Spraying Rye Loaves? Be Careful.

Most home bakers spray the tops of their loaves during the first five minutes of baking. Now with rye loaves this can create problems.

Rye flour, though having a great taste, is not very big on gluten, so it is quite often mixed with white bakers flour so there is some rise and openness to the crumb of the loaf. The rye loaves usually don’t rise as much as a white loaf due to the overall weakening of the gluten structure from the rye flour.

In the following two pics of two loaves made with 1/3 rye flour,you can see the loaf on the left has opened up nicely, it was not sprayed.

The loaf on the right was sprayed with water three times in the first five minutes of baking. You can see a tear in the left hand side of the loaf that occurred very early in the bake. This was due to the already weak skin being further weakened by the water spray. As a consequence the gas, which would normally raise the loaf, escaped, and the softened loaf spread.


Published in: on June 28, 2006 at 6:11 pm  Comments (2)  

Slashing Cold Overnight Loaves

This is a repeat from a now discontinued blog.

This bake was done to show what can happen with loaves that are proofed overnight in the fridge, and the effect of different types of slashes.

Loaves proofed overnight in the fridge have a tendency toward two things, a thick dryish skin,and even after a warm up period the core of the loaf is colder than the surrounding dough. These two factors can have a dramatic effect on your final loaf as you will see following.

It is my belief that:-

1. The colder core will cause a tear in the loaf due to the outer section and skin cooking before the colder core has time to expand.

2. The type of slash is important to control both the final shape of the loaf and its crumb structure.

The loaves were mixed as a single batch of dough starting at 3.00PM in the afternoon. They are all white bakers flour at 12.5% protein and the dough is at 64% hydration. The dough was bulk proofed in a proofing box at 25C until 7.00PM at which time they were shaped and put in cloth lined bannetons, and placed in the fridge at 4C.

At 6.00AM the following morning the first loaf was taken from the fridge, and the other loaves were taken out at 1 hour intervals (45min baking time and 15min oven reheat time).

Each loaf was allowed to warm up for 3 hours, which is a bit longer than I usually allow as I wanted to maximise any initial slump without actually over-proofing, and I didn’t want to produce a tear from baking under-proofed.

The oven and baking stone were heated to 210C, and 15min before putting each loaf in to bake the oven was turned up to 230C and then turned down to 210C after the first 5min of baking. On putting the loaf into the oven, 6 ice cubes were put into a tray in the bottom of the oven, and the top of the loaf was sprayed with water 3 times in the first five min. Total baking time was 45min.

To show the flexibility of a one day loaf, which in theory is the same temperature right to the core, I post the following picture. This loaf was made with the same recipe and method as the others, without the overnight in the fridge. Note the good shape and no tearing.


The following pic shows the overnight loaf with the traditional “Vienna” style of slash, you will note the tear and the rounded profile caused by the cooked bands of crust holding the loaf tightly. The loaf has not expanded to its full potential as you will see from the crumb pic shown later.


The following pic shows the effect of a slash down the centre line, it has allowed the loaf to spread and it has allowed the crumb structure to open up, pic shown later. There is still some tearing.


The next pic shows a slashing halfway between the previous two, it has allowed some spread and opening of the crumb, there is a small tear but the loaf has held a better shape.


A good comparison of the three loaves can be seen following. The centre-line slash has allowed a wide spread which actually shortened the loaf.


You can see the difference in the crumb structure in the following two pics. The first is the tightish crumb which has not been allowed to expand in the “Vienna” style slash and tight crust. The second is the more open crumb of the centre-line slash.

As you can see, the type of slash you put in your overnight loaves can indeed affect the final result, both in shape and crumb structure.

Published in: on June 28, 2006 at 2:53 pm  Comments (9)  

About this blog & me.

This blog is a combination ramble of my day to day baking, and hints and tips that I have found work for me. I am in no way a “Guru” of sourdough baking and don’t claim to be.

There are many many different approaches and methods used in making sourdough, and I have come across too many magnificently talented bakers to say what is the right or wrong way about any aspect of the subject, so what you see here is purely and simply what works for me, and my personal views, right or wrong. If you dissagree with me then that is your right, and no hard feelings at all, just don’t expect me to get into an argument about it.

I hope you will pardon me if I start out on a particular subject and get a little sidetracked about a small point, before getting back on track. The small detour may be worth putting up with.

Next month (July ’06) I will be 62, and I’ve been baking sourdough bread, some good some not so good :), for 26 years. Up until 9 months ago I baked just to get decent bread, now I’ve retired I bake because I enjoy it, and the bread of course.

I grew up in a small country town where my war widow mother was the local butcher, and on the land behind her shop was the bakery for the area. Mum thought it a good idea that starting at the age of 10 I should spend my school holidays at the bakery where one of my uncles worked. This is where I learned the secret of kneading wet dough just using a tiny amount of flour. It is also the place where I learned what fresh fully prooved dough will do to snap a bent neck and back up straight quick time.

On my first morning in the bakery one of the bakers called me over to a wooden trough (in the bakery pronounced “trow” like throw) full of fully risen dough, he punched a big hole in it and bent me down face first in the hole and said “sniff”. The gas from the dough snapped me up straight so quick I nearly passed out, of course all the other bakers laughed their heads off at the “newby initiation”. The memory of that dough has not faded over the years. Funny thing, all these years I’ve managed to keep the bench knife (dough scraper thing) they gave me to use. I never did get the hang of using a 15 foot long oven peel to feed the ovens.
When I was 14 Mum remarried and sold the shop. We moved to an area of Sydney that now would be called “Multi-Cultural”. To me it was just a lot of good people who spoke a little differently, had great food, were friendly and hospitable, and their kids made great friends. This is where I learned about great food and great bread. Polish and Latvian rye and “sweet and sour” (Latvian carroway sourdough rye), pumpernickel, Mrs Montleone’s homemade Pagnotta and many others.

Well the years passed and I was one of the Construction Managers for a Danish Company and was selected to head up the SE Asia area based in Manila Philippines. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the country and the people and the food, but the bread was bloody terrible, it was so sweet, and had the texture of cotton wool. For six months I nearly went mental for the want of some salty decent bread, until I found a little bakery run by an expat German who had married a Filipina. He was catering to the needs of desperados like myself who would just about kill for “real” bread, and doing well too, people would get their maids to travel miles to buy his bread.

After about two and a half years Marcos was getting too greedy with the foreign companies and we, along with a lot of others, decided to pull out. In conversation with the baker I said I was leaving and asked him what the secret of his bread was. That’s when he told me about sourdough and gave me careful instructions on how to get a starter going, which I did shortly after returning to Australia.

The best piece of advice he gave me was “If you can get a white flour starter going, and bake a good plain white loaf, then the rest is easy”. Well he was almost right, I can do a white starter no problem, and even if I say so myself I make a pretty good plain white loaf, so how come I still make the odd complete stuffup. 🙂 The answer is “That’s Sourdough Baking”.

Well that’s me, I hope you enjoy the blog as it develops.

Published in: on June 27, 2006 at 4:19 am  Comments (9)