The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


babybirdbreads's picture


Looking for advice of various topics.

1) i am a home baker but sell quite a few loaves to coworkers, etc. each week.  (about 12) I can only bake three loaves at a time.  I find that, even though i am putting some of the formed loaves in the fridge to try and slow their fermentation, by the time it is their turn in the oven, they are over-proofed. any suggestions?

2)being that i can only bake three loaves at a time, i am also having difficultly with consistancy in the finished product.  some look great, others not so much. 

3) and last, i am just not happy with the outcome of my loaves. they don't seem to have much spring to them.  they rarely have good height (in my opinion) and hardly ever expand into their cuts.  they just aren't very pretty.  suggestions?  i do the sylvia steam method.  and all of my recipes come from Hamelman's BREAD book.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.  here are a few photos of today's bake. 

babybirdbreads's picture


ananda's picture

Hi babybirdbreads,

I would suggest you divide your dough into 2 or 3 different mixes.   You can stagger when each will be ready by either making some that are colder than the ohers, or by reducing the yeast in some.

As regards the other areas of advice, I think you probably just need to hone in on one particular formula and practice until you have perfected it.   If you are baking this regularly, you should be able to improve your skills quite quickly that way.

Best wishes


Ghobz's picture

I don't sell but we are a large family + have lots of visitors in this house who share our meals. So I bake a lot.

As Ananda suggested you do, I stagger my bread doughs. Today I'm making 2 Tartine Bakery Country Loaves and 2 Overnight Country Blondes from SWFY.

For the Tartine loaves, it's 1 dough divided in 2 rather large loaves. My oven only takes one at a time (I don't use cast iron pans, I bake them right on the baking stone). To stagger the baking of these, I shaped the first one and put it to proof in its basket. Then for the second loaf, I roughly shaped it once and let it on the counter, covered. I came back 15 minutes later and finished the shaping. Instead of leaving it to proof near the first one, on the kitchen counter, I put it in the living room table. That room is cooler than my kitchen. That way, the 15 minutes later shaping + the proofing at a slightly lower temperature allows me to bake the first one without the second over-proofing.

So that's 2 loaves.

Now for the Overnight Country Blondes, it's by accident that I ended up making 2 of them. When I decided I need to make a second recipe of that particular bread, I started the second one 2 hours later, on purpose, so I would be able to finish baking the first one before the second has time to proof.

When I make a lot of bread, which happens at least once a week, I usually make doughs which accommodate for refrigeration bulk proofing. I can therefore remove the doughs one after an other at 1 or 2 hours interval to allow for baking in a row. It goes like this:

Remove dough No1 from fridge. Allow to finish bulk proofing at room temp. Shape. 2nd proofing.

Remove dough No2 from fridge. Allow to finish bulk proofing at room temp. Shape.

Bake dough No1.

Meanwhile, dough No2 has proofed (faster because kitchen is warmer while dough No1 is baking). Bake.

It doesn't always work as I planned it would. Bread dough has a life of its own and I can't control all variables in my home kitchen.

To tell you the truth, I'm considering saving for a second oven to simplify my life.