I had high hopes; I had high hopes;
I had high apple pie, in the sky hopes!
Hey batter, batter, batter … swing!
Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread)
Pan de Cristal or Sourdough Cristal Bread (very high hydration bread) […] is definitely not for beginners. – Gicu Serban, Joy Ride Coffee on YouTube
A week or so ago, after each of us presented our March project of Pan de Cristal in the BBBabes’ FB group, someone asked how much vital wheat gluten was necessary to turn all purpose flour into strong bread flour.
My arm immediately went up and I waved my hand frantically. I know the answer!! Pick me! Pick me!!
My rule of thumb is to replace around 3% (by weight) of the all purpose with vital wheat gluten.
But. After answering, I realized that I had not paid any attention at all when I made my own Pan de Cristal. Duh. I hadn’t added nearly enough vital wheat gluten! I had added only 1%! Hmmmm. Maybe that‘s why my Pan de Cristal wasn’t an entire success.
Here’s my source for how much vital wheat gluten to use to turn all-purpose flour into “strong” or “bread” flour. (Too bad I didn’t pay proper attention when I was tackling pan de cristal the first time.)
I found that replacing the high-gluten flour in my usual sourdough bagel recipe with a mixture of 97% flour (the regular flour I use for bread) and 3% vital wheat gluten gave me a bagel that was virtually indistinguishable from the original.
– Susan, Wild Yeast
Then, one of the BBBabes’ friends, Jen, presented her sourdough Pan de Cristal that she had made following the BBBabes’ sourdough version of the March recipe, that was in turn, based on the YouTube video “PAN DE CRISTAL – 106% hydration, sourdough, handmixed (full recipe & method)” by Joy Ride Coffee.
I made the sourdough version since I’m primarily a sourdough baker. It was amazing to me how such a high hydration dough (mine was 106%) stayed together! This is the same technique I use to make my standard ~78% sourdough. I took a loaf to work and my co-workers gobbled it up. It has that perfect crunchy crust/soft inside combination.
– Jen C, FB | Bread Baking Babes and Friends, 19 March at 09:49
Bread by Joy Ride Coffee is about my quest for the light, creamy loaves with wide open alveoli and awe-inspiring structure. I’m an amateur homebaker from Sibiu, Romania. I try to find answers to the problems that haunted me when I started making bread.
– Gicu Serban, Joy Ride Coffee on YouTube
So delicate spanish version of the ciabatta bread, this sourdough glass bread need a lot of work for gluten development and building up hydration. It requires a lot of attention and understandings in terms of fermentation and some very good skills to develop and feel the dough structure.
– Gicu Serban, ‘PAN DE CRISTAL – 106% hydration, sourdough, handmixed (full recipe & method)’, Joy Ride Coffee
That’s right. It’s hand mixed. No KA involved! Perfect.
This is how the online conversation continued on 20 March 2022:
K: Oho, does that mean you will try again?
me: Maybe, Kelly, maybe. Because I’m a glutton for punishment. (But I don’t think I’m going to try wrestling with the croc again any time soon.)
Jen C wrote, “The only time my dough was slack at all was at the very beginning.”
That clinched things for me, and I decided to give it a shot.
Needless (ha! I almost typed “kneadless”) to say, the only time my dough wasn’t slack at all was at the very beginning just after the autolyse had finished….
The bread was finally ready for baking after dinner. We left it on its rack with a net umbrella overtop (to protect it from the furry black fiend) overnight. Excited about the amazing oven spring and how light it was, we rewarmed the bread the next morning and served it with goat’s cheese, honey, oil-cured olives, and olive oil.
Sure there were nice big holes this time. But one of those holes was giant – verging on Lazy Baker Syndrome giant.
It wasn’t that it was terrible. It was just disappointing because it wasn’t what we expected at all.
Oops there goes another high hope…. Kerplop!
We’re going to turn it into croutons to have with blablabla tomorrow morning.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I did to make wild Pan de Cristal:
Wild Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread)
based on the JoyRideCoffee recipe for sourdough Pan de Cristal
Pan de Cristal or Sourdough Cristal Bread (very high hydration bread), mixed by hand is always a big challenge. Sometimes it may seem like an impossible mission.
– JoyRideCoffee | YouTube
[S]et aside a day with few distractions and make sure to set timers.
– Jen, FB | BBBabes and Friends
Total hydration: 106%
makes two loaves
- dessert spoonful culture (whole wheat 100% hydration starter) from the fridge (about 40 grams)
- 50 grams room temperature water
- 50 grams ‘no-additives’ 100% whole wheat flour
» 382 grams unbleached (no additives) all purpose flour
» 12 grams vital wheat gluten
» 6 grams wheat germ
- 420 grams water, divided (350 + 60 + 10)
- all of the leavener from above
- 10 grams seasalt
- 10 grams olive oil
- Leavener Late in the evening on the day before you will be making naan sangak, put a spoonful of culture from the fridge into a small bowl. Stir in 50 grams water and 50 grams whole wheat flour. Cover with a plate and put into the cold oven (if the night temperatures are cool, turn the oven light on) to leave overnight.
