The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I got my scale.

Allenph's picture

I got my scale.

A little while ago, I asked a question on hydration percentages in artisan bread, and was reminded that I needed to use weight instead of volume for my measurements. That night I went and ordered a scale on Amazon for less than $10. It arrived yesterday, and I made my first loaf.


400g Flour (All Purpose)

8g Salt (2%)

2 TSP Yeast

286g Water (67.5%)

You were all very right, weighing by weight made a massive difference. I realized after weighing my cups I added almost 100g of extra flour the last time. Anyways, the bread turned out great, and I successfully used that French kneading method I was waiting to try. I finally got that dough texture I was looking for. However, I still had a few issues. First, I raised until the dough was double...a little more than an hour. After that, I cut one 350g piece of dough (Which I believe is the weight of a traditional French baguette?) and had an additional hunk almost the same size. I let them raise for more than two hours, but I was disappointed when I cut into my bread and found the same tiny cell sizes I am used to. 

So, obviously, the first question I have is, how do I get the cell size to increase? The second question I have is about pans. I have been baking my bread on a cookie sheet. (Yes, how classy, I know.) Unfortunately, this makes for a very flat bottom, and it's far to stout to make a meter long baguette. I was quite pleasantly surprised when my dough started rising up instead of sideways in the oven, I suppose that is a sign that I have the correct hydration? Also, am I going  to have to buy a specialized pan or is there some trick I'm not aware of?  Oh, and before I forget, how is one supposed to keep the bread from sticking to the pan while remaining loyal to the four basic ingredients? I've been flouring the bottom of the pan, which helps a little, but the bread still sticks slightly. 

In addition, I am finding that my scoring does barely anything. I am cutting rather shallow cuts, around 1/8 of an inch deep, is that too little? I find that my bread simply has slits, rather than the nice blooming lips I'm after. 

As always, I appreciate any and all help given!


occidental's picture

As far as 'cell size' commonly referred as crumb, I'd suggest a couple stretch and folds to develop the gluten and dough strength.

Most folks will be baking directly on a baking stone, possibly using parchment to make the dough transfer easier.  If you don't have a stone I'd put that on your list, but until you have one consider at least trying parchment, or a dusting of semolina at a minimum.  

There are lots of tutorials and advice on the site already regarding scoring, but yes, I'd say 1/8" is too shallow.  Good oven spring also is dependent on getting the loaf in early enough that there is still some rise left in the loaf.  I'd suggest you start by reading David's tutorial:


Joyofgluten's picture

Hello Allenph

Im sure that you could find several good baguette or white bread recipes here on the site that call for the use of a poolish or pre-ferment, this will without a doubt improve the crumb. The potential improvement in aroma is also enormous.

With a well prepared dough and even half decent blade technique your issue with the scoring could cease to be an issue.

cheers daniel

Yerffej's picture

Weigh your yeast too.


dabrownman's picture

a really tasty SD baguette with big holes try David Snyder's 'San Joaquin' recipe on this site for bagguettes.  He posted about using it for baguettes not long ago here but search will get you the recipe quickly.  The master is txfarmer's '36 hour baguettes' when it comes to holes and this recipe can be found with a search too.   You are right,  SD is way moie flavorful than any commercial yeasted bread and why it is so popular.

SD was used, along with barm, for thousands of years to make bread before commercial yeast was available.  Sadly time won out over flavor and texture for many commercial bakeries.  Thankfully some rediscovered how great SD is and how much better bread it makes.  Still, others don't like SD and the bread world is big enough for every kind of baker. 


Allenph's picture

Thank all of you for your information! I'm very thankful. 

So, my understanding after a little bit of research is that poolish is a kind of preferment with 100% hydration made of approximately 30% of the flour left to ferment with a small amount of yeast. It is also my understanding that using this will improve aroma, flavor, and crumb (Thanks for letting me know it was called "crumb."). 

I also know that salt should be about 2% and for French bread the hydration should be around 65-70%. However, I'm unsure about how much yeast to use. My understanding was that it does not matter how much yeast was added, but it would have an effect on the time that would need to be spent raising, I assume I am wrong. So, is there a magical percentage? And if so, what percentage of said yeast would be added to aforementioned poolish?

I have had sour dough before, my dad used to make sourdough pancakes and bread, and I couldn't take the flavor. I would prefer to stick with domesticated yeast strains, as they put less strain on my taste buds. 

I'll look into a baking stone, but before I invest I would really like to get this figured out. 

I figured that my cutting was too shallow, I'll give my scoring a little bit of work. 

So, to make sure I'm doing to entire process right, it would be...

Take 30% of my flour, add enough of my water to make 100% hydration mix, add yeast. (Whatever amount that may be, hoping to find something about that.)

Ferment the poolish for half a day. (Twelve-ish hours.)

Mix the salt, remaining yeast, poolish, and remaining flour and water. 

Knead using the method where you smash the dough into the counter, and flip it over and repeat...(What is this called?)

Let the dough raise for two-ish hours, punching down after the first hour.

Cut into pieces, lightly pre-shape. (Do I need to be careful and avoid destroying the cells here?)

Rest for about twenty minutes. 


Raise for another hour. 

Bake at high temperature. 

Am I missing something? Thanks!

occidental's picture

According to "Bread", Poolish has .08% to 1% depending on ferment time (longer=less).  A quick browse shows a few formulas with .2% and .5%, basically about an 1/8 teaspoon, a very small amount.  Total yeast in the overall formula looks to be between 1% and 2%