The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Palm Desert, CA

Kersteen's picture

Hello from Palm Desert, CA

Hello all!  New to this site and clearly an amateur, but excited to BAKE!  Here is my result from lesson 2.  Why so flat?  Followed instructions to the letter.  Any feedback is appreciated.

Darwin's picture

I am also an amateur so I am not sure about the answer.  The smart folks will be along shortly.  :)

gmagmabaking2's picture

One great thing you will get from this site is help... there are some pretty awesome, talented, knowledgeable bakers out there to answer your questions... not me... but they are there and they will help you... Welcome aboard, and you are doing great in getting pictures posted right away... whew the help I needed with that!!!!

Welcome, Diane

coffeecat's picture

Welcome! I used to live very near to Palm Desert... La Quinta! The way to get the best possible help here is typically to post the entire method you used, the recipe and directions/method. That way those who are experienced here can tell you whether it's an ingredient/scaling issue or a handling issue, although it would seem to me that it was either gluten development or final shaping that would cause a flat loaf. Happy baking!

pongze's picture

Hello from nearby Redlands! You have a beautiful color on your crust.  As you learn more about baking, you will likely come to appreciate the consistency that weighing your ingredients rather than using the volumetric measurements gives you.  Measuring out three cups of flour as called for in the lesson will give differing amounts of flour depending on a multitude of factors, including if the flour is packed or has been sifted.  That will affect your hydration, i.e. one day you might be baking at 60% hydration, and the next 70%, which will affect your shaping.

If you can give more details besides, "Followed instructions to the letter," it would be helpful, because the instructions are not necessarily very specific.  How did you shape the loaf?  Did you allow them to rise (2nd rise) in a banneton or just on the counter?  They appear to be hearth loaves, i.e. freeform, which will result in flatter loaves.  Also, did you score the loaves?  It looks like you did, which will affect the shape.

All in all, the more that you bake, the better you will get at shaping your loaves.  Your loaves will be shaped more tightly, which can result in a taller loaf, if that's what is desired.  Happy baking!

Kersteen's picture

I measured exact ingredients, mixed dry together as stated (no sifting, no proofing of yeast) and wet together as stated, then combined the two and followed the mixing technique of the French baker video posted with in the lessons (forgot name)  No mixer, by hand, no flour (no cheating, as he says) on the board and the lift and slap down, fold method to introduce air into the dough and develop gluten.  Its a way to quickly knead dough but I did it for the ten minutes required.  It was very wet and sticky at first, but then began to hold together and at the end of ten minutes I didn't have to scrape the board as I lifted it. Perhaps it needed more kneading or a little more flour......  It had a very spongy, slightly rubbery texture, and a mild yeasty flavor.  Good, but different from the Challah loaf I made last week. Which was a completely different recipe.  More eggs, proofed yeast, etc.  I let the Lesson 2 dough rise in the oven, with steam; once, punched down, shaped loaf into two fat baguette type loaves, scored the top with a razor; not deeply enough evidently; did another oven rise,( on parchment paper on a sheet pan) egg washed the tops then baked. My Challah last week flattened out too....although it rose and rose til it threatened to spill over the sheet pan. 

Kersteen's picture

I used 2 cups all purpose flour (Trader Joe's) and one cup "better for bread flour"

pongze's picture

Your post reminds me of when I started baking!  I was very taken with Richard Bertinet's slap and fold method.  Drove my wife nuts with it!  As Dabrownman said, it's a wonderful way for you to discover how the dough feels as it changes, as the gluten structure begins developing.  Personally, I have since progressed to Chad Robertson's Tartine method with sourdough, involving the no-knead method with high hydration.  I also use a mixer for other breads.  However, discovering how the dough feels with the development using the slap and fold... that is invaluable.  That will help you to know when the dough is ready when you use other methods for gluten development.

So regarding your technique, again, as dabrownman noted, you have pretty high hydration, so baking the loaves free-form will give you fairly flat loaves.  There are a few things that you can do to help the shape besides baking in a loaf pan.  One is doing your second rise in a banneton.  That doesn't mean you need to go buy a basket.  Technically, I use a bowl lined with a tea towel, sprinkled with a mixure of half rice flour and half bread flour.

I presume by "fat baguette," presumably, you mean batards?  Personally, I found that the easiest shape for me to make was a boule (basically a ball).  That may be the best shape to practice with initially, to learn how to handle the dough gently, yet forming a tight skin.  That will also allow you to use my first suggestion of a banneton.  Baguettes would be best proofed with a cloche (usually linen) supporting its shape.

Another note, you scored the loaves too soon.   They should be scored just prior to baking.  Otherwise, with a high hydration loaf, they will just spread out during your second rise and the benefit of the scoring is lost.  The score is to help the loaf expand during the rapid expansion during baking in the way that you want it to expand, in as controlled a manner as possible.  Google Cyril Hitz and watch some of his videos.  He has an especially good one on scoring baguettes, but the principles are applicable to other loaves as well.  It is actually not about the depth of the cut but rather about the angle.  A proper angle will give you the beautiful grigne (ear) that you see on well-made bread.

Good luck!

dabrownman's picture

another desert town!  Two is a really big jump from lesson 1.  Lesson one is a straight dough at roughly 66% hydration   a great first loaf .  Lesson 2 the sugar and butter is added and they hydration really jumls to 78-85% depending on how much  water you put in in addition tthe milk.  You can notice 2 thongs,  The writer said tha they would normally make this loaf in tin and i would since it is so wet.  Even when the gluten is developed properly and the loaf shaped properly by proofing on a cookie sheet, the loaf will spread  wasy more than loaf did oin lesoon 1 becsue the dough is so wet.

You willnotice the posters lession #2 bread also spread way more than their lesson 1 bread.  So I say no worries - you learned the rule of thumb that I learned here too - If its 80% hydration or more it belongs in a tin or you call it ciabatta:-)

Your learning how to do French slap and folds so early on is fantastic.  You learn what various kinds of dough feel like at different hydration and it really works well to develop gluten in wet dough over 72% hydration.  With really wet dough like this one, I would do 3 sets of slap and folds  The first one for 8 minutes, the 2nd once for 3 minutes and the 3rd for 1 minute - 10 minutes apart. The recipe didn't call for that but I think the gluten would have come together and stayed together better.  I would also do 3 sets of stretch and folds, another great technique to lean and much easier than slap and folds, also done 10 minutes apart after the slap and folds -but one again the recipe didn't call for til.

For a first shot at a wet dough like lesson 2 - yours looks a very typical, not bad at all - really.  Bread making is all about practice and learning the various techniques of gluten development, what the dough should feel like, shaping it properly, knowing when it has risen properly and slashing skills.  None of them are hard but take practice.  Once you get them ubder your belt, you will be making some fine  bread before you know it.  That is what the lessons are all about - sort of big junmps at times  but learning fast results. 

Happy baking .