This crispy, shatteringly crisp crust of a golden baguette is my white whale. I've had some luck with a Baparoma steam pan, but too often, the resulting bread comes out with plenty of volume, nice color, but a fleeting crisp and eventually softened crust is the norm.
My suspicion for some time has been my oven runs too humid. I wish I could make that statement with data but, the high temp humidity probe is about $500 (like this one). My only substantiation is my observation of a steamy warm feel at the end of baking when I open the door. What ensues is an all consuming rage from failure knowing that the exterior crust sucks!
Encouraged by some pilot experiments, tonight I'll embark on a new method, the double bake. I've seen a few try it in the food literature and on other forums, but only scarcely. I'll be baking 4 x 220 grams (prebaked weight) ca. 8" baguettes, length-of-center docked, lean dough using a steam encapsulated cooking method, an inverted dome covering the baguettes on a heavy sheet. The loaves will get a fine water mist, docked, covered, slid into the oven for 20 minutes at 425F. They should emerge shiny and pale and will cool a while. Then I'll attempt to crisp them in a hot convection oven. Wish me luck - you 4 testers - you're brave, I hope this isn't a waste of your time.
Update Wednesday June 26, 2013
Here was what I actually did (slightly different than the plan above):
4 ingredient dough (water 360, flour 600, yeast Fleischmann's fast 7, salt 10
220 gram baguettes x 4 baked
dock, single cut center
mist w water
cover (see below)
425F / 15-20 min
pull off cover and let them crisp in the convection
[see image above, click to enlarge] This method of covering was a simple aluminum dome over 3 x 220 gram baguettes on parchment, slightly misted and pushed into a 425 oven. When I pulled the dome off, the loafs were huge, glossy and pale, so far so good. But when I pulled the dome, the loaves didn't get crusty until they got too dark and even then, the crust wasn't the crackly thin mosaic indicative of what I wanted. I only recorded this tedious piece to remember what was done, remember, this site's my notebook, not some shit to share on Pinterest.
Interestingly the loaves cooked down to about 180 grams, a full 20 weight loss. Typically, I observe 10%. I really pulverized them in the final stretch with convection heat.
So I'm back to the problem of what I've read about. Big pro deck ovens use injected steam, but just as important, their ovens actively exhaust residual steam about 1/3 of the way in until the end of baking. I don't have a single link to this, it's all over baking forums with pros and I've also seen it in the context of reading case studies on high temp humidity probes.
The adaptation from steam injection professional deck oven to home is still unsolved for me.
To my testers: @racheltayse, @fearlessflavors @tgoodnight (and your generous treats!!!) and @fonzette, hope you feel better, I'll make a delivery soon. Thanks for playing.