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8Kg of Bread - right of passage - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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8Kg of Bread - right of passage

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  • 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

    When I built the WFO I had many things in mind including Pizza and Bread. My wife called Friday afternoon and let me know that we would have company for a Saturday pizza dinner. I prefer making the dough for all of the control reasons, but on this occasion I needed to outsource the pizza dough refrigerator space was going to be an issue. I?m lucky enough to have a WFO pizza restaurant locally that uses Caputo and cold retards overnight so sometimes I do cheat and pick up a few dough balls. I haven?t done anything in the WFO for a couple of months but I haven?t been sleeping I?ve been working on my bread skills. I?m better with bread but no village baker, and I started a bit late for this, but getting a better feel all the time. So far I?ve used IDY and have a pretty good feel for how it works. The one thing I haven?t done so far is to fully load the WFO with dough. The Idea of 16 to 20 lbs of dough in a single run is a bit intimidating. I have enough subscribers for the finished bread and the formula for Pain Ancient, so with the idea that the oven was going to be fully heated on Saturday night, I mixed a 8KG load of dough Friday night. I broke the dough into 1Kg portions that went into the fridge. Pizza went well on Saturday although the dough balls were not as hydrated as I?d have liked a real disadvantage of not mixing your own dough. After loading the deck of the oven with heat I shut the oven up for the night. The door thermometer indicated 825F at 10:30pm, at 7am it showed 725F. I pulled the dough at 7:30 and shaped rough logs to warm up for the next 2 hours while the oven cools. I pulled the ash and coals from the oven and cleaned it hoping that the deck temp would drop from 700 to 500F or a bit less. After swabbing the deck over the next 2.5 hours the temp finally dropped to under 500 so the dough went in the oven, and I sprayed the oven to bring the humidity up. 30 minutes later I pulled bread.


  • #2
    Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

    Hi Chris!

    Congratulations! You are really close to making spectacular loaves. My comments are targeted specifically to issues that can get you there!

    Your crust on your cut loaf shows the golden color I refer to when I say "I can't get the crust I want with less than 12 pounds of dough in my oven". Nicely proofed also. Great crumb structure.

    There are two issues that I think deserve comment. The minor one is that it looks like you pulled your bread early and that the internal temp was on the low side. To draw that conclusion requires me to read between the lines a bit, but the diagnosis is consistent with both the photo and your description of the bake.

    The more serious issue is that your oven was clearly hotter than your door thermometer indicated - probably close to 600F. Artisanal loaves are routinely put in the oven at 530 to 560 and at that temp 1 kg loaves routinely need 40 minute bakes and should not show as much char as your loaves. Based on your cut loaf, the hearth temp was fine but your dome was still too hot. I am willing to guess that you swabbed the hearth down to the right range but you didn't fully equalize and the dome was still too hot. (The purpose of the heat soak is to equalize hearth and dome temps - but the dome will still usually be 20-30 degrees warmer than the hearth.) The uneven finish of the loaves also suggests that rotating the loaves after 15 minutes or so would be good.

    Your oven has heroic heat retention! Amazing! Every oven is a bit different and having to struggle to get the temp down to baking temp is not a common problem. You can probably speed things up by simply leaving the oven open for fifteen minutes or so and then closing it up for an hour. (Exact times will take practice!). If you don't have an IR thermometer I think you will find it really helpful in knowing when the oven is ready to go.



    • #3
      Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

      Thank you Jay and Elizabeth and others here.

      Occasionally I remind myself that it’s about the journey and not the destination, the destination being better bread over time and, of course, enjoying all things along the way.

      I was floored when I woke to find the oven 250F hotter than I needed it to be and 2 to 3 hours to get it there and get it even. For most of this time the oven entry was open and I must have swabbed the floor every 15 minutes trying to get the temps down on the floor. If I had had just 1 more hour to even the dome and floor temps I know the bread would have benefited greatly. Timing is everything. After this load was removed the oven settled down to 450F. If I had had a second load of bread to go in it would have been a very interesting batch to batch comparison.

      I mixed the dough by hand in a 20qt stock pot and knowing how the dough should feel was a huge asset. I also have to say that the video of the 2 Italian sisters in Australia served as an inspiration and was instructive with regard to hydration and adding water.

      Items that I need to acquire are:

      1: A quarter sheet of plywood to transport the shaped loafs to the oven.
      2: Proofing baskets and linen liners.
      3: More Patience.
      4: More experience.


      PS Jay, I'm betting that the 2 Sisters dough was in the neighborhood of 85% hydration. Does this seem about right by your eye? If you remember..
      Last edited by SCChris; 04-25-2011, 07:33 AM.


      • #4
        Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

        Hi Chris!

        I recently bought some proofing boards from the equipment sister of SFBI and I am absolutely sold on working on wood. It tends to pull excess moisture out of the dough in a really nice way and gives you a good texture to work against when shaping. And...like pizza, sticking is not nearly as bad as on granite or rock. Proofing baskets are also available from SFBI at pretty good prices along with real linen and linen liners.

        I am in awe of your oven - but I don't think I want one that retains heat THAT well! (BIG GRIN!)

        Your bake is a beautiful example of many of my mantras such as
        -dough gives humidity gives great crust (golden instead of pale and gray)
        -proper proofing has residual sugar in the dough (which gives golden instead of pale and gray crust)
        -wetter dough gives more open crumb.
        - if the top is too dark, the dome is too hot for your bake time
        - If the bottom is too dark, the hearth is too hot for your bake time (not a problem in your case, just included for completeness!)
        - if both are too dark you need a cooler oven or a shorter bake.
        - if both are too light you need a hotter oven or a longer bake.
        These all apply to pizza too but are critical for great bread!

