The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Making a Tartine style loaf into the shape of a sandwich loaf

mikemike's picture

Making a Tartine style loaf into the shape of a sandwich loaf

hey everyone


I love using sourdough or country style loaves for sandwiches because I love the crumb structure and crust development. The rich, dark, crackly crust is my priority.  

The problem is that since these loaves are round, I can get maybe 4-5 similarly shaped sandwich slices from them before starting to get tiny little slices. I'd like to find a way to somehow bake these crusty loaves into the shape of a sandwich loaf so there is minimal waste and consistent slice size.

First, I'd have to get a pretty large loaf pan (at least 6-7 inches tall (I need a tall 'ceiling' for room), 6-7 inches wide, 10-12 inches long) that I haven't been able to find online, and I'll also need a way to cover the pans to trap in steam in order to develop my crust. The pan has to be tall enough and oversized so the dough won't rise above the edges of the pan because I'll have to cover it with a heavy steel sheetpan or something.  

Imagine a slightly wider version of this loaf, but with a dark crackly crust like this.

I've looked into Pullman loaf pans but they are simply too small for this task, like the other loaf pans I've seen.


So! Here are my main questions:

1. Is there a pan out there that fits these dimensions?

2. Will the crust develop on the bottom and sides of the bread if I use this method? 



cranbo's picture

A few thoughts:

Why not shape the bread into a batard (torpedo) style instead of boule (round)? That way slice size stays pretty consistent, much like a sandwich loaf, and if shaped right you probably can still fit it in a cast iron dutch oven or combo cooker. 

Why not just use a "standard" loaf pan 9.25" x5.25"x2.75"? IIRC Tartine country bread recipe is ~2kg for 2 loaves, so about 1kg (~2lbs) per pan. This should be big enough for this size of loaf pan. 

You're not going to be able to trap steam the same way using loaf pans, unless you use a large (expensive) hotel pan to cover them, or something like a turkey roaster or a large terracotta flower pot. It may be worth it just to play around with how you generate steam in your oven instead...lots of methods for this explored here on TFL: cast iron pan with lava rocks, wet towels, etc. 

One last thing: a long, slow fermentation and hot bake are mostly responsible for that dark bold-tasting crust (rather than steam); steam does contribute to crust crackliness. 

Red5's picture

1. No

2. depends on what kind of crust you are expecting


I don't think that pan exists. You could have one custom made if you really need those dimesions, but pans generally come in a few standard sizes and that is what you will need. All you do is put the dough in a standard size loaf pan, put the loaf pan inside another vessel. A large enameled cast-iron pot, or any other oven-safe object that can be sealed with a lid that you can place the loaf pan in and bake, is what you're looking for. 

I use a regular 9x5x3 loaf pan, spray light with cooking spray, put the dough in (after bulking is complete) and either bake or let it ferment overnight in the pan. 

I have a 9.5 quart enameled cast-iron pot that I put the loaf pan in, cover and bake; in principle it's the same as baking the loaf in the cast-iron combo cooker, just with the pan loaf shape. I haven't seen straight cast-iron cookers large enough to do this, only the enameled. 

The sides and bottom of the bread will get to a golden color, a few shades lighter than the top. The top won't crust or bloom up the way it does as a boule, the pan restricts how much steam escapes in the minutes that the loaf blooms and begins to form the crust. 

The trick is getting the right amount of dough to the pan, when they say a pan is rated for 2 lbs or 3 lbs, the volume they are measuring may be for a batter, not a dough. Also depending on your dough, it may get great oven spring and  turns out you only need a 1.5 lb loaf instead of a 2. Maybe it needs 3 lb not 2. 

mikemike's picture

Thanks for the input, Red5 and cranbo! I guess the only thing to do is to experiment. This is for a friend who I'm teaming up with to develop recipes for a small cafe/sandwich shop. We want consistency, little waste, and something that can be duplicated by others in the kitchen with some training. Thanks again. 

mrfrost's picture

There's a video out there, somewhere, showing Chad Robertson and a client making dozens of his loves shaped and baked in loaf style pans.

mikemike's picture

Yes, I think I've seen that video. His friend adapted the Tartine country loaf recipe to work in loaf pans and the bread looks fantastic (with a great crust) but it doesn't necessarily resemble the crust I'm after. I'll try to experiment in the near future and report back. Thanks all.