Tartine basic country height differences
I baked two loaves of the Tartine basic country bread today. Both loaves were from the same batch of dough and were proof retarded in the refrigerator. The loaf on the left was baked on a baking stone with a stainless steel bowl as its "cover". The loaf on the right was baked in an enameled cast iron combo cooker.
The loaf on the left was proofed in a bowl lined with cloth. The loaf on the right was proofed in the brotform. Both loaves looked identical going into the oven. I scored both the same way. The baking stone/SS bowl loaf (retarded for 24 hours) was baked first and was followed by the combo cooker loaf (retarded for 25 hours). It would have been nice to bake them both at the same time, but my oven is not big enough.
The scoring on the baking stone loaf didn't really open up at all and the difference in height was pretty surprising. I didn't think using a combo cooker would make such a big difference.
Don't tell Chad about that - he might get famous for it :-) Welcome to the bread experiments.... How do you think it would ave compared to an uncovered boule on a stone with mega steam applied instead of the light SS bowl that lets the stream out as it pressurizes? Would it be worth another test? I'm guessing it wouldn't beat the combo but it would be lose to it Nice test baking
I have a gas oven. To get the mega steam, would I use wet towels, lava rocks, ice cubes? All of the above?
bu my my mega steam is 2 of Sylvia's steaming loaf pans with a rolled up towel in them half full of water and a 9 x 13 pan bottom filled with lava rocks half full of water placed in the oven when it hits 500 F and it should be billowing steam in 15 minutes and the stones should have caught up to the oven temperature, Still, gas is the worst .
The problem is that the SS bowls are so light a little pressure lifts them off the stone and steam escapes. Put a brick in the top of it to hold it down with some pressure and things should improve spring wise.
And achieved the most spring yet. I think the towel lined bowl was the wrong shape.
For the cloth lined bowl, I used a bowl that was similar in size and shape to my brotform. I think next time I will bake the cloth-lined bowl loaf in the combo cooker and the brotform one on the stone. Then I will know if the proofing vessel makes a difference.
I used to have the same problem. Did you proof one a bit longer than the other? I used to have that same issue. Over proofing was my issue as well as not shaping tight enough. I use Chad's stitching method he does as seen in some videos on Youtube, and my problem went away ever since.
The combo cooker loaf was proofed for 25 hrs and the stone/bowl loaf was proofed for 24 hrs. I left the combo cooker loaf in the refrigerator while I baked the first loaf. If overproofing was the problem, I would have expected the second loaf (the combo cooker one) to be less lofty.
I shaped both of them equally poorly. :) I've tried to imitate what I see Chad doing in the videos, but I'm still getting used to handling such a wet dough.
Yes, the wet dough is difficult to handle. Practice will get it better...that and LOTS of flour on hands while shaping. Try to use as much rice flour for hands and counter. It helps in the handling.
After bench rest, I don't add any more flour. I lift, flip, fold and shape. I found that it is easier to stretch and fold for the boule if it sticks of the counter. I then flour the tops and and my hands to keep it from sticking to my hands.
Allowing it to stick on the counter makes it easier to get a tight boule.
Correct David. I just meant a small amount of flour on counter and a lot on hands.
I was wondering whether I shouldn't try baking a Forkish like bread, with steam, on the stone, instead in the DO. I wouldn't have expected such a difference. Did the stone baked bread flatten out more?
Karin - The bread baked on the stone did flatten out more. I did not use any steam except what little was generated by the SS bowl covering the loaf. The stone baked bread was 3.125-inches high and the combo cooker baked one was 3.5-inches high.
I believe the height difference is due to the stone vs combo cooker, but another factor I have to consider is the proofing vessel. The stone baked one was proofed in a bowl lined with cloth and the combo cooker one in an unlined brotform. I could be completely wrong, but maybe the cloth absorbed more moisture than the brotform. So less moisture in the loaf means less oven spring.
You say the loaves looked the same before baking, but did you weigh them? And did you actually measure them? Shaping by hand leaves it very doubtful that you had two pieces of dough that were actually equal In terms if height and weight. Especially so after proofing in different vessels.
David - Yes, by no means was this exercise scientific. I did not weigh the loaves when I divided the dough for shaping, so it could be that one weighed more than the other. When I said that they looked identical going into the oven I only meant that they both appeared to have the same diameter and general round shape to them. I did not measure the diameter with a ruler, but I used parchment paper of equal dimensions for both loaves. Both loaves went from one edge to the other of the parchment without going over when I turned them out of the proofing vessels. I did weigh them coming out of the oven since I was curious about "oven loss". The first weighed 850g and the second weighed 910g.
It's not quite the scientific rigor that a former scientist* should have employed while performing any experiment, but I didn't know that I was doing an experiment. I planned to use the stone to bake both loaves. But when the first loaf came out of the oven so flat, I decided to use the combo cooker for the second loaf. It was quite surprising to me that it made such a difference.
(* I was a molecular biologist doing experiments at the "bench" daily before I transitioned from the laboratory to a computer-based job.)
One key component is to know the height before the loaves went into the oven. Though even that would not tell us anything conclusively. These bread baking experiments are difficult to conduct when we are trying to make good bread. I never thought to measure my loaves but am going to bring ruler home from the office for my next post. :)
I have had a similar experience with varying loaf heights using Tartine recipe and different sets of equipment. I think all of the the variables you cite do make a difference, so it's tough to isolate which in particular contributed the most. I'd guess that 1 extra hour in the fridge was the least impactful based on my experience
Maine18 - I agree that I could rule out the extra hour in the refrigerator. I might have to buy a second brotform and repeat this exercise.
Hi there, I know is an old post, but I was prompted to finally register and start an account after being a long term lurker (at least 2 years) after looking at all your great posts.
I struggle with the combo cooker in my oven as it always seems to burn the bottom of my loaves a bit. The loaves looked great, but it always left me disappointed.
Last Christmas I got a baking steel for a gift, so I decided to try something different. I largely bake out of Tartine, Hamelman, or FWSY, so I follow the recipe right up to the baking. I preheat the oven with the baking steel on the middle rack for about 45 minutes to an hour. At the same time that I preheat the oven, I soak a thick pizza stone in the sink with hot water. About 7-8 minutes before I put the loaves in, I put the stone in the oven on the rack below the steel. That way I can bake two loaves at once, and I get a pronounced oven spring. There is typically so much steam in the oven I can't wear my glasses as I load the loaves. The baking steel has never come close to burning the bottom of the loaves, either. I think I may have read about this technique on TFL somewhere, so I can't take any credit for it, but it works great for me (except when someone is trying to take a shower while I fill the sink, but that's another story...).