The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Why, Why Do My Loaves Always Flatten!

I made Hamelman's "Sourdough Seed Bread"

Followed the instructions except added 7gr of active dry yeast to the final build in order to bake on the same day.

Here is the schedule:

Saturday night 7:30pm built the pre-ferment
Sunday 8:00am built the final dough, left to bulk ferment
Sunday 11:00am did stretch & fold
Sunday 11:30pm did another stretch & fold, divided into 4, rested 10 minutes, did final proof in bannetons
Sunday 3:00pm removed loaves from bannetons while heating oven stone to 450.
Sunday 4:00pm OVEN TIME

ON NOES WHAT HAVE I DONE. The loaves collapsed from the time they were removed from the bannetons to being put into the preheated oven.

This happened EVERY TIME except when I bake challah, which always come out nice and high.

So what is the problem? Should the loaves be left in the banneton until exactly the moment to put into the oven? This seems to be when they flatten out. I am so careful to be delicate so that they don't collapse.

Help me please.

kensbread01's picture

Greetings from Northern Illinois

Found this web site, love the international participation, all the help I have received, and cool ideals.  The Fresh Loaf is Awesome!

I love making bread, especially the part where you put it in the oven and cross your fingers hoping that it comes out as planned.  And when it does, rejoice!   There is definitely an art and science to baking and making breads certainly embody all the trials and tribulations of baking in general.

My bread making journey when I saw a book, “Bread Winners Too!” by Mel London and bought it March 7, 1985 while on lunch break from my job as a Cobol programmer for Illinois Bell.  Baking bread became somewhat of a mental and physical diversion from the stress of commuting and programming 6 days week.  I learned how to proof the yeast, add in many types of tasty ingredients, make a few different quick breads, and learn to bake after years of being a culinary spectator all my life.  I spent a few years with just that book for a reference and probably made at least 15 different recipes for breads, even tried making croissants on two occasions, neither really amounting to much but got my curiosity going for more.

Fast forward to December 2011 and now I’ve retired from my programming work and somehow came across the Tartine Bread book by Chad Robertson.  One thing I had not learned from my early bread making days was how to get that crispy crust done right; although I had been experimenting with a baking stone and using a pan of water in the first stages of bread baking.  Out comes the dutch oven combo cooker and my breads take off in a new direction until… I crack a molar, need a root canal, and now I can’t chew… my bread making stops cold.  But I digress, my root canal caused a problem which took over a year to heal and now as of Fall 2013, I’m back in business and I want to make all kinds of breads!

Nice thing about bread making, even if you screw up and your bread does not rise as expected, you can still use the left overs to make croutons for soup.

Thanks for a great place to learn and meet other bread makers, 



CeciC's picture

Crumb doesn't open up for 50% wholewheat with biga @ 80% hydration


imageimageBiga ferment for 12 hrs

500g white bf

340g water 

0.4g yeast

Main dough

500g wholewheat dread flour

460g water 

22g salt

3G yeast

20g flaxseeds

10g sesame

20g pumpkin seeds

all seeds toasted and add at the first fold.

after mixing the final dough I give it 4 s&f within the first hour. 

total bulk ferment time was 3 hours

divide and shape proof for 45 mins which seems a bit overproof

the cumb is moist but it doesn't open up at all. would that due to lack of gluten development or overproof or is becoz of the addins? this got me thinking all night. 

Luckily my yeast water 90% English muffins gives me a good spring.

Gadjowheaty's picture

Dough Docker - 2" tines?

Hello everyone -

In my continuing efforts to acquire every arcane piece of fermentation gear possible before I leave this mortal coil (and because I just think they look really, really cool), I'm looking into a dough docker for my Detmolder trials, but I've not seen anything close to J. Hamelman's mentioned 2" tines - the closest I've seen have been about 7/8", in plastic (which appeals to me, more than the metal).  Anyone have one in the length, or otherwise have experience with a dedicated docker they like? 

Many thanks,



ichadwick's picture

What am I doing wrong?

I began a levain last week (Nov 19) and it seemed to go well at first, but then it just seemed to have stopped... or slowed to a crawl.

I started with: 

  • 250 g organic Red Fife flour
  • 250 g unbleached white flour
  • 5 g organic malted barley flour
  • 500 g warm water

It seemed to get started fine - small bubbles, a small amount of brownish liquid on top now and then (alcohol, I believe), smelled okay. But it didn't get really active, although it never showed any signs it was ill (no discoloring).

On Nov 22 I fed it with 250g unbleached flour/250g water after removing that amount of starter from the bowl. It seems to be active still - and the smell is okay. Just not really active.

I added some to a dough mixture yesterday to try and begin a bread, but it just made it mushy. It didn't really take or rise. I put the dough in the fridge after a few hours. Not sure what to do with it - toss it out? Or should I take it out of the fridge and give it another chance?

 My house is cool - could that be a problem? Is it just slow or has it failed?

Our water here is good - low chlorine and low mineralization. I boiled it first to let it shed any chlorine (and then let it cool) to just over 100F.

