The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough pan bread.. darn thing looks weird!

Mike E's picture
Mike E

Sourdough pan bread.. darn thing looks weird!

I know this topic has been covered before, but I can't seem to find an answer to my particular problem. You all have helped me go from flat, blah bread a couple months ago to some really fantastic stuff, so I thought maybe I could reach out to you again. All I'm looking to do is to get my sourdough bread formed in a pan, to look like my yeasted pan bread.. i.e. domed on the top with that "muffin-like" side profile when sliced. What I'm getting now has two problems.. the sourdough rises fine in the pan, but it doesn't dome up on top.. it rises level and does not have any oven spring, so the finished, baked bread looks like a brick. It tastes great, but it's a little too dense from lack of expansion, and my kids don't like the way it looks. I think the lack of oven spring is due to the pyrex glass I'm forming this in.. and that's insulating the bread from the heat of the oven, killing my 'spring'. My free-form hearth breads spring fantastic, jumping right off the stone, so I'm a little mystified over that.. In addition, during the rising time of several hours, there are huge bubble forming on the top, which make the bread look like some alien life form when baked.. any ideas? I've tried different hydrations between 66 and 60% to try and keep the frothy bubbles down, but no luck with that.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try changing the method you use.  Check into correct dough weight to pan size.  Maybe the pan is too big for the amount of dough.

Think of raising the loaf as one long step interrupted with stretch and folds done while it rises.  This gives a tighter structure to your loaf and controls those big bubbles.  Shortly before baking the loaf gets a final shape and rise roughly between 30 to 45 minutes.

I think you've read about the stretch and fold, it applies to free standing loaves as well as panned loaves.  It works well for sourdough generally for the dough weakens as fermenting progresses.

After mixing and the dough starts to rise, give it a fold, like an envelope, right there in the bowl.  Flip it over and cover.  Let it relax and rise some more.  Keep track of the top of your dough, flip it over (top down) and do a stretch & fold, flip over (top up) and return to bowl.  Depending on the hydration of the dough, do this more (for wet doughs) or every hour (for normal doughs) to tighten the structure and you find yourself shortening the time as it rises more and resists your folding. 

When you feel it tightened enough and the next fold may rip, stop, time to give it 10 minutes to rest and then give the dough a final shape.  Place in the form (or banneton for free form) and loosely cover with oiled plastic wrap to prevent drying out and sticking.  Bake when it has almost doubled from it's original (unrisen) size.  If it fills only half the form, then it will reach the rim.  If it fills 2/3 of the pan, then you may get the mushroom profile desired (from a loaf pan.) 

For the glass pan w/ lid, try putting it 10 min. sooner into the oven and slash if possible.  There is a lag time waiting for the glass to heat up. 

I'm basing my times on 75°F room temp.  Yours may vary.


althetrainer's picture

I make SD sandwich breads all the time.  My breads usually have good oven spring but I don't always get the "muffin-like" shape bread.  The only times my loaf turned out looking like a muffin top was when I over-proofed it.  I don't use a recipe; only judge by how it looks, feels, and smells.  Here are a few pictures of my breads... no muffin-like slices but with open crumb. 

1) Sourdough Russian black bread, (used rye flour, WW flour, unbleached flour):

2) Sourdough White Sandwich bread, 80% unbleached flour:

3) SD Whole Wheat sandwich bread, 100% whole wheat flour:

4) SD Beet Sandwich Bread, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, & beet puree:

5) SD Sesame Sandwich bread (WW & unbleached flour),  SD Russian Black bread (rye, WW & unbleached flour), & SD Sesame garlic loaf (whole wheat & unbleached flour):

Regarding holes, I got those too.  Not a big deal in my family. 

One of my loaves had a big hole right in the middle so I made it into something funny; my 7-year-old loved it:

6) Funny Bread:

To us,  taste is more important than anything.  If the bread looks nice that's great.  If not, we still eat it with a big smile. 

Happy baking!