My loaves are misshapen. I can't get rid of of flaps that form when I shape the loaf. Please help.
Can you share more about the dough? What is the hydration and mixing technique? Straight dough or enriched? Looks to be underproofed, and as if there was no steam used. Also the slashes are in the wrong direction. As to the fold, most likely too much flour on the table or at least too much getting in the middle while shaping. Are you doing a preshape first and the letting it rest? The more details you give the easier it is for us to help. Do you have a crumb shot?
Gosh, I did not realize that slashes were meant to go in a certain direction; I thought they served to leave room for expansion while the loaf is baking. Can you tell me how I should be slashing my loaves?
As to your other questions:
80% hydration; AP flour; autolyzed for an hour without salt, then salt added, mixed by hand until dough soft, first proofing overnight in fridge until dough doubled in volume, halved and intermediary proofing for an hour, final proofing in brotform until doubled, baked on oven stone at 180ºC for an hour. No steam, you're correct; I have no experience yet with using it.
What is your exact formula and how did you measure it?
How long is the stone heating up before baking on it? Stones often take 45min to an hour depending on the thickness. The bread looks under baked too. 180°C is a bit cool. Might want to heat up the oven to 240°C and turn it back to 220 when loading the oven or after the initial spring (first 15 min) But first, let's see or give us a link to the recipe. :)
Do you do some tension pulls? I think maybe doing that and letting it rest to "absorb" your folds and flaps before putting it in the banneton might help.
Okay. You say this is 80% hydration. Then you say you kneaded by hand until soft. If this is true, then I imagine you would have used a lot of bench flour. This lowers the hydration quite a bit. Looking at the dough, I agree that it no longer looks like 80%. It also doesn't look like it proofed enough. Also, the temperature of the bake is too low and too long. The oven temperature should be more like 245ºC (180ºC is more like an enriched pan loaf temperature). Make sure you preheat the stone for 45 minutes to an hour first. The bake time is around 25-30 minutes depending on the weight.
You didn't mention yeast, but I assume there is some in there. Also, my recommendation is to reverse the order of the refrigeration. That is to say that you should bulk (first) ferment the dough at room temperature, then divide, preshape, rest 20-30 minutes, shape and put in banneton. Then put the banneton in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, no need to let it sit out first. Just make sure to preheat the stone first.
As for scoring the loaf, you generally want to have the slash go vertically along the length of the dough. This gets the bread to shape correctly. You can do 1 down the middle if you want. If you do more scores then keep them in the middle 1/3 of the bread with a very slight angle. Overlap the slashes a little too. There are many videos on this. My favorite is this one (it shows baguettes, but the same idea applies):
As for steam, this is important or you will end up with a tight crumb and the dough bursting out in places you don't want. The easiest way is to put the dough in the oven an cover it with a metal bowl or aluminum pan. After 10-12 minutes, remove it and finish baking. There are several other methods and you can easily search for them.
It would be helpful if you could give the exact formula. Perhaps the 80% is by cups rather than by weight.
Keep asking questions. This is a great place to learn.
Edit to add: It recommend starting with something along the lines of 67% hydration (by weight). Also here is a great video on shaping different doughs:
Thank you for all of your responses. This truly is a great place to learn, like having access to many kitchens with experienced bakers.I no longer trust the formula I used for the misshapen loaf I presented in the photos. If you had to bake your very first sourdough bread, which formula would you use? And what method? No knead? are my questions. I don't like the boule shape for no good reason other than I don't and would prefer a batard shape.
So looking forward to that formula (is it a sourdough?) no matter where it came from. Since we already have the bread and some opinions as to why it looked that way, it would be fun to see if it could be improved upon or repeated with better results.
This is often the case when a favorite recipe suddenly doesn't work. A new kitchen or oven, different types of flour or work surfaces, location, can all have an effect on a recipe and it needs a little tweaking. Let us see the recipe or how it came into being and see if we can come up with tips to help. Even if the bread started out as just putting unknown amounts of flour and starter into water.
My imagination often gets the best of me and I'm thinking you have the basics, water (melted snow) flour (air dropped) and a newly formed sourdough culture ( carried in luggage or found it there) sitting in a 42 foot container on the south pole hunched over a computer, a Miele cutting board (can double as a peel) and oven. No cookbooks. Thank goodness for the net! :)
I personally recommend starting with something a lot of people here are familiar with. Dmsnyder has a San Joaquin Sourdough on this site that is often baked. This also means it would be easy to ask him questions if you needed to. Another one that I like and bake a lot is Jeffrey Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough. There is a great write up on this one here:
There is also a more sour version on the site based on Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough With Increased Whole Grain.
Most recipes can be changed from boule to batard or vice-versa.
Make sure your starter is active.
So I would try a few things as it seems the process is a bit rushed.
At 80% hydration, you should have tons of open holes in the crumb so I'm thinking you are rushing or really degassing the dough when you shape.
Step 1: Make a dough at about 60-65% hydration (500g flour, 300g water, .5tbs yeast, 10g salt). knead about 10 minutes until soft and uniform.
Step 2: Let it rest for an hour, punch it down and divide it if it's too big for one loaf for you. Looks like you have a medium proofing basket so maybe divide in half and roll each half in to a ball and let them rest for another 10 minutes.
With this level of hydration, you should be ready to pre-shape then final shape before.
Look at youtube for pre-shaping and shaping videos. Sounds to me like you may be rushing too much or the bread may be too wet for you to handle.
If this is a sourdough, I would say that the culture was underactive. That would tend to promote tight crumb structures. Underproofed as well.
That is a good question. If this was sourdough then that would definitely explain some things.
Then it would be greatly under-proofed. As sourdough would take longer to rise. I would go so far to say twice as long.