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Gromit 08-10-2009 09:16 PM

First loaves of bread
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When I started my oven, I had no intentions of using it for anything but a pizza oven. Reading so many posts by the Bread Bakers on this forum, I began to get inspired. A friend gave me a thirteen year old sourdough starter, so I decided to jump on the bread wagon this past weekend.

I made a ton of mistakes--mainly trying to mix and knead dough while having charge of twins 16 months old; and over-fermenting the dough due to pizza party guests lingering for a while; and trying to slash the dough with a not-sharp-enough knife; and...

But, despite it all, I was thrilled with the taste of the bread. I think I have found myself a new hobby.

egalecki 08-11-2009 06:36 AM

Re: First loaves of bread
They look pretty good to me! I don't know how you got ANYTHING done while looking after 16 month old twins. My twins are 19 now and headed for their sophomore year in college...

I rarely bake bread after pizza- we usually have pizza dinnertimeish, and it's just too late by the time the oven's cool enough, and I don't like feeling rushed when I bake. I plan out a couple of things to make over 24 hours or so, starting with the bread, and go from there. I do always try to really soak the oven with heat, though, or it cools off faster than I want. Bread in the afternoon followed by chicken or something for dinner, followed by a pot roast like thing the next am, etc. etc., keeps me from feeling profligate about "just firing the oven to bake bread". It takes some planning, but it works ok.

Keep on working with the bread! It's great fun, although mine has all been wonky this summer because of heat and humidity issues I hadn't had practice correcting.

Gromit 08-11-2009 01:11 PM

Re: First loaves of bread

Originally Posted by egalecki (Post 61520)
I rarely bake bread after pizza- we usually have pizza dinnertimeish, and it's just too late by the time the oven's cool enough, and I don't like feeling rushed when I bake.

I actually baked the next day @ 11:00AM with the oven temp at 500F. I made a door of insulating board that holds the heat in pretty well. I let the dough retard in the fridge overnight.

Dutchoven 08-11-2009 06:52 PM

Re: First loaves of bread
Looks good David! Had a nice brie and some homemade jam or marmalade!!! I like those things. As for the mistakes...we all made long as you eat the results...our experience with the wild yeasted doughs is that sometimes they don't do as well with the overnight retarded proof in the fridge. Keep trying, do a good bit of reading and post more pictures...many helping hands on this forum!

Dino_Pizza 08-11-2009 10:08 PM

Re: First loaves of bread
Congratulations David, the bread looks awesome. Your pic is great: beautiful bread, a blue-brie cheese and that apricot marmalade? If not, I'll just pretend it is.

I've been wondering were/how to post this for the last few days and this might be the place. I've made bread twice. 1st, I waited until the next day after pizza. The temp said 450 and I though OK, I'll bake a few minutes longer since it's not 500 deg. It was better than good since I always use a 2 day pre-ferment (poolish) and long, slow 3rd day rise. But it didn't rise and color well. 2 weeks later, I fire the oven just for bread (so I was rushed, not a properly charged oven) and though the laser thermometer said 500 on the bricks, again my wonderful dough turned bland looking when cooked in a way I never get in my oven at 500 deg semi commercial SS oven.
My feeling is that a thermometer on the oven rack in home oven, that says 500 is thoroughly charged and warmer than my WFO where the laser says 500 at some point on the bricks.

Should I bake hotter?
Should I always, like Elizabeth says, really soak or load the oven (like Mike (gromit) does and refire the next day after pizza?
I just lightly mopped the hot floor with a very small mop. Is that sufficient moister in the oven?
Both times they were ciabatta loaves using Reinharts bread book that has been my guide in the last few years. Any help with oven your oven temps and how you inject moister to your bread baking would be helpful. Thnx, Dino

egalecki 08-12-2009 06:50 AM

Re: First loaves of bread
I've tried baking by just heating the oven to the temperature I think I need. It doesn't work well for me- I am pretty sure what happens is that the oven is still collecting heat at that point and so a few minutes after you "take its temperature", it sucks the heat off the surface bricks and it's not as hot anymore.

