The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Losing boule shape during baking

Matt's picture

Losing boule shape during baking

Hello! I am new to this forum and fairly new to sourdough baking (20 loaves in). The pics are fairly typical of my efforts. What starts as a boule before baking ends up more as an oval. The dough expands more at the belly so expands outwards (away from the ear making the oval, and sometimes parallel to the ear forming outward bulges), whilst the thicker crust holds firm. It's not a disaster but, out of interest, can anyone suggest how to get it to stay rounder during the baking? Thank you, and sorry in advance if this is in the wrong part of the forum or a stupid question.

WatertownNewbie's picture

Welcome to TFL.

A single score will cause the dough to separate along that seam and take the shape that your photos illustrate.  Your second photo shows very nice oven spring, where initially the dough split along the score, then later expanded to reveal the interior, and then continued with the larger expansion along the original score (notice too the slight differences in coloration in the various parts of the crust).

If you want to maintain a round shape, then your scoring can be more symmetrical.  One option with a boule is to score in the pattern of a pound sign (#) where the cross-hatch will allow the dough to expand somewhat uniformly from the center outward.

Play around with various ways of scoring and you will discover ones that you like for various shapes.

Happy baking.


Matt's picture

Thanks Ted, I appreciate the reply.

idaveindy's picture

Welcome!  And that's nice looking bread!


Symmetry will get you where you want to go.

Some ideas for boules here, though not all are symmetrical:

My defaults are usually + or #.

Holding the blade horizontal when doing a # sometimes makes a mortarboard "hat".


Please report back with more photos of your future efforts.

Matt's picture

Thanks for this. I have tried both and they worked quite well.