The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flat Boule

home_mill's picture
home_mill

Flat Boule

I made my first ever Boule and second ever sourdough. The first sourdough was a sandwich loaf and it came out pretty good. I made the Boule with vitually the same recipe but it came out flat 2.25 inches at the tallest point, and the crumb is more dense. The recipe used 1 white cup starter, 1 cup WW white and 1 cup WW red wheat. It doubled in about 4 hours. I shaped the Boule put it in a Banneton and refrigerated over night. The next morning I let it rise for about 3 hours. When I transferred from the Banneton to a peel it did not hold its shape at all, it just flatened out. I slashed it but during baking I could tell there was no oven spring. So I need help as to why it did not hold its shape. Here is a list of what I think might be the problem.

Improper shaping (I did research this and felt I did a decent job)

Too high hydration (I don't have a scale and measure by volume and go by dough feel, this is entirely possible. However this does not seem consistent with the dense crumb and very small holes)

Over proofing (I don't have a good gauge in my head for proofing in a Banneton as I do in loaf pan)

 Thanks - Joel

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Joel,

If you had good results with the sandwich bread in the pan, and it was the same recipe, same timing of rises, then it might be a handling difference? If the dough is soft and wet, then overhandling the boule might be the cause of the difference between that and a sandwich bread you shaped for a pan. You could try folding the dough during bulk fermentation. That usually helps give more structure to wet soft dough, if it is a very wet dough. You could also reduce the hydration a little, which might help keep the boule from spreading out too much. You could also try using less starter and a little bit longer rise. I find that WW doughs have better texture when you use smaller inoculations. For example, you could use 1/2 cup starter, and add 1/4 cup water and about and extra 1/2 cup flour back to the dough.

Bill

 

home_mill's picture
home_mill

Bill,

 Normally I knead my dough for 15 - 20 minutes before bulk fermentation. Should I be folding instead of or in addition to kneading? Over handling could be an issue. I followed some insrtuctions on shaping where I flattened the dough out into a rectangle and then brought the four coners together to form a ball. It was kind of awkward. I am finding it is better to be gentle with the dough during punch down and shaping so next time I will use a different technique for shaping and also try increasing the hydration. When making a Boule, does it normally flatten out some when dumping it out of the Banneton or should it pretty much retain its shape?

 Joel

 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Joel,

I was suggesting you reduce hydration, rather increase hydration in order to make it a little easier to handle and retain its shape. If the dough was very wet and soft, then using a little less water should make it a little stiffer. I'm not sure if you meant to say increase the hydration. The added water and flour I mentioned at one point earlier was to offset halving the amount of starter, if you wanted to try that.

If the dough is fairly wet and soft, which I think is generally helpful overall with whole wheat recipes if you want some lightness and oven spring, then it helps to fold the dough during bulk fermentation. In order not to change too many things, you could try still kneading as you do but add two or three folds during the bulk fermentation. It may give it more structure. However, you can also stiffen and deflate the dough too much if you overdo the folding, in which case it may end up denser and smaller than you want, although it might hold its shape well.

When I do my miches, which are fairly wet sometimes, they may spread out a bit. If the hydration is low enough, then they don't spread much at all when taken out of the banneton. It just depends how well the gluten has developed and what hydration. If the proofing time is right, you should get some oven spring, too. If you overproof, then the dough may become slack and spread out, and it won't spring much in the oven.

Sometimes, if the proofing is right, even though the dough is quite wet and may spread out quite a bit when dumped out of the banneton, it can also spring enough in the oven to offset the spreading. If it spreads out too much, you can try folding the edges under to control the size and shape, not slashing, and bake immediately. Sometimes, you can recover from a very wet and slack spreading loaf that way, believe it or not. Leader talks of very floppy loaves more or less tossed around in the section on Genzano loaves in his recent book.

Bill

home_mill's picture
home_mill

Oops, I did mean decrease not increase hydration. 

verminiusrex's picture
verminiusrex

Sounds like a hydration issue.  The same dough can do better in a pan because the pan will hold the sides in, whereas in boule form it has nothing ot hold it together.  An ounce can make a big difference in hydration.