The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

i dont see the point of parchment paper

LT72884's picture

i dont see the point of parchment paper

so i tired using parchment paper for 3 loaves... i dont see a difference between using it and not using it. My loafs came out very flat, no more than an inch high. I STILL have the EXACT same problem as i always have. No oven spring. I dont over proof, i let it rise the full time and i proof in baskets! Here is a pic of a loaf that turned out crappy.



i went by weight rather than volume and i still get the same results. i used all new flour, yeast and salt. it was a very very basic bread recipe and it still doesnt work.



AP flour




vital wheat gluten


Thats it. It rose at least double and then i shapped it into loafs and let proof about 40 to 50 minutes. Still flat as can be. The parchment paper didnt help them keep there shape at all. In fact, the one completly spread out like NAAN. it went in flat and came out flatt. I made sure there was enough wheat glutten as well. i had enough dogh to fill the baskets at least half. I let it proof till the basket was about 3/4ths full and then i transfered very very gently to the peel and right into the oven.


So i have decided its not the proofing baskets, the parchment paper, the flour, the yeast, the water or the gluten that is screwing up me bread. I even used an oven thermometer to see if it was realy at 450. it was.

flournwater's picture

Without ratios it's impossible to get an idea of where you might begin to look for a problem in your formula.

You're correct that the problem you describe is not the result of either the proofing baskets or the parchment paper, but it could be the flour, combination of flour varieties, the yeast and/or the way it's handled or any number of other things.

"No oven spring. I dont over proof, i let it rise the full time and i proof in baskets".  the key word in this statement is "time"  -  if  you're proofing using time as your guide you could easily be under proofing or underproofing, depending on a number of factors that affect the way dough develops at those stages.

MichaelH's picture

Did you really think that parchment paper would make your loaves rise high and be light and fluffy? Suggest you go to the book review section of this forum and buy and read a couple.


LT72884's picture

Well Michael, Yes indeed i thought that..I have been TOLD BY MANY on this website that parchment will indeed help with the rise.thats why i was so skepitcal of buying the stuff. it made no sense that parchment would help the rise.


As for ratios,

1 lb, 9 oz whole wheat flour (5 1/2 cups)
10 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 3/8 oz vital wheat gluten (4 Tbsp)*
4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)

The book also had it in grams, which is the one i followed. i dont have the book with me so i cant post them.




Floydm's picture

I agree that w/o info on your ratios it is really hard to judge, but a few suggestions would be:

1) to reduce the amount of water so you have a stiffer dough

2) try to roll it pretty tight to get good surface tension on your final loaves.  

A tight, low hydration really shouldn't spread much.

Good luck!

LT72884's picture

as for looks vs time for proofing. Explain please!To me it looked just fine. it was not quite doubled for the proof. For example, i placed it in a basket and the shaped dough filled it to the 1/2 mark and once the dough hit the 3/4ths mark, i transfered it to the stone very gently. I followed a tutorial i found here on the site that explains how to line the basket with the parchment paper and then when its ready, hury, but gently transfer it to the stone. However, once it came out of the basket and onto the stone, it totally sank and lost its awesome shape i had going. totally pissed me off

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

Without resorting to my calculator, you're at about 90% hydration which requires special techniques and handling. Cut your water to about 22 ounces and try it again. And just for fun, think about not using the vital wheat gluten. I'm not a fan, but YMMV.



LT72884's picture

Well, it didnt seem like 4 cups of water. It was 900 grams of h20. so that SHOULD be able to be converted from volume to grams since waters molicular structure is always the same. i dont think water wieght changes at all.


Floydm's picture

Slack dough is really hard to handle.  I been baking regularly for some time and I don't think I could handle a dough that wet.  I'd suggest scaling way back on the water and trying again.


LT72884's picture

Larry, Floyd. Thanks for the heads up. ill cut it way back. this time and make sure that the dough is smooth and clean. I now have a problem with the youtube video that they posted for the master recipe. it shows awesome oven spring from a loaf as flat as mine... whos kidding who? lol


thanks guys.

margieluvschaz's picture

I use parchment to handle moving wet dough easily.  You might try some of the no knead recipes on I use a parchment sling with these recipes.  i make all kinds of loaves but these continue to be my best looking , highest risers and are the easiest to make.  Good Luck!


