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Preventing Bread Dough from Flattening During Baking

Nov 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose

HARRIET QUESTION
Your book has turned me into a regular baker of bread. I now make all the bread we eat. Your recipes are clear and I learned and enjoyed reading about the process. Thank you for such a wonderful book.

My question: The free-form breads rise well for the initial rising. When I shape them, they spread rather than rise and the finished bread tastes wonderful, has good crumb but is wider than it is tall.

What can I do to make the breads tall? It's too late for me to be tall but it would be wonderful if my breads are.

Thank you for any help you can offer. I'd like to know how to make my free form breads tall rather than wide?

ROSE REPLY
thank you harriet--i also can't imagine ever buying a loaf of bread again except, perhaps, out of curiosity.

free form breads do have a tendency to spread sideways after the final shaping. the advantage to making them free form however is that they will have a more open crumb. if this is what you desire, you will need to have a soft, moist, dough which will tend to spread more than a stiffer dough.

to help counteract this problem, bakers use special floured bannetons or even colanders lined with floured towels which give the dough support during the final shaped rise. to keep the dough from spreading further in the oven, it is important to use a baking stone and well-preheated oven so that the dough has what is called "oven spring." one final suggestion is to use the la cloche bread baker which restricts the spreading of the dough as it contains it but you'll need to make a large enough loaf to fill the container. oh--you might also try using a higher protein flour. of course you'll get a chewier crumb but it will also be stronger and spread less. for really tall breads try the stud muffin which bakes in a soufflé dish that supports the sides, or a bread baked in a loaf pan.

Hope this helps and delighted by your success.

Comments

hugh, you are absolutely correct. Old flour loses strength significantly. that's why, these days, most companies date the flour by saying something like "use before... or good until."

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I was reading about all these breads falling in the oven and was wondering if it was caused by using old flour which might not hold it's structure. Could it be that they are mixing old flour with new flour. I always make sure I empty the flour container before adding new flour. After calling King Arthur flour abuot this once the told me to throw out the old flour that I had. Maybe a call to them might help these people as they are very knowledgable about this stuff. Hope this helps. Just another crazy bread baker and sour dough baker.

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karen (by the way that's my middle name!) i'm so glad julie suggested making the stud muffin as that's what i thought the minute i saw your question. your husband is going to love it!

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Thanks for your answers on falling cheese bread. I'm going to get the Bread Bible ASAP!

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Karen, for a well-tested, delicious bread with cheese, take a look at the "stud muffin" in the Bread Bible. It's a wonderful cheese bread and won't fall as long as you stick to the quantities and techniques detailed in the recipe.

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bread machine and added extra cheese

To my knowledge, cheese bread is usually made by first making the dough without cheese, then adding the cheese during shaping. Adding cheese during the dough mixing may seriously weaken the structure of the dough.

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Please help, My husband loves cheese bread so I made some in my bread machine and added extra cheese. It rose well, but about half way through the bake cycle, my bread fell and I don't know why. Thanks.

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it still falls in the oven.

Tina: Does it fall or does it just spread sideways, making it look flat? I've just never seen a loaf collapse in the oven before. If this is truly what's happening, I suppose it suggests a lack of strength to the dough. Does the dough pass the windowpane test after mixing?

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the gasses expand and break the weakened structure, causing a collapse.

Have you actually seen this in bread? I've baked a lot of overproofed loaves, yet have never had them collapse on me during baking. If they collapse, it's usually when slashing or even placing them in the oven; once there, they always get a nice ovenspring.

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tina, i would try adding vital wheat gluten to give it extra strength.

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I am using the same Prairie Gold Wheat Flour and have tried everything possible. Have you figured it out yet? I have tried only letting it get to 1.5 - 1.75in size and it doesn't seem to matter it still falls in the oven. I love the taset of the flour and don't want to switch! I have even tried it with 50 percent prairie gold wheat and 50 percent white and is still falls! HELP!!

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Carol, my first thought is that you may be over proofing your bread. Over proofing weakens the structure--when the bread hits the oven, the gasses expand and break the weakened structure, causing a collapse. Proofed bread will hold a finger indentation--for under proofed bread, the indentation will fill in slowly. There is more detailed information about this available in the Bread Bible.

