Help me get a taller bread!


I have made Shiao-ping's wholemeal a l'Ancienne ( three times now, with success. We love the flavor of this simple bread! However, I could use some trained eyes to troubleshoot, as I am still a novice baker. I would like my bread to be taller and not so saucer-shaped. I didn't vary from the formula (except for amounts being a little inexact by using American volume measurements). Did I overproof? I don't really know how to tell when it is proofed the right amount, so just went by the time specified in the formula. A bad slasher? Is my proofing container just too large for such a high hydration dough? I have no bannetons but proofed the dough in a large colander lined with a floured towel (which did give an interesting design!). Please nitpick; I want to be an expert someday! Adding crumb shots as it as cooled enough to cut!

290 users have voted.


eyendall 2011 July 22

 Looks to me like you have most everything right. For a taller loaf and more oven spring try a lower hydration and/or less proofing time. Make sure your oven is very hot (preheat for one hour at topmost setting) along with whatever you place the dough on in the oven.

atephronesis 2011 July 24

Well, not really a secret...

I went from loaves similar to yours to loaves that more closely resemble round baloons!

Here's what I do: It looks like you proof yours "seam-side up" in some sort of container, right? Then you flip over onto a peel? Then, I'm guessing, as you do your slashing etc the dough starts to spread out? Try this instead. In whatever container you are using (smaller might be better), line the bottom with oven paper or parchment. It may no go in neatly depending on the shape, but it doesn't matter and if the paper rises high over the sides of the container, simply fold it down. Place your nice, tightly shaped loaf "seam-side