The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My batards seem to spread-any way to make them hold a taller shape?

  • Pin It
clazar123's picture
clazar123

My batards seem to spread-any way to make them hold a taller shape?

I use sourdough and sometimes yeast to make my loaves and even though the dough seems to be the right hydration (by feel), it seems it relaxes a little too much and tends to spread out on rising. So I have a lovely tasting loaf that is only 2 to 2 1/2 in tall.  I'd like it to resemble the Brownberry pan breads (in shape/height). It makes great loaves when placed in a pan but I really like the oval shape of a slice  of a batard.


Is there any way to get my dough to stand up taller?  I'm afraid if I make the dough stiff, it will have a dry,dense crumb. I have tried getting a night tight roll on shaping. Ideas?


I use home milled white and red wheat as well as Better for Bread flour. It seems to have great gluten formation. I mix it initially in a K5 and then fold 3-4 times before doing an overnight retard in the refrigerator to develop flavor. It is always nicely active and rises readily after shaping so the yeast isn't in question.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Allowing it to rise on a couche or in a banneton will help keep its shape.  Both will support the sides so the only direction for the dough to go is up.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Big Sigh


I have tried several different couches lined with a floured cloth lining. (It was a cotton cloth-I don't have a linen one.) I had 2 different issues with it.


1.Seemed to work well during the rise but when I transferred it to the cornmeal dusted pan, it spread out pretty much immediately. Not like a pancake or anything but enough.


2.No matter how much flour I coated that cloth(it was pretty much totally coated) with it stuck in a few minor places but enough that it caused a small amount of deflation in handling the transfer.


Are the traditional linen couches less likely to stick?

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I went to our local box store and purchased a yard of a canvas materal to use as a couche.  I think it cost maybe $1.50.  If I'm using it for a high hydration dough, I'll sprinkle rice flour on the sides and a strip of parchment on the bottom (cut to fit) on which the shaped loaf sits.  It's easy to slide out the parchment and dough to a peel, then to the oven.


Are you shaping the loaves then retarding?  What recipe are you using and how long are you proofing after retarding?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and decided to use smaller bannetons, narrower ones.  You could make the couche tighter, closer to the dough.   Be careful not to overproof.  If the dough is deflating during tranfer try doing it 30 minutes sooner.   Another thought is to work in just a little more flour before the bulk rise.  It could be it's too wet like you expressed.  Trust your instincts.


Mini

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It sounds to me like you are not getting much oven spring. When you say the hydration is right, what are you using?

Just for fun try a small batch of 500 grams of "Better For Bread" and 325 Grams of water with 10 grams salt and 1 teaspoon of instant yeast. Do the french fold or slap and fold until you have a very smooth well deleveloped gluten. Let the bulk ferment go to double in a 70-80F spot. Shape into a batard and make sure you get good surface tension. Proof for 45 minutes, slash and bake at 450F. No retarding.

You don't need a banneton to make nice batards. Even if it gets looking saggy the oven spring should save you if you don't over proof. Give this a try and let us know how it goes. The formula above is a 65% hydration dough which is pretty common for french bread

Eric

mcs's picture
mcs

Either your:
a. dough doesn't have the proper strength from the mixing/folding
b. shaping isn't tight enough
c. (final) proofing is too long
I'm guessing it's both a and b, just because you'd probably still get some oven spring unless you went way overboard with the final proof.
You shouldn't need a banneton or a couche to create a batard that has some height.


-Mark

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

One other thought, in addition to the other posters' comments: what is your baking setup?  Are you baking on a stone or on a baking sheet?  At what temperature?  If you are using a stone, I'm curious as to whether the stone has had enough time to come up to temperature.  The other thought is that the baking temperature that you are using may be appropriate for panned breads, but too low to drive much oven spring for hearth-style breads (if that is what you are attempting).  Plus, if you are baking on a stone or a sheet without steam during the first few minutes, the crust may be baking firm before the bread has an opportunity to rise very much in the oven.


The other thing to check is your expectations.  Hearth style breads generally (though not always) tend to have a lower height than panned breads because they have no side support while baking.  Thus, they are not forced to grow upward, as in a pan.  Something else to think about.


Paul

dougal's picture
dougal

I'd agree with most of the above, but would add another point. 


 


The longer your dough ferments (rising and proofing total) the less strength it will have. Overproofed dough is stretchy but not strong.


One reason for this is (perfectly natural) stuff called Glutathione - its found in wheat (particularly the bran) and you get lots from dead yeast cells.


You can counter its action with just a trace of Vitamin C. 


 


Dissolve a one-per-day Vitamin C tablet in a half-pint glass of water.


Now add two tablespoons of that solution (per average-sized loaf) as part of the water in your recipe. So if you are making two loaves, that's four spoonfuls made up to whatever amount of water you use. (So this is not extra water, its part of your water quantity.)


Drink the rest - its good for you!