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Dear Rose
My bread raises then falls in the oven while baking. What am I doing wrong...it doesn't seem to matter what recipe I use thanks
~Carol

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Wow! Thank you for your fast reply.

I will try that next time I make bread (which I'm sure will be very soon as even though I make 8 loaves a week, they barely last the whole week! :))

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melanie, any bread dough that uses a high % of wholewheat flour should not double in size during proofing as the sharp 'blades' of the bran compromise gluten formation making the dough unable to stretch as much. try letting it rise only 1-3/4 times instead of doubling and it should rise well from the oven heat that can then set it without its falling.

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Dear Rose,
First let me say I love your Bread Bible! I have always made my own bread but it was not until I got your book that I was able to make perfect bread!

That being said, I've always made your recipes with half bread flour and half fresh ground whole wheat and they always turned out great. Recently I've begun grinding Prairie Gold Wheat. They claim you can use it just as you would white or bread flour. SInce I've begun using only this type of flour (100%) my bread raises perfect, tastes the same, has great texture, but falls every time it goes into the oven so it ends up looking terrible! I'm so sad!! I've tried a few different things but nothing seems to work. Do you have experience with this kind of flour? Do you have any suggestions? I do not want to give it up as I know it's much healthier and better for me and my family but I do miss nice looking bread!

Thanks for any thoughts.
Melanie

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paul, i only use my bread machine recipe to mix not to bake for for starters i don't know why it would look aweful. which i could help but i'd have to try the recipe to understand it better.

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ijust made a loaf of bread from my better homes and garden book for bread machines. i have failed twice on the same recipe. it's whole wheat and corn meal.1 cup milk,1/4 cup h/20,t tbl oil,1/2 cup corn meal,1 tbl gluten,1 tbl sugar, 1& 1/2 tea. basel, 3/4 tea salt,2 cups flower, 3/4 cup whole wheat, 1&1/4 teasp. yeast. it is edable but looks asful. i have made hundreds of loaves from several machines, i have worn out 4, what do you think went wrong? would lo0ve to hear from you in your {spare} time. yours for better success, paul c. burd conover1929@roadrunner.com

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if the bread rose nicely it couldn't have been in the machine long enough to become contaminated assuming there was no egg or cheese in it. no you didn't make sour dough bread but you did make a bread with a more sour profile!

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I made a batch of bread dough in my bread machine and forgot about it. When I remembered, I baked it and it was a beautiful loaf. It raised nicely and everything. My question: Is it ok to eat if it has a sour smell? Did I make sour dough bread? or a food born illness?

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Why does my bread come out of the machine, and half of the loaf is hollow in the middle?

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For the last few years, we have been trying to replicate my grandmother's easter egg bread. the bread tastes similar to her's, but it does not look the same. Her bread had a lot of holes inside and was very tall. (It is a free-form bread.) She didn't use any special equipment- just formed the dough into the shape of a doll on the same pans that we now use. Her bread came so nice and tall, and ours just spreads out. We do get some holes, which is fine. My main concern is the height.
How can I get the dough to rise up instead of out? Am I not kneading the dough enough? or am I over-kneading? (she used to knead the dough by hand, and I use my KA. Could that make a difference?)
And should I not grease the pan? Would that help stop it from spreading?

Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We have successfully made all of her cakes and pies, and would love to do the same with her bread.

Thank you, Chrissy

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thanks matthew--i'll add it to the errata page (as an explicita!)

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For anyone making the crisper flat bialys on page 165 of the Bread Bible, use about 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds per bialy, or 2 tablespoons total (18 grams).

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Michael Lee Evans
Michael Lee Evans
03/ 2/2008 10:30 AM

Hello again, Got your book at the library! Used your suggestions and (sponge & steam) when making the yogert bread recipe on the Red Star Yeast Package. Am very happy to say it was a roaring success, BUT it went way too fast. Have to make more next time! Regards, Me

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Thank you Rose for the explanation--it makes sense now. I will try it again next weekend and report back the weight I used. The ones I made were fine, just a bit too seedy, but we ate them anyway.

