The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

That classic sandwich loaf shape

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

That classic sandwich loaf shape

Ok, this might get long. I have tried to bake my own bread regularly in the past but always ended up discouraged. I recently found this site and it gave me the courage to try again but I am again starting to get frustrated. As somewhat of a sandwichalohic I am trying to achieve that perfect "mushroom" sandwich loaf shape (looking at if from end on) that most store purchased bread has (even the bakery artisan bread). I am currently using the Rustic Bread recipe found on this site and while I like the results I still find it a little dense and it doesn't obtain the shape I am looking for.

My question is, should the mushroom cap shape at the top of the loaf be created by the second rise in the bread pans or is it caused by the oven spring during the baking? I think it should be caused by the bread overflowing the pan slightly during the second rise but it never seems to rise this high. If that is when it should obtain this shape then I think I might just increase the recipe so that the pan is filled with more dough.

Thanks for any information you can provide.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I get most of my shape from the oven spring--the proofed loaves will have a nice dome to them, but not a "mushroom" (good description, by the way)

 

I find there are two factors that helped me get a lovely sandwich loaf shape

 

1. Use the correct size loaf pan. I realized after years of puny loaves that I had larger pans than most recipes specified. In general, I put about 2 pounds of dough in a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 pan.

 

2. Make sure the final proof is long enough. I had a habit of under-proofing final loaves. Let it rise until it's a good inch or so over the rim of the pan. When I worked at a bakery, we had limited oven space and sometimes the sandwich loaves were delayed going into the oven--they could get really tall and nearly wobbly and still turn out fine--there's a danger of collapse if you go too long, but what I learned is you can get away with pushing it a lot longer than you think.  

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

Ok, that confirms what I thought but now I have a second question. If I am not leaving the final-proof long enough and the dough should rise an inch or so above the edge of the pan how do I get it to rise that high? Most recipes I use state to use a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap over the dough while it is rising. I have been doing this with kitchen towels over the individual pans but I don't think the yeast / rise would be strong enough to lift the towels that high.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to provide the same effect of a damp kitchen towel without actually using one?

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

It'll definitely lift the towel up. I use a tea-towel (smooth fabric) on top. If I remember to I mist the dough once in a while to keep it from forming a crust. Plastic would work fine too but I buy the cheap stuff and it sometimes sticks--hence the towel. Works fine for me.

 

Yeast is pretty strong! Multiple times when I've retarded dough in the fridge it has risen and pushed the lid right off the bowl--and the lid is a heavy ceramic plate.

 

Here's a sandwich loaf from this weekend: about 2 # of dough in an 8.5 x 4 pan

 

qahtan's picture
qahtan

One  is whole wheat,  one is white bread,  but both are  20 ounces of dough

 in a 8 x 4 x4 pan.               qahtan

 http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/qahtan/bake/Wholewheat1.jpg

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y58/qahtan/bake/0breads.jpg

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

Well I tried it again and ended up with another disaster! I added the full recipe to my loaf pan and everything looked good until I put it in the oven. The bread was nice and high and sitting above the lip of the pan but as soon as I put it in the oven it started to "melt" over the edges. Fearing a complete loss of the loaf I quickly pulled it out ripped off the dough that was hanging over the edge, transfered it to another pan and finished baking it. While it turned out to be perhaps the best tasting bread I have made so far it still doesn't have the shape I am shooting for.

 Breadnerd, would you mind posting the recipe and procedure you use for that awesome loaf pictured above?

demegrad's picture
demegrad

Reading this thread I had a thought and I don't know if it's the solution to your problem but some illustrations came to mind so I tried my best to get them onto the computer.

Essentially I think your spill over problem might be due to using too much dough in the pan. But I think that could be solved by using a good sized slash. If you slash the oven spring will mainly push the loaf upward, but if left unslashed the oven spring will push equally everywhere and the dough will overtake the bread pan before the crust can begin to set therefore the dough may spill over. If you are looking for a lighter texture, maybe using less dough and overproofing a little, therefore limiting the amount of oven spring is a solution and the crust should form prior to the dough being able to overtake the pan. Or maybe you can not overproof at all and use a slash.

