The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice on baking a huge loaf

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Advice on baking a huge loaf

This weekend I made Thom Leonard's Country French bread, as written in Glezer's Artisan Baking.  


I absolutely LOVED making the dough, it had great gluten development, as you can see in the first photo.   However, I took a huge lesson in humility and the dough almost brought me to my knees - no wonder it is listed as "advanced". 


 


anyway, it has to rise for 4 hours after shaping - being a huge loaf, I did not have a suitable banetton, but used a pasta colander instead.. With a linen HEAVILY floured.   I turned the dough out onto parchment paper to bake it, and when I tried to pull the linen out, it was GLUED to the dough in several places.   It was like Nightmare on Elm Street, except that my street has a different name.  


As I am pulling the linen out (and using quite a bit of profanity in the process), the dough is deflating right in front of my eyes, and turning from a nice, tight round, into a flying saucer shape, threatening to expand out of the parchment.


 


I had to rush it into the oven, no way to bake with steam as my original idea was to inverted my roasting pan on top of it, but then it spread so much it would not fit.  


I had zero hope for the bread, but amazingly enough, the crumb was still airy and the taste amazing. (I took a very careful picture, not showing the completely messed up top of the loaf... :-)


 


My question for your guys: what is the best way to approach a loaf of this size?  (Please, don't tell me to go buy a huge banetton....)   


Is there anything I could have done to help remove the linen without harming the dough?   Would it help start baking it with the linen on and pull it a few minutes later?


alabubba's picture
alabubba

Rice flour will keep it from sticking.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Sally,


Yes rice cones are very good, as is semolina actually.   Something to do with the gritty particles being more effective at wicking the moisture away.


To the same end, can you get your hands on some linen couche, and use that as your liner.   Nothing wrong with the colander idea, so long as it's metal and not plastic; it's your choice of lining fabric that is most critical.   Again the open weave of that type of linen is most effective at wicking the moisture.


Best wishes


Andy


ps lovely looking dough, and bread

proth5's picture
proth5

occaision that I have had bread stick to linen, I try to remember that gravity is a wonderful thing.


Instead of trying to pull the linen from the dough, I hold it in a position where the dough should "fall" away from the linen.  A little patience and the bread falls away.


Although rice flour works great, too...

ehanner's picture
ehanner

And, the crust isn't all that bad. You are being hard on your self.


I suggest you bulk ferment longer and proof shorter. And after you shape the dough, roll it in flour before you put it in in a linen couche. That looks like at least 70% hydration maybe higher. I think it's asking a lot to expect it to not stick after 4 hours. Try a longer ferment and maybe 45 minutes of proof time.


The above comments about linen and rice flour will also help but at 4 hours, you are asking for trouble.


Eric

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

@Eric:  this was actually a 66% hydration, I was a bit surprised by how light it turned out.   I like your idea of doing a long bulk fermentation, followed by a shorter proofing.


 


I did use rice flour, by the way - I now think that my linen is the problem.   I won't confess in public what I'm using as "baker's linen", for fear of getting banned, but let's just say I'm "adapting" and taking plenty of liberties in the process.


 


I guess it's time to search for the proper fabric   :-)

proth5's picture
proth5

you are in the US (and I think you are) try TMB Baking (http://www.tmbbaking.com/)  for linen.  It is not the "absolute cheapest" price, but for what they sell, the price is fair.  While you are at it, get a blade holder.


You will ask yourself - "Why did I not do this in the first place?"


You will.


Happy Baking!

AndyM's picture
AndyM

Hi Sally-


Good comments above about rice flour - it can definitely help with sticking.  Some people find that rice flour has some drawbacks, though - it does not color as nicely as white flour, and it has a certain gritty texture.  I have used a 50-50 mix of rice flour and wheat flour at times, and I sometimes even throw in some semolina for as well.


The comment about rolling the surface of the newly formed loaf in flour before placing the loaf in the rising basket can also help. 


