The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Pan de Cristal - upping the ante

alfanso's picture

Pan de Cristal - upping the ante

I felt that I could take the Pan de Cristal a further step if I kept at it.  And so I did.  Further micro improvements from last time.

The first that I went with but abandoned after two attempts was to combine a biga with a levain.  While the results were okay, they were not all that much better than with just a straight levain mix. The downside is that it has an additional few steps to accomplish without the payback.  So I abandoned that process and returned to a single preferment - the 100% hydration strong white flour levain.

Other breakthroughs, beyond those reported last time, included:

  • Discovering that I could indeed retard the dough overnight, rendering a bit more flavor but principally to get the 95% hydration goop to firm up a little more.  And this worked.
  • Changing out from a quite well-floured workbench for the dough to be dumped onto for dividing.  Instead saturate the workbench with water sufficiently.  The dough is easier to manipulate, and with a pair of wet hands was slightly malleable and easier to transfer to the oven peel with minimal deformation.
  • Learning that the shorter the time the dough rested on the peel before being loaded into the oven the less propensity it has for spreading out.

There’s no getting around that this dough is still a trick to wrangle with, but I think that I finally unlocked the door to producing a quality Pan de Cristal.

Here's a partial stack from previous runs these past few days.

When loaded into the oven, these plump up quite impressively, only to settle back down some after a while.

The finished product.  These cannot be scaled, so eyeing the size of each baton is necessary.

A bird's eye view of the runt of the lot that was not up for giveaway.

And a snail's eye view.

Looking in from the outside.  You can see how open the crumb is, and how thin the crust is on these breads.  A structural marvel.  The crust just shatters as it is bitten into, while the crumb stays moist and delicate.


The formula for these is on the earlier entry.

4 x ~300g batons 


Isand66's picture

Thanks for doing all the hard work ?.  I’ve been meaning to try this style for a while.  Will have to read through all your trials and give it a go.

Benito's picture

Wow I somehow missed this blog post while on vacation this past winter.  These are incredible, 95% hydration white flour.  Maybe I’ll try making them someday but I think I need to conquer the baguette first as these seem much much more challenging than the baguette even is.  Great work Alan.