I've been making a series of loaves where I do the final proofing in a banneton, turn out the dough, slash and bake. The previous tips have all helped and I'm getting more consistent.
One thing that seems to change for loaf to loaf is the crust. It's consistently crunchy and crusty, which is good -- but it can really change from bake to bake. Last night, I made a seriously crustly loaf and I want to replicate that more consistently.
My question is what are the factors that determine the texture and thickness of the crust? Temperature, baking time, dough, etc.
Is there a way of describing, or analyzing how the crust sets and forms, so that you can control it better?
Re: The Crust
Back up and running at last, but today is a bake day, so little time. Crust thickness has to do with several things, but if we leave the actual formula out of the equation for a moment, we can look at three things: temperature on the hearth, steam and baking time. For a thicker crust, it's best to bake at a lower temperature for longer. Also, if you vent the steam as soon as the loaves show color, they will finish in a drying environment and produce a crunchier crust.
Having said that, however, the formula also affects crust. A loaf with some percentage of, say, AP flour or Durham flour, will result in a thinner, crackly crust. The more whole grain the flour is, the more substantial the crust.
Re: The Crust
Ahhhh. I see.
Lower, longer, drier give you a crunchier crust. That would explain last night.
Thanks again Jim. This is very, very helpful.
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