The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

weight of bread - mine seems too heavy?

anjj's picture

weight of bread - mine seems too heavy?

Hi all,

What a great site, i am an amateur, and have just started baking bread, it is rising well and turns out the right shape, but in comparison to "bought bakery breads" they are so literally heavy to hold - is that normal? Is it possible to bake a bakery loaf at home without all the additives they use? I used to use 3 T yeast for my bread, now am only using 2 t per one of the recipies on here and leaving it to rise twice, for an hour (ish) each time, kneading well etc. 


Also, the round loaves they make at the bakery, how do you shape them to rise upwards and not outwards? Is there a "support" for them while rising?

Thanks heaps,

Amatuer mum from New Zealand

G-man's picture


On shaping: What you'll want is a couche, a piece of heavy canvas that you dust with flour and fold to provide support for a loaf. A properly shaped loaf will hold itself together long enough to get it from a couche into the oven. Also brotforms, baskets for final proof, provide more options. If you're aiming for a round loaf I would recommend a brotform. Alternately, I have personally used a round collander lined with parchment paper or a towel dusted with flour, both with decent results.

 On additives: You really don't need more than flour, water, salt, and yeast. Changing the amounts of each and the methods used from mixing to the end of the bake will provide a great deal of variety. Baking a loaf at very high heat will give you a crunchy crusty loaf. Baking the same loaf at a low heat will give you a tender crust. A lot of the time the only change required is in how you handle a loaf of bread before it goes in the oven.

You should definitely visit the Videos link on the nav bar up top. It can help so much when you're working on improving your technique.

pmccool's picture

And welcome to The Fresh Loaf.

In addition to the points that G-man has already made, there was a statement in your post that caught my eye:

"leaving it to rise twice, for an hour (ish) each time"

That suggests that perhaps the dough is not fully proofed before it goes into the oven, which would lead to a dense loaf.  Since you are heading into Autumn there in New Zealand, just as we are here in South Africa, temperatures in your kitchen may not be warm enough to support such a short proofing time.  An hour (-ish) may be plenty of time in the summer when things are warmer, but not nearly enough at other times of year when temperatures are cooler.  With that in mind, how did the dough look or feel when you put it in the oven?  Was it puffy and full of gas?  Or was it lumpish and dense?  If nearer the latter, odds are pretty good that it needed to expand more before baking.  One of the sayings that you are likely to see repeated here is "Watch the dough, not the clock."  That's because the dough can tell you when it is ready but the clock can only tell you what time it is.

Better luck on your next bake.


G-man's picture

That reminds me! You might look in to proofing buckets, or "dough rising buckets" will probably get more Google hits. I use them because I got them very cheap and use them for nearly all of my dry storage in addition to the one I use for baking. My point in suggesting them is they're the best example of a large, lidded, translucent/clear food-grade plastic container with volumetric measurement markings on the side that I've ever seen. Kind of a niche item? I don't know. I suppose you could also use a marked restaurant pitcher, if you can find one with a lid.

They really help when it comes to watching the dough to see if it has doubled.

RobynNZ's picture

Hello anjj

and welcome to TFL. I think that Paul's suggestion is spot on - whereabouts are you in NZ? I'm in Auckland and although it is unseasonally warm here, I can no longer proof in the kitchen. My hot water cupboard is warm and I can find a spot at around 25°C in there. Do you know how to test the bread with your finger, to determine whether it is ready for the oven? When the bread is still underproofed if you prod it , the indentation made by your finger will soon spring back, when it is proofed  (ready for the oven) the indentation will come back slowly and and fill in about half, if it is over-proofed the indentation will not spring back.  

Which formula on TFL are you working with? Did you stick to the formula or did you add more flour? It's tempting to add more flour if the dough is sticky, that throws the flour:water ratio out of kilter, leading to heavy loaves. If this has been your experience we can add some more suggestions to guide you.

With regard shaping a round bread David's tutorial is very helpful. He uses beautiful bannetons, however you could use a colander, a basket or a lined bowl to support the bread while it rises.

Do make good use of the search box top left to access a wealth of information in the archives.

Cheers, Robyn

Chuck's picture

...but in comparison to "bought bakery breads" they are so literally heavy to hold...

What matters is the eating texture and taste. If it's "heavy" that's no biggie, but if it's "dense" so chewing is unpleasant that's a big deal.

There's no convention that I'm aware of (especially for "artisanal" breads); you can make loaves whatever size you want. If you want them smaller and the recipe says it makes three loaves, divide and shape four loaves instead (and shorten the baking time for smaller loaves). Or use "bakers percentages" to scale the recipe down (or up) a little to suit your desires.


(IMHO, the best way to produce "storebought" bread is to buy it at the store. :-) After spending months researching and baking with lots of different additives and procedures, you can probably produce something close. But it may take you all day and cost five times as much. By baking at home, you get not only a much wider variety than storebought and the pleasure of making something, but also freedom from all the questionable shortcuts [including additives] commercial mass produces have to use to stay in business.)


RonRay's picture

I agree with Chuck's comments.

As to your Question of:

Is it possible to bake a bakery loaf at home without all the additives they use?

the answer is also yes. Many postings will help you, but you might want to look at these two to start:



anjj's picture

wow - thank you all for the answers, I live in Cambridge NZ, so am going to have another go tomorrow morning using the warm oven for the rising and see how it goes.  I looked at some special flour today but cannot bring myself to spend $40! Hopefully my budget brand will do me just as well.  I noticed last time when I mixed my ingredients and began the first knead it went from bitsy to very tough feeling, is that because it is cold in the kitchen? Sometimes on this knead it feels warm and spongey already. Can you overknead it? Wish me luck!

G-man's picture

Overkneading for home applications, while possible, is not really likely. You're definitely not going to overknead if you use your hands, and you'll probably only overknead in a machine if you forget and leave the machine running for a good long time. The toughness may be due to a lower relative humidity, your flour absorbed more water than usual and was still a little thirsty, something along those lines. When making bread one day and then making bread again the next, the amounts of water necessary for the same cosnsitency could be quite different, especially in temperate climates where the weather can go from Spring to Summer to Autumn over a 24 hour period.  

Chuck's picture

What's the protein/gluten content of your flour? And do you know what kind of wheat it's ground from? (Flour "brand" isn't a very good way to choose what you need for good bread:-)

(Beware that in some British-influenced countries, what's marked as "plain" flour is sometimes what everybody else calls "self-rising" flour; it's not what you want for bread. In the store read all over the sack carefully, and if mentions anything about not having to add yeast, don't get that one.)

When you've got a decent flour (unbleached, middling to higher gluten content, no premixed baking powder or salt, etc.), my suggestion is to stick with it for many months. Learn by being sure all the variation in your loaves is due to different procedures  ...not possibly to changing flours too. That would be more confusion than most people can cope with.


[$40 or "discount"??? That seems like a silly choice between ludicrously high and dangerously low. Isn't something in between available to you?]