The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please help with my deformed loafs

mhjoseph's picture

Please help with my deformed loafs

These were supposed to be two 1 pound boules of Thom Leonard's Country French. The shape was perfectly round when they went in the oven but they expanded in the most unusual ways and look like they have tumors.

Can anyone tell me if this a problem of shaping or slashing or what?





Yerffej's picture

I would guess that they were underproofed and instead of experiencing oven spring you underwent oven explosion.


sephiepoo's picture

It does look as if you've underproofed too much and the bread is struggling to break free as it bakes in the oven.  Give them a little more time in the final proof and that should help?  You're not looking for quite double the original shaped size, but a little under that.  When you poke the dough with your finger, it should spring back still (if it doesn't, you've overproofed).

TeaIV's picture

it's weird, because sometimes I won't proof at all, and the bread wil look just fine.


maybe it also has to do with the primary fermentation?

sephiepoo's picture

Maybe it's also a question of how tightly you shape it? if you shape too tightly, and underproof by too much, it could also contribute to the blow out? But if you shape more loosely, the gluten net would have more slack to expand

mhjoseph's picture

The underproofing theory makes sense. After shaping I proofed at room temp for about an hour and then put into the refrigerator. In the morning, I baked them cold in a preheated 550F oven which was lowered to 450 after 10 minutes.

I've done this routine many times before but never had a blowout like this. It was a pretty dense, compact dough which may explain things.


dghdctr's picture

The flour you used can make a difference here, but the general consensus about underproofing is spot-on, I think.

Sourdough takes a while to proof properly -- wild yeasts don't work as quickly as manufactured yeast.  Anywhere from 2 to 4 hours at room temperature is common, and you have to use the touch test to see when the loaves are ready.  Don't just go by recommended times -- these are always just estimates, and there are too many possible variables between your environment and Thom's or Maggie's (at the time of the book's publication) to go strictly by the book.

Be sure your final dough temperature is about 76-78 degrees F.  A too-cold dough temp can slow the proof way down.  And proof at somewhere between 76-80 degrees.  When you proof, cover the loaves first with a floured towel, and then place the tray or board holding the loaves into a plastic bag and close the bag.   That will keep your loaves from developing a hard skin before they go in the oven, and you'll be more likely to get the apprpriate level of expansion prior to baking.

Hope that helps.

--Dan DiMuzio