Posts Tagged ‘bread’
You’ve baked your first loaf of bread. It was good. It was clearly better than store bought bread. But—you know it could be better. It just wasn’t quite there, yet. So where do you go next? The answer is steam. Adding steam to the oven is transformative: loaves rise, crusts brown and crackle, and baby unicorns take up residence in the open crumb. (Ok, maybe not all of that happens, but trust me, it’s good.)
When you search out bread recipes—whether in artisan baking books or on the Internet—you quickly notice patterns: the breads with an open, irregular crumb are all made from very wet (high hydration) dough and the recipes commonly feature preferments, slow rises, a particular hand kneading technique, and carefully pouring boiling water into a very hot oven. But only the wet dough seems unique to them.
The amount of water in a dough defines the type of bread it will make.
Looking in books seems to support that. For example, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice classifies breads based on their hydration, referring to the wet ones as rustic.
Can it be that easy? To get an irregular, open crumb, just add water? Sure, without all the other steps, it won’t be quite as tasty, but home-made sandwich bread even without those steps is still tastier than the supermarket stuff.
This calls for an experiment!