The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

Lramik's picture

Issues with larger batches of Tartine sourdoughs


I've been reading the forums here and there for several years now, but this is my first post.

A little background: I'm the sous-chef at a small but popular restaurant where I've recently been able to take control of baking all the breads (sandwich loaves, focaccias, brioches, etc etc). Lately, since the winter is the slow season for us, I've had time to experiment with baking sourdoughs and hearth-type breads at work just as I do at home. I've had excellent results at home for quite some time, despite using totally average AP flour and an electric oven on its last legs; I've been maintaining my starter for almost three years now, and it's very happy, active and honestly loved like a pet in our house.

So, I was excited to take all that and transfer it to the restaurant, thinking that our big stand mixer, expansive work surfaces, warmer kitchen, large fridge for retarding, etc, would result in the same success and more, but that hasn't been the case.

Basically, my main issue is that I haven't been able to get the same kind of gluten development in my doughs while baking large batches at work as I do at home with a single batch, and my loaves, while delicious, don't have the same open crumb.

I've been baking almost exclusively from Tartine Bread since I picked it up in the fall (I know I'm years late to the Tartine party...) and I've been mostly baking the baguette recipe at work, though I truly love the whole wheat as well.

Here's the rundown:

The first couple times I tried at work, I baked a 3x batch of the baguette recipe. I used all Five Roses AP flour, which I believe is between 11.5-12% protein. Mixed poolish night before, in fridge overnight. I did the initial mix (pre-autolyse) in the stand mixer, thinking that this would enable me to get a head start on gluten development with the big batch. During bulk ferment, S&Fs were difficult as the dough was not very extensible (less so than at home using Robin Hood AP, a comparable flour.) By the time the dough had almost doubled, it was better, but still not quite as smooth as what I achieve at home. I was very excited; the loaves held up well during the final proof, great oven spring and then... I cut one open and... evenly-textured smallish holes. Sudden disappointment, and no one else in the restaurant could understand why, as they crammed hot buttered chunks of bread into their mouths.

I figured it was the initial mechanical mixing that must be responsible for the dense crumb, so I switched back to an all-hand method and unfortunately achieved similar results. Now, there were sometimes a few large and irregular holes, but I felt as though the dough was underdeveloped even after 3-5 hours of bulk ferment, turning every half hour. The dough is webby, tears relatively easily during preshaping, and just generally does not have the smooth, supple softness that I enjoy working with. The loaves bake up alright... oven spring is great, although I never come close to developing "ears" (and I have at home), and that dense crumb just makes me mad every time!

Recently I bought a couple bags of bread flour (12.5 and 14 percent) and have been experimenting with them at home. Brought some to work for latest batch of baguettes. No real difference, and if anything, the dough was even webbier than usual. However it was a warm day in the prep room and by the time I'd done four turns the thing had almost doubled; threw it in the walk-in cooler for another couple hours and continued but it was just never quite "right."

Hopefully someone has gotten this far through my wall of text! Here's what I'm thinking:

  • maybe I'm not able to develop the dough as well with s&f in the larger batch? should I divide into two small batches after the first turn/salt addition? Or should I stay with one large batch, and retard in the fridge between turns so that I have more time to accomplish gluten development?
  • maybe I'm underproofing after the final shape at work; I usually leave them an hour and a half or so, and by that time they have usually risen to about one and a half times the initial volume, but some of the "rise" is "spreading" and I get all scared of overproofing and I get them in the oven. I feel like if I waited some more, maybe those big holes would develop?
  • I know my shaping technique can use some work, but I feel like the dough itself is almost preventing me from proper shaping.

Any ideas? Again, I apologize for the long post. I'll try to get some pictures up soon.

Bashert's picture

Whole-Wheat Rye Spelt

This was an experiment I thought turned out worthy of sharing. I keep trying to increase the depth of flavor and wean myself off store-bought white flour. So, here is my 90% hydration 60% whole-wheat, 30% rye, and 10% spelt sourdough, made using the Tartine method.

Formula for two 1000g loaves:

200g Levain

600g organic whole-wheat

300g organic rye

100g spelt

900g water

20g salt

3.5 hour bulk rise, 2 hour proof at room temp after shaping


Bubbling whole-grain dough.

The crumb.. and an arm.


Customers at the market seemed to love it! Ended up with a very soft crumb and slightly sweet, nutty whole-wheat flavor. My wife says my spelt breads are "dry... in a good way." And I always think the dough smells like a big matzo ball when I'm mixing it. Anybody else notice this when using spelt??

shopkins1994's picture

I dyed my bread, an experiment

Hi Everyone,

      I've been baking a few loaves of bread a day to learn the skill and yesterday I decided to dye the top part of the dough each time I folded it to see if folds have anything to do with say hole formation, etc. It doesn't appear that folding has anything to do with holes. I did three folded cycles. Each time I folded I painted the top of the dough blue.

SilverMaple's picture

Cranberry and other ingredients sticking

I am going to make a cranberry/walnut sourdough later today,  I have made it a few times with varying success (starter issues...), but each time I have had a problem with pieces of cranberry sticking to the pan during the baking process.  I think I am flouring the pan adequately - is there anything I am missing?

