The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Am I expecting too much?

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abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

Am I expecting too much?

I have tried several different recipes...  Some with sourdough some with yeast. Some with almost all white flour and others with addition of wheat flour.   I love the holes and lightness I get with the high hydration doughs. I just wish I had better oven spring!  I wait until my oven is 500 F, I bake on a stone, I mist and use the roasing pan lid way of steaming. The center of my breads never reach much higher than 2-1/2 inches. I have been tempted to throw one of these babies in a loaf pan for the first 20 minutes or so then taking it out and finish the baking freeform.  I've just been "afraid" to do that ..  Lol...  I envy all you people with your gorgeous breads that seem so much higher than mine yet still full of holes! Can someone please advise? Thanks! 

jcking's picture
jcking

What criteria is being used to determine when the loaf goes into the oven?

Jim

GeraldC's picture
GeraldC

It's very hard to guess usefully without more detail of the dough's handling. Autolyzed? Critieria for judging when kneaded sufficiently. How many bowl rises? How much rise allowed in pan? Room temperature rises or warmed? How slashed? All those things will mean more than how it's steamed, which is mainly about the crust.

The vast majority of rising in my baguettes happens before it goes in the oven. Oven spring is modest.

abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

Well I have tried all different ways actually. With the sourdoughs I normal do 1 rise then in the fridge overnight then let rise again for sometimes up to 3 hours.  The finger poke test is what determines when it goes in the oven for me. These have all been free form loaves so no rising in the pan indicated. Other recipes that do not get the overnight retardation get at least 2 rises and it is usually in the oven with the light on which is about 78 degrees. I do slash sometimes 3  slashes sometimes 1 down the center. Some recipes I have used the stand mixer but my favorite is stretch and folds.  Again the flavor and crumb  and crust are all wonderful on every recipe....  Its just the damn oven spring.  Don't know if I'm missing more info for you all.... 

jcking's picture
jcking

How is the oven steamed and is it gas or electric?

Jim

abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

I mist the loaf, I have a roaster lid that is preheated with the stone...  I spray the inside of that, load the bread after slashing and cover for the first 15 minutes or so of baking then I remove the lid and finish baking. Its a gas oven and I preheat at 500 F for an hour... 

jcking's picture
jcking

Good oven technique. No problem there.

Jim

Chuck's picture
Chuck

I've found that a couple things somewhat help loaves to keep their shape. One is to somehow form a fairly tightly stretched "gluten sheath" over the top of the loaf. That means especially being careful to always stretch&fold the dough on the same side (the side opposite the folds is the gluten sheath side) and being finicky about shaping (three gathers just for a torpedo?-). The other is to let the dough proof in something that helps hold its shape (banneton/brotform, basket, bowl, rolled up towels, etc.) then get it in the oven very quickly (get everything including steam water ready, then slash, and only then remove the support and run for the oven).

I've found that "oven spring" is trickier than it looks. It seems to depend on just the right amount of steam, neither underproofing nor overproofing, and so forth. Most relevant to this quest though, I've found that when oven spring does occur, a freestanding loaf will expand in all directions, not just up. So although the  result is definitely larger than the proofed dough was, the net shape profile of the baked loaf isn't much different from what it would have been with no oven spring at all.

But I've found that although these things help a little, neither of them is enough. To make tall freestanding loaves, you're probably going to have to reduce the hydration! One thing to do is try for a balancing act, for each recipe and kind of flour just enough hydration to get the holes you want yet still little enough to get the shape you want too.

What's most likely though is learning how to make those large holes without resorting to such high hydrations any more. To get good loaf shape, you'll probably have to reduce your hydration to something roughly like 65-70% (or maybe even a bit lower). Still having big holes at that hydration is possible; a search here on TFL will turn up some examples. To get big holes without relying exclusively on high hydration though, you'll need to get everything else right: temperature, flour, amount of yeast, steam, etc. etc. (Doing so is hard enough the recommended course of action for newbies is usually to just rely on high hydration, but after folks build up experience they can do better and should start learning not to rely on high hydration so much.)

 (Of course this is just my own thoughts, skewed by my own experiences and presented rather randomly. Who knows, I may learn I've been doing it all wrong:-)

HeidiH's picture
HeidiH

Scoring the loaf prevents the loaf from  being "trapped in its own skin."

When I want  to make sure to have a taller loaf, I break down and cook it in something that restricts its horizontal growth.  A loaf pan is one choice but I've used all sorts of things. A dutch oven, of course, but also a rectangular salad bowl, an oval baking pan, etc.  What about only the "walls" of a springform pan?  The shape I'm aiming for is often related to what cold cut hubby is putting in his lunch sandwiches.   

Lots of folks here on freshloaf are striving for consistently beautiful loaves and I am learning a lot from you.  But I was also glad to find from trial and error that it is easy for a novice bread-maker like me to make bread that is delicious if I allow the bread to have a say in what it will be.  Even when it is wholly not what I intended, it's still delicious.

abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

For your wonderful thoughts and replies....  I will try adjusting the hydration..  I do  proof in a "makeshift" banneton. When I transfer to my peel I see it flatten immediately....  Maybe it is time to start adding more flour albeit a little at a time and/or try the good ole loaf pan for the beginning of the baking....  I'll let you all know how it goes as I'll be baking this week. Maybe I will try some mini loaves with different techniques...  Thanks again.

 

jcking's picture
jcking

How is the dough being transferred to the peel? Flattening/spreading could indicate an over-proof.

Jim

abbygirl's picture
abbygirl

As gently as humanly possible ...  Lol...  Maybe I ought to try "underproofing" a tad? 

jcking's picture
jcking

Try placing parchment paper over the banneton then place a peel over that and flip the whole works. Trim parch on the peel, slash loaf, and slide into oven. When removing the lid slide out the parch.

Jim

Salilah's picture
Salilah

I tried a couple of early loaves that had been S&F'd in a casserole dish - didn't heat it up as I was nervous about getting the bread into it!  You can put the dish in the oven with lid on (no steam needed) and you should get some rise up as it is constrained sideways.  Remove lid after ~15mins? (I'm no expert on this!)

I'd also go for a recipe with lower hydration, and try proving a bit less - I think mine are still a bit overproofed as I don't get much spread through the slashes <sigh>

Good luck!
S