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Adjusting Bake Time and Temp for Smaller Loaves

GSnyde's picture

Adjusting Bake Time and Temp for Smaller Loaves

It's time for Ask the Bread Doctor.  Here's tonight's question:

Dear Bread Doctor:
I'm planning to bake Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain in a long, thin batard shape, maybe three-inch diameter, sort of a short, fat baguette.  I want the crust to be crusty, even darkish, but don't want to overbake it.  The formula says bake a 1 lb., 9 oz. loaf for 40-45 minutes at 460 degrees.  These will probably be about 15 oz. each (I'll make 5 skinny loaves from a batch instead of 3 big loaves).  What baking time and temperature would you recommend? 
Any answers gratefully accepted.Glenn
wally's picture

I'm no Bread Doctor, Glenn, but I bake a lot of Hamelman's 5-Grain. The way I see it, you need to bake your batards at a fairly high temp to get the nice caramelization you're looking for.  At the same time, because that dough is fairly wet, it also needs a longer bake for the crumb to set propertly.  So - it's just a stab in the dark - I'd recommend trying a bake at 460F for maybe 20 minutes to get your color, and then reducing to 375-400 for an additional 10 minutes.

I suspect the 'true' answer will show itself through trial and error, but you might want to try a 30 minute bake as above to set some sort of base line.  In fact, why not make up your 5 skinny loaves and retard 2-3 of them, so you can try a second bake and make adjustments as needed.

Happy baking and Happy Holidays!


davidg618's picture

Hi, Glenn

I agree withWally. I think you want to keep the baking temperature in the 450°F to 460°F range to create the crust and color you desire. That leaves adjusting the time to reach the desired internal temperature.

Here's what I do: I preheat to 500°F. I bake all lean doughs at 450°F. with early steam. I adjust the time to fit the dough weight. I  remove the steam source when steaming time expires. Internal temperatures reach between 208°F and 210°F.

(If you were to search my blog you'll find I've screwed around with higher and lower temperatures +/- 10°F, but 450°F is my "go to" temperature.)

I also bake without convection during steam phase, and with convection finishing.

Sourdoughs and poolish lean doughs:

750g of dough, batard or boule shape: 15 min. with steam, 15 min. to finish without steam

500g of dough, batard or boule shape: 15 min with steam, 10 min. to finish without steam

350g of dough, baguettes: 10 mins. with steam, 10 mins to finish without steam.

Happy Holidays!

David G


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Larry and David.  Your advice was very helpful.  

I shaped the 75 ounces of dough into two 16 ounce loaves and three 14 ounce loaves.  I baked in two batches, proofing the two larger loaves outside (55 degrees or so).  The cool-proofed loaves proofed for over two hours while the first batch proofed and baked and the steam pan re-heated.  

I baked both batches the same, about 12 minutes at 450 with steam, then another 18 minutes at 425 dry.  The second batch sat on the stone with the oven door ajar for another 10 minutes.  Both batches have a very nice dark crust and internal temp was around 209.

We had friends over and finished off one of the larger (cool-proofed) loaves, and it was great.  Just like always, but these thinner loaves are nice for serving with cheese.  This is really good bread!

I think 18 ounce loaves, same diameter but a bit longer than today's, would be good.

I'll post photos in my blog tomorrow.

Thanks again for the help.