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Old 05-29-2005, 10:41 AM   #1
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Bread Baking Question

Hi:

So, do you bake a lot of bread?
Well if you do, maybe you can tell me how to make my crusts a little more thin than they are.
I put the bread in an already hot oven (350) and right before I put the bread in, I place some ice cubes in a pan and put in on the bottom. Then I put the bread in (ofcourse with an egg/milk brush on top).
When I make bread with oil, butter or with milk, the crust is nice. However when I make breads without fats in it, say like, Cuban bread the crust comes out really thick and too hard. (I have never been able to make good Spanish style or Cuban bread successfuly. Have you had an experience with these matters? If so I would like to hear them.
I use a my Oster 2-lb bread machine to make the dough and I go from there.
Thanks for help.
Pete

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Old 05-29-2005, 12:38 PM   #2
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Pete, now this is a new thread. Let's see if someone can give you some answers!
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Old 05-29-2005, 03:42 PM   #3
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I always brush the tops of my loaves with melted butter before and after baking, it seems to make the crusts softer and not as thick; unless that is the way I want them to be. I live at a higher altitude and maybe that may have something to do with it too.
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Old 05-29-2005, 09:28 PM   #4
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Humm .... a couple of ideas. I assume you are baking your bread on a flat baking/cookie sheet - not in bread pans. And, you're baking them in the middle of the oven - not with the rack up at the top. Three things you might try for the too hard crusts on breads without fat or milk in the recipe:

1. Use a lower pre-heat temperature. Pre-heat the oven to 325-F, then turn up to 350-F when you put the bread in. Bake for the same amount of time.

2. Replace the egg/milk wash with melted butter.

3. Forget the pan of ice cubes - it could be that you're getting too much steam - which will make the crust harder and thicker. Try it once without any added moisture and see how it comes out. If it's too soft - you can try using a plastic spray bottle with water to mist the inside of the over 4-5 times during the last 10 minutes of baking -or - place a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.

I don't know what you consider too hard/too thick ... so these are just some ideas to play with to find what is right for you.
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Old 05-31-2005, 02:14 PM   #5
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I'm never too proud to admit that what might work for me may not be the right answer - or the correct solution. Sometimes accidents have happy endings?

I talked with a pastry chef (who makes limited quantities of Austrian breads) I know this morning about this problem. He set me straight ...

Steam during the first part of baking keeps the crust soft. This allows the bread to have a final rise in the oven (called ovenspring). This is why French bakers inject steam at the beginning of baking.

Steam during the later part of baking causes the crust to get thicker and tougher. Hans said that ice cubes in a pan would cause the late steam since they have to melt and come to a boil - which would make the crust thicker and tougher.

His suggestion (he doesn't make bread like what you're trying to make) would be:

1. Put a cake-pan filled about 1/2-inch deep with boiling water on the bottom of a gas oven, or on the lowest shelf of an electric oven, about 5-10 minutes before you put the bread in. Then put the bread in quickly so you don't lose all the steam.

2. If you do #1 and the crust is still to hard - try removing the pan of water after about 20 minutes.

Let me know if none of these ideas works for you. I've got a couple of commercial bread bakers on my side of town and I might be able to get one of them to give a better answer.
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Old 06-01-2005, 09:04 AM   #6
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Michael--thanks for all of the info on steam and baking bread--that's really great to know! Talk about having friends in the right places!
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Old 06-01-2005, 06:08 PM   #7
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I knew that once upon a time I had found a great bread baking site and bookmarked it - but couldn't find it. Then, when looking for something else I found it ... it was back when I was researching flour and that's where I stuck it! Duh!!!

Anyway - check out this site: http://www.theartisan.net

Check under "Bread Basics" ... and then under "Oven Humidity and Simulation of a Professional Oven".

If you're serious about bread baking it's worth the 2-3 days it might take you to read all of it ... and it has some good recipes, too!
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Old 06-20-2005, 02:18 PM   #8
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Thanks for creating it. i'll see what everyone says. thks again.
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Old 06-20-2005, 02:19 PM   #9
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Never tried just melted butter. Will do next time. thks. pete
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Old 06-20-2005, 02:25 PM   #10
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Thank you so much for your help. I think the answer for me is in there somewhere. I will just have to experiment with those suggestions you have made.
I will try again and will let you know the results.
thks again
pete
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