The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flat Boules

GregS's picture

Flat Boules

I have been working with the Cook's Magazine "Almost No Knead" recipe, which seems pretty slick to me. Trouble is, after baking the recipe a number of times, I feel there is an either/or issue resolving hydration vs rise and shape stability. I do my second rise on a parchment sheet lowered into a bowl (boule?) shaped like the rounded loaf I hope for. When the second rise is complete, I remove the parchment sling, slash the loaf, then lower it into the 6 quart dutch oven for baking. The loaf is about an inch less in diameter than the pot.

Now for the tragic outcome: The loaf subsides into something like a very thick Frisbee. It springs pretty well and the interior is uniformly holey. Tastes great. But.... I'd like a nice upstanding loaf that is a good deal rounder. I don't want a basketball, but should I reduce the hydration to make a stiffer dough? Is there just something inherent in the no knead regieme that makes a more slack dough? Anyone have strategies for "stiffening the spine" of my boules without giving up their nice moist chewiness?

Thanks for your ideas.

MaryinHammondsport's picture

I do the final proofing on my non-no knead boules in a bowl just as you do. I also use parchment as a liner while proofing. However, here is where we part ways, because I do not remove the parchment -- it goes right into the cast-iron pot along with the bread; as a matter of fact, that's how I get it in there; I use the corners of the parchment as handles to lift it into the preheated pot.

I have to admit that because of wrinkles in the parchment, my loaf is not perfectly symmetrical, but that's ok with me.

You migh try that tack, before changing anything else. Do everything just as you have in the past, same hydration, etc. Just leave the parchment on while it bakes in the pot. I get a nice high loaf, and you may also. If that doesn't work, I agree, it may be a hydration issue.

ehanner's picture


I'm not familiar with the recipe from Cooks so if you could post it we might be able to help you with better information. The almost no kneading concept sounds like it has a two stage ferment but you didn't mention how you shape the loaf. Even the origional NY Times version had some shaping that could be interpreted as what we call folding. If you don't develop the gluten to some degree, either by shaping or folding, the dough will not rise as well and won't "spring" during baking.

Another thought; You might try shaping after the first ferment. If your formula calls for a small amount of yeast and a long rise, you might be destroying the gluten by waiting to long to bake. The yeast could be running out of steam and not providing a good spring. Now that I think about it, I'll bet that's the problem. Try fermenting to double or what ever the first time should be at standard temperature for the recipe, then shape and bake. Let us know how it goes.