And I would also add a suggestion about the humidity of the proofing area.  It is often recommended to proof at a very high humidity.  This will tend to make a loaf proof faster, but it sounds like you are not looking to proof your loaf as fast as possible.  I often moderate the humidity (and sometimes the temperature too) while proofing in order to extend the final proof.  So I sometimes put a loaf out uncovered to start the proof - this allows the outer surfaces to dry out a little bit as the activity picks up inside the loaf.  It can be tricky, though, to balance this technique with ensuring that the outer surface does not completely dry out, as this can cause a pseudo crust to form that can decrease the structural integrity of the loaf.  I will go through a few cycles of covering the loaf with a plastic bag (to increase humidity) and then taking the bag off (to decrease humidity) in an extended proof.


And as Andy above says, your loaf is quite lovely as it is, so any alterations are likely to be mostly cosmetic in any case...


-Another Andy

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Sally.


First off, your bread looks wonderful.


Second, although you did say you didn't want to hear it, a large banneton is worth having, unless you think you will never make another 3-4 pound boule/miche. The 12 inch banneton is all of $12 (plus S&H) from TMB, and it holds 3-4 lbs of dough. 


I use mine only a few times per year, but, with a 50/50 mix of AP and rice flour rubbed into the linen, even high-hydration, gloppy doughs don't stick. I'm glad I have it.


The wettest dough I've proofed in it was the Pane di Genzano from Leader's "Local Breads." That was proofed with a lot of coarse wheat bran rubbed into the linen. It released nicely.


BTW, I second Pat's advice to get the lame/razor blade holder TMB sells as well. I've had mine for a couple months now, and I'm convinced it's the best scoring tool I've used, especially for baguettes and bâtards.


David

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Well, David...


 


I KNEW that  SOMEONE here would twist my arm, and you did a great job....   (sigh)


 


I think I'll place an order for the big banneton....   oh, my...   there's no end to it, is there?   I arrived firmly convinced to buy nothing, and leave with a banneton (large) and a razor blade holder.....   


 


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Have you looked at TMB's mixers?


David (ducking and running for cover)

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

You can run, but you won't be able to hide forever...... careful, or I might launch a pizza peel in your direction!!!!     :-)

proth5's picture
proth5

the mixers.  They are not so much of  a "why didn't I do this sooner" but after lengthy internal debate about this or that mixer  and some serious thought about kitchen layout, when I get home "for good" one of those bad boys is headed for my house...


C'mon- get with the program!

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

In the name of helping our economy, I did the almost ultimate financial sacrifice, and bought the banettons (yes, plural)  from TMB


 


now I am counting the days to get them....... happy, happy, happy

wally's picture
wally

I've got to second everyone else, nice looking crumb!  I'm not sure the type of linen you use (I used to use a Home Depot painter's drop cloth before getting a linen couche) is so important as that you thoroughly pretreat it by rubbing in a combination of rice and AP flour.  Once it's 'seasoned' you'll find that things don't stick, and you need to rub less and less flour in for successive uses.


But bottom line, great recovery!


Larry

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Let's just say that the linen I used used to be a piece of clothing.


 


ENough said.... I say NO MORE.


 


:-)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


Let's just say that the linen I used used to be a piece of clothing.



Obviously, it was something meant to cling.


David

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Obviously...   Smart guy you are indeed.  NO wonder you bake such amazing bread!

wally's picture
wally

I rescind my 'helpful' suggestion ;)

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

You ARE very helpful!  :-)

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi SALLY, Great looking bread by the way, and remember David started this!  Clothing Couches, Im thinking of a Garment, twin compartments hanging like hammocks supporting dough pieces during proof.


With the dough sticking problem, Aussies do seem to have have a certain way of describing a lot of things, remember crocodile dundee's "Thats not a knife " another that comes to mind is "Sticks like shit to a blanket" but i wont ask you to either visualise that or confess to knowing that's exactly what i mean.


Rgards Yozza 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Priceless!!!!!   :-)