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Tough crumb and crust

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My style of kneading involves picking up half the lump of dough and allowing gravity to pull the other half to the countertop. That's what I call the stretch. Then the former (what's held in my hands) is flipped the forward and placed over the the latter that's setting on the countertop, resulting in a dome. The entire mass is rotated 90 degrees and the process repeats.

What's given me a softer crumb is elongating the stretch part of my knead. Instead of allowing half the dough to stretch 6-12 inches, I now allow it to stretch around 18-24 inches, resulting in better surface tension, a taller rise, a much softer crumb, a taller oven spring and a much better ear in terms of appearance. :bounce:

Yet, the bread still has a tough and chewy crust instead of a brittle one. After the dough is placed in the oven onto a prewarmed baking stone, I wait 3 minutes before pouring a boiling cup of water for steaming. :confused:

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #2 of 8
So is this a lean bread or enriched?
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Lean, just the basic four: flour water salt and yeast.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I also noticed a degradation in "crunchiness" in the crust when the old Kenmore stove was swapped out for a Frigidaire. The baking chamber in the latter is much larger than the former and things just don't seem to bake/roast the same.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #5 of 8
The problem is probably a too low temperature, even if the temperature may even be "right" according to a thermometer.

You're losing a lot of heat when you do the steam thing at the three minute mark, and your oven may be cycling too slowly back up to the thermostatically designated temperature.

The whole new vs the old oven thing is much the same. The deadbands are different.

Up your baking temperature by 10F. Make sure you thoroughly preheat (I'm sure you already do, but just for the record). When you open the door, get the bread in and do your spritz for steam trick quickly.

When you repeat the sptritz, do it at 90 seconds instead of three minutes. Do it as quickly as possible, with the door no more open than necessary, and get that door closed up.

A baking stone, or any other ballast -- even a couple of bricks on the oven floor -- helps keep the thermostat from cycling too rapidly. You may even want to try a cloche.

You can bake baguette at a higher temperature than boule, miche or batard. So give them an extra 10F. You'll get your best crust on baguette, assuming you know how to form them.

Since you're not complaining about shape, the "skin" on the loaves is probably acceptably tight. If it's at all slack, usually a function of not pulling down enough and/or disturbing its tautness during formation, that will contribute to an unhappy crust too.

BDL
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
With the new unit, the oven is set to max temp, 550F while the older unit was set to 525F and reduced to 475F after some minutes. So methinks that the larger baking chamber generates a huge heat gradient inside whereas a smaller chamber offers more even heat - everything else being equal.

Okay so my steam strategy will change. Upon loading the loaf, I'll toss in a cupful (8 oz) of boiling water for steam and see what happens.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #7 of 8
The larger capacity stove is likely recycling across a broader temperature range, so the heat actually fluctuates more widely.

Not sure if I'm being clear. What I'm saying is that due to the greater volume, the temperature 1. maybe drops further before the heat source turns on, and, 2. even if it doesn't it definately takes longer to reheat. That is, let's say both ovens drop 15 degrees during recycling. It will take longer for the new one to recapture those 15 degrees because there's more space to reheat.

I would do several things.

First off, check with an oven thermometer to see if you're actually achieving the temperatures you set. Most ovens do not.

Second, you might consider adding a second stone on the top shelf. This will help regulate the temperature and make it more consistent.

Third, I would steam much sooner, as BDL suggests. I usually start the process after only a minute. I pour a cup of water into the steam tray, and then steam with a spray bottle three times at 30 second intervals.

For this to work, however, you have to preheat the oven 25 degrees higher than it should be to account for the cooling down from opening the door. After the last spray, lower it to the baking temperature.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I hear ya', KY. You put the words right into my mouth. Small chamber is the way to go. Will, however, try different steaming strategies to achieve that crunchy crust.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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