This should (ideally only slightly) reduce your dough's tendancy to become floppier as time goes on. You can add (lots) more Vitamin C, it won't be harmful, but it shouldn't be needed.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Dougal, I have 1 tbsp of cider vinegar in this recipe-would I sub the Vit C for that or would it be in addition to the vinegar(still keeping the  total liquid the same)? Your comment about overproofing with the dough becoming stretchier as time goes on is a good description of my dough,I believe. Even though I mix,stretch/fold and put in a container and right in to the refrigerator, by the time I take it out in the morning it has doubled! I then shape,pan(if it goes in a pan) and let warm up and rise,bake.


The other comment that made sense for my situation is that my oven temp may be set for panned breads. I set it to 450 and do throw water in a hot pan 2-4 times the first 15 min for steam. I cook in bread pans or on baking sheets-no stone yet. I am using an enriched recipe,lately, with egg,honey and oil. I find it really overbrowns with a 500 dgree oven.


ehanner-With this current recipe, there is less oven spring.I thought ,perhaps,that was a product of having a richer dough. Do enriched doughs exhibit the same amount of oven spring as the simpler (flour-water-yeast) doughs? I have limited experience with this.


I don't know the hydration of the dough-that's my next learning curve. THis recipe is still in cups but I am in the process of converting to weights.


Is honey considered in the hydration?Is it a liquid?


The recipe is a very old farmer's recipe so some ingredients have ranges or are optional.A few I edited (such as the wheat)


4 c homemilled hard,white whole wheat


3 c Better for Bread flour or AP flour with gluten added


1-2 tsp salt


Mix dry ingred.


1/2- 1  1/2 tsp dry yeast (depending on how fast I need the bread-I don't always do an overnight)


1/2 c warm water to activate yeast


1 c activated starter (100% hydration)


Mix and set in warm place 10 min


1 egg (optional)


1-2 tsp lecithin (my addition)


2 tbsp oil (opt)


1 c warmed milk (or no milk but 2 c water total)


1 c warm water


1 tbsp cider vinegar


1/4-1/2 c sweetener ( honey or sugar or molasses)(I usually use 2 large tbsp honey)


Mix wet ingredients in to dry and beat in a K5 mixer for 5-10 minutes. Add some AP flour as needed (usually 1/4-1/2 c-probably depending on how closely I measured other ingredients).


Rest-fold on counter 3-4 times over next hour.


Flatten in large, plastic container and in the refrig for overnight.


Next AM, flatten,shape,pan,rise(takes a few hours in my cold house),bake. It is a wonderful consistency dough to work with by the am.


I mix the dough at 8PM and work with it at 7AM the next  morning.


I use starter and yeast because I was having problems with inconsistent rising with just the starter-but that's another thread! I add the starter for flavor and because I'm keeping my culture active.


 


I am a relative novice at this ,though I have come a LONG way the last 3 months.I bake every weekend-I now make our daily /weekly bread for lunches and have started branching out to English Muffins and make killer biscuits. I want to master the batard shape because that is what my spouse prefers but ,then again,he is used to the oval, spongey breads from the grocery store. I am working him towards some healthier bread choices.


Thanks to everyone and a Happy Thanksgiving-if you celebrate it. We have much to be thankful for in this house.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

clazar,


Depending on how you measure your flour (scooping vs. fluff and spoon), your dough hydration is somewhere in the 60% to 70% range.  At the low end, that would make a firm dough, but nothing as stiff as bagel dough, which is closer to 50% hydration.  At the upper end, it would be fairly typical of a lot of "artisanal" breads.  Considering that the whole wheat flour is apt to absorb more liquid than the bread flour, the dough may feel stiffer and drier than the hydration numbers would suggest.


Since your measurements are in volume, rather than weight, what do you mean by 100% hydration starter?  Equal volumes of water and flour, or equal weights of water and flour?  The latter would, indeed, be 100% hydration; the former would be rather higher.  I realize now that I didn't factor that into my hydration numbers, above.


You may want to consider adding another 2 tablespoons of water to your next batch if you want to bake on a stone, rather than in a pan.  That might improve the oven spring for the batards.


At 450F, you should have a high enough temperature to drive plenty of oven spring.  I'm assuming that you allow the stone enough time to preheat so that it is the same temperature as the oven for your batard attempts.  I'm also assuming that the actual oven temperature is the same as the indicated oven temperature, which isn't necessarily so in a great many ovens.


It looks like it ought to make a delicious bread.  Keep experimenting with it.  At some point you'll find the sweet spot for hydration, shaping, surface tension, oven temperature and all of the other factors that factor into breadmaking.


Like I said in an earlier post, panned loaves will generally be taller than loaves baked on a stone from the same formula.  You can see one of my recent breads here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9765/hensperger039s-pumpkin-cornmeal-bread.  Even though they look fairly tall in the photo, they are (at most!) no more than 4 inches in height even though I got explosive oven spring from underfermented dough.


Paul

dougal's picture
dougal

The Vitamin C is about dealing with glutathione.


Vinegar is about adding a sour flavour and slightly acidifying the fermentation. If you want to add it, its unlikely to harm the Vitamin C. They are in no way equivalents or alternatives.