I didn't stir it until I fed it. Should I stir more often?

Any suggestions or comments?

arlo's picture

Heritage Grain, Ithaca

During the heat of my Thanksgiving rush in the bakery right now (so many many rolls), I received word from a wonderful lady I was interviewed by back in May, named June. She works with New York State in Agriculture and specifically was interviewing about my heavy usage (roughly 90%) of local whole grains. 

We talked and talked about baking, why I choose, and how I can choose to use locally grown and milled grains. What I face with such choices and some more wonderful bread related banter. Near the end, she informed about a handful of bakers to be organized in Ithaca, New York for trial and analysis of some varietal grains -just yesterday I received the email asking to join along to work with some wonderful, gifted bakers, including Mr. Hamelman.

Needless to say, I nearly spat out my green tea, and thought, "Damn..." I'll keep everyone informed as this progresses towards the event date in January.

It isn't just because it is 'that time of the year', but I believe it goes without say, I am truly thankful for such an opportunity at nearly 26 years of age. I hope to make the most of this opportunity and continue my education, to the fullest.



Bread in the WFO, rolls to roll, orders to fill, no need to sleep. Oh and the picture is just a sourdough baguette (one of many) from this mornings bake so far. I haven't posted much pictures lately : (



chris319's picture

Small Ovens for Bread

Does anyone have experience using a countertop pizza oven to bake something the size of, say, a boule?

My big oven is, well, big. It has a huge volume of unused space inside which gets heated up -- way too much space for a loaf of bread or some biscuits. It draws 2,400 watts.

I've tried a toaster oven but direct exposure to the heating elements tends to burn things (especially the bottoms) unless you take elaborate measures to diffuse the heat. I'm looking for something smaller and more energy efficient and which will not burn the bottom or any other part of a loaf.

The first problem I see is that a pizza is flat and a loaf of bread is 2 to 4 inches high, so any oven would have to accomodate the height of a loaf.

Any success stories with pizza ovens? I'm also considering electric skillets and roaster ovens.

Even my big oven had a tendency to burn the bottoms of baked goods due to the direct exposure to the heating elements.

souocara's picture

Help! Too much oven spring I think?

So I am fairly new to bread baking, and am having trouble with a no knead boule type recipe.  My dough has been in the fridge for about a week now, and seems to be in great shape.  But when I bake it you can see what happens in the picture.  I shaped a small round loaf using a softball size amount of dough.  I had a baking stone in the oven preheated to about 450.  I let the dough rest for about 40 minutes (per instructions) before baking it.  I don't know if I am getting too much oven spring, or if it is the way I am shaping the loaf, or something else.  Any ideas?

Sorry, it looks like the picture is rotated.

Thanks for any advice!

decatur's picture

Crust color mystery!

Hello, these loaves are basically Robertson Tartine using KAAF and are from the same bake.  The size differential is due to the lazy baker who failed to weigh the loaves.  The color differential has happened repeatedly (even when I measure weights).  This has happened time and again.  I retard my loaves overnight in the refrigerator in couch lined with linen with encrusted rice flour - I rarely add more rice flour.  The loaves come out beautifully from the couch.   I bake in a home electric oven (old Dacor) and use a steam hood (chaffing dish cover with hole) and steam generator.  Since I cannot fit the two loaves under my steam hood I bake them one at a time.  The bake was done with preheat to 550 degrees convection with a baking stone filling almost all of the rack.  I remove one loaf from refrigeration, load one loaf, steam for 30 sec and turn oven down to 425 degrees.  Leaving steam in place for 18 minutes and removing lid to finish the bake for about 12 minutes.  I reheat the oven at 550 degrees until the stone is hot (using a heat gun to check), take the second loaf out of the refrigerator and do the exact same thing with the second loaf.  The white loaf above is the second loaf in this bake and it is always the second loaf that is whiter!  The crusts are similar in texture and the crumb is the same and very nice.  Has anyone seen this phenomenon?  Any explanation?  Any cure???  Thanks to you all in advance!  Jane

dabrownman's picture

CeciC’s Crackers with Added Yeast Water.

The other day CeciC posted some fantastic looking crackers made without any leavening at all here


As soon as I saw them I new Lucy and I would have to give them a go since we have wanted to make crackers for just about forever.


We followed the recipe except we cut it in half and added 1/4 C if Yeast water levain made for these crackers.  We also used yogurt whey instead of kefir whey.


The first batch was the sesame and flax version made whole wheat.  The 2nd batch was part semolina, spelt and farina with fresh rosemary, pecorino and parmesan ....and a few sesame and flax seeds that were left ver in teh bowl of the food processor because Lucy was too lazy to clean it.


Both versions were very tasty so……thanks CeciC we love these crackers.  They are so easy to make and  the possible varieties are - endless.  No more buying crackers!

 We love hamburgers once a month but the home made tamales are killer too - This one was a smoked pork carnitas with red sauce, habanero jack cheese and sour cream.