[P]asaréis por un pequeño infierno. [[Y]ou’ll go through a little hell.] – Eva, Bake Street
This month, Kelly decided to give us something really tricky to distract us, noting that it is a very high hydration bread. Several of us BBBabes immediately thought of the croc. Wait… “thought of”?? No no no … were terrorized by making something similar to the croc.
But Kelly assured us that Pan de Cristal is different from the croc! Not really that difficult at all. As long as we used strong bread flour and followed the instructions.
What’s unique about this Spanish Pan de cristal bread is the amount of hydration in the dough, a whopping 100% of water is used to make this classic crusty bread from the Catalan region in Spain. […] The finished result of this pan de cristal sourdough recipe is a wonderful bread with a thick crusty exterior, creamy soft spongy interior with large pores cell structure with amazing flavor from the sourdough starter and hint of olive oil. […] [Y]ou might mistake the pan de cristal for ciabatta bread. The main difference between pan de cristal vs ciabatta is the amount of hydration in the dough. Ciabatta bread is typically made with 80% water were whereas pan de cristal is made with 100% water. I have friends that use up to 110% water when preparing their glass bread.
– S. Soures, Baker Recipes | Pan de Cristal Sourdough Recipe
Si hay algo característico en el pan de cristal eso es, sin lugar a dudas, su increíble corteza fina y crujiente acompañada de una miga suave y prácticamente inexistente debido a su alta hidratación. ste pan fue creado por Jordi Nomen en el año 2004. […] A día de hoy, esta variedad de pan, solo puede encontrarse en una cantidad limitada de establecimientos en Barcelona. [If there is something characteristic of glass bread, it is, without a doubt, its incredible fine and crispy crust accompanied by a soft crumb that is practically non-existent due to its high level of hydration. This bread was created by Jordi Nomen in 2004. […] Nowadays, this variety of bread can only be found in a limited number of establishments in Barcelona.]
– Eva, Bake Street | How to make Glass Bread with yeast – Pan de Cristal
Here’s what I did to the BBBabes’ March 2022 recipe:
BBB Glass Bread diary:
7 February 2022, 10:24 This looks wonderfully scary to bake. If it works, I might even be convinced to attempt wrestling with the croc again. “Might” being the key word here.
7 March 2022, 10:19 Eeeeek!! It’s almost the 16th! All the unwelcome cold and snow at the beginning of March confused me. Silly me, I imagined that the ground hog was right and that spring would be early this year. I was sure that winter was finally over when it went up to 15C and rained on the weekend and melted the giant mountain of snow – the size of a very large sedan – on the road in front of our house (silly people across the street shovelled the contents of their driveway there – but they didn’t really have much choice, our postage stamp lawns were already so full that it would have taken a backhoe to lift all that snow up from the road onto the lawns.) Maybe, just maybe, spring has sprung. Although… this morning, it’s just one degree above freezing.
Still, I can’t help reminding myself that we HAVE a working furnace and electricity. I shouldn’t complain.
Even though two of the others have said not to be afraid, I remain terrorized by this bread. It’s all those memories of the croc!
14:06 It will be wonderful if it this glass bread really does undo the croc experience. But but but. It’s 100% hydration!!
At a special request from 100% of the residents here (actually, I’m not positive if the furry black fiend really cares…), I’m going to use commercial yeast, because I’m scared of failure. Ha! I’m scared of failure WITH commercial yeast…. Then if it works, I’ll try the wild version. Maybe.
16:45 Shriek!! What are those white flakes that are falling and NOT disappearing when the hit the ground. I know they’re not cherry blossoms….
8 March 2022, 16:02 While searching about how to mix this ridiculously high hydration dough, I came across the following not-quite encouraging post:
We’re told that just stretching and folding the dough over a few hours of bulk fermentation is enough to develop the dough to the appropriate strength, but does it?
Well, the answer is yes . . . and no.
Or more accurately, the answer is “sometimes, but not always.”
You see, dough is quite the mystery. And what works one day might not work the next. So it may be that Stretch and Fold is enough to develop your dough 9 times out of 10. Ninety percent is pretty good, I won’t argue with that.
– Trevor J. Wilson, Breadwerx | How to Mix Wet Dough by Hand [Video] (Rubaud Method)
13 March 2022, 17:23 I’m still reeling that a.) it snowed quite heavily again on the weekend, just in time for me to b.) have to drive several kilometers out of town to stay in an even colder, snowier center overnight then drive home late on Saturday in relatively high winds (bringing in an even colder front), and discover this morning that c.) the Daylight Saving roller coaster hasn’t been banned and scrapped. Right now, it SHOULD be an hour earlier than the clock says.
