The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Size of proofed loaf

katyajini's picture

Size of proofed loaf

High I am new here and this is my very first post!  Extremely informative and vibrant forum, I am so glad I found it.  I have been learning so much by browsing, at least what can be learned by reading.    

I am so new to bread baking that I just don’t get this.  All recipes say proof the shaped loaf till it is twice the size.  How on earth do you know what is twice the size?  Some loaves are round and flattened, some are round and high.  Some are baguettes or batards.  Then there are the focaccias and ciabattas.  How do you tell when the loaf has doubled?  It’s not so easy to take out a ruler or measuring tape and estimate the volume for such shapes.  And we all know the trouble with over-proofing or under-proofing.  And temperatures and other environmental conditions are so variable for the home baker that the suggested times can be quite off.  I can guess at the unshaped dough if I use a graduated clear container but the shaped loaf?  And going by my 5th grade geometry eyeballing volume can lead to great errors. 


So please give me some tips how you guys do this.  I am interested in the above kind of shapes.


Many,  many  thanks.



Janknitz's picture

Press a finger lightly into the dough.  If the dough springs back immediately, it's not ready yet.  If it fills back in slowly, it's ready to be baked. 

And you are exactly right.  Times stated in recipes are guidelines only--they are not exact.  Conditions like the ambient temperature can lengthen or shorten the time before the dough is ready.  It's done when it's done and not before.  You've got to learn to "read" the dough. 

Sounds like you are on the right track.  Enjoy your new avocation. 

ezzirah's picture

That is something I have been wondering myself, thanks for the good tip. I baked off a couple of sandwhich loaves and they never seem to be as high as what I see in pictures, they all seem to come out about an inch too small to slice and make good sandwiches. I suspected I was under proofing. Now I have a way to test.



jannrn's picture

AMAZING!! Something SO simple is SO then is it safe to say that if it doesn't come back at all and deflates when you stick your finger in, it is OVERproofed??? I have had that happen....had it totally deflate on the way to the oven....just HEARTBREAKING!!!

katyajini's picture

Janknitz thank you!  Geez, I forgot about the finger test.  I have seen pictures of it in many places.  Its woderful to have that in ones arsenal.  Since we are asking questions.....does this finger test also work for very wet, goopy dough, like ciabatta and focaccia, when they are ready to bake?  


And jannrn your question is so important.  I guess yes that does men your dough was overproofed.  Lets see what others comment.