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ok i think i figured it out. knowing me, if i had meant 3 times the amount of the egg white specified then i would have just given the exact weight so what i meant was 3 times the weight of the egg white you end up using because you don't need the whole egg white to brush 6 biyalis! whew! nowadays i'm more specific and would have added that you don't need the entire egg white...or better still would have said use about X amount of poppy seeds. sometimes being too precise can get you into big trouble!!!

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matthew you're right--3 times the weight does sound like an enormous amount but then the surface should be encrusted as when it rises of course the poppyseeds become less dense and separate. i doubt i would have written that if I hadn't meant it and i do try everything. so how did it work?

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the dough should feel slightly tacky. after the first rise it always absorbs the water more evenly and if it's still very sticky you can add more flour at that point.

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Michael Lee Evans
Michael Lee Evans
02/23/2008 09:02 PM

Hello, I am a total novice when it comes to baking breads. I am trying tho! Was wondering if there is a sure fire way to know if you've added enough flour to your dough while kneading? I've noticed several cautions posted in the web pages so I thought I'd ask. Thanks eh, Me

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Rose, question about the flat bialys on page 165. It says use three times the weight of an egg white in poppy seeds, which would be 90 grams? I got through 35 grams of poppy seeds and I could no longer see the dough--the entire surface was black and encrusted with seeds--I stopped there because I didn't see how it could handle 55 more grams. Should they have that many seeds, or did I misinterpret your instructions? I've never had or seen these before, so I wasn't entirely sure what the end product should be like.

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yes to both suppositions! and this also happens to be the classic method but there's hector wong making pizza with 100% sourdough starter which shows that one need not be a prisoner to my dictates! there are so many texture and flavor possibilities with these 3 simple ingredients (maybe not so simple come to think of it!) flour, water, and salt.

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Hello, Rose. If I haven't said so before, I am absolutely addicted to your books and website. Through this website, I was able to find two great products I love: the steam injection oven insert (works perfectly), and the My Weigh kitchen scale, which I now couldn't cook without. My question has to do with the sourdough instructions in the Bread Bible. For three weeks I've been following the instructions to get my starters into the right conditions. I have a stiff and a liquid until I decide which I want to maintain long term. I've also made a couple batches of sourdough pancakes - wonderful. But why are the starter instructions so complicated? When I used to make sourdough pancakes years ago, the night before I pulled out my 2C of starter, added in 1C of flour and 1C of water. Left it out overnight. The next morning pulled out 2C for storage and made pancakes or bread with the rest. What is the purpose of, before making bread, developing the starter for 6-8 hours, pulling some out and feeding and developing again before making the bread? Does it help ensure a good rise for the bread or is it that you think it would be too sour otherwise or something else?

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I wish I had an idea what was causing your problem -- but here's a suggestion just on general principles:

Have you tried going back the "old" way you mixed the rolls -- keeping everything else the same?

If that solves the "falling" problem then you know it has something to do with your new mixing method. If it doesn't, then something else has changed as well.

Good luck!

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grannymouse
grannymouse
02/22/2008 05:32 PM

I'm using a basic white bread/dinner roll recipe. No fancy stuff just flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar and a little melted shortening. It's a recipe that's been used for years and years. The last batch I tried last night I baked after less rising time (which had never been a problem before) I also changed the initial bake temp to 400 until they appeared 'set' then dropped to the normal 350 to finish. They still fell a little about 15 minutes into baking. No matter whether they fall or not they have a nice texture and flavor. I've always been able to let them rise to nice large rolls before and didn't have a problem. Could it be something in the way I combine the ingredients? It's the only recent change I've made to accomidate using a mixer with dough hook. Although the first three or four batches that way came out fine.

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My guess is that it may be over-rising before you bake it. Bread doesn't always rise in the same amount of time--the temperature of the rising environment determines how fast the bread rises. If it over rises, the gluten structure of the bread weakens. When you bake the bread, the gas expands (and there is also more gas to expand when you over rise), and breaks through the weakened structure causing the bread to collapse. What kind of bread is it by the way?