Truthfully I don't know if this happens to be your current problem or if these are good solutions, just looking over the thread I was trying to think of reasons the bread would spill over the pan and possible solutions for that. I hope I helped.

 

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

Ok, I'll try a slash next time to see if that makes a difference. I was also concerned that the dough really didn't look like it was "strong" enough to support it self outside of the pan so that when it sprang in the oven it went over the lip. What I mean is that I feel if I were to dump the dough out of the loaf just before putting it in the oven it would probably flatten out into a round disc of dough. Shouldn't the dough be strong enough somewhat hold it's shape? When moving the pan from the counter to the oven I felt as if I was carrying a very fragile water balloon.

Some procedural steps: before I was using the full recipe in the one pan I was letting the dough rise a final time in the pans to try and get some additional height. Should I still be doing this or should I just put it straight into the oven after the second rise and transfer to the pan?

demegrad's picture
demegrad

Your description of the dough does sound unusual to me.  Typically simple sandwich loaves are not slack doughs, like ciabatta for instance, you may also try kneading more and make sure you get a nice smooth tight surface to the dough when you shape it.  Whenever you get the time, list the ingredients and general procedure, someone around here should be able to pick up on something. 

demegrad

http://www.demegrad.blogspot.com

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Bitbyter,

From your description of the dough, it sounds as though it might be over-proofed. There could be other factors, too. If you could answer a few questions, it might help us make a diagnosis. For instance:
1. What are the dimensions of the pan you are using?
2. How much dough (by weight) are you putting in the pan?
3. What is the approximate hydration of the dough?

If you are willing to make another attempt, it would also be helpful to see a photograph of the dough in the pan immediately after shaping and another photograph showing the dough and pan at the point you are ready to put it in the oven. That would give a pretty good visual indication of how much the dough has expanded during proofing. If things go badly again (and I hope they don't), a third photo showing a failed loaf might also yield a few clues.

Hang in there. Whatever the problem is, somebody on this list will come up with an idea that gets you past this rough patch.

PMcCool

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

Is it also possible that the dough was over-kneaded, esp. if using a stand mixer? That would cause it to become really slack and not hold shape, similar to how overbeaten heavy cream curdles.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm in agreement: sandwich bread is typical not that slack, and when you shape it you degas it quite a bit. When you shape it, you need to pull it pretty tight and really pinch the seam closed on the bottom so that there is even surface tension on top. That is what'll get you that balanced mushroom top.

In terms of when it spills over the lip, as the diagram shows, I think that depends on how much dough you've got. In my experience it rarely spills over the top until it is in the oven, but I tend to make smaller loaves.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

For baking bread in a pan, you should definitely be doing the final rise IN the pan. For most sandwich loaves, I do a first rise of the dough, then divide it into loaf portions (1 to 2 pounds, depending on the pan/recipe). I usually shape it into a loose round shape, and then let it rest for 10 or 15 minutes to relax. Then, I shape it into the final loaf shape, and put it in the pan to rise, usually for 30-45 minutes, depending on the type of bread and what the recipe calls for. Then you are ready for baking, and can slash the loaves right before they go in the oven.

 

So this sounds like it might be the problem. The bread in the picture is adapted from Beth Hensperger's "White Mountain" loaf, and is the very first learning lesson in her "Basic Bread Book". It's the book I started baking with, and I still use the recipes from it after many years.


If you are trying a rustic bread recipe, it might not be the best application for a loaf pan (with mushroom shape, anyway).  I'd start with a simpler recipe to get some practice.

Good luck!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Bitbyter,

I went back and looked at the rustic bread recipe that you referenced. It's a fairly high-hydration formula, about 68%. It is also a lean dough, with just flour, water, yeast and salt. You'll note that the instructions are for hearth-style baking, rather than in pans.

That may be the root of some of your problems.

Most sandwich bread recipes have lower hydration levels. They also typically feature the addition of sweeteners and/or fats.