I looked at the instructions for Eva’s (Bake Street) pan de cristal recipe again and made an executive decision to NOT turn this bread dough into one that rests overnight in the fridge. That’s right; I hadn’t actually read the instructions through properly to know that it would require several hours rather than 15 minutes or so. I also have had terrible luck with fermenting in the fridge overnight. I decided to go with King Arthur Baking instructions for same day mixing and baking.
14 March 2022, 10:47 Early this morning, (why did it snow again last night???) I began the mixing. Yay! The first step of just flour and water is very similar to mixing chapati dough.
Everything would have gone very very smoothly if the large bag of flour I carried from the cupboard to the step-stool in the middle of the kitchen hadn’t thrown a trail of flour on the floor because the bag had suddenly burst a series of holes all along the bottom. My first thought of gloom and doom was that mice had moved in again. But that can’t be. The furry black fiend is only 10 years old and would quickly dispatch any mice foolish enough to venture in. Clearly, the bag itself is just inferior.
I’m happy to report that the flour and water mixture is now happily resting in the oven with only the light turned on, AND the floor (that T had JUST washed the day before) is now sparkling clean once more.
12:48 I’m afraid I let the flour/water mixture rest for longer than 2 hours. But that shouldn’t be a problem. Should it? I have now squooshed in the yeast; the dough feels like really soft plasticene. I’ll add the salt in about 15 minutes.
17:02 Wow, that’s slack dough. I mean really, I did know it was going to be slack. But but but, did I actually comprehend it?
17:27 Shriek!! I have not planned ahead well at all! I’ve only just now put the olive oil in and done the first coil fold. I have to bake it tonight because I’m out all day tomorrow, leaving early in the morning. I have a bad feeling that with this obligatory 2 hour rest after shaping, I’m going to be turning the oven on at around 22:00 or maybe even 23:00. What an idiot I am.
(Did I say I was going to try a wild yeast version? I must have been entirely out of my mind.)
19:17 I’ve shaped it into two lumps. Which means I’ll be baking them at 21:30, give or take 10 minutes. I think. I’m not sure at all how I’m going to manage the steam aspect.
I’ll wing it. And hope. Hope a lot. Wish me luck.
20:12 Into the oven they go! (I like the look of that big bubble on the flat lump on the right.)
22:21 Well. What can I say?
I only had one large stainless steel bowl that would fit over one of the loaves as a hat. Which is a good thing. The loaf with the steam hat is completely flat, and destined to become bread crumbs. The other loaf rose at least. But, who knows what it’s like inside?
On the plus side, the bread smells good!
I put it on its footed rack to cool and am going directly to bed; I will not pass Go; I will not collect $200.
15 March 2022, 08:23 I’m just about to head out to a rehearsal and Cannot. Believe. There. Is. Snow. Falling!! Is that why I was hearing echoes of “‘Ware the Ides of March” late last night?
The bread is still on its rack, waiting for tonight when we’ll rejuvenate the crust on the puffy loaf to have with Indian curry. Ha!! How’s that for mixing cultures?
17:05 It was really difficult to brush about 6 cm of heavy heavy snow off the car before driving home. But I took comfort that a.) it’s allegedly going up to tomorrow, and b.) (I cannot believe it) the US Senate has finally seen the light – no pun intended – and unanimously passed the bizarrely named “Sunshine Protection Act” bill to STOP changing the clocks twice a year and make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Here’s hoping that the US House of Representatives and president will follow suit.
Instead of cutting it with a knife, we decided to break the bread in half. Hmmm. While the crumb is beautiful and soft, the giant hole structure is not exactly apparent, is it? T keeps saying that he loves the bread. And I have to admit that it is really, really good.
But we haven’t yet looked inside the flat-as-pancake loaf. Also, there is the aspect of labour-intensiveness for this that cannot be ignored.
However, I am really excited to have learned new techniques for dealing with slack dough bread, particularly the 2 hour autolyse with just flour and water before adding the leavener.
Thank you, Kelly! That was a fun challenge.
But was it fun enough for me to try making it again, or try making the croc again – with the new-found knowledge on how to develop really really slack dough? I’m not sure yet. I’ll get back to you on that.
