My second attempt at baking artisan loaves.
This time I tried a French style country loaf recipe by kingarthur.
I would say multigrain, French and rustic are my favorite types of bread. How about you? What’s yours?
This is the first time I’ve tried making a country style loaf at home…
Here’s how it went-
Again, I started with a sponge and let it rest over night (~12 hrs)
Here’s a close up of the top and bottom of the French style country loaves
The bottom has a nice brown crust but top still could use some improvement
Also the loaves are still a little flat and frisbee like 🙁
Here is the crumb.
Not dense, not super light, but somewhere in between. Not exactly big air holes there, but the texture was soft and slightly chewy.
Flavor was good and tastes just like you would think country loaf should taste!
The lessons I learned from this attempt were:
- Let the dough rise to the level that you think it should rise, rather than time.
- I went by time and should have let them sit a bit longer.
- Preheat your oven, at least 45 minutes or an hour if possible.
- I talked to King Arthur’s baking hotline again and they recommended I preheat my oven for at least an hour. What I’ve always been doing is throwing in my bread dough without more than 10-15 minutes preheating time. So that explains the weak crust on top!
- The other problem I had was the moisture content. Again!
- I used the ‘as written’ amount of water and though my dough was less wet, it was still too sticky. I didn’t get a picture, but when it was done kneading I think I could have added maybe 2-3 Tbsp more additional bread flour (so in total 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp additional). The dough was sticking to the sides of my bowl way too much. But I didn’t realize it at the time, since I didn’t know what to look for or how it should feel.
- When shaping the dough, it should really hold it’s shape. Mine still pancaked out slightly, but not as drastically as the first time. Again related to moisture content.
- Bread slashes can be improved by using a large serrated bread knife, not a small one. And not being scared to go too deep, my cuts were too shallow.
Baking bread notes–
- I again used the falling oven technique starting at 475 and dropping down to 425.
- I went a little lighter on the spraying water this time and the top crust was slightly better, but still not like the bottom. Inadequate oven preheating may also have played a role.
- I think both too short of a second rise and not preheating correctly led to little or no rise once I put the dough in.
- Another way I read to improve the crust is to leave the bread in the oven once it’s finished. You turn off the heat and leave the door cracked open 2″ or so. Has anyone tried that ?
- Tip: spray your plastic wrap so it doesn’t stick to the dough when it rises against it
What do you guys think!? Any other tips or suggestions?
In case you missed them, here are some of my other baking posts-
- Improving My Bread Baking Part 2: French Style Country Loaf
- Improving My Bread Baking Part 1: King Arthur’s In Search of the Best Rustic Loaf
- Homemade French Baguettes
- No Knead Bread – start to finish 21 hours!!
- Pumpernickel Bread from King Arthur