If you want to continue with the rustic bread recipe, I would suggest that you try baking it on a stone, instead of in a pan. You may find that it is much more cooperative in that environment.

Or, since you are looking for a pan-baked sandwich style loaf, you might want to select a different recipe that is formulated for baking in pans. The honey whole wheat recipe on this site would be a good candidate, I think.

Just another idea to consider. Good luck and keep trying!

PMcCool

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

I think you are right. The recipe I have been using is meant to be baked on a stone which explains why it hasn't been preforming as expected in the pan (no idea why I missed this). I'm going to try a different recipe and see how it turns out. Thanks everyone for the help. When I succeed I will post pics.

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

Well I know I haven't written back regarding my trails and errors but I have been experimenting with all the variables and have finnally succeeded!! I found a recipe on this site and tweaked it a bit until I was satisfied. I think you can agree that the result below are great! Now that I have perfected a sandwich loaf I think I'm ready to move onto more traditional artisan recipies so I'm off on the hunt for some ceramic tiles...

 

 

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

2 Perfect Loaves2 Perfect Loaves

An Ealier batch not baked long enough for the crust to formAn Earlier batch not baked long enough for the crust to form

Slashes & Crust

Slashes & Crust

Slashes & CrumbSlashes & Crumb

The elusive "mushroom" shapeThe elusive "mushroom" shape

Crumb from the ealier loaves but it is pretty much the same as the newer onesCrumb from the ealier loaves but it is pretty much the same as the newer ones

From the top it almost looks like it wasn't even in a loaf panFrom the top it almost looks like it wasn't even in a loaf pan

bitbyter's picture
bitbyter

8 oz / 1 cup                              Water (just above room temp)
8 oz / 1 cup                              2 % Milk (at room temp)
1 large                                     Potato (cooked until very soft)
2 oz / 1/4 cup                           Salted Butter
1.5 oz / 3 tbsp                          Honey
0.375 / or 2-1/4 tsp                   Active Dry Yeast
0.333 / or 2 tsp                         Kosher salt
28 oz / 3 1/2 cups                     Bread Flour
12 oz / 1 1/2 cups                     AP Flour
8 oz / 1 cup                              Whole Wheat Flour
4 oz / 1/2 cup                           Wheat Bran

Makes two 1.5 pound loaves

1.      Boil your potato in the 2 cups of water and then let cool.

2.      Separate the water from the potato and measure out 1 cup. Add 1 cup of 2 % milk to it & mash the potato into it.

3.      Place active dry yeast, potato water, mashed potato and honey into a bowl and leave until yeast starts to foam (about 5 to 10 minutes).

4.      Mix together all the flour together plus the wheat bran and salt,

5.      Add the flour & salt mix to your mixers bowl.

6.      Cut the 1/4 cup of butter into small pieces and add to the mixers bowl.

7.      Pour the liquids and yeast into the mixing bowl.

8.      Turn on your mixer and wait until the dough forms. It should pull everything from the sides of the mixer and the bowl should look clean. If there is still a bit of dry flour at the bottom of the bowl add very small amount of water until it is incorporated.

9.      Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 20 minutes (good time to prepare your bowl for step 10 and turn the oven light on).

10.  Knead for 5 to 6 minutes in your mixer (check instructions for the correct speed for this).

11.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl with oiled plastic wrap covering the top.

12.  Place in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours (the oven with its light on works well).

13.  When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down, divide in half and form into loaves:

·        Flatten each half into a rectangle, roll it up tightly along the longer side and seal the edge.

·        Fold under the ends and seal all the edges by pinching the dough.

14.  Place into buttered loaf pans, cover with oiled plastic wrap and place back into the oven as above to rise for another 35 minutes.

15.  When the rise is done preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a thick metal baking pan on the bottom shelf.

16.  Slash the loaves, place in the oven and add 2 cups of water to the hot pan.

17.  Immediately reduce the oven temp to 375 and bake until the bread’s internal temperature is 200 degrees (about 25 to 30 minutes).