- Leavener, continued In the morning of the day you will be making pan de cristal, particularly if the weather is warm. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 15 grams water and 15 grams whole wheat flour into the bowl from the previous night. Cover with a plate and leave until after the autolyse (see the following step) is completed.
- Autolyse: In the morning of the day you will be baking the bread, using a dough whisk, mix the flour, vital wheat gluten and wheat germ together with 350 grams water until there is zero flour left in the bowl. Cover with a plate and allow to rest on the counter for 2 hours.
- Add the leavener: After the 2 hours have completed, check that the leavener is floating (if it isn’t floating, follow the instructions above at “leavener, continued”), then glop it on top of the flour and water mixture. Then, using just one hand to mix and one hand to turn the bowl, squoosh the leavener in until it is amalgamated. Cover with a plate and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Adding the Salt and Kneading:
- Whisk the salt into 15 grams of water to dissolve it. Then pour it over the dough. Once again, use just one hand to squoosh the salted water in; 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. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem a lot more like dough. Cover with a plate and leave it to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Add another sploosh of the 70 grams of water and stretch and fold again. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes more.
- After 20 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 of the 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. King Arthur Baking explains the coil fold method well:
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.
– King Arthur Baking, Pan de Cristal
The Joy Ride Coffee 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 slowly, but surely, 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.
- Liberally spray the tops of each flat slab of dough with water. Place the trays on the stone. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the bread is a deep golden brown. (Be amazed at the oven spring.
- 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
:: starter (aka culture): Our starter is a 100% hydration, liquid levain. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)
:: leavener and the float test: In the summer, our leavener can be quite active and insatiably hungry. After being fed the night before, it has used everything up and is already concave in the morning. Therefore, we feed it late at night and then a small amount again in the morning. Even in the winter, after being in the oven with only the light on, the leavener bubbles and burps with abandon. And with this method of delaying adding the leavener until after autolysing the flour and water for 2 hours, the second morning feeding is necessary.
Many people state categorically that the float test is unreliable, useless, and/or “bogus”. I have been tricked when merely looking at our starter – it appears to have doubled and be quite aerated. But it does NOT float. I feed it with a small amount of flour and check it about an hour or so later. The starter then has a slightly domed shape and DOES pass the float test, indicating that it is at its peak.
Here are three reasons that I am a diehard float tester:
[It] might be the case that your starter is rising, but you’re not there to see it. If you feed at night, it might be rising up while you’re asleep, and by morning it has fallen again, so it looks the same.
– Donna Currie, Serious Eats
| Sourdough Starter Frequently Asked Questions
The best time to mix your starter into your dough is when it’s achieved its maximum rise and is just starting to fall, because that’s when the yeast activity is going to be at its maximum.
– the Regular Chef, YouTube: 5 Ways To Get A Better Oven Spring | Sourdough Bread Tips
The most reliable indication that your leaven is ready is if it floats in water, a result of the carbon dioxide gas produced by wild yeast activity. To test the readiness of your leaven, drop a spoonful of it into a bowl of moderate room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ferment and ripen. You can expedite the fermentation by putting the leaven in a warm place and checking again after half an hour. Or you can [feed] the leaven […] [to give] it fresh resources to ferment and ripen. Let the new mixture ferment until it passes the float test.
– Chad Robertson, Tartine Bread, p45-47
I am in complete awe of all the intuitive sourdough bakers out there who are producing brilliant bread after brilliant bread without doing the float test. But for me, it is an important step to ensure that our bread rises rather than becoming a doorstop destined to immediately become bread crumbs. Or worse, compost.
:: 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
We are loving our current read-aloud book! Take a look at what we read last night:
Sifting is mandatory, even for self-rising flour. The sifting will catch any impurities in the flour, and mass-milled flour will have some mysterious specks here and there.
“I sift all my flour,” she said. “Some people don’t, and I eat their bread, but I don’t really want to. You know, I just do it to be polite.” But, she concedes, she usually points it out.
Preheat your oven to 350 or 400 degrees, “depending on whether your oven runs hot or not” […] When I asked her to be specific about the oven temperature, she snorted at me.
“How in the world do I know how their oven cooks? I ain’t never been in their house, and I don’t even know who they are.”
Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the mysteries of your oven.
– Rick Bragg, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table, chapter 1 “Them Shadows Get to Dancin'”, Butter Rolls
» Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread): 100% (BBB March 2022)
» And we have a new pet…
» Kneading Slack Dough by Hand
» Catching up in 2010: Coccodrillo one more time (BBB March 2008)
» Kneading Slack Dough by Hand Revisited
» not-Wordless not-Wednesday: hand-kneading slack dough
» Barbari Bread: hand-kneading fun (BBB June 2013)
» Wild Ciabatta (ish)