If you’ve been following along, I’ve been making very gradual progress in my artisan bread baking skills.
Baby step progress.👶
I did get a taste of quality bread on my recent trip to New York at some of the restaurants we ate at and this reminded me of what I am aiming for. (Always good to have a solid reference point!)
I think I am on the right track, but still have a ways to go.
For the next part of the series, I tried another rustic loaf recipe. This attempt used King Arthur’s A Simple Rustic Loaf with a few modifications-
- using dry active yeast instead of instant yeast
- used warm water ~105 degrees to proof it, rather than cool water
- using dark rye flour instead of pumpernickle flour
- reducing salt by 1/2 tsp
- I didn’t have their seed mix and instead created my own: 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
- baking time, I used a thermometer and left the bread in until it read 210 for the interior temp.
Here is the progression of the bread making process –
The lessons I learned from this attempt were:
- The bread came out a little more dense than I would have liked despite exceeding the max rest time and looking rather plump before I slashed them.
- I was worried about letting it over-rise and went ahead with slashing
- I used my large bread knife to do the slashing this time after watching a few videos demonstrating the technique.
- My movement wasnt fast enough and the knife got caught. Thus the ripped look of the dough. I was reading Julia Child’s notes on slashing bread in her cookbook and she says to use a razor, so I may try using that or my Chef knife right after I sharpen it.
- Go easy on the fennel seeds. Wayyy more potent than expected! Looking back, I should have cut the fennel seed amount by 1/3 since it was strong and was the dominant flavor of the bread.
- Crust was barely passable. I should have used the falling oven technique and or steam to ensure I nice crunchy brown crust.
- You can see the top part of the bread has a better crust than my first two attempts but still not as nice as the bottom.
Baking bread notes–
- For the oven, I preheated for 45 minutes prior to putting the dough and a few light sprays of water before putting it in.
- The dough held it’s shape this time with absolutely no flattening out, so small win there!
- Allow the bread to rise a little longer 30-45 minutes longer to see if it results in a more airy bread.
- Has anyone had their bread collapse from letting it rise too long?
- That’s what I’m afraid of, but maybe I need to just push the dough to the max and see how far I can take it before that happens to me.
- I think if I use seeds again, I prefer to have them on top or as part of the crust, not mixed in with the dough.
- I don think that this bread had the deep earthy rustic flavor that I like about rustic bread. Of all the loaves (6) I’ve made thus far, this loaf was my least favorite. It may have been the seeds, but not sure if I will try this one again. We shall see.
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
inspired by kingarthur