The Fresh Loaf

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Seeking More SD Loaf Height

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EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

Seeking More SD Loaf Height

Thanks to TFL, my sourdough loaves are more uniform, tender,  and consistently tasty. Now I'm raising the bar, and want taller loaves.  My daughter says, "Mom, these loaves are so flat!" (I think she wants more surface area for honey and butter:>)


I currently let the dough rise in a ceramic bowl covered with a dishtowel in the warming drawer for 1.5 hrs, then shape the 10" long loaves with a minimum of flour, slash and place them on a gray cookie sheet, cover with the same dishtowel, and let rise for another 1.5 hrs, then bake at 450.


I'm happy with the flour and starter and oven and warming drawer and dishtowel, but highly suspect that old cookie sheet could be the nemesis of loaf height. What do you think?


EvaGal


(Wednesday) Once again, thanks for the great advice.   I have lots of linen-type dishtowels (thanks to numerous long-deceased ancestors) and will try to imitate the pictures I've seen. I used to have a "w" shaped baguette pan, but it rusted and dented during my 11 years without an oven.  If I can dig it out of the "Yard Sale" pile, I wonder if I could line it with parchment for baking?  


The warming drawer setting is just above 90degrees. I don't think I can set it any lower...I need a "no-fuss" system where I can set the dough and forget it for at least 90 minutes so I can do the critical tasks of the day. Next bake: Saturday morning for a 9 guest family luncheon before a piano recital.


EvaGal


dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, EvaGal.


Unless you are working with very low-hydration dough, your loaves need some lateral support while proofing. This can be provided by a banneton (or home made equivalent) or by a linen couche, which you "pleat" to provide walls to support the sides of the loaves. You can also emulate a linen couche with parchment by rolling up dish towels and putting them under the edges of the parchment, against the sides of the loaves to support them.


Any of these techniques will keep the loaves from spreading out and encouraging them to gain altitude. 


If you use a banneton, you transfer the loaf to a peel to load it into the oven, if you have a stone. If you are baking on a cookie sheet, dump it onto the sheet. If you are using a linen couch, you also need to transfer the loaves. If you are using parchment, you can proof the loaves on the parchment, on the cookie sheet. Just be sure to remove the towels before baking. 


Hope this helps.


David

bnom's picture
bnom

I've had flat loaf problems despite using a couche. If David's suggestion doesn't help, there's a good TFL thread on one man's battle with flat loaves and how he overcame it.


>


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14409/flat-baguettes-holes-bottom#comments

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

You also might want to try not slashing the dough until the very last moment before you load it into the oven. Slashing earlier on just helps the loaf to spread sideways while it is proofing.

Davo's picture
Davo

Is your gluten development sufficient - there are no notes on that (kneading/S&F - how much, over what duration)?


Also, those are (generally speaking) really short times. 3 hrs total - wow. Maybe if that is fully ripe at baking it's because you use a high proportion of starter to final dough, and if so, maybe that is another reason the gluten is not doing its thing. And if the starter/levain/sourdough (whatever your terminology) is really a proportion of final bread dough that is south of 30%, then it's hard to believe that 3 hours can be enough to get it bakable.


Definitely don't slash until just about to bake.


ALso if the dough is over-warm when it proves and then goes in the oven, my observation is that that can make the dough very slack and this might exacerbate the spread caused by the noted lack of lateral support. If it spreads a heap on baking it just can't reverse gravity before the crust sets.


Also the shaping needs to provide some tension in the dough, by stretching the outer skin gently - by tucking it underneath or rolling it or similar. How do you shape?


Picture of cross section?

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

Hi Davo,


I'm a low tech baker. I use about 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of water with a pinch of salt and splash of olive oil, 1 cup of medium thickness starter, stir it, knead it until all flour is absorbed and it feels and looks right, and let it rise in a lightly oiled bowl. I'll try to get my teenager to help me post a photo.


After it's risen in the bowl, I knead it as little as possible until I can shape it by rolling the dough over a semolina coated granite surface.