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grannymouse
grannymouse
02/21/2008 09:02 PM

Hi, I'm new to the site and have a bread question. I have been making my grandmother's bread recipe with no problem off and on for years. I baked a few batches last week and they came out great, then all of a sudden I'm having the rolls or loaf I put in to bake fall after about 5-10 minutes. I've read all the online hints about having oven up to temp and salt to flour ratio. And STILL falling. I've always baked the bread at 350 and after reading about too low temp upped it to 375. (still fell after about 8 minutes and kept falling all through bake time) My grandmother swore by 325 and hers was great. Any other ideas would be helpful, pulling my hair out here.

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Thanks Rose. I'll try it today.

Can I bake *any* free standing loaf recipe( I've been using a hot stone and a pan of hot water in the oven) in the La Cloche? I bake mostly whole grain breads.

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if you took it from the frig to the hot stone maybe but not from room temp. that's how it's designed to be used.

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Rose, thanks for your very generous help and advice.
My question is about using the La Cloche.
Is there any danger of the base of the La Cloche cracking from thermal shock as you place it on the heated oven stone?
I just received a beautiful La Cloche as an early Valentine's Day gift and I don't want to risk breaking it!

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genevieve, if it doesn't rise again the second time as well as the first you are allowing it to rise too much the first time and exhausting the gluten strands.

different flours offer different results and so does different heat.

if you want to understand more about the variables i suggest you get my book "the bread bible," or take a class in bread baking. of course you can experiment on your own but just change one thing at a time and that way you can learn first hand what each thing does to change the outcome.

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shirley thank you! i always suspect the flour first when something goes wrong. it's hard being a sherlock holmes when people tell me that something doesn't work and i don't know what they did that might be different from my recommendations--there are so many possibilities. bread is so simple but can go so wrong if one disregards the basics.

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Regarding the Bread Flour at Sam's Club. The same type of flour is labeled Bread Flour at Costco too. It's bleached flour, not unbleached and my experience is that the bread does not turn out the best.

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Genevieve Spanburg
Genevieve Spanburg
02/ 9/2008 10:29 AM

When I bake my bread,it will rise great the first time,when I mash the the down Dough, will not rise , as the first time it rises. Also when I put the rolls in oven they come out hard. I try to follow the recipe to the Point.I love toBake bread. Is it the type flour or the heat to high. Some times they are perfect others doomed. my sister's and I get to-gether ever two weeks and have a bread baking day trying different rolls and bread. Thanks ,Genevieve

REPLY

i recommend trying harvest king flour as there's no telling what a generic store brand of bread flour is. but the cocoa color sounds like your oven is too hot. and steaming really does make a difference to acchieve a crackly crist crust.

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I followed the recipe and weighed all ingredients on a laboratory balance scale that measures to a tenth of a gram. I used Bread Flour that I bought at Sam's Club. I used a pizza stone and preheated the oven for thirty minutes. I had parchment paper under the dough and I used a peel to get the dough onto the stone. I did not steam the oven as I found out after heating the stone that I could not get a cast iron pan under the rack.

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you need to give detailed information as to exactly what you did the type of flour, did you weigh, did you steam the oven, how long did you preheat, did you deveate from the recipe at all.

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I recently bought your Bread Bible as well as your books on cakes and pastries. Yesterday I cooked the Basic Hearth Bread and I was not happy with the color. It was the color of flour that had been heated alone in a pan until it turned a uniform cocoa color. Also the crust was very smooth, not like what I expected from a round loaf cooked on a stone. What did I do wrong?

REPLY

Scott,
Somehow the structure of the bread weakened, causing it to collapse in the oven when the gas in the bread started expanding. My guess is that you let the bread rise too long before baking, which can weaken the gluten.

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Hi, I just started making bread. I put it into the oven and about 10 mins later I looked at it and the part that rose over the top, that is usually round, had fallen and gone flat. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?

Scott

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Hi,
Can anyone please teach me how to make "holy & dry ceumb" breads/rolls? something like ciabatta but both of the crust and crumb are dry and hard/crunchy. Please also tell me the names if youo know.
Thanks a lot.
Mai from London

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also, you don't risk deflating the large risen dough when transferring it to a hot cloche bottom.

