The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

idiot proof sour needed

jasonhemi's picture

idiot proof sour needed

So I'm trying to work a bread baking plan into our restaurant. I wanted something that the night crew could start and the day crew could finish without adding to the workload too much. I tried no knead but the shaping turned ugly on me, plus I don't like the rise or the round shape. I'm looking at the tartine whole wheat, but I don't know if I can keep the bulk fermentation going overnight... maybe in the fridge? I'm not sure. My original plan was to bake 3 loaves off at a time in a covered hotel pan inside the convection oven at work instead of the cast iron. 

I'm going to keep trying to make it work and I'll keep posting my progress. In the meantime any input is welcome. 



totels's picture

Tartine should work well for this. The high hydration means you can get away with less kneading and it still does nicely with cold fermentation. The hard part over a no-knead is the shaping, which will require some training and skill.

The general rule is to use a cold rise in one of the two proofing phases (bulk or shaped) but not for both. So a cool, overnight rise, divide and sharp in the AM with a short shaped rise and then bake. I'm not completely familiar with a "hotel pan" but any pan that is fairly close in size so the dough takes up a large portion of the volume is good, the concept is to use the steam escaping from the bread to create the perfect baking environment so you don't need fancy steam injectors and such. If you have a deck oven or baking stones you can put the dough directly in the baking surface and put a pan or metal bowl over the top to get the same effect.

jasonhemi's picture

a hotel pan is a standard 50 L rectangular pan that fits in a restaurant oven. It is aluminum though. My plan was to be able to do 3 loaves per pan at once. So one of the things I need to think about is the loaves "melting" into eachother.

totels's picture

50L sounds like a pretty large space to fill with steam from 3 loaves, but worth giving it a try.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Overnight bulk proof is probably the easiest. I do that with most of my doughs. I've thought of using the big pans for covers too. I'm wondering, though, if three 1/3 sized pans might work better, one pan for each loaf?

Trevor J Wilson's picture
Trevor J Wilson

Sounds tricky. Like you said, the loaves will probably run into each other. If you can use separate loaf pans, an easy process would be for the night crew to mix the dough and shape it right when it comes out of the mixer. No bulk fermentation. Shaping wouldn't need to be perfect because the unrisen dough would flatten out and fill the pans evenly.

Then, just let the loaves rise overnight and toss into the oven in the morning. 

If you absolutely must use the hotel pan, perhaps you could shape each loaf (this time after a bulk fermentation) and place each loaf in the center of a separate sheet of parchment paper. Then "cradle" each loaf and set them side by side in the pan with the ends of the parchment paper sticking up. That way, each loaf would remain separate from each other (separated by two sheets of parchment), but they could still run side to side for structural support as they proof.  

I'm not sure I described that very well, and I've never seen it done before so can't say that it would work for sure. But it could be a fun little experiment. I might have to try it myself and see what happens. Anyway, if you do actually try it please let me know how it worked out.




BetsyMePoocho's picture


If you would be interested and can wait until tomorrow I'll post some photo's of a 'Hotel Pan Set-Up' that I used with very good success.  And the method I used to induce sufficient mist to produce steam.

I should mention that the full sized pan was stainless steel the type that you find in most good restaurant supply houses.

I'll shoot some shots and post tomorrow and post.

See ya,,,,,


jasonhemi's picture

that would be really helpful. thanks


jasonhemi's picture

also what recipe do you use with your hotel pan set up?

BetsyMePoocho's picture

I'll provide you a couple of ideas that might be workable.

prettedda's picture

In the Tartine Bread book he describes a tester of his recipes that bakes for a restaurant. He bakes in bread pans. With the following schedule. Mix leaven at 5pm, mix dough a few hours later, an hour bulk ferment with turns every 15 minutes. Divide, bench rest for 30 minutes, shape and put loaves in oiled loaf pans, leave pans at cool room temp 65 degrees overnight bake at 7 am. Robertson says the young starter is key to being able to proof overnight.

BetsyMePoocho's picture


Here are photographs showing the method I once used for steaming artisan type breads.  This method was satisfactory during my struggle with an excessively vented ‘range/oven’.  A trait of most non-commercial ovens. 