More flour?   Bake it on a stone?

I hope this is is the appropriate place for the question, wasn't quite sure.


dickeytt's picture

Smaller Oven Dilemma and cooking multiple loafs

Hi All, I am currently successfully cooking a single loaf in my smallish oven.  I have a small granite baking stone and heat my oven to 250C for 1 hour before cooking the loaf.  The process I use is to cook the loaf at 250C for 10 mins then turn down to 220C for 20 min, down again to 200C for 20 mins and finally 10 mins at 190C.  I have now used this process for my last few loaves and have found that it produces a very nice sourdough loaf.


So here is my dilemma, I would like to make more than 1 loaf at the same time, but not sure how to cook them as I can't fit 2 loaves in my oven at the same time and also want to minimise the amount of time I have to re-heat the oven back to 250C before putting in the next loaf.

Could you offer me some advice on the best way to cook the loaves without having to re-heat the oven between each loaf cooking.




Saiphm42's picture

Sourdough Explodes!

The photo isn't mine. In fact, it's not even sourdough. It's a photo of Irish Soda Bread that burst open.


Buuuuut, that's what's happening to my sourdough.....


In fact, recently, it got even more severe. It's not bursting nicely like this photo anymore. It's started coming out looking like a beast tore it apart. And the bread is dense and a couple of times, so much so that it never baked through.  :-(


It didn't just happen one day. It came on slowly like a disease. The loaf split more and more each time I baked and then started to look torn and undercooked.


I've thought that maybe my house humidity has changed maybe. Or perhaps I'm getting frustrated and impatient and am not proofing long enough....maybe my dough is wrong from the get-go, but it used to work just fine...



Im just at my wits end with it. What do you guys think it could be?




Truffles's picture

getting the loaves brown enough

I just  tried Susan's (wild yeast) poolish baguettes where she recomends diastolic malt for browning. I followed her recipe, I did use KAF's European baguette flour, and was really pleased with the feel and condition of the dough as I put them in the oven. The only change I made was to start them on 500 degrees F instead of 475 an I left them on that for 7 minuets instead of turning the temp down to 450. I then turned the temp down to 475 for the 10 minuets she recommends. At that time I checked the color when the idea was to turn off the oven,door ajar, but there was really no color so I turned the oven back on at 475 for 10 minuets and took them out, still almost no color.

Any suggestions.  By the way  Ive had the oven temp checked twice an was told it was running a little hot. I have no idea how to get the nice dark brown.

kolobezka's picture

Drying oils for bread baking

I always use about 4% olive oil in my breads to slower down the stalinig process. When I tried using sunflower oil instead I had impression the the bread dries faster. Is it possible?
I remember that some oils are called "drying" oils. Does it have any significance in bread baking?
Also in cosmetics sunflower oil is said to dry out the skin.
However in some olders threads here in TFL and elswhere people say it doesn't matter which oil / fat you use (outside health reason but that's not the issue here)



Nicola's picture

Waah! My rye bread loaf splits in two horizontally when it bakes. So sad!

I'm posting another photo of the loaf; the one that shows the cut loaf was too big to upload, so I have to modify the photo size in my photo program before I can send that. However, all your comments have been helpful. I'll look again at the cut loaf, to see if the bottom is more compacted than the top. Re: putting the loaves in the oven diagonally, and well separated: that is what I did do, so it can't have been that I placed the pans too close together. Interesting comment about the "memory" of rye, though. This has occurred to me in the past but I kind of dismissed it as not being possible! Maybe next time I should just pour the whole batter into the pan at once, instead of spooning it in? Also, interesting that you don't recommend beating the dough to get some gluten going. Maybe next time I'll try just mixing and not beating, if beating won't help. Also interesting comment about maybe adding the whole wheat flour at an earlier stage. I have done that in the past though and I'm not sure that's the cause of the splitting. Anyway thanks for all your suggestions and comments. More are welcome, if you have any!

srulybpsyd's picture

Confusion About Yeast and Salt %

Hi All,

My wife and I did a large bake of Maggie Glezer's Slow Rise WW Challah about 2 weeks ago (documented here). We froze the challahs after cooling but only got around to eating them this past weekend. To say I was disappointed is an understatment. The challahs looked and smelled delicious but they were quite dense (more than 100% WW I've made in the past), a little dry, and had the wrong kind of sour note. I expected some "tang" due to the long rise times and firm preferment but my wife and I both agreed that this just didn't tatse right.

I went back to the recipe to see if I had messed up the procedure and noticed something interesting: In her recipe for two loaves of this challah she calls for Bread Flour in the preferment and WW flour in the final dough. In the expanded recipe for 5 lbs of flour she calls for WW flour in both the preferment and final dough. In addition, in the smaller recipe the % of yeast is about 0.1%, while the % yeast in the larger (all WW) recipe is 0.05%. In both recipes the % salt is about 2%.

Do these percentages seem reasonable? I understand that less yeast as well as a greater salt to yeast ratio will lead to a slower rise, but I'm confused about why the recipe with the WW preferment calls for less yeast than the BF preferment. If anything I would think it would be the opposite.