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that's correct. using this method you get great oven spring without burnt bottoms!

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Foy Braswell
Foy Braswell
07/20/2007 12:49 PM

Rose,
I need a clarification on your La Cloche technique on page 577 of The Bread Bible. As I understand it, you preheat the oven stone and the top of the La Cloche but not the base. You do the final rising in the unheated base. The base is then put in the oven on top of the stone and the top then put on the base.

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agnes, i do but you don't have to. though you'll need to add a little more salt as you're increasing the amount of flour.

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Agnes Devine
Agnes Devine
02/ 6/2007 11:13 PM

When you use a starter do you deduct the amount from the recipie in the know kneed bread my son is going to get me the bread bible book for my birthday but it is not going to be for a mth, he does not believe in giving birthday presents before the time but will muddle on until then.

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old flour and/or
dead yeast

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I am a novice in bread making. In the past week, I experimented with making 4 loaves of French bread according to the recipe, but not one of them rise. As a result, you can throw them at the wall and make a dent. Could you please tell me what I did wrong? I suspect my mistake was to use up the expired-dated flour. Could this be the problem? Thank you so much!

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puff would be either higher moisture butter or lower protein flour. distortion: lower protein flour or dough not chilled before baking or the oven too low so it doesn't set the dough quickly. when things change the first thing to do is think about whether you've done something different.

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Hi Rose
Last year, my star-shaped maple butter cookies, which are rolled and cut like any sugar cookie, spread and distorted into fat puffy stars. Why did this happen? I'm thinking it was the butter.

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stacy--i feel as if this happened to me! i'm so overjoyed you achieved bread nirvana. this is EXACTLY what you're supposed to get and what a far cry from the first one you wrote about. is there any feeling more empowering?!

the funny thing is just today i happened to check my reviews on amazon and while most were favorable one person gave the book only one star and wrote that my bread recipes have no flavor. i felt so sorry for him.

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stacy hawkins
stacy hawkins
09/24/2006 05:22 PM

Hi Rose!
This is Stacy once again, I just wanted to tell you that I followed your recipe on the single loaf sourdough from your book today and it turned out fabulous! This is what I had wanted and had expected from my sourdough starter that I had worked to get going! Your tips on getting the dough out of the colander worked really well, and I watched to make sure I did not proof too long this time. I got a marvelous oven spring along with a thin crispy crust and moist chewy crumb... just beautiful! I can't thank you enough!
Sincerely,
Stacy

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thanks stacy--i suspected it was dropping from the colander. i wasn't quite sure what you were doing and was struggling to help you and also struggling to think clearly as i've been virtually incapacitated for a week with herniated discs which clouds my thinking.
re the kamut--good idea to add the vital wheat gluten as i doubt this wheat has as high a gluten forming protein but it does have a lovely sweet taste.

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stacy hawkins
stacy hawkins
09/23/2006 08:38 PM

Thanks so much for the suggestions! I will try a higher protein flour. I actually got my Bread Bible out again today and found where you suggested using the carboard piece to help turn over the proofed loaf(so it won't drop) before you transfer it to the baking stone, I will make sure to do that! The recipe I used was the one that was sent with the live cultures I bought from Sourdough International for a traditional San Francisco sourdough bread. Next time will be with one of your recipes! This is actually the first time I have had much trouble with a bread recipe. Maybe just getting used to the longer rise time and over proofing the bread.
I also switched to Kamut Flour for my regular wheat bread recipes(got this from your book also!) and am thrilled at the results!! Who knew you could make such a light and wonderful tasting 100% whole grain bread(have to admit I add a bit of Vital Wheat Gluten)? Everyone that has tried the bread can't believe it! Thank you Rose!
Stacy

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sourdough is far too complex to analyze someone else's recipe. i'm assuming that you are not using any of the ones from the bread bible bc i've never had any of this happen. the only thing i can suggest is using a higher protein flour bc sourdough in general makes the dough very elastic and relaxed. but it should retain its moistness much longer than other breads so maybe you're not using enough water.
if the bread falls when transferring it's probably over-proofed but i don't know how you're transferring it from colander to stone. you can't allow it to drop from the colander (as explained in the book--it has to be supported.

