The Fresh Loaf

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What the Forkish? Flat country Brown...

LevaiNation's picture

What the Forkish? Flat country Brown...

Hello breadies,

After many fantastic loafs, standing ovations, and jaw dropping results baking my way through FWSY, i had my first flat, sad, disappointing bread yesterday. I know, it was bound to happen, and in a way, i'm happy about the opportunity to challenge myself and harness this Pure Levain Country Brown recipe.

This is what I did (and in parenthesis, what Mr. Forkish suggests); maybe someone can spot the trouble area and help me decide where to start fixing the problem.

73f. room temp. 604g WF + 276g WW + 684g H2O @ 90f. Autolyse for 20 min. (Just like the book)

3:15 pm. Added 22g salt + 216g happy levain that passed the floating test. Final Mix, Dough temp 78f. (5pm in book)

3 folds first hour, 1 fold 11pm. Overnight room temp 70f.

7:30 am. Dough looked lovely and airy. It tripled in volume. Shaped into Bannetons. Super sticky, hard to shape......(8am in book. 1:15 over rise time)

11:15 am. Proof finger test looked good-I think-. It appeared to have risen nicely. Dough stuck to Bannetons (argh!!$%#@). Very Slack and soft dough. Went into hot DO's. 475 oven.

12m. Barely any oven spring. Pretty dense. Tastes lovely but crumb is quite moist and lacks air pockets.


All of this is written down in my bread journal. Looking forward to try the Country Brown again. Thanks in advance to anyone who took the time to read all the way to these lines...


Peace and dough, 



ananda's picture

Hi Bryan,

Is that 14.5 hours bulk time at 21*C?   Look at David Snyder's work on Forkish here on TFL.   But that's where I would start.   Bulk time seems too long to me at ambient temp.

Best wishes


Bakingmadtoo's picture

I have just read through the blog you suggested, which made interesting reading. I have been having similar problems to some of the posters who commented. I made the overnight country blonde the other day. I am finding it hard to get good oven spring as the dough wants to spread. I got a lovely crumb and excellent flavour, but much too flat. My house is cold, very cold and I thought my dough had perhaps gone a bit too far after an overnight proofing at under 10c. I am going to have another go, but try with less hydration, until I can get a better result, as I am feeling a bit out of my depth with this bread. I am also having problems with the dough sticking to the bannetons, something I have not had before and something that will also make it spread more. Thinking about how my dough proofed in the cold, I agree with Andy that yours most likely had too long in your much warmer temperature.

LevaiNation's picture

Brrrr. You keep a cold house BM! We try to imitate the tropical climate I was raised in in our home! Thanks to both of you for the replies! I will try tightening my bulk ferm times on the next try. It will probably happen next weekend but I'll post results here...


dmsnyder's picture

Watch the dough, not the clock!

Forkish says the dough should expand to 2.5 x the original volume. As he indicates, he is pushing the limits. If you let the dough expand to 3 x, I think you crossed the limit. There was not enough oomph left to give you a good rise in proofing or good oven spring. The dough stickiness may well have been, at least partly, from proteolysis. That is, the gluten was being digested, thus damaging the loaves' structural integrity.

Remember ....


Try the bread again, but limit the bulk fermentation dough expansion to between 2 and 2.5 x, whether it takes 3 hours or 15 hours.

Happy baking!



LevaiNation's picture

Awesome advice! Will dough, will dough....

I believe that it's true. I might have over developed the dough. There is a long acidic aftertaste on the resulting bread which actually Ken Forkish warns about. He calls it a 'cloying aftertaste'. I had to look up "cloying" in the dictionary. Here's the meaning:

To cause distaste or disgust by supplying with too much of something originally pleasant, especially something rich or sweet; surfeit.v.intr.   
This explains a lot. p.s. I find it a bit tricky to precisely measure the expansion of the dough in the 12qt bucket since the dough doesn't cover the whole bottom of it when the final mix is finished... 
dmsnyder's picture

It's not clear to me why Forkish specifies the 12 qt bucket. The dough for one full batch of most of his recipes, expanded to 2.5x, is around 2.5 qts.

Hint: Cambro makes a 6 qt translucent covered bucket. In fact, that's what I use. I believe I got mine from KAF, but and restaurant supply houses carry them.


dsadowsk's picture

I find that the stretch and fold is easier in the more roomy bucket. Other than that, I don't see any advantage to the larger bucket.

fotomat1's picture

I got my first as a gift from KAF ($14.95) but did purchase several more  

Cambro RFS6 6 Qt. Round White Food Storage Container  $4 with lid

kensbread01's picture

I'm using Sterilite 16.2 Cups Rectangle Ultra-Seal Containers for storing flour and mixing dough.  I keep two free so I can split a 1000 gram recipe into two containers and have two distinctly different loaves of bread from one mixing.  Target has these for less than $7 each. Little air vent on top keeps dough from exploding or cracking open lid as dough expands and releases CO2.




LevaiNation's picture

I actually have various Cambros which I buy dirt cheap at Cash and Carry (restaurant supplier market). A 12qt for mixing, a 6qt for poolish/biga, and a 4qt for levain. But I'm gonna try using the 6qt for the mix and see how that feels. I do like the room of the 12 for getting my whole arm in there, but again, calculating expansion is tricky.

dsadowsk's picture

I've baked a number of FWSY breads, and several of them have stuck to the banneton. By coincidence (or not?) those loaves had an inferior crumb to those where the dough came easily out. Could it be that the warping of the dough when it finally gets unstuck destroys the air holes? It seems to me that those stuck loaves had areas with decent crumb and areas with not so good crumb, as if certain parts of the already shaped loaf lost their air holes upon decanting.

LevaiNation's picture

I was having this issue as well. I was deflating the proofed dough with such forced handling that it limited the oven spring quite a bit. I seem to not be having that problem that much anymore. Maybe the banettons have finally aged properly but a couple of things are helping:

-I'm being way more generous with the flour dusting of the baskets (or linens). Got myself a nice wooden vegetable brush that I use gently on the baked loaves if they seem to have too much caked flour on top. If you do it gently, it even still retains the spiral lines.

-I'm doing a quick pre-shape followed by a short bench rest. Then I'm getting better at forming a nice tight skin on my final shaped boules.

-After baking, I'm throwing the baskets in the turned off oven as it cools down. I wait to get them in there until it reads 300 or 250, and leave them there until it's totally cool. Then I brush excess flour with veg brush.

-Once in a while I give them a nice rub with 50/50 flour and semolina.

Love a battle-less release from the proofing containers.