Friday, August 3, 2012

Artisan Bread: The Crust

Having started my bread-making life in the 70's, I had certain outdated (or not updated) assumptions on what makes a great loaf of artisan bread.
The recent Kneading Conference put me straight.  The bread oven needs an injection of steam immediately following the introduction of bread loaves.
At the conference, this was done with a plant sprayer.  Commercial ovens have built-in injectors.  The sprayer is aimed at the dome roof.  Cast refractory oven owners may want to spray onto a metal pan in the oven as spraying the cast refractory may shock it.  Brick ovens are more durable.

bread on left, sprayer on right
The result is a glossy, golden crust, the kind we may wonder at when we purchase a loaf from a local bakery.

The second aspect to great artisan bread is what is called, 'the spring'.  This is when a round of dough, placed on a 500 degree hearth, rises so that the resulting loaf curves upward.  The pleasing shape of the boules, batards, or baguettes, is as organic as our bodies.

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