 3 min.|
An earlier failed attempt at 85% hydration. The crumb was okay, actually fairly good.
This was the 95% hydr. failed baking pan attempt. At this point two nights ago I'd figured out how to get a quality mix and Bulk Ferment.
And the resultant batons. Just did not work - at all! Dense and overly chewy. At least the crust was in the vicinity of where i wanted to be.
The lead photo and these next few were last night's success story. I don't think the look of the bread is all that off from what I imagine it should be.
The bread is incredibly light and airy and when freshly baked or reheated/toasted the crust takes on that snap which likely gives the bread its name, while the crumb remains moist and tender. I am not often a fan of the "rustic" look of bread that has more than a minimum of raw flour on the crust. And so I appreciate that these do not.