Baking and Finished Characteristics

Terminology and definitions for bread types, bread ingredients, bread making and baking.

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. April 15, 2011.

7. Baking and Finished Characteristics

Bake

To cook in an oven, where the food is surrounded by hot air.

Bloom

Bloom refers to the way the top of bread opens up during baking along the cuts made in the top crust. The cutting creates “ears” (flaps of dough that rise up from the loaf and crisp up). Another term, Blooming the yeast, means to get the yeast fully active before adding it to the flour. It is functionally the same as proofing the yeast.

Break And Shred

The portion of the loaf between the top and the sides that shreds somewhat during baking. Ideally it should be even around the loaf.

Crumb

This is a word to describe the interior of the loaf. Basically, it includes everything that isn’t the crust—the interior texture, gluten network, tenderness and general feel of a bread. Desirable crumb size and texture varies depending on the product. Kneaded breads are generally fine and even, although when using sourdough starters the product may contain large bubbles. Batter breads generally contain a coarse crumb.

Flat Top

A loaf of bread with a dome that does not hold up so the dough flattens during baking. Usually caused by too much yeast, too little flour or excess rising time.

Flying crust

This is the name for what happens when the entire upper crust of a loaf of bread rises and detaches itself from the rest of the loaf while baking. It usually occurs because of insufficient or no slashing.

Oven Spring

The last, quick rise a bread goes through when a risen dough is first placed in a hot oven. This occurs when the dough is still soft and the gases (CO2 and steam) in the dough heat up and expand. To get a good oven spring, the oven is over-preheated, to 450–500°F; the dough placed in the oven and the temperature reduced to normal, typically 375–400°F. Overheated baking stones and stone bakeware also help the spring. The object is to get a lot of heat into the bread before the crust solidifies, and thus make a lighter bread with a coarser crumb.

Thwack

The hollow sound of a perfectly baked loaf just out of the oven. The sound is best made by thumping the bottom of the bread with the backside of a spoon. A more accurate method is the instant-read thermometer, with its stainless probe: the center of a “done” yeast bread should be 195–200°F.

Underproof

Under risen.

Webbing

The texture or holes in “rustic” types of bread. Generally, larger and more irregular webbing is considered best. For example, a rustic artisan bread baked in a clay dome oven should have a crumb described as “coarse, with irregular webbing”—more interesting to eat, particularly with gourmet meals, than commercial foam-type sandwich bread. 🙂

Wrinkler

A bread whose top does not hold firm because of overproofing—too much yeast or a soft dough.

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