As the title suggests, I've tinkered with the timings, quantities and temperatures over the past few weeks, baking frequently. Im really happy with how my bread is turning out now and I am going to start some different variations over the next few weeks which I will post up. I'm going to treat myself to a proving basket too, as using a floured mixing bowl is too risky after all the work that goes into a loaf. Here are a few photos of where I am leaving my white loaf, which has added rye and oats and tastes really great toasted!
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Hi Matty, it looks like you are making some good progress with your baking. If I may offer some advise it looks like you may not be using steam or enough steam in your baking. Your crust should be much more brown and yours looks a little pale. Are you using a baking stone and some type of steaming apparatus?
No I dont have any steam, I boil some water and pour it into a small aluminium bowl, then place this in direct contact with the floor of the oven to create some steam in my oven but its a fan oven so I think it might be blown straight onto the oven door rather than circulating onto the bread, its really frustrating. The bread is baked on a thin metal tray, the only one I have, but not a baking stone. I havent made any purchases for bread making yet apart from the flours I use.
I wonder whether the very liberal use of flour is affecting your bake. It seems that where you have slashed the loaf is almost burning and the rest of the paleness is down to the flour coating. It looks as if you add more after you turn it out after proving. Is there a particular reason for that?
For many years, I have used a colander lined with a flour (rye - a tablespoon full at most) dredged tea towel for proving boule style loaves and end with only the thinnest of coatings and no problems with sticking. I think the rye flour is less prone to sticking because of the lower gluten content. Some people use rice flour. Perhaps you could try something like this.
Good luck with your projects.
I use a lot of flour because I dont have any proper proving equipment so I prove my dough in a plastic mixing bowl which is heavily floured, and sprinkle a circle of flour around the rising dough every few hours, following its progress up the bowl, to stop it sticking.
I then turn it out and brush the excess flour off the top (Yes, that was what was left over! :D) My oven only goes to 250c and I am aware that 300c is the best temperature to form a crisp crust. The crust doesnt taste burnt, although in contrast to the flour it looks much darker in the photo, almost a sepia effect. When you slice the bread a lot of the flour dislodges from the crust and it doesnt look as drastic. I was making much moister dough with the bertinet method, but my wife doesnt like moist bread so I reverted to stiffer dough. I think if I had access to a 300c oven and a baking stone with proper proving bowls I would have a much nicer loaf. The one plus side is almost no tidying needed when working with stiffer dough! I appreiciate the advice, thank you very much. :)
ps. I am going to try the colander and tea towel tomorrow. I was thinking about doing this for a while but was worried about it sticking.
It's not essential to spend a fortune on fancy bits and pieces. As I said, I used a colander and tea towel for boule shapes and a cheap cane basket and teatowel for batarde for years until my daughter gave me bannetons for Christmas last year. If you look at some of my blogs here you will see that the bread was just fine. For a baking stone, I just use an unglazed terracotta floor tile that cost a few dollars from a local pottery.
It is interesting that your fan forced oven goes to 250C. Mine cuts out at 200C but in convection mode goes to 250C. Fan forced is generally considered to be equivalent to a higher temp in convection so your 250C might be almost equivalent to near enough to 300C anyway.
Further to loaf handling with the teatowel, to turn the loaf out, I use a piece of baking paper gripped to the edges of the colander/basket and then invert onto the bench and lift the container and towel away. Then slash the loaf and transfer the lot into the oven. I sometimes remove the paper after ten to fifteen minutes when the crust is set - the paper is more re-usable than if it is left in for the full time. I also progressively reduce the oven temperature from 250C to 180C during the baking time to simulate the falling oven temperature that you would get using a wood-fired oven.
Let us know how you go.
I agree with Farinam on the teatowel method but I put the towel into a discount store wire basket thingy that I think is meant to be a fruit bowl (cost $3!) but is more open than a colander so the surface of the towel is drier. I also use only 1 Tbsp rye flour and the towel is a very worn linen one. I put the baking paper on a biscuit tray then put it on top of the bowl then invert the whole thing, lift off the bowl and gently remove the towel. I have a genuine long plastic banneton that I spray with water and dust with potato flour but the loaves from it are still a work in progress and are not as tidy looking as the boules.
The boules are definitely much more successful at this stage after 3 month practice! I broke my pizza stone and recently have been putting the boules on their paper into an old very heavy aluminium casserole that I preheat then whack the lid on for the first 20 mins of baking. This give a good rounded top. My oven also only goes to 250 deg C but seems to be fine if properly pre-heated.
You're really helpful, thank you for all the great advice :)