I've also edited my first post above.


Thanks,


EvaGal

Yogibaker's picture
Yogibaker

Hi Eva Gal,


I had a very similar problem - loaves turned out tasting good, but a bit flat and wide...


I've since invested in a cane banneton, which has really helped during proofing.  Another observation is that you don't seem to be getting much oven spring (lift from the bottom of the loaf).  As your oven seems to be good and hot, are you pre-heating your baking tray?  I've found that it helps to have the baking tray/stone really hot helps.   I usually heat my oven to the hottest setting, then, when it's time to bake, I pour boiling water into the tray underneath the bread, take out the baking tray, scatter it with a little flour, then turn out the bread onto the hot baking tray, slash the bread and whack it into the oven as quick as possible.  Then I turn the oven down to 250C, and bake for 10 mins, then turn it down again to 200 and cook for another 15 mins.  It's all a bit of a rush when it comes to putting the dough in to bake, but is much easier with the banneton, and I think they are much easier to source in the US than the UK.


Hope this helps,


Catherine

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

while the dough is proofing.


Mini

PeterPiper's picture
PeterPiper

Hi Eva Gal,


I notice one odd thing about the picture:  a convex bottom to the loaf.  Since you say the bake is at 450 and there's no mention of an overnight ferment, I'm thinking the baking surface is cold and the air temp is very high, so the top of the loaf is springing and crusting over while the bottom is actually pulled up with it, rather than springing down and making a more round-shaped loaf.  Try lowering to around 425 or 435, baking a little longer, and using a preheated stone.  I'd imagine that preheating a cookie sheet doesn't buy you much residual heat, since aluminum will lose heat right away if you put cold dough on it.  If you make round boules, you could even bake in a preheated cast iron skillet or dutch oven.


If you give your dough an overnight ferment, you'll get even better flavor and color, and you can skip the steam pan and just put a foil baking pan over your bread for the first ten minutes for the same effect with less danger and hassle.  Happy baking!


-Peter


http://psoutowood.wordpress.com

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

I tried MiniOven's Stretch and fold method and it made the loaves nice and airy and impressed my lunch guests (yes, my family is biased). I forgot the dishtowel lateral support for this bake, but promise to do it next time.


EvaGal


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Try not to trap air in the folds when folding the dough over itself.  Stretching and folding is a useful tool.  Ready for the next shot using the supporting towels on the sides...


Mini

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

I used rolled up dishtowels as lateral support for the loaves on Monday. The parchment paper separated the dough from the fabric. The slices are more oval shaped and taste great.  I will be more careful with my stretch and folds today, and will try a single loaf to try to get the larger less "leaky" slices my teenagers long for.


EvaGal


 


dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

This is Wednesday's bake. The larger loaf was popular with the family.  I am a dishtowel/parchment paper stretch-n-fold believer now!  This was bake #2 for that piece of parchment paper.  I added a touch more semolina to try to close up some of the air tunnels, but it seems as though my slashing and stretch-n-fold techniques are the true culprit. What you can't see in the photo is the split just above the bottom edge running the full loaf length on one side.  Slashing is just before the bake, proofing after shaping was about 30 minutes.


EvaGal


EvaGal's picture
EvaGal

No baking for four days-gluten free houseguest! But she bought me this perforated "W" shaped baguette baking pan that will replace those rolled up dishtowels used for lateral support of my loaves. Just in time, too 'cause the family was getting tired of flour residue on just dried dishes :>)


The resulting round loaf shape is just what I'm looking for.  The crumb is perfect too, but maybe that's due to my improving stretch and fold the dough technique.


I'm still seeing the unintended side splits, but this pan moved them toward the top so it seems rather like a slash split.


It seems like you all have put me on the road to the SD loaf height I sought  more than two weeks ago.  Thank you, and Case Closed!

longhorn's picture
longhorn

You have made a lot of progress and created a great train of bakes and tests to help others with similar goals.  Glad you found a combo that works for you!


Bake On!


Jay

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

thread.  Very good for us newbies to bread baking.


FF