However a (maybe THE) major source of Glutathione is, as I said above, dead yeast. And a major source of dead yeast is "active dry" yeast -- and from the rehydration with 'warm' water, that looks to be what you are using. So you are actually adding extra Glutathione... and I think its that Glutathione that is making your dough SO floppy.


Especially for a long fermentation, you'd be much better using an easyblend (or instant mix) yeast. Try and find one without a list of improvers. Look at the small print ingredients listing. SAF Red sounds pretty 'clean'. (Its a US product;  I'm in the UK and its unlikely to be helpful if I suggest Doves Farm easyblend yeast!) Use less - maybe 3/4 of what you would use with active dry. And don't try and start it. Just mix it right in. 


With an easyblend yeast (or even fresh 'fresh yeast'), its quite possible that you will not need the Vitamin C !!


Put any open easyblend yeast into a (very dry) closed jar and keep it in the fridge. Not in the kitchen or the freezer. Closed up and in the fridge it should store for more than a year.  Which is good enough for me.


 


I've said in the past that I think 'active dry' might have a place in pizza-making -- where you actually want a very stretchable, and not strong, dough. But almost nowhere else.


'Active dry' was a product created in the 1940's, with the principal objective of creating a form of yeast with a (very) long storage life. Exactly like military ration packs.


Its as 'gourmet' a product as 1940's instant coffee or powdered egg.


Consign the 'active dry' yeast to your personal survival store! That's where it belongs.


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

ehanner


I tried the recipe you provided and came out with a wonderful batard and great oven spring. This was a lot stickier dough than mine but it eventually slapped/folded into a nice feeling dough with no additional flour.It took a while. At a 45 min rise, I would have let it rise for another 1/2 hour,prob. It didn't seem to quite double.I wish I had a camera!


SO-is it that I overproof my dough? Do I need to adjust my measurements? Do I need to fold a little more? I actually suspect it might be a combination of all 3. I may need to reduce my proof, and fold more. I reviewed some of the videos on this site and may get more aggressive with the slap/fold. I think I may hold on changing the measurements until I try the other things.


Home made turkey soup and a fresh loaf! Life is good!


 


 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

You made my day hearing you tried that recipe and had it work. You hit on an important point. I helps to not change to many things at one time so you can judge what is working.


Reading what you wrote above, I would say let the dough double so you know the bacterial activity is well established. That way when you shape and proof you are assured of a good oven spring with a short proof of say 30 minutes.


The need to knead is negated by folding. I usually slap and fold or knead just enough to get a smooth dough. Then about 1 hour later spread the dough on the counter with a very light dusting of flour and give it a good stretch and fold. It will now raise faster than the first time so after another 45-60 minutes it should be well developed, feel puffy and soft. Unless the dough is very slack only one fold will be necessary. At this point be gentle and shape to assure tension on the skin. The technique is everything.


Eric

clazar123's picture
clazar123

This brings up another question.


I made the experimental loaf totally by hand-I wanted to really feel the dough. But with my original recipe, I use my K5 mixer to mix the dough and then continue to mix as part of the kneading process-about an additional 8-10 minutes, using the dough hook. Then I get my hands in it to fold. It is a very nice soft, moist but not tacky dough that tightens up nicely when worked but then really relaxes when left to proof.  I don't want it to relax so much.


 


Will machine kneading (with the dough hook) for an additional period of time strengthen the gluten more?  This may be what I do next with my original recipe to see if there is a difference-more mixing-less proofing.


 


I am continuing to research glutathione and it's effect on bread dough. Any links to legit sites?


 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have been doing 2 things a  little differently-


1.I have been paying a little more attention to gluten development and


2.I have decreased my proofing time.


I think the gluten development is not really the issue because even with that my batards seemed to spread after being shaped. I was initially disheartened but I think what really changed is the tremendous oven spring my loaved achieved when they are proofed less.Poof! I've had the last 2 batches (2 different recipes) succeed. I will have to see if it continues. I am really glad because the recipe I used is what seems to be coming togehter as my daily bread-it works really well for me.


My thanks to everyone!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Glad to hear you are having better results. Training your hands is an important part of good craftsmanship in bread making. I have come to believe that regardless of how well my mixer works, the final steps to good development are best done by hand. It just takes a few minutes of effort to get that special feel that tells you it is ready.


Understanding the reason for the short proof and why it helps oven spring has helped me improve all of my breads. I believe you need some amount of time after shaping (strengthening the gluten cloak) to allow the gluten strands to relax again. If you don't allow the strands to relax, the rise will be slowed and subdued by the strength of the gluten. Also I think the bread will be less tender (more tough) as it has been baked while still strong. The proofing time can be shortened to, only as long as it takes for the gluten to relax. After that you have a window of opportunity to bake your bread. As you approach the other side of the window and near over proofing, the bread is getting weaker by the minute as it grows. Much better to bake slightly early than late. I like to think that after 15 minutes of proof time after shaping, the gluten is ready. Another 15 minutes to rise a little more and improve volume and it is time to bake.


Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini