The Fresh Loaf

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Shaped loaves not holding their shape!

ryan's picture

Shaped loaves not holding their shape!


My sourdough isn't turning out as a nice boule shape. It seems to flatten after it's long proof on the bench (it's still quite active, as it rises/ flattens out in the oven) into a flattish shape. Am I not developing enough gluten in the initial mix? Something to do with humidity or temperature of proof? Starter activity? Old flour?

The bread still tastes quite good,with nice crumb structure; but it'd be nice to have a good shape. Any advice would be appreciated. I am using Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible, basic soudough boule.

Thanks and Happy Baking,


susanfnp's picture

Hi Ryan

Your loaves are most likely flattening out because the dough is not strong enough to tolerate the length of proofing you are giving it (i.e., not enough gluten and/or gluten underdeveloped and/or proofed too long). I believe most people (myself included) have a tendency to overproof, so you might want to first try shortening the length of the proof.

It is also important to make sure that your shaping is nice and tight to resist flattening. I think a lot of people are afraid to shape tightly for fear of degassing the dough too much.

Also, consider your scoring. Too much scoring can make a loaf flatten out.

I recently posted on my blog about a whole grain bread I made twice; the first time was too flat due to overproofing and overzealous scoring, the second time was a good boule shape.



breadnerd's picture

Are you using any sort of couche or basket for rising?  For wetter and slack-er artisan doughs, it helps to have some structure during the final rise, that helps them proof UP and not just sag.  Even if the loaf collapses slightly when you transfer it to the oven, it seems to "remember" the supported shape and will spring back up.  A smooth towel or linen in a bowl works fine for this--doesn't have to be fancy. 

ryan's picture

Thanks guys! I'll try your helpful hints.

Happy Baking,


ryan's picture

So , I've just checked my formula... if i go with a 68% hydration on 400 gr of flour I get 272 gr of water, not 308 gr of water.

Oh Rose Levy Beranbaum the pain you've caused me! At least this bread will be good this time!

Happy Baking


scott lynch's picture
scott lynch

baking sourdough in very warm temperatures.  The warm temps make the starter very acidic and the acid makes the dough slack.  I find a good solution to be refreshing the starter more frequently.  When it is hot I feed twice in 24 hours, and if it is blazing hot (in the mid 90s F or more) for more than a day, I might squeeze a third in.  If the starter seems runnier than usual, this may also help.  My starter is normally pretty stiff, but if it overferments in the heat it becomes pourable.
Good luck.