September 25, 2008 - 2:00pm
Article on SFBI
The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article on the San Francisco Baking Institute, with a recipe and techniques for making baguettes:
It's unusually warm here and not more than thirty minutes ago, I was playing around with ice, water, and a thermometer wondering how cold the water should be for some sourdough I want to proof overnight. And then I read this article - 45 degree water! I would have never gone that cold, but it sure is something to consider. Thanks for the heads up on the article.
Larry,when I first read you post I thought you were referring to minus 45F!! Now, that's cold.
You should try Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne formula, which calls for a water temp of 40F and immediate refrigeration overnight. It's a lovely baquette.
I've gone as low as 38F in the winter, which is my favorite time to bake this bread because all I need to do is leave a container of water out on the back porch for a few hours.
In the summer I have to refrigerate the water overnight and then add ice cubes to it before I can get it down to 40 -- unless I put in in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
I'll have to give the SFBI recipe a try since at this time of year it's easier to get water to 45F than 40F.
why you would think I was talking about minus 45 degrees. That woud certainly be cold. I once experienced -52 during a winter in Montana.
I like the idea of refrigeratering the water. Sometimes the simpelist ideas work the best.
Thanks Steve, that's a good article and there are a few nuggets to be gleaned if you look closely. I appreciate the heads up.
My pleasure, Eric. It was interesting to me that Suas recommended Whole Foods' 365 Organic All Purpose flour. I just bought a bag and will try it out after I finish my Heartland Mill Organic AP flour. I tend to like using flour with a bit less protein content than KA AP.
I thought the recommendation of 480F was interesting also. For the baguette shape I haven't identified the exact right temp to use to arrive at the perfect crust when the crumb is also perfect. I plan to try using that.
The flour reference is interesting also. I priced Guisto's last week in 50# bags and the best I could do is to order for around $72 each. All Trumps is $19-21 locally. Harvest King or"Better for Bread" my go to AP flour is $2.35 in 5# bags. The last time I saw a video where they referenced the flour brand used at SFBI it was Harvest King. We have a Whole Foods in Milwaukee so I'll give 365 a try soon. I'd be curious what your take is on it when you get to it.
Another thing that caught my eye was the shaved ice in the cast iron pan. I see David has been doing something similar recently also. I think he said it was something he saw in Bread. We went through this discussion about the use of ice here several times. I became convinced that the physics involved couldn't be disputed that using ice requires much more energy to recover the heat. I adopted the practice of using boiling or very hot water poured in a pan on the bottom shelf. I've been thinking however that maybe that's just the point. Maybe the right approach is to lower the temp of the air more abruptly by using ice and let the oven recover more slowly all the while allowing the biology in the dough to become active for a longer period and providing spring and becoming gelatinous on the surface, later developing a crispy thin crust with a little sheen. If you think about it, you get the same effect of slowing down the bake when you cover up the dough. You are insulating the dough from the heat for a while. We both use a hand steam generator which I would say helps form the sheen. But, I'll bet the great spring we get is more from the insulating properties of the cover.
I haven't mentioned my suspicions about steaming and oven performance before but Michel Suas makes a pretty good case for the concept without explaining it. His advice is so specific I don't think it should be ignored. After all, he is only one of the most respected bakers of all time.
Anyway, there is a lot to consider in that article. I think I may be making a sea change in my method.
You may find that for a typical home oven, 480ºF might be a bit high. The reason it works for a deck oven is that the steaming is very efficient, delaying the browning of the crust to the extent that it prevents burning by the end of the bake time. That's the reason I tend to bake my baguettes at slightly lower temperature, around 450ºC.
I don't think in my case the oven spring I get is due to the insulating properties of my steam cover since my cover is stainless steel. Proper dough development and tight shaping are what do the trick.
What I was getting at is that with proper development and tight shaping being equal, covering with any kind of enclosure will slow down the warming/heating/baking process. For example I have used the bell top of a clay cloche cooker on a stone with good results. The cover goes on at room temp. It's hot when you remove it in 15 minutes but the top of the loaf is shielded from the 450F heat for much of that time. Using the cover pre heated also works but you don't get the same spring.
The stainless covers we use are thin and don't provide much protection but they do slow down the process substantially giving the bacteria longer to work before they are killed by the heat. Anyway that's the conclusion I'm coming to.
A question about MS's new book. Does he talk about removing the dutch oven after the 15 minutes of steam? And does he mention how much ice to dump in?
When I steam with the hot water method I usually us less than a cup of hot water. At the end of 12-15 minutes most of it gone. With ice that might be to much.
Hamelman makes a distinction between "humidity" and "steam" effects. I'm not sure I "get it." His suggested procedure uses ice to humidify the oven before loading the bread. It may cool down the oven, but you put the ice in early enough to give the oven a chance to recover. He then steams the oven with boiling water at the time the bread is loaded.
At the end of steaming (10-15 minutes), there is often a bit of water left from the ice - less than a half-ounce - and the skillet is usually dry.
Re. covering the loaf with a stainless steel bowl: First, I do not humidify or steam the oven when I am going to be covering the loaf. Presumably, the cover does the same job. Secondly, I find that stainless steel equilibrates with the ambient temperature very, very quickly. So, I assume the temperature under the bowl gets to oven temperature in a few seconds. Some one with a temperature probe could check this easily enough. Maybe I'll do this.