Artisan Bread in 5: questions
Hi all...I'm trying out the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day method for bread baking. I have three questions:
1-How dark should it be when it is done? Mine 1st attempt was a blonde color after 35 minutes and it was underdone.
2-I found the bread to be much too salty for my taste. Can the 1.5 T of kosher salt be reduced without changing the bread?
3-At the end of baking, should the water bath still have water remaining in it or should it have gone dry?
I'm a huge fan of this book. It turned me from a yeastophobe to an avid bread baker. I can't say enough good things about it. You'll have to play around a little with the recipes and baking times to suit yourself and your oven but these doughs are generally very forgiving. I just baked off a loaf of European Peasant bread that I had mistakenly left in the fridge for nearly 3 weeks. It came out perfectly.
Have you found the authors' website yet?
They take questions about anything having to do with their recipes and they are very good about answering in a timely fashion.
The master recipe for Artisan Bread in 5 says to "Bake until the crust is nicely browned ... because you've used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior despite the dark crust." So adding another five to ten minutes to get the color you want is fine.
Next time I bake any bread, I'm going to try the instant read thermometer tip. Why have I never seen a bread recipe that mentioned this one? Guess that's why we keep coming back to CH.
It depends on the size of the loaf. If you start out with a softball sized lump of dough, 30-35 minutes should be about right. If you prefer a larger loaf like I do, 40 minutes works best. I replace half of the AP flour with WW, pumpernickel, or rye and add 3 T of active wheat gluten to kick up the rise so I look for a pretty dark crust and give the bottom a thump when I pull it out to see if it sounds hollow.
I always cut the salt back to 1 T. No need to cut the yeast back. Although I have to admit that when I made a full salt dough and used it for sticky buns the salty dough tasted really good with the caramelized sugar and nuts.
The water has usually evaporated by the time I pull my loaf out. The recipe I use calls for 1 cup of water in the pan but I routinely put in about 2 cups.
Your water bath pan should be dry at the end of baking. The purpose of the water to create steam for the first 5 - 10 minutes of baking, that's why you only need a small amount in an already pre-heated (very hot) pan. After the first few minutes of baking, you need a dry oven in order to produce the best possible bread.
You can reduce the salt but you may need to reduce the yeast as well. Salt inhibits yeast so there's a possibility that with reduced salt, the bread will over-rise and not be flavored correctly.
I've been baking with this book since the Summer, and I've found that I always need to bake longer than the recipe calls for. My oven is calibrated correctly; I think the bread benefits from more time in the oven to dry the interior a bit. You can get more color on the top crust by changing the location of the stone in your oven. If your water pan is dry at the end of baking, try using a larger pan with more water.
1. I just eye ball it, dark blond, I use the rap on the bottom of the bread for for doneness test, although i'm sure someone has a more scientific method...
2. I'm sure you can reduce, although I may not be the best person to ask, I increase the salt a bit...
3. I typically have some water remaining.
Wrt to question 2, I routinely add less salt than called for (I usually halve it). I, too, found the bread too salty. Wrt to question 3, my pan is usually dry, but I do have the crispy crust. Wrt to question 1, check your oven temperature first. Mine is fine where I bake the bread (and I do use the stone), but I still bake it for about 5 minutes longer than suggested. I do sometimes have a slightly underdone center, so I am going to experiment with adding a little extra flour, as my dough may be too wet.
BTW, I don't usually have any issue with the challah, which is probably the bread I make most frequently (when my parents visit or when I visit them, my dad always loves to have that challah). I do bake it for an extra 5 minutes, but it's never been underdone.