The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Adventures With Freezing II

tpassin's picture

Adventures With Freezing II

This is Part 2 of a series of experiments with freezing unbaked hearth breads.  Part 1 is at

This bake used nearly the same formula.  Briefly, it's 72% hydration, 15% each malted barley and graham (WW) flour,  30% inoculation. The rest of the flour was KA bread flour.  Final hydrations were a few percentage points higher, with water added based on how thirsty the dough seemed to be.

In Part 1, I baked the bread after it had spent 4 hours in the freezer.  This probably was not long enough to freeze the interior hard.  This time I froze the loaf for 3 1/2 days.

In Part 1, the loaf had good oven rise but slumped sideways during baking.  The crumb was well open.  This time, to try to avoid a slump, I changed to bread flour, and delayed making steam until 5 minutes into the bake. I also did not turn down the temperature during the first part of the bake.  The thinking was that slumping must have happened because the interior must have still been very liquid while the crust was soft so that gravity could pull the bulk of the loaf downwards.  This time I sought to let the crust firm up a little more before the interior heated up to that point.

The loaf right out of the freezer was noticeably flattened, not really a surprise. There was not much oven spring.  The loaf seemed to regain its original pre-chill height and the slashes were slight expanded but not much.  The cross-section shows a decent crumb but a little tight, and the shape looks a little under-proofed.  The Part1 crumb was quite a bit more open, since Part 1 had better oven spring even though there was sideways slumping.  Here's the crumb:

The appearance of the crust in Part 2 is disappointing.  It's very matte and the coloring is uneven and not dark enough for my preferences.  When I sliced the bread, still slightly warm, I could tell the crust was softening up as moisture was still coming out of the loaf.  These are signs that I should have baked the loaf longer or at least left it in the cooling oven for some time.

In eating the crumb is pleasant and soft, much like a good sandwich bread, and the flavor of the malted barley/graham mix is very likable, a little sweeter than I usually get with straight white flour, but not heavy like many breads with 30% whole grain flours.  I am coming to like this mix and have used it in some other bakes, including several soda breads, where it works well too.

I would rate this as a semi-success,  The crust, crumb, and appearance are very acceptable and better than what I could get at a supermarket (masquerading as "artisan" bread).  But they are not where I would like them to be. 

Suggestions for improvement are always welcome!