Caltrain's picture

In addition to the hydration issue, that's a pretty big loaf - 35 ounces of flour total. A standard whole wheat loaf has roughly 18 ounces or so.

Of course recipes vary enormously, but the larger the loaf, the less rise it has. Maybe the recipe was meant for two loafs?

Edit: I just took a look at the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day site (that's the book you got the recipe from, right?)... the authors suggest you take an one-pound chunk of the dough each time you bake. But regardless, even the authors produce a fairly flat, deflated bread.

LT72884's picture

That recipe was not for that entire loaf. i divided it into fourths. that was roughly a 1.5 pound piece of dough.

Janknitz's picture

Looks like it, and your reference to the "master recipe".  

AB in 5 dough does not rise much during the proofing stage (in fact, it sometimes spreads a little), but should have good oven spring if it's baked at proper temperature and with proper steam.

A couple of things will help:

1.  You MUST really give this a tight "gluten cloak" (surface tension).  The "skin" helps hold the air in the dough, much like the latex of a balloon holds the air inside.  When you pull your hunk of dough out of the bucket, lay the smoothest side down on a lot of sprinkled flour.  Pull the sides toward the center, and let the floured side "wrap around" it.  You need to watch some videos to learn this technique.  Most of the AB in 5 videos don't talk about it too much, but it's crucial because of the hydration level.  When you've accomplished this, the dough won't deflate when transferred (but you still need to transfer GENTLY and parchment really helps).  

2.  Dough is done with it's final "counter rise" when it's done.  If your house is cooler, it might take longer than even the 90 minutes they recommend for whole wheat doughs.  To see if it's done, wet your finger and poke it into the dough in an inconspicuous spot.  If the dough springs back right away, it needs more time.  If the hole in the dough fills in slowly, it's ready to bake.

3.  Check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer.

4.   Try this "no brainer" method in place of water or ice for steam.  Take a big aluminum turkey roaster (you can buy them for cheap) and once you've transferred your dough to the stone cover the dough with the turkey roaster.  Remove it halfway or 2/3 of the way through the baking time.  This should produce a really  good oven spring for you IF you've given the dough a nice tight "gluten cloak" in the first place.

You said:

"So i have decided its not the proofing baskets, the parchment paper, the flour, the yeast, the water or the gluten that is screwing up me bread."  

You're right, it's the BAKER (you).  You need to be a little more patient with yourself and understand that even though they make it look easy, there are some  techniques you have to learn and that there's a bit of a learning curve.  


LT72884's picture

""You're right, it's the BAKER (you). You need to be a little more patient with yourself and understand that even though they make it look easy, there are some techniques you have to learn and that there's a bit of a learning curve.""


haha, yeah i know i need more patience. I TRY to get a tight cloak, but i can try harder next time. Are you saying to keep the same ratios and then just try a tighter cloak? i kinda need to know since i hae had others say to drop the water. I can always do two batches of bread and see what happens. that way i can see my errors.

Im also making my own steam injector in my oven. Last time i checked, the oven was the correct tmep. i tested it about 7 months ago.


Janknitz's picture

for the Healthy Bread in Five Master Recipe.  

If you watch the videos closely, you will see that Zoe and Jeff actually use a lot more flour when they shape the dough than their written instructions would lead you to believe you should.  Since there is so much hydration in the dough, it can take it.  So don't be shy about using flour to help you handle it.  As long as you aren't kneading it into the dough, it should be fine.  

I have a flour shaker, and sprinkle the surface of the dough in the bucket with flour, then use my dough scraper to kind of tuck some flour around the edges of the dough as I pull out a piece.  Meanwhile, I have some flour on the bench to lay the already floured surface of the dough I've pulled out onto.  I keep one side floured and one side kind of wet and make a good, tight boule, gently stretching the floured surface around to the wet side of the dough ball.  Tuck it all in tight  and roll it a little in your cupped hands to smooth the seam.  This should all be done fairly quickly without a lot of handling.  

