The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

loaf flattens

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christinepi's picture
christinepi

loaf flattens

I used Peter Reinhart's Classic French Bread recipe twice now. I let the dough sit at 70F as prescribed for 90 minutes after mixing until doubled, then I divide it in two, shape the two halves into boules and stick them in the fridge overnight. There the doughs proceed to ooze and flatten out into a ciabatta shape. The next day, they're so flat and soft that I can't score the dough because it immediately starts imploding if I even think about it. The baked results taste great, the crust is very nice, crumb isn't bad; but I want to get to the bottom of this. The second time I used this recipe I did the S&F 3 times ten minutes apart before I let it sit for 90 minutes, hoping that would make a difference in ooziness, but to no avail. What gives?

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

into boules and putting them in baskets to proof in the fridge or are you shaping boules for bulk fermenting in the the fridge for final shape and proofing the next day on the counter?

christinepi's picture
christinepi

After the 90 minutes rise, I shape them into boules, put them onto parchment paper and onto a plastic cutting board, cover them with plastic, and put them in the fridge. The next day, I take them out and let them sit for 1 hour on the counter before I slide them onto a pizza stone.

mcs's picture
mcs

christine,
I don't have the book or the recipe, so I'll just be advising based on your description.  I don't think it's possible using the timing you've described to get anything BUT a flattened out loaf, considering how long the dough is sitting in the fridge unsupported in its final shape. 
Have you tried (the next day) after letting the dough come up to room temperature for an hour, then dividing and shaping the dough?  Next you'd let it proof until it's ready for the oven and bake it.  You'd have more control over it that way and the dough would essentially be the 'same age'.

-Mark

christinepi's picture
christinepi

I haven't tried that, no. Reinhart actually has that exact version in the book, but he gave the version that I tried as an alternative to yield supreme crust and crumb. So I went straight for that. I was thinking I'll try the shaping later version next, just to see whether there would be a difference, before I saw your response--now that you suggested it as well, I'll definitely try it. The crust and crumb of the (flat) loaves I baked today were actually very very nice. And actually, since they are so flat, there's even more crust! But of course I'd like to be able to control what happens.

Would kneading the dough more than the prescribed two minutes make a difference, like, say, 10, or would that not matter since the dough would lose its shape sitting unsupported in the fridge anyway?

mcs's picture
mcs

Because your crumb is not 'touched' for such a long time in the version you are trying now (proofing in the fridge for so long and then going into the oven without really affecting it much), it will inevitably have a better crumb than the version I'm suggesting.

The closer the shaping is to when the bread goes in the oven, the more careful you need to be in screwing up the crumb.  In other words, if I shape bread 1 hour before it goes in the oven, I need to be much more careful than  if I was shaping it 4 or 12 hours before it goes in the oven.  Most breads that have a nice crumb have a longer final proof, allowing the open crumb to develop without being molested (for lack of a better term) by your hands/shaping.  It is possible to shape it close to when it goes in the oven (let's say with only a 45 minute final proof), but it's just more difficult, especially depending on the shape. 

As for your last question, it probably would not make much of a difference since since it's going to be in the fridge for so long.  However, if you're willing to experiment with it, then try it and don't forget to write your findings in the margins in your book!

-Mark

PS Just as a reference, I don't use bannetons/brotforms for any of my bread, however I do use a couche for my baguettes.  The longest final proof of any of my breads is about an hour, and they proof directly on the pan they will be baked on.  Because my baguettes are final proofing in a couche, they are supported and can handle a final proof of up to 90 minutes, before they are flipped out of their cozy environment and into the oven.

 

christinepi's picture
christinepi

shaping before putting dough in the fridge, as I've done, BUT putting the dough in baking pans (as in for sandwich loaves)? That way the dough won't ooze all over. What down sides would that have? Obviously less crust, but anything else?  I imagine heat transfer isn't as good, since the cool metal would act as a barrier, but how negative an impact would that have?