The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How can i get my loafs this BIG?

  • Pin It
LT72884's picture

How can i get my loafs this BIG?

I went to a local grocery store today and they had some artisan bread that they made. I dont get how the loafs can be sooooo large. like small watermellon size. there batard is awesomely big.

How can i get my loafs to be this big? here is a pic


thak you much


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


dwhite0849's picture

A huge factor is the equipment at the grocery store...I was a manager of a large grocery store, and when we put in a real bakery I had to spend six weeks in another store as a baker.  The proofing oven kept a constant tenperature and humidity....even opening and closing the doors had little effect.  The baking ovens had a lot of BTU's, kept a constant temperature, and the exact amount and time of steam.   We baked 10 lb, 6 foot loaves to sell by the slice and they came out perfect everytime...with the baker only having to take them out when a really loud and annoying alarm went off.  I don't think a home baker can duplicate the quality of this equipment.   We also had a commisary that perfected each recipe through literally hundreds of tries, made the dough, shaped it and froze it, then shipped it to the store.

Doc.Dough's picture

The basic limitation on loaf size is probably the material properties of the dough (thermal conductivity and strength).  Pumpernickle loaves can be quite large because they bake at a low temperature for a long time, but they are dense and thus do not depend on gas expansion for inflation (other than to just support the loaf while baking).  Your photos show very pretty loaves that exhibit nice expansion, with well placed slashes to relieve the stresses.  But I would guess that the crumb is fairly dense since the unbaked dough (because it is a low shear strength foam) must have enough cohesion to allow it to be loaded into the oven (even if it gets there on a pan).  If you want to try making large loaves you probably have a different problem - oven size. I have made loaves for special occasions containing five pounds of flour and baked them in a 30" oven on quarry tiles (about 90 min in the oven, starting at 450°F and finishing at 300°F), but they require careful oven temperature control as well as appropriate flour, hydration, dough development, proofing, and handling. And I am quite confident that others can do much better. 

Chuck's picture

To a considerable extent, loaf size is just a matter of how much dough goes into it. (Also, larger loaves typically need to bake a little longer to be "done".) Pretend you're Jack's giant in the beanstalk, and just do everything larger. Recipe loaf sizes are more for convenience than anything else; they aren't sacred.

Use recipes for two loaves but shape all the dough into one giant loaf. Or scale up all the ingredients in a recipe so you can shape larger loaves than the recipe expected.

If tweaking recipes sounds too daunting for now, a good way to get your feet wet is with a recipe that already has "large loaf" all through its sinews. Look for recipes for "Miche".

Eventually you will hit some serious problems: how to get it thoroughly baked in the middle, crust is way too dark, your oven isn't big enough, weight of the dough above makes crumb too dense, big blob of dough spreads too flat, etc.  ...but I wouldn't worry about any of those things until they actually happen.

LT72884's picture

Let me add one more thing. the bread i bake is from artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. Here is the recipe i used. I dont have it in weight, just volume.

  • 3 cups lukewarm water (98 – 100*F)
  • 1.5 TBLSP yeast
  • 1.5 TBLSP kosher salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6.5 cups unsiffted unbleached all purpose flour

My normal 1 pound loafs turn out great BUT i want a bigger loaf, so i imagine that the bigger the loaf a tighter and better gluten cloak must be done? Also, is it recomended for this style to mix the dough, let it rise, then re-mix it? I know some bread styles can handle that but im not sure if this specific style zoe devloped can handle that.

ANyway, if i were to follow the same recipe above but make a two pound loaf instead with a very tight smooth gluten cloak, would that work?

I do not know how much those loafs up there weighed in at. i just know they are mass produced...



Chuck's picture

Yep, just use the same recipe and do exactly the same steps as you're doing now. If you're already re-mixing, continue to do it. If you're not re-mixing the smaller loaves, don't re-mix the larger loaf either.

Because the bigger blob of dough weighs more and has more of a tendency to spread out, any flaw in the gluten skin will be more obvious. Things you could get away with on the smaller loaves you probably can't get away with on larger loaves. You'll find out just how good you really are. If no matter how hard you try you keep making pancakes, try putting a little less water in the dough next time (for example 2-3/4 cups instead of 3 cups). (With less water, you may find you need to mix a little more thoroughly and knead a little bit more:-)

Using the exact same doneness tests you use now (crumb temperature? bottom thump?), the bigger loaf will wind up being in the oven a little longer. If you have a problem with the crust getting too dark, put a piece of tinfoil on top of the baking loaf to keep it from getting even darker. Then next time turn the temperature down by 25F (or even 50F) and be prepared to bake significantly longer.

LT72884's picture

Yeah i know that grocery stores have awesoem equipment. it makes me feel bad. I just want big loafs is all. haha

@ chuck, thanks for the info, ill just try to make them bigger and the dough a we bit dryer if possible so that it will hold the shape. i will also make the cloak tighter. I have never ever mixed the dough after a rise, but i have heard others say to do it. i am skeptical of doing it though.



Chuck's picture

...I have never ever mixed the dough after a rise, but i have heard others say to do it...

I must admit I can't quite figure out what this is about  ...specifically who said what and why they said it.

Is it perhaps "kneading" rather than "mixing"? Assuming it is, it's true that in most cases dough needs to somehow be "de-gassed" after the bulk rise. But exactly how to go about this "de-gassing" is different for different styles of bread.

If the concern is for as many fairly large holes as possible (typical of "artisan" style breads), the overriding concern is "gently", sometimes to the point of de-gassing being nothing more than using fingertips to work over-large bubbles from the center to the edges of the dough. If on the other hand the concern is a very tight crumb (sandwich loaf? recipes from the previous century?), the style is "firmly", often to the point of de-gassing by significant kneading.

If this is what's meant, it's mostly a matter of what style of bread you're making  ...and also a little bit a matter of older recipes meaning well but recommending puzzling steps and not explaining why that option was chosen over others.