How to Determine Baking Time

Discussion in 'Bread' started by Brotchen, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Brotchen

    Brotchen New Member

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    It is my second loaf away from the bread machine, and I could not resist straying from the recipe. My first loaf used about 3 cups of flour. It fit in my Dutch oven and turned out fine.

    The dough I just made used 4 cups of flour, and I am afraid it will be too big and expand to hit the lid (I assume the dough expands while baking?) So I split it into two pieces. Now I am worried that I might burn the bread or dry it out if I bake it at 450F for 30 minutes covered and then another 5-15 uncovered (what I did for the 3 cup recipe. And my son used the temperature probe to measure the temperature of the flame on the gas burner, so all I have to work with is the oven temperature, the clock, and the weight of the dough).

    Is there any type of calculator that will tell me how long to bake based on the weight of the dough? I appreciate that there's a lot of missing information here, but I wonder if there are some rules of thumb for beginners. BTW, I'm going by grams, not cups. I have been adjusting to keep roughly the same flour/water ratio that i saw in most "artisan" bread recipes (and offhand, I don't recall what that was).
     
    Brotchen, Nov 21, 2019
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  2. Brotchen

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    There is a rough rule of thumb for artisan bread baking: bread rises during the first 15-20 minutes. That's bread of almost any size (mind you, I'm not an expert; small rolls, narrow baguettes and such might be different). Most recipes create two loaves, and so your dough runs 900-1000 grams in total weight. That's water and flour and levain and salt. You split the loaf and the weight of each loaf is somewhere between 400-500 grams.

    You *should* be able to bake loaves of 300-350 grams the same as you would larger loaves and not have to adjust the initial time/temperature of that first half of the bake (15-20 minutes at 450), because the job of that first half is to steam the dough and get it to rise. But you will have to adjust the time the loaf is in the oven AFTER that first 20 minutes (that or take down the temperature to 425). [Side note...I'm kind of amazed that your recipe has that 5 minute minimum for baking up the dough after removing the lid of the pot. Recipes usually have you baking for 15-25 minutes more after removing the lid, so as to give you a good brown crust.]

    So, go ahead and bake your little loaves at 450 for about 20-30 minutes, lift off the lid. The dough should have popped up as expected. (Question: did you adjust everything else with that extra flour. Water, levain and salt?). Let the loaf bake without its lid for 10 more minutes and check on it. Once the crust is the color you want, take a good food thermometer (I can't recommend Thermapen enough), stick it deep into the loaf. If it's 200° it's fully baked and ready to remove from the oven and pot. If it's under 200° then let it bake longer—the color of the crust isn't a foolproof indication that it's baked through.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
    J13, Nov 22, 2019
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  3. Brotchen

    Brotchen New Member

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    Thank you! I just have a small slice of time every day for baking, and so I put the two loaves in, was conservative with the baking times, and checked more often. I put the bigger half in the Dutch oven and the smaller half in a small but tall casserole dish. It was rye bread with caraway seeds. They both turned out great. The small loaf was a tiny bit drier.

    I adjusted the flour and water to match the percent of overall weight. I adjusted the salt more by volume (the original 3 cups-of-flour recipe I had), but I don't think it was much different by weight. I "adjusted" the yeast by thinking that 1/4 tsp looked like such a tiny amount, and so I made it a generous 1/4 tsp.

    You mention that the dough rises when the cover is on. That was my great concern--would the dough rise up and hit the lid. How much does the dough rise up? For simplicity, just in the case of a round ball. I presume if it just barely touched the lid, it would only be a cosmetic problem?

    I did try to search the existing posts, but without too much success. Is there any resource you would recommend that will cover the basics?
     
    Brotchen, Nov 23, 2019
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  4. Brotchen

    Brotchen New Member

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    Also, you mention you were surprised at the additional baking time in the original recipe. All of the loaves have been quite, quite moist inside, and so I think I have probably been underbaking. I will replace the dead temperature probe.
     
    Brotchen, Nov 23, 2019
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  5. Brotchen

    Angelica Member

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    The only absolute certainty I have found with bread baking is to use a thermometer set to ring an alarm when the bread reaches 207 degrees F. Technically it's 210, but I like to stop just before.
     
    Angelica, Nov 23, 2019
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  6. Brotchen

    J13 Well-Known Member

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    When you are learning how to bake artisan breads with online resources all roads lead to....

    The Fresh Loaf

    To be extra sure you got that link: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/forum

    The fresh loaf baking forums are the next step for anyone trying to learn how to bake artisan bread. They are full to overflowing with bread baking experts and more than a few fanatics :D You’ll find discussions about everything from bread percentage formulas to building your own bread oven in the backyard or creating a steam injector into your home oven.

    Which, yes, sounds a little intimidating, but you’ll find it plenty of simple and easy and basic and good advice for the novice there. I promise it’s not all master level discussions. ;)

    Also, check out “Bake with Jack” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTVR5DSxWPpAVI8TzaaXRqQ

    This guy puts out bread making videos every Thursday and among his 100+ videos there’s sure to be one or more that answer your questions. He’s great for having videos that show you what to do and de-mystify bread making. Including artisan (sourdough) breads.

    Do get back to us and let us know if these help. :)
     
    J13, Nov 23, 2019
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