Lack of crispy crust for French bread

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by petercook, May 8, 2010.

  1. petercook

    petercook

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    Dear James,

        I have your book "Baking" and I have faithfully followed your instruction on how to make baguettes. The baked loaves come out just fine except that I am not getting  that thin crackly crust that I want. When I take them out of the oven, everything seems fine. If I press in a little bit the loaves are nicely brittle. But, within 10 minutes the crust has softened considerably. In 1/2 hour the crust is almost as soft as white bread from Safeway. I have tried varying the oven temp, the baking time, and I have tried cracking the door open (when the loaves are finished baking) to dry the loaves out. I have tried varying the hydration rate., different flours etc. I get a good proof and a fantastic oven spring. I get a wildly open crumb and great taste but no "shatteringly crisp crust". I am working on my 48th batch in the last 48 days and I keep failing. I live in the Philippines and use a home gas oven. And yes, I create my own steam. The local professional bakers are able to produce a crispy crust with their pro ovens but I can't duplicate those efforts. Any advise you may have would be much appreciated. Thank You
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    PeterCook (and Dudley Moore too, I expect),

    Who is James?  James Peterson? 

    Why do you write to him here?

    BDL
     
  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    i am not familiar with this James, either... but i have had success with making baguettes at home.

    i've gone as high as 475 degree's and i liberally spray with water before directly on the bread and many times in between spraying the oven. cook time is usually about 22 minutes total per baguette. (thick pan or double pan to prevent burning of the bottom) take it out and cool on a rack. my oven at home is a convection oven.

    at 475 it gets a wicked crust. i have tried lower temps to try and keep the bottom from burning but the crust suffers, so i just double pan it.
     
  4. petercook

    petercook

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    Oops, sorry about that. I was trying to join the open discussion with James Peterson. I'm not too swift with computors and I frequently make mistakes.  Petercook
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Petercook, something to keep in mind.

    The open discussions are the same as special guest appearances, and only remain open while the guest is actively answering questions---usually from one to three days. If you go into any of them you'll noticed there is a locked icon beside each.

    The only time you can participate is while the guest is here at Cheftalk, such as will be the case with Chef Mario Batali today.

    I know sites like this can sometimes be confusing. But stick with it, familiarize yourself with the various features and forums, and you'll find it a valuable place to visit.
     
  6. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Sometimes a larger baking chamber can result in a crust less crispy than that which has been baked in an oven having a smaller baking chamber.  In the latter, the heat is more concentrated into a smaller volume.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2010
  7. gerdosh

    gerdosh

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    My guess is that you underbake the bread -- there is still too much moisture inside that slowly seeps through the crust, making it soft. Try to increase baking time by 15-20%, see what happens
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    IMO, having read all of your posts (not to mention our PM correspondence) regarding your technique -- you're limited by your oven.  There's only so far you can take this without a real steam injection oven -- which is why they (the ovens) exist in the first place. 

    Given the limitations of your home kitchen in the Phillipines, your baguettes and rolls are probably as good as anyone can make them. 

    Look.  When it comes to basic French bread in home quantities, you're as good or better than anyone who contributes to Chef Talk.  That doesn't just include me (pd good, but not great), but the professional bakers as well.  The most any of us can do is listen, backstop, and provide some feedback.  Anyone who thinks you're making a basic mistake of any sort isn't acquainted with your previous thread. 

    BDL