The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread shaping difficulties and all that jazz

whoops's picture

bread shaping difficulties and all that jazz


I was wondering if any of you learned and more experienced bakers coudl help me out with a problem. I have been having much greater success with my breads lately, but one NEW problem has developed. While my bread has the crust and crumb and taste that I am looking for (usually, anyway) one problem I have had consistently is with shaping. I   to using loaf pans for all my sour dough breads, and this has worked well for me, EXCEPT: the dough seems to develop a skin or some other problem that means when I shape the loaf after the first rise , and roll it (as I saw demonstrated on some video on here, forget which one) and place it in the pan, then let it retard in the fridge over night (or less, or more, doesn't seem to matter) even though the loaf looks exactly the way I want on top, you can see how the loaf was rolled on the side, and when the bread is toasted, it will sort of come apart where the dough did not "come together" . I have pictures as I do not think I am describing this as clearly as I would like.

this is the top of the bread, it sang when I took it out of the oven, and had a wonderful crust.

this is a side view, you can see how it was rolled. I did try to pinch the ends together, but they will NOT stay, not matter what I do.

This is the bottom of the loaves. You can again see where the bread just did not join together.

I used Cranbo's Beginner's Sourdough recipe, but I have modified some: I do not use wheat germ. Sometimes I use unbleached white flour (Bob's Red Mill Organic) and sometimes I Use the whole wheat. The resulting difficulty happens regardless of which type of flour I use. The loaves pictures were all the white, if I recall correctly.

I do not follow all the directions as Cranbo had listed, as it just plain did not work for me, and I ended up with hockey pucks. Instead, I add the water, starter, flour, mix for a minute or two, then let it sit for 20 minutes, then add the salt. I mix in my KA for ~5 minutes, sometimes more, until it passes the windowpane test, then I place in a well oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for a few hours. It usually does not have much of a noticeable rise, but when I turn it out of the bowl I can see it deflate slightly. I then do one stretch and fold, let rest a few minutes, then shape into the loaf, and place in the loaf pan. I cover loosely, and then place in the fridge for anywhere from 12-36 hours, depending on the day of the week (and if I remember I have bread out there) The fridge is set at 36 degrees. I then remove from the fridge, 1-2 hours prior to baking. I preheat the oven to 450 for a good 25 minutes or so (longer than what the buzzer for the preheat alert  says) Right before placing in the oven, I slash the loaf, then cover the pan with another inverted loaf pan, bake for 25 minutes with the pan on top, carefully remove the top pan, then continue baking for another 25 minutes.

As I said, the resulting loaf is delicious, and I can barely keep it in the house long enough to get more starter ready to bake, but I am bothered by the look of the bottom and the way it will "unroll" when toasted.

Am I letting it rise (proof, whatever word you want to use) too long? there does not seem to be any appreciable difference in the problem, regardless of how long I let it retard in the fridge.

As an aside, I use the same basic process for my rye mix bread, which again, has the crust, crumb, and taste I am looking for, but it does the same thing. There is obviously a problem in one of my processes, but I have not been able to figure it out. I have even increased the hydration without any change in the problem.

I apologize for not having a picture of the crumb, but it was eaten WAY too fast and I did not get  a chance.

Thanks in advance for any pointers or ideas you have. I have toyed with just doing one long rise in the fridge, and just shaping immediately after kneading, but have been hesitant to do so.



meirp's picture

I used to have a similar problem with "fault-lines", where edges of the dough didn't join properly. The cause was flour drying out the edges and preventing it from sticking. The solution: a mist sprayer (the same one I use to spray the walls of the oven to get steam). Before you pinch closed the edges of your dough, brush off the excess flour and mist the area. The dough will seal much better. Just note that moist dough will be a lot stickier, so when you pinch it closed, you need to use minimal contact (I use sort of slow-motion karate chops with the side of my hand - as Peter Reinhart demonstrates for batards in his BBA). Then you can reflour your dough to be proofed as you normally do. Hope that helps!


ldavis47's picture

Try not oiling the bulk rising container or using minimal oil from a spray. If oil is not incorporated into the dough, it will cause the cooked dough to separate at the junctions.

good luck


whoops's picture

Oh, Lloyd, you know, I think that might be the issue! I worry about the bread drying so I always make sure to oil the bowl REALLY thickly, and then also rub some on the outside of the dough! I will try to use flour next time, instead of oil. I generally use the spray oil, but I did coat it pretty thick! My whole wheat sandwich bread has done it a few times also, and now that I think on it, it was when I started oiling the bowls a lot more generously. Thanks so much! I thought maybe I was kneading too long or something