Here is the March 2022 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:
Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread)
based on the recipes for Pan de Cristal on Bake Street and King Arthur Baking websites
Hace algún tiempo que estoy trabajando mis masas con el método Rubaud. Es un amasado creado por Gérard Rubaud en el que se amasa y desarrolla el gluten siguiendo un proceso suave y delicado. Consiste en coger la masa, estirarla y recogerla dentro de un bol. Es un tipo de amasado ideal para masas de alta hidratación [I’ve been working my doughs with the Rubaud method for some time now. It is a kneading method created by Gérard Rubaud in which gluten is kneaded and developed following a gentle and delicate process. It consists of taking the dough, stretching and scooping inside a bowl. It is an ideal type of kneading for highly hydrated dough]
– Eva, Bake Street
makes two loaves: one flat-as-a-pancake and one flattish but pillowy
» 20 grams 100% whole wheat (no additives) flour
» 368 grams unbleached (no additives) all purpose flour
» 4 grams vital wheat gluten
» 8 grams wheat germ
- 400 grams water, divided
- 1.5 grams active dry yeast
- 8 grams seasalt
- 8 grams olive oil, plus more for the coiling dish
- Autolyse: In the morning of the day you will be baking the bread,
- using a dough whisk, mix the flours, vital wheat gluten and wheat germ together with 320 grams water.
- Use one of your hands to squoosh the flour and water together; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first it may seem a bit messy and as if it will never become dough and all the flour will move from the bottom of the bowl into the wet dough. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem a lot more like dough. Keep pulling it up to stretch it and folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth and there is zero flour left in the bowl. Cover with a plate and allow to rest in the oven with only the light on for 2 hours.
- Add the yeast: After the 2 hours have completed, whisk yeast into 8 grams of water until the yeast is dissolved completely. Pour this over the flour and water mixture (you’ll notice that it’s significantly smoother and silkier than before) and, using just one hand to mix and one hand to turn the bowl, squoosh the yeasted water in until it is dough again. Cover with a plate and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Adding the Salt and Kneading:
- Whisk the salt into 12 grams of water to dissolve it. Then pour it over the dough. Once again, use just one hand to mix and one hand to turn the bowl, to mix the salt in.
- Add another 12 grams water and stretch and fold again. By now, 352 grams water have been added to the dough to make it 88% hydration. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. Eva (Bake Street writes, “Es en este momento donde tenemos que trabajar muy bien la masa para obtener un perfecto desarrollo del gluten. [It is at this point we have to work the dough very well to obtain a perfect development of the gluten.]“
- After 30 minutes have passed, add the rest of the water little by little. Bake Street’s Eva recommends adding about 10 grams at a time, and stretching and folding until it looks like dough before adding the next 10 grams water. This will take place for 6 times in total to add the last 60 grams water. Eva writes, “ Observaréis que una vez desarrollado el gluten, no le cuesta trabajo integrar el resto del agua en la masa. [You will notice that once the gluten has developed, it is not difficult integrating the rest of the water into the dough.]“
- Add the olive oil: The dough should look like dough; it is time to add the olive oil. Pour it over top and careful turn and fold until the oil becomes part of the dough.
- Fermenting and Coil Folding:
- Use olive oil to grease a square (or rectangular) pyrex baking dish. Transfer (ie: pour) the dough into the dish. (You can also use a largish plastic square tub. The container does NOT have to be oven proof.)
- Fold the dough, cover with a cookie sheet and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the oven with only the light turned on.
- After 30 minutes have passed, run your hands under the cold water tap, then do the coil fold. Once again, cover the dish with a cookie sheet and leave in the oven with only the light turned on for 30 minutes. Please read how King Arthur Baking explains the coil fold method:
With wet hands, reach under the dough and stretch the middle upward until the dough releases from the dish. Roll it forward off your hands, allowing it to fold over (or “coil”) on itself. This is called a coil fold. Rotate the dish 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat. Continue performing this folding action until the dough feels like it won’t stretch and elongate easily, usually four to five times initially. Note: You’ll be doing this three more times, each time building strength and developing the dough. – King Arthur Baking, Pan de Cristal
This Bake Street video shows the coil folding nicely:
- Repeat the coil folding 4 more times, with 20 minutes between each one. After the last time of folding, allow the dough to rest, covered by the cookie sheet, for 80 minutes to 2 hours in the oven with only the light turned on.
- Shaping: Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper. Now generously scatter flour over the board and pour the dough out. With a gentle nudge to the dough from the edge of your finger on the side of the bowl, the dough will just fall out. Use a dough scraper to fold the dough in half. Lightly pat excess flour off, then use the dough scraper to cut the dough in half. Trying not to disturb any of the bubbles, transfer the two halves to the parchment lined cookie sheets. Cover with a light weight clean tea towel and allow to rest in a warmish spot for 2 hours. (I put ours in the oven with only the light turned on for an hour and a half, then moved the trays to the counter when preheating the oven.)
- Preheat the oven: Around half an hour before baking the bread, make sure the bread stone is on the middle rack of the oven and turn it to 450F.
- Baking: It is essential that the oven is thoroughly preheated before proceeding.
- Place the trays on the stone. Realize that you only have one stainless steel bowl large enough to cover one loaf. Decide to leave one of the loaves uncovered as an experiment. Bake for about 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the bread is a deep golden brown. (Be amazed that the loaf that was covered has zero oven spring, but the loaf that was uncovered has risen nicely.