You'll have to use trial and error to see how hot (or maybe it's better to see how long) you need to fire your oven to get the right temp. You need to fire it, spread out the coals for a bit, clean it out and put the door on for at least half an hour to get the temperature evened out. I have to fire mine about 1 1/2 hours, the last fifteen minutes I add a few more pieces of wood so at the 1 1/2 hour mark I can spread it all out over the floor. I leave it that way at least 20 minutes. Then I rake out the coals, mop the floor, and put the door on for half an hour (my door's insulated, so I can leave it longer if I have to). Then I check the temp. It's usually 600 or better, so I will mop again or just leave the door off a while. At 550, I can add steam and replace the door for a few minutes. Then I can load some things, but most of my breads do better at 500 or a little less, since they tend to be more dense and take longer to cook. I steam again really well when I replace the door after the bread is loaded.

To get good steam I use a garden sprayer- $9.99 at Lowe's. I marked it "oven use" so I don't lose my mind and put garden spray in it! It came with a plastic tip which worked just fine, but then the dog chewed that part up in revenge for me leaving her during a thunderstorm. I replaced it with a brass tip (hah, dog, try chewing that one!) which works well too. As long as I don't step on it. I did that to the very first sprayer I had and it leaked all over a loaf that had a lot of flour on the outside and the loaf welded itself to the floor. Not good eats.

You put the tip in all the way as far as you can, and spray for at least 10 seconds, pulling it slowly forward as you go, until the steam is rolling out the vent and up the chimney. Slap your door on and you're good! I let the steam out after about 10 minutes, move any loaves around that need it, and put the door back on until I think it's time.

I'd be interested to see how other people do it. This is the way I've been able to get evenly colored breads- before, when I was er, less patient, I ended up with very unevenly colored bottoms.

Gromit 08-12-2009 07:28 AM

Re: First loaves of bread
I had an idea to make an oven door with a hole in it through which I could insert one of those garden sprayers and steam after the bread is loaded. I don't know if I would just end up dousing the loaves.

egalecki 08-12-2009 10:35 AM

Re: First loaves of bread
For me, if I have the door right there ready to go, I just spray until it's rolling out and slap it on quick. I don't think a separate door with a hole is necessary.

texassourdough 08-12-2009 03:15 PM

Re: First loaves of bread
Hi Gromit!

For a first try, you did WELL! Particularly with distractions. You also did really well on your oven if it was still at 500 the next day.

A one meter oven typically needs about 12-16 pounds of dough or so to give really great crust. Anything less will benefit from spraying the oven - but my advice is to do it only once after you load the loaves. And spray it pretty well but not on the loaves if you can help it.

Your crumb is tight for a sourdough artisanal boule. Probably a function of lower hydration than most of us use combined with refrigerator retarding. I am with Dutch on this. Wild yeast/sourdoughs don't typically do well with retarding. The normal approach is a double expansion. My normal "recipe" starts with 100 grams of BP100 leaven (that means the water and flour are equal. I add 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour (usually 100 whole wheat and 100 bread flour) after dinner and let it sit out overnight. My yeast will be just about peaking at 7 am or so. Then I expand it 4X again (adding a total of 2000 grams ), adding water and flour to give the baker's percentage (BP) I want for the dough (usually 68 which equates to adding 1240 grams of bread flour and 760 of water) and add the salt. Let it go about 3 hours - with a fold or two at about an hour. Form the boules at 3 hours (about 10 am). Let rise about 2 hours (or until ready) and bake. It is more work than single step bread but you get better results. The amounts in my expansions can easily be ratioed up and down. Salt should be 2 percent of the flour weight.

Be gentle with the dough after the fold. You don't want to degas it.

If you don't have a gram scale I would strongly urge you get one. They save lots of hassle vs. calculating with ounces!

Keep up the good work!

Gromit 08-12-2009 07:19 PM

Re: First loaves of bread
Thank you all for your encouraging feedback and helpful hints. I am going to give it another try this weekend and will steam the oven this time and make a strong effort to NOT over-ferment the first rise. If that does not fix things, then I will chunk the recipe and go a new direction. I really like the schedule of being able to do all the work on Saturday and then just throw the loaves in on Sunday.

How important is the kneading process in all of this? I kneaded this batch by hand until I was sweaty and tired, and then I read in Jim's e-book that some recommend 700 turns by hand when manually kneading. :eek: Let's just say I was somewhere an order of magnitude less than that. My dad has been making no-knead loaves and the gluten seems to develop just fine.

Dino, I hope you bubble is not burst if I tell you that it was fig jelly canned by my sister-in-law and not apricot. It was a bit sweet, but balanced out by the saltiness of the cheese and the slight tang of the naturally leavened bread.

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