To gain to some success I used a stainless steel six-inch deep ‘Steam Table’ pan to cover the dough that was place on a steel plate in the oven.  This worked pretty good, but was a pain.

I generally bake baguettes, batards, and ciabatta type breads and this pan/steel plate arrangement gave me the flexibility I needed.  Lots of folks utilize different configurations of ‘Dutch Ovens’, cast iron being a favorite.  I think good results can be obtained using either vehicle. 

 Now, in my humble opinion, what works great in a ‘home-baker’s-environment’ may prove to be a bit cumbersome in ‘usability and production output’ for a restaurant.  That said, this method I used is a relatively inexpensive way to determine if you want to pursue baking your own breads. 

 If you decide to go forward after getting the drill down, then bite the bullet and get a small deck oven that will handle your production needs with less hassle.  You will be a happy baker.

 I am currently using a small Rofco stone deck oven that I am very, very pleased with.  Here is a link to their site you might find worth looking at.  They are distributers of all the Rofco models and some other small stone ovens.

Here is the link to the one I am using and happy with.

As to ‘recipes’,,,, what I bake from are ‘formulas’ using the golden ‘Bakers Rule’ of percentages as a base line then lots of mix/bake adjustments leading up to nice results.  Whew, lots of effort, but worth it.  Oh, did I mention fun?

 Hope some of this is useful and remember that the folks on this site have a ‘combined’ zillion years of experience and wonderful suggestions………

Below:  Oven rack & baking steel. (16"x22"- 3/8"thick)

 Below:  Company's Logo.  They have several sizes, but will custom cut whatever you want.

Below: Hotel Steam Table Pan.  13 3/4" x 21" - 6" deep.  Hole drilled for misting & handle to help lifting.

Below: McCullock electric steam generator. Nozzle inserts into pan hole & 2 burst of steam during the first 12 minutes of the bake.  After 12 minutes the pan is removed for the remainder of the bake.

Below:  Pan raised showing a 3 baguette tray.

Below:  Two examples of bakes.  Baguetts & Batard


jasonhemi's picture

this looks great. can i do it without the steaam gun?

jasonhemi's picture

and what recipe would you recommend? i'm currently now looking at field blend #2 in flour yeast salt water


BetsyMePoocho's picture


To answer about the 'Steam Generator',,,, No, you do not have to use one.  Most folks will use a pump up sprayer.  Like the ones found at a garden center.  Just set the spray to be as 'misty' as you can.  You shouldn't drown the dough.  I also used a homemade plug out of aluminum foil to stick in the hole after misting. 

Here is a very easy recipe to cut your teeth with.  It is not 'Sour-Dough', but it will give you a pretty good round loafs or batards using a good flour & technique.

Baker's Percentage:

Flour= 100%  (This is the amount of flour for your desired bake.  Expressed in Grams.)

Water= % of total flour 

Yeast= % of total flour

Salt= % of total flour

Sugar= % of total flour (Optional)

If you make a 'pre-ferment' start with about 30% of the total flour and  add the same weight in water.  Both the weights of the flour and water will be deducted from the recipe.  Mix with just a pinch of IDY and allow to sit out on counter for about 12 hours. (If ambient temps are under 74f / 22c.)

Example Total Recipe:

Flour= 500g

Water= 63% * 500g= 315g

Yeast= 0.3% * 500g= 1.5g

Salt= 2% * 500g=- 10g

Sugar= 1.5% * 500g= 7.5(Optional, may help crust browning)

Pre-ferment: (100% ferment, meaning water & flour are equal.)

Flour= 500g * 30%= 150g (deducted from total recipe flour)

Water= 150g (deducted from total recipe water)

Final Dough:

Pre-ferment= Mix the ferment with the below ingredients. 

Flour= 500g - 150g Pre-ferment= 350g

Water= 315g - 150g Pre-ferment= 165g

Yeast= 1.5g

Salt= 10g

Sugar= 7.5g

There you have a simple easy recipe to manipulate and give you a base line.

Have fun… it's an uphill climb, but worth it.  I think that i'm still in the basement…..