The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help! Great crumb, great crust, no height?

jlahav's picture

Help! Great crumb, great crust, no height?


I am a brand new baker! I have always been afraid of baking bread, but I decided to dive right in and try it. I used a recipe from the Joy of Cooking (see below), and completely failed at shaping my first round.  But, the taste was great, the crumb was beautiful and the crust wasn't disappointing either.  Second time around, I checked out FloydM's batard-shaping video, and tried his technique. That, combined with doing the final rise in a basket (and the other piece with a band of aluminum foil to hold the dough in shape; I don't have two small baskets!), helped a lot with the shape.  But my dough still spread right out when I turned them over onto the stones, and my bread came out with only 1.5-2 inches of height.  The shape definitely held better, though.

 I like this recipe, but I'm a bit unsure what to do about this dough that seems a bit "runny."  Any tips?



1/2 tsp active dry yeast, dissolved in
1/2 cup lukewarm (100F) water
3/4 cup bread flour (added to the dissolved yeast)

Stir rapidly until see elastic strands pulling away from sides of bowl (about 2 minutes). Cover bowl tightly w/plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until bubbly and tripled in volume, about 6 hours.


1 cup starter
2 cups room temp (72-75F) water
4.5 cups bread flour
1 tbsp salt

Mix starter, water and flour in a mixing bowl until dough cleans sides of bowl. Dough should feel sticky to tough, but shouldn't stick to hands, so adjust consistency of dough by adding water or flour to achieve this. Knead for 10 minutes or w/dough hook on low-med sped until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn over once to coat w/oil. Cover w/plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume (3 hours in warm place, 6 hours room temp). Divide dough in half and shape into round loaf or thick baguette, or divide in 4 and shape into baguettes. place shaped loaves in baskets or on floured cloths or in oiled pans. Cover w/oiled plastic wrap, let rise at room temp until doubled in volume (2-4 hours). Preheat oven to 450F. Preheat baking stone on center rack for 45 mins. Score loaves, bake (30 mins baguettes, 35 mins large baguettes, 40 mins round loaves). Recipe gives spraying instructions, but I used a pan of hot water for the crust.


SourdoLady's picture

Wet doughs are hard to work with, especially for a beginner. You could just add a bit more flour to make your dough more workable. If you don't want to do that then check out Floyd's lessons where he describes 'dough folding'. It really strengthens the dough and helps it hold its shape. You also might not be getting enough surface tension when you are shaping your loaf. Don't despair, practice will help!