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stacy hawkins
stacy hawkins
09/23/2006 02:03 PM

Hi Rose!
I have your Bread Bible and love it! Problem is on my sourdoughs. I got the San Francisco sourdough culture and the Tasmania culture(sourdos.com) and they are activated. I am having problems with the San Francisco bread slacking and spreading out when I try to free form them. I have tried to proof them in a lined colander, but the last one fell and spread out as I transferred it to the baking stone. Is that from over proofing it? I had also made one loaf in a loaf pan and it did not get an oven spring , but tasted good, The next day, the bread was dry, stiff and rubbery, What did I do wrong? I have baked bread for quite a while with good luck, but this is a first with the sourdoughs! I appreciate any help or advice you may have for me, and that I can pass along to my friends that have inherited some of my sourdough starter!
thanks!
Stacy

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when using la cloche i set the dough to rise in the bottom and preheat the top along with the oven.

you could allow it to cool in the oven after baking if you are short on counter space but there is no need.

i hope you have my book "the bread bible" because it is filled with tips on how to get the type of bread you desire.

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Mary Shipman
Mary Shipman
03/25/2006 08:34 AM

Why does my dough not rise anymore in my baker? The crust is fine, but inside is very dense. I would love to bake a loaf of bread that is crusty outside and has that really light and wholly inside. I'm just a beginner so any advice is appreciated.
Thanks

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Mary Shipman
Mary Shipman
03/25/2006 08:31 AM

Does a La Cloche baker need to be preheated with the oven? What about when bread is done, do you take it out and leave the baker in oven to cool slowly?

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i think the best way is to place it on parchment after shaping. let it rise and then use a peel to slip it onto the stone still on the parchment. after the first 20 min. of baking you can remove it from the parchment and place it directly on the stone though it isn't really necessary--you'll still get a crisp crust.

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Harriett Ritter`
Harriett Ritter`
01/22/2006 01:42 PM

I have a baking stone--I also make my own bread--I want to use the stone for a crisper crust--how do I get my bread dough transfered to the stone after the second time it rises?--I understand the stone has to be heated.

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i happen to like puffy bialys as long as they don't puff in the very center and i'm assuming you're making the little hole in the bottom center of the dough i mentioned? but if you want flatter ones i would decrease the water in the dough a little and not steam the oven. by the way, spraying with a bottle you get about 1/2 teaspoon of water--try spraying into a glass and you'll see how very little actual water results!

Bialys.JPG

Bialy Cut.JPG

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try french baking machines: 609-860-0577 or technobake system, inc. www.chefsboutique.com 609-466-4588

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Dear Rose,
I'm having trouble finding 8" french
linen-lined wicker bannetons, any suggestions?
Carol

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Dear Rose-
After years of being a strictly cookie-baking man, I have recently begun bread baking. Your Bibile has made that very enjoyable and mostly successful (I'm sure the mistakes have been all mine :P)

I have been having the opposite problem in trying to make the bialys in the Bread Bible. They are "springing" in the oven so much that they come out looking like cream puffs even though they go in the oven looking like perfect bialys.

I was thinking that either I should punch down the dough after the second proof or cut down on the steam in the oven (I use the spray bottle method- 2 doses 30 seconds apart at the very beginning.). Can you help turn my cream puffs back into bialys? BTW, the crumb on the creampuff/bialys is very open. And DELICIOUS!

Thank you so much!
Jay

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harriet: a brace is a good idea. i've used it myself. water-filled bread pans is an excellent idea (not hot of course). what may help when using a colander is to unmold the dough onto a greased loose bottom pan or plastic wrap covered cardboard smaller than the top of the colander so that it can sit right on top of the dough. this will prevent the dough from falling several inches and collapsing.

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Harriet Rosen
Harriet Rosen
11/21/2005 12:04 PM

Dear Rose,

Thank you for your reply about spreading breads. I do use higher protein flour, a stone and preheated oven.

I find transferring a raised and shaped dough from a colander tricky and then I'm limited to round loaves.

Should I consider a floured "brace" for the dough. Perhaps water-filled loaf pans? Would that work?

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