The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Short Loaves

plvannest's picture

Short Loaves

I'm running into a problem with my sandwich loaves.  They aren't rising very high. 

For example, last night I made some rye bread, and although the taste is great, they are a bit flat.  The recipe I used is a combination of several I found on the web.  It goes something like this:

2 pkg active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup molasses

2 cups rye flour  (Bob's Redmill Dark Rye Flour)

4+ cups bread flour  (King Arthur)

1 T salt

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/ c veggie oil

2 T caraway seeds (plus a bit just 'cause)

I mixed up the rye flour with 2 cups of bread flour, took a cup of that out, then added the salt and cocoa.  (This was so I would have a cup of flour with no salt to add to the yeast first--buffering it but don't know if that's necessary)

I let the yeast activate in 1/2 c of the warm water and the molasses until it got a nice layer of foam on top--not anywhere near double in volume.  I added the rest of the warm water then the oil then added the cup of non-salt flour and mixed with the KAM.

I gradually added the rest of the flour/cocoa/salt mixture then added in the remaining 2 cups of white flour.

I kneaded for about 15 minutes as it was a bit stiff.  It felt normal when I finished kneading.

Let it rest for 1.5 hours.

Punched it down a bit (should I be doing that?) and made the batards like the video on here shows.  Let the batards rest for 10 minutes then formed loaves like the video. (Sorry, can't find's the one with the man making batards and sandwich loaves with his little daughter "helping"...very helpful video!)

Let the loaves rise in the loaf pans for 45 minutes then slashed the top and put into a 350 oven for 45 minutes (until around 200 degrees internal loaf temp)

As I said, the loaves did rise, but not much.  The taste is great, but the loaves aren't as high as I would like.

What am I doing wrong?  I have investigated the "stretch and fold" technique, but I really like the feel of dough under my hands so am a bit reluctant to give up the kneading.

As it's winter, my kitchen temp is running around 70 degrees.  Is that the problem?  Even though an indentation of my fingers stays in the dough, is it not risen enough?  What happens if it's "over risen"?  Should the loaves rise longer in the pan?  Not so long?

I really want a higher loaf as the lower loaves I'm coming out with are a bit dense.  I can imagine what the density would be if they were as tall as they should be and it would be absolutely perfect. 

Any help/hints/suggestions/anything would be very much appreciated. 

Thank you



PaddyL's picture

Sometimes it helps if you put more dough than normal into a pan.  I have a few extra-long pans, 10", 12", even a 16-incher, and I often make double loaves in those pans.  Shape the dough as if they were going into the 8 x 4 or 9 x 5, but snuggle them end to end in a longer pan.  When they rise, they push against each other and you'll get taller loaves.  Also, you could try letting them rise a little longer before baking, if you haven't got the wacky selection of pan sizes I seem to have accumulated over the years.

SourdoLady's picture

If your dough felt stiff, I'd say that you are adding too much flour. Your dough should feel soft and pliable, slightly tacky. It will firm up more as it is kneaded and folded. Next time, try adding less flour and maybe proofing a bit longer. Don't pay much attention to proofing times in recipes--go by how much the dough has grown instead. Good luck!

breadman1015's picture

In more than 60 years of baking (both professionally and as a hobby), I have found that in home baking you just cannot use a clock to time a rise, only approximate it. Your problem may be as simple as this: since yeast is a living thing, you may not be giving it enough time to rise. I am convnced that this is why most people give-up baking bread. They formulate according to a recipe and then expect it to rise in a given time, no matter what the temperature or humidity. Remember that most rising times are based on STP (77°F at Sea Level) with a 60% Relative Humidity.

The times given in most of the recipe/fomula books are based upon a professional proofing cabinet (85°F and 85° Relative Humidity) or at a test kitchen that is 77-80°F and 60-80%Relative Humidity. I have found that in my kitchen, in winter, the temperature is generally about 70°F (except when my oven is at 500°F) and about 35-40% Relative Humidity. In general, during the winter months, dough in my kitchen generally requires a fermentation time twice as long as most people suggest.

With 6 cups of Flour and 2 packages of Yeast, you should have quite a lot of activity. I would try again. I would let it ferment for a longer time,until it at least doubled in size, and then allow the loaves to rise until they have doubled in size or filled the pan.