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I am wondering if baking bread longer results in more dryness of the crumb. It seems like the more "artisan" recipes often push the crust to near the point of burning, presumably for flavor, but does this reduce moisture?

I would assume it does, except I read in "The Science of Good Cooking" that the internal temperature of bread will not exceed around 210 degrees F because of the moisture it contains.

Also, is this related to achieving the shiny, "fully gelatinized" interior I have seen praised? My breads never look that way - do I need to bake longer?

Thanks

Here's a picture enter image description here

  • Would you share a picture with us? – Stephie Nov 30 '16 at 11:11
  • @Stephie I took a picture with my phone, sorry about the quality :) This is the recipe I was using: breadtopia.com/whole-grain-sourdough I had to add some water because the dough was too stiff to knead. I don't own a scale and may have gone a bit heavy on the spelt flour. – user52037 Nov 30 '16 at 15:46
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Yes, prolonged baking (or even letting the bread cool down in the turned off oven instead of taking it out) will dry out the bread. I can confirm it from my own experience.

I doubt the idea that the internal temeprature will keep down at 212 F. This is true of water in a bowl, but the moisture within the bread is not a puddle of water. It could turn to vapor (which can easily get hotter), in theory it could superheat (although I don't imagine that happening in bread), etc. And even if the water itself stays at 212 F, this is no reason for the solids to keep at that temperature, the water will cool them somewhat but not to the point of full equilibrium.

And even if the temperature would keep at 212 F, this is no reason to assume that this would prevent the bread from drying out. Starch gelatinization is a complex process, which goes at different speeds at different temperatures, and the water itself, if kept in equilibrium at 212 F, will be slowly turning to vapor, and this vapor will be slowly evaporating from the bread.

Bread with very dark crust is not made by prolonged baking, professionally it is made in higher temperature ovens, and with some additions to the dough (malting enzymes). If you try to use prolonged baking instead, you may get darker crust, but you cannot avoid drier bread then. I have not read any of the sources you reference, and tend to bake my bread by the oldschool books, this means removing it when the internal temperature reaches somewhere between 96 and 98 C.

I have never connected a shiny interior to full gelatinization, for me it tends to happen when I have higher gluten content. Maybe there is some connection, but if yes, I am not aware of it.

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    OK thanks. So is the moral of the story that I should bake at a high temperature and then remove from the oven as soon as possible once it's cooked through? – user52037 Nov 30 '16 at 15:49
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    The temperature you can use will depend on the dough, the thickness you use, and other parameters, so you may have to play with it. But taking out as soon as it is cooked gives the softest bread, yes. – rumtscho Nov 30 '16 at 16:19
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    This may not work as well for some other breads, but a method for baguettes and baguette like breads to get the crisp hard shell but soft interior is hot and humid, and yes I know that is a contradiction. How I have succeeded in reproducing this at home was to preheat oven to highest temp, then as quickly as I could put the bread in to cook, a cookie sheet of ice in lower rack and spray the inside with a mist of water. Leave high temp for a brief time to restore the temp then drop it to normal cooking temps. – dlb Nov 30 '16 at 19:36
  • @rumtscho - have you ever measured an internal bread loaf temperature at greater than ~212F/100C? Except in the outer crust layer, you can't get significantly above that until you dry the bread out to a "cracker-like" texture, which would likely take hours in the oven for most doughs with any thickness. There's way too much water in bread dough, which will keep "boiling out" at ca. 212F/100C to maintain equilibrium as the moisture gradually diffuses out of the dough. – Athanasius Dec 2 '16 at 4:34

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