As mentioned, this will not rise very much before baking and may even spread out some.  The height will be achieved in the oven spring.  

When you slash the dough and it kind of pops apart (reminds me of opening a can of Pillsbury rolls), you know you've proofed it enough and it's going to get a nice spring to it.  

flournwater's picture

To get the surface tension that some of these posts make reference to, try shaping your dough after the initial rise into a boule shape then stretch the upper portion down by pulling/pushig down on the outer edges and pulling the stretched dough underneath the boule and tucking it in.  Just don't stretch it so much that you tear the dough.  You should find that the "skin" takes on a more glossy appearance as the stretching and folding under progresses.

dmsnyder has a pretty good demonstration on this page:

He's a good teacher.  I'm sure you'll get the idea after reading his material.

I know this is a parchment paper topic, but it may help minimize the deflation issue.  For your final proof, let the dough rest on parchment paper (covered as usual) until it has reached the point of development you are looking for.  Then, carry the dough by holding onto the parchment paper (better yet, using a peel under it) and slip the loaf gently onto your baking sheet/stone.  You may or may not want to slash the loaf before making that final transfer to the oven.  That's for another discussion.

LT72884's picture

i just want a good lookin loaf is all. i tried the baskets and i dont see how they accomplish much because they still flattened way out as you can see from the photo above in my post. But im assuming that its because the dough is wet and sticky and i didnt get a good enough cloak.  i waited till it looked the shape i wanted and once it was on the peel, it all went down hill.

With the other persons info about the cloak, i will be trying again with an ultra tight cloak. im jst affraid that the flour on the counter and my hands will somehow screw the dough up when it gets incorperated to teh dough when shaping/cloaking it.


clazar123's picture

I'm not sure why you ruled out the flour, unless I missed something here.

Hydration is important but so is flour. What type of whole wheat flour are you using? Is it Kamut or an Indian WW flour, perhaps? Is it homeground? What type/brand AP flour are you using?

Indian brands of whole wheat are milled to make flat breads and the gluten is often damaged and won't make a good loaf-type bread.

Home milled flour can become damaged if the flour/grain becomes too hot in the milling process. I chill/freeze my grain before milling to avoid this.

 Kamut, naturally, has a very extensible but not stiff, gluten and needs either the addition of stronger flours or a loaf pan to keep its shape. I use it for flat breads and pizza dough. For loafed breads, I mix it. Delicious flour!

I've had some failures with store-brand AP flours. I think they have a fair amount of softer wheat blended in. I've never had a problem with brand names here like Gold Medal,Pillsbury,Dakota Maid. King Arthur is well regarded, also.

The parchment will help you to transfer the dough with the least traumatic handling so it doesn't deflate on transferring to the oven. It has no other abilities to keep the loaf shape.

If it is deflating that easily, it is probably overproofed , even if the timing seems right. Are you at a high altitude? Or is the kitchen where it is proofing very warm? Even a high hydration loaf should have some slow springback with the fingerpoke test. An oiled or floured finger with this dough.

Underdevelopment is also a possibility because the dough is so sticky. It is very difficult to develop/handle that dough.

Are you successful with other recipes or is this recipe a first try? You certainly like a challenge with either answer!

If you want to continue with developing this recipe, try a scaled back version (less volume) untill you are successful.Use the weighed version of the recipe. Then scale up and see how it goes. That is the beauty of weighing the ingredients. I've worked on several recipes this way and it is usually worth the effort!

Good luck and delicious experimenting to you! Post some results so we can all benefit from your effort.

Happy Holidays!

LT72884's picture

I used king arthar flour and the book said that i would have to possibly decrese by a 1/4th a cup of flour to keep the wet sticky dough. BUT i didnt. i used the KA AP just like i used my gold medal AP flour and i still got a very very wet dough. I would have thought that it would have at least been less wet, but it was just as or more than the GMAP flour. very interesting.


