The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Challenger Breadpan HELP!

Givingtree89's picture

Challenger Breadpan HELP!

Hello everyone!

My first post! I need some help with my baking with the Challenger Breadpan. I’ve been baking sourdough for a year now and I get wonderful results in my enameled and ceramic Dutch ovens. However, my Lodge combo cooker and Challenger Breadpan I just got are causing me problems. 
Here are the two recipes I use for basic sourdough that I have had good results with in the Dutch oven:

1) 425 g bread flour, 150 g starter (1:1:1, fed 18-24 hours prior), 300 g water, 10 g salt. Mix everything but salt and autolyse for 45 minutes. Add salt, do slap and fold for 5 minutes. Bulk ferment for 4 hours with stretch and folds every 30 minutes. Preshape, wait 20 minutes. Shape and refrigerate for 12 hours. Bake at 450 with lid on for 20 minutes, bake with lid off at 450 for 25 minutes. 
2) Tartine country bread recipe, exactly as noted. 

Here is my problem: My bread spread out flat and doesn’t get good oven spring when using the combo cooker or Challenger Breadpan. I also don’t get ears with my scoring like I normally do. Photo here:

Any suggestions would be welcome!

barryvabeach's picture

Welcome.  BTW, this board does not get as much attention as the Baking Equipment Board, you may want to repost there.

First, I am not familiar with your recipe, and normally use only 100% home milled wheat,  but have tried DO and combo cookers. I don't think there is anything wrong with the combo cooker or the Challenger, it is just that with a DO, the sides of your loaf are contained by the sides of the DO, preventing any spreading to the side.  If you baked on a baking stone, you would probably get the same results.

Using a Challenger or combo, you probably won't get the same results as a small DO, but it is possible what you are seeing is more spreading then normal ( though again, I am not familiar with your recipe and don't use the flour you use )  .   It is possible that the dough does not have enough strength when it goes into the Challenger to expand up as much as you like.  That could be because not enough strength was developed in kneading and bulk fermentation, or the shaping was not ideal, or that it overproofed.  You can try to work on those options to see if you are happier with the results, recognizing that if you bake a loaf in a tin, the tin will support the sides causing all the expansion to go up, and that if there is no support on the sides, you will get some sagging or expansion to the sides.  BTW,  I don't want to sound obnoxious, but I bake for taste, and as long as it is not dense, I don't get too worried about appearance.  As to ears, I love it when they appear ,  but for me , they are not that frequent, and fickle. 


Givingtree89's picture

Thank you Barry for your help! I’ll tinker with a few things and see if I get any new results. 

idaveindy's picture

@Givingtree: Welcome to TFL.

Are you still here?  I have a couple things to add, and I'd like to expound upon something  barry brought up.

Givingtree89's picture

Hello there!

Still here! I was going to repost this in another section that might get more attention. Thank you! Happy to answer anything :)

idaveindy's picture

You're in the same boat I was in before I figured out the main reason and definition of shaping.  I was also using the sides of the dutch oven as a crutch to make up for a poor gluten-cloak and a not-dry-enough surface.

"Shaping" is about more than the shape. 

One purpose of shaping is to create a strong "gluten cloak" that holds the dough mass.  In other words, it's creating a tight "skin" on the dough that acts like a tight sack. 

By scooching (pulling, scraping)  the dough ball across the counter-top, you are pulling that skin tighter and tucking the excess into the seam at the bottom. That pulling of the top skin makes the gluten tighter, "builds tension" in the skin, and makes it better able to hold up the dough so it does not flatten out.

"Building surface tension" is how Sune describes it in his video.

(barryvabeach made a good point that the gluten needs created/developed in the first place. So it really starts with the kneading or stretch-and-folds during bulk ferment, or however you develop the gluten.)

A dutch oven that matches the dough size hides the effect of a poor gluten cloak/skin.  So when you switch to a flat open baking surface, then the shaping defect  (skin or cloak defect) is  seen.

The second main way to get a tight skin that holds the dough together is to dry it a bit when proofing in a banneton or on a couche.  The banneton can be lined with cloth,  or unlined. But it needs to be dusted a bit with flour (usually 50:50 rice/AP flour).  Dusting goes on top of the cloth, if used.

The banneton/cloth/flour helps "wick away" moisture from the skin during final proof, which dries it out some, so that the skin is easier to score, and so that the loaf doesn't spread out too much on a flat baking surface.

The banneton also needs to be made with porous material so that air/moisture can get through. Cane, wicker, wood-pulp, etc. will work, but solid material like plastic, glass and metal will not work as a banneton

In my experience, at least in my formulas, both the "tight gluten skin" effect, and the "dry skin" effect need to be used.

Remember that most bakers baked on flat (stone) surfaces before dutch ovens became popular.

Here are 3 good videos to help understand and how to do:

Shaping, gluten cloak, from Zoe François of BreadIn5:

Food Geek's (Sune) How to shape dough:

More on shaping from Food Geek, the why. This might be the best of these three videos because he does a side by side test of three loaves that are identical except for shaping. One has no shaping, one has a final-shaping only, and one has a pre-shape, a rest, and a final shape.

Good luck, and bon appétit.  

idaveindy's picture

@Givingtree:  Have you baked another loaf yet?  How did it go?