The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

getting the bread into the oven without deflation / surface tension

djd's picture

getting the bread into the oven without deflation / surface tension

Hi--Two, two, two questions in one!

1. My breads tend to deflate when I put them into the oven. That is, the transfer itself deflates them. I've tried proofing the loaves on a peel dusted with flour or cornmeal, but by the time I'm done proofing the dough has gotten so much more sticky that it still sticks to the peel. And if I just carefully and quickly lift the loaf with my hands onto the preheated stone, it also deflates. On the other hand, If I use, like, an inch of cornmeal on the peel, the loaves slide easily into the oven but all that extra loose grain scorches during the bake time. Is this all possibly just due to overproofing? Solution, apart from loaf pans?

2. How can I increase surface tension/stretch the loaves harder when shaping them? The dough seems so... flaccid it's hard to stretch. Also, I'm concerned that if I really roll the seam hard I'll end up with a loaf interior that looks like cinnamon swirl bread.

I mean, baking life could be worse--this is my first attempt at sourdough (Hamelman's VT), and it did spring back in the oven, but both are persistent issues for me, season after season.

cranbo's picture

What about parchment paper for the transfer? 

If they significantly deflate, they're probably slightly overproofed. 

Increasing surface tension has a lot to do with:

  1. the level of gluten development in your dough
  2. the hydration of your dough
  3. how you shape your dough
To increase surface tension:
  1. Make sure you develop sufficient gluten through mixing and/or stretch-and-fold. How much is enough? "Near windowpane" is a good place to start.
  2. Reduce the hydration in your recipe. If your hydration is over 70% your dough will always be a bit loose, that's just the way it goes, and is the tradeoff for using high hydrations. 
  3. Try some different shaping techniques. Lots of videos on TFL and YouTube to learn how. Hamelman and Ciril Hitz have good free example videos. 
  4. Don't overproof! :) Overproofing will make your dough flabby and more susceptible to deflation. 
Dhull100's picture

If using a banneton, parchment paper, and a peel, this method works nicely (I do not know the rest of the site where this link is, but a quick google search found the method I use):

djd's picture

omg reusable parchment paper!!! I might try to rig up a fake superpeel, too, since I have two pieces of canvas.

Chuck's picture

I dunno how those "artisans" several hundred years ago baked bread without parchment paper. I'd be completely lost without it.

Put the dough on the parchment paper to proof. When done slide the whole thing (dough and parchment paper as a single unit) onto the peel, then slide the whole thing off the peel into the oven. The advantage of parchment paper (rather than the waxed paper your mother may have used) is it can go right in a hot oven without catching fire. If you ever find yourself trying to move risen dough either onto or off of the parchment paper, something's wrong; there's a better way, most likely it's the simpler one too.

If after the loaf is "set" you remember to slide the parchment paper out so the loaf sits directly on the stone or sheet, that's great. But if you forget and leave the parchment paper in place for the whole bake, that's great too.

kefirchick's picture

Dutch Ovens are my favorite new toy!

I have started using a Dutch oven for just about all my breads except challah which I still do free form. My favorite bread is rye, and since most of these doughs tend to be on the wet side, I got tired of flat heavy weird shaped loafs.  Now, I proof my dough on parchment paper IN a dutch oven, and I---don't cringe---I stick the covered dutch oven with the proofed dough into a COLD oven. I start baking at 475 for 30 min.  I get great oven spring, and no weird shaped loafs because I had to quickly drop it in the pot without burning myself. After the initial 30 minutes, I remove the cover, tent with foil, and continue baking at 400 til temp of bread is 200 degrees.

You don't have to buy an expensive fancy schmancy $250 French dutch oven.  I use either a heavy enamel coated cast iron pot ($30) for boules, or a $10 casserole dish with a top that I got at one of the "upscale" dollar stores.  It keeps the steam in without having to spritz and juggle ice cubes in a pan at the bottom of the oven.

  I also have found that most recipes call for too little yeast.  I add more yeast than indicated with NO loss in flavor, and no yeasty taste.


djd's picture

Well, and that's another question: how much difference does baking on a preheated surface (Dutch oven, pizza stone) make? My workaround for problem #1 here used to be just proofing the loaves on a cookie sheet and sliding that into the oven, sometimes directly on top of a pizza stone. Of course, THEN sometimes the loaves stuck fast to the sheet. Always something!

cranbo's picture

Cold vs. hot dutch oven doesn't make a tremendous amount of difference, from my experience. There are some threads here on TFL where this is discussed.

Pizza stone pre-heating is quite important, because of the time that it takes to heat up, and the consistent way that it retains heat and transfers it to the baking dough. Pizza stone pre-heating is critical for pizza. 

In terms of cookie sheet, they usually conduct heat very well, so no pre-heating is necessary.

Remedy your sticking issues by using parchment or a Silpat sheet on your cookie sheets; alternately, a good dusting with rice flour will work well too. 


Maverick's picture

I also have found that most recipes call for too little yeast.  I add more yeast than indicated with NO loss in flavor, and no yeasty taste.

That's funny because I found the opposite to be true. I find that most call for too much yeast. Of course maybe the opposite is true of most rye breads since I don't have much experience with them. It also might be that our sources are different. I find the ones in most good bread books to be the right amount. But I find the ones people post online to have too much yeast (although this is not really the case for those posted here at TFL). I like to use as little yeast as possible even though it might mean the process takes a longer time.

GermanFoodie's picture

can help when you have this issue. Sometimes, if your dough is really sticky and tends to rise quickly, there is obviously a danger of overproofing it (we make a kind of french bread where that sometimes happens), but I have had a lot of luck transferring loaves with a so-called flipping board. Mine came from TMB baking, but I'm sure there are other sources. You could also try and do the final proof directly on the baking sheet so you don't have to transfer, if push comes to shove.

Also, instead of cornmeal try semolina. No scorching and it will look pretty. :)