@Jan: thanx for the quick reply. i am going to keep the same ratios and i wont adjust the recipe at all even if im using KA flour. It seems to be the same protein as my GMAP. i dont see or feel a difference at all. when i shaped the dough the other night, i used very little flour so it stuck to my hands ALOT, so i shapped very light and possbily losly. actually i couldnt shape tightly because it would stick so bad to my hands. maybe ill just sprinkle flour and then cut off my piece and then throw it in the flour bucket and shape it.


thanks guys. Its odd thatt eh KA AP flour responds the same as my GMAP. Seriously, im not joking, it was a very wet dough. The book was so adiment to reducing the flour by a 1/4th a cup or more if using KA AP. i actually thought of adding MORE because the dough was so wet..


my house at the time was 75* but it was roughly 20* and snowing outside. about 5 inches of snow in less than 2 hours. I live at 4600 feet so at TIMES i add only 2 tsp of yeast but this time i follwed the recipe exactly.


tahnks guys

Janknitz's picture

Did you have any better luck with your HB in 5 bread using some of the tips and hints about getting that "gluten cloak"?

BTW, you said:

I used king arthar flour and the book said that i would have to possibly decrese by a 1/4th a cup of flour to keep the wet sticky dough. BUT i didnt. i used the KA AP just like i used my gold medal AP flour and i still got a very very wet dough. I would have thought that it would have at least been less wet, but it was just as or more than the GMAP flour. very interesting.

 It's hard to tell the protien content of flour by reading the nutrition data on the bag.  You have to go by the manufacturer's information.  Generally, I've heard that KA AP flour is in the 11.5 -12% range, GMAP is more like 10%.  It's enough to make a difference. 

LT72884's picture

Last night, my girlfriend and i baked some spinach and feta bread along with an olive bread. It turned out great. i followed the original artisan bread in 5 exactly using my KA flour and it turned out great. im thinking the elevation of 5300 feet(she lives higher than me) some how helped. here are the ratios for the bread


Feta and spinach:

6.5 cups AP flour

1.5 packets yeast

1.5 tbls kosher salt (needs more in my opinon, even with the feta)

1 cup steamed spinach drained and packed

2/3 cup crumbled feta

3 cups water

Olive oil bread:

1/4 cup EVOO

6.5 cups flour

1.5 packets yeast

1.5 tbls kosher salt

2.75 cups water

1/4 cup green olives


I mixed the dough up with a bucket and a dang spoon. used my hands to get all the flour in the dough. let rise 2 hours and bada bing bada boom, nice dough. Shaped and cloaked TIGHTLY. i made sure that the dough wasnt sticky in my hands so i could pull and stretch. the bottom looked like a mess, but it cooked out. The skin ontop was smooth and tight. The loaves were AWESOME. the only one that overproofed was the bagette BUT i used two mini cupcake tins to hold the edges of the dough up on the stone so it wouldnt spread out. i let it proof like 90 minuets and it almost trippled in size. But the cupcake tins held it just fine. Served the bread with roasted tomato and red pepper soup! it was -9*F out side so we went to the lake and stood by the fire after dinner. And yes, the cats were watching the whole time. they seemed just as interested in bread baking as anyone else. Kinda funny.


here are some photos.

Janknitz's picture

You are on your way now!

Interesting how a simple thing (gluten cloak) can make all the difference.  ;o)

clazar123's picture

And great fire! Bread looked absolutely delicious.

whosinthekitchen's picture

Those are some beautiful loaves.

I like buckets and spoons... the bucket is hard to get into the fridge though...

Congrats on success!

LT72884's picture

@ Janknitz

Well, im hoping it was the cloak. This had NO whole wheat flour in it at all. Im wondering if it had better rise due to the fact that it was all purpose flour and had 1.5 packets of yeast in it. or it could be the cloak or a combo. Tuesday i am making whole wheat bread mixed with some AP flour again and see if the cloak helps it.


thanks guys. for all the help. i enjoy this website emensly!!

Janknitz's picture

will not rise as high.  But it looks like you "get" the touch now.  So it should be better than the flat loaves you produced before.

One thing I learned with the HB in 5 breads is that they taste best if you make a big, round bread rather than something long, thin, or (deliberately) flat.  My kids particularly like the "moon and stars" shape they have in the book.  But long skinny things like epis and baugettes are dry and chewy.