        I would also suggest keeping working with IDY a bit longer (or forever!). From your posts I will bet you will eventually go sourdough but...it is SO much more variable and unpredictable than IDY that getting the dough to peak and the oven to the right temp is not trivial. You will build the skills with IDY to make that side predictable. Then, the main variable will be the SD and with time it will get more predictable too.

        And I fully agree, it is the journey - and you just made a great and educational trip!

        I don't recall the 2 Sisters dough but Pain l'Ancienne is typically in the 80 to 85 % hydration range - much like ciabatta. Your loaf looks consistent with that. (I tend to expect l'Ancienne to have a glassier crumb than is in your photo. That is why I tend to suspect it was a bit underbaked (low center temp) But the crust (except where too dark looks really great!) While I like the flavor of Pain l'Ancienne I don't personally like the look. I like more conventional baguettes better for appearance. I am going to SFBI in August for Artisanal Breads I which is a week of nothing but baguettes. I am really looking forward to it!

        Great job!


        • #5
          Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

          Jay as always your insight is much appreciated and helpful. As I have more time under my belt many of your comments are affirmations of what I know and suspect. I’m finding this comforting, my knowledge base is coming along.

          I was afraid to push the final proof too deep, so my focus was all about getting the deck temp down. I wonder if I'd been a bit braver and corked the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to even out if the results would have been better. It sounds like I could have pushed the time that far and the bread would have really benefited. Yes the crumb is a bit under done the bottoms could have handled extra time, 10 minutes more, the tops would have been better with 2 to 4 miuntes less time...

          I agree with you on the loaf form, I think the baguette and battard form is functionally better. For eating, it gives the right balance of crust and crumb and a slice fits on the plate. For baking the crust has time to brown and the crumb has time to finish cooking.

          I see a lot of talk about taking the internal temp to X, but it seems that the internal is really about hydration at the finish of the bake. One of these times I’m going to weigh the loaves after just for curiosity sake.

          I'll defiantly take a look at the proofing boards it would solve a few things for me. This time because of the 1st timer need to simplify and and getting all of the loaves in the oven quickly, I used parchment under each loaf with a bit of olive oil just to allow me to stretch and shape. I wonder how this affected the color of the bottoms.

          Oh and if this becomes more than a occasional bake batch size, I’m going to build a loader.

          Last edited by SCChris; 04-25-2011, 02:03 PM.


          • #6
            Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

            Hi Chris!

            Based on the gorgeous color of your crust I will guess you were still a bit under. I personally tend to prefer a bit under but at SFBI they prefer a bit over so I will get some interesting insight. Given the color I would guess you could have proofed longer without a problem but????

            I know how confusing it can be when you are trying to "grow". You sense things but aren't sure. That is part of why I take the time to critique good work and suggest tweaks. I often sense the receiver suspected the issue and/or was uncertain about appropriate action and that my comments help them resolve uncertainties. It can also be a gentle nudge to push you to take that extra little step that will advance your bread and your knowledge as you learn what works!

            Internal temp is "interesting". And you are sort of right. It does have to do with crumb hydration to some extent. I have gotten to where I bake most lean bread to at least 210 and fairly often 211. (At 1000 feet that is right at my boiling point.) The only breads I don't take that high are those I want to have a soft crumb - such as a Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette). I find Peter Reinhart's temperatures consistently too low for my taste. At 205 as he often recommends, I feel the crumb is downright wet. I am also typically baking rather wet dough (70 to 75 percent hydration) and often big loaves (up to 4 to 5 pounds) and they seem to like being baked harder than say 65 percent baguettes. They also tend to evolve over several days after baking and to last longer when they are baked harder. One of my unresolved "senses" is that 210 is not necessarily 210 internal temperature. For one, there would be a full degree range from say 209.5 to 210.5 and my water boils at 211. At 209.5 the bread is 3X as far from boiling as at 210.5. Crust is a lousy indicator of what is inside so that doesn't help. But I am increasingly leaving the bread in my indoor oven for ten minutes or so with the door open to give the crust some extra baking (so it doesn't sog up so much from the internal water) and to push more heat into the crumb. NOTE: hydration affects crumb structure. What I am doing is pushing it to be more roasted and to give a more glassy/transparent cell structure. Hope that makes sense!

            Based on my experience I would say parchment is worth about 15 degrees of stone/hearth temp.That is a crude estimate. Might be ten or twenty but I think that is about right based on the browning of the bottom of the loaves with and without parchment on the same stone.

            Bake on!


            • #7
              Re: 8Kg of Bread - right of passage

              We live in the coastal zone, and I haven't had any luck at getting a crunchy crust that will hold for any time at all. We had a Vietnamese baker in town that had baguettes down and the crust would stay crusty most of the day, so there must be a solution and the answer could well be go a bit lower on the bake temps, steam harder, push the bake longer to mature the crust and drop the humidity in the crumb.

              I know the life of a pain ordinaire is very short and the pain ancient has much better bread life and because of the density differences it’s hard to compare the two and getting a crusty crust may not be as attainable as when I lived in Boulder, Co. but I’ll keep at it. If it can be done in this coastal zone I’ll get it, I have time and bread is cheap to make. I’m hoping that the Baguette shape will help the path to a crustier crust as well..

              I'll try the open door trick and see what happens to the crust and give the proofing board a go.

              Thanks Jay, I hope you know how much I and many others of the board appreciate your feedback and critiques!

              Best to you and all of yours!


              PS I wonder what would happen if I drop the salt down a bit? Variables variables..