- Cooling: Remove the bread to a footed rack to cool completely before cutting into the loaf; it is still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm bread (of course you do), reheat it after it has cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.
Set the bread on a rack and (this is one of the hardest parts of bread baking) keep your hands off that beautiful crusty bread for at least an hour, or until it is completely cool. You will be dying to cut into that gorgeous warm bread, the crust crackling as it cools, but remember that it’s still cooking inside; the crumb is still jelling, and the crust still developing. The crust will soften partway through the cooling time, but it will crisp again as it cools completely.
– Thomas Keller, ‘Breads: Cooling’, Bouchon Bakery
Baking Temperature and Time: Please remember that our oven is different from yours, so the baking time and temperature may need to be different.
La cocción del pan de cristal debe llevarse a cabo con una temperatura muy elevada. Al tratarse de una masa de alta hidratación debemos dar un golpe fuerte de calor para favorecer que tome volumen durante los primeros minutos de cocción. [[G]lass bread must be baked at a very high temperature. As it is a highly hydrated dough, we must give it a strong heat stroke to encourage it to take on volume during the first few minutes of baking.]
– Eva, Bake Street | Cómo hacer pan de cristal con levadura (How to make Glass Bread with yeast – Pan de Cristal)
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control
This morning, we cut into the flat-as-pancake, knowing we could fit pieces into the toaster to warm them. Wow!! The crumb doesn’t look even close to as terrible as I thought it would. No giant holes though.
I’m happy to report that the bread was absolutely delicious with white bean and bacon soup. (J’adore soup for breakfast!)
Perhaps the rest of the flat loaf is not destined to be bread crumbs after all.
Bread Baking Babes Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread)
Kelly is hosting March 2022’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:
I was really torn between this and choosing something much easier […] [But] I do want to do the Pan de Cristal this time. […] I highly recommend bread flour or adding vital wheat gluten for this hydration! All purpose will not work at this hydration. No matter how many coil folds you do, it simply cannot hold as much water with the lower protein content.
– Kelly, in messages to BBBabes
We know you’ll want to swallow your fear of insanely slack dough and make pan de cristal too! Trust me; even if it looks like it has failed, it still smells and tastes delicious.
To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the filled bread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 March 2022. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.
For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:
- BBB Kitchen of the month:
Kelly, A Messy Kitchen, BBB March 2022
- BBBuddy guidelines
- about the BBBabes
Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ March 2022 glass bread:
- Aparna, My Diverse Kitchen: Pan de Cristal
- Cathy, Bread Experience: Sourdough Pane de Cristal | Glass Bread for Therapy
- Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: Glass Bread from the Babes
- Katie (BBBBB), Thyme for Cooking: Bread Baking Babes Bake Glass Bread
- Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories: Pan de Cristal | Glass Bread
- Kelly, A Messy Kitchen: Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread) #BBB (kitchen of the month)
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms: Glass Bread for March
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups: Glass Bread ~ Pan Crystal ~ BBB
What I automatically think of when I hear “100%”:
“Hello, John,” said the doctor, smiling big for the camera. “How are you feeling this morning?”
John sat down warily, licked his lips and ran the heel of his hand over his thin hair. “Hunner’ per cent, doctor. I feel hunner’ per cent.”
“Now, John,” said the doctor unctuously, “I’m going to ask you a few questions. Is that all right?”
“How’s your coordination, John?”
John ran his hand through his hair again. “Coordination hunner’ per cent.”
“Are your reflexes good?”
“Reflexes hunner’ per cent.”
“Here’s pencil and paper. Will you write your name for me?”
“Write your name hunner’ per cent,” John said, not taking the pencil. “Hunner’ per cent.”
“Very good, John,” the doctor said. “How much are four and four?”
John rubbed his hair. “Four and four?”
“Take your time, John,” the doctor said soothingly. “Four and four.”
“Reflexes hunner’ per cent, Doctor,” John said, giving the doctor a big prideful grin and stroking his head. “Ludwig van Beethoven.”
“Ludwig van Beethoven,” John repeated. “Seventeen seventy to eighteen twenty-seven.” He paused to consider. “Hunner’ per cent.”
“Thank you, John,” the doctor said. “That will be all.”
John arose with the help of his cane and heel-walked to the door, moving like a badly handled marionette.
“Good-bye. John,” the doctor said.
“Four and four is eight,” John said. “Four and four is eight. Arithmetic hunner’ per cent.” He stuck his tongue out at the doctor and departed.
The film slid downhill after the scene between John and the doctor
– Richard Bradford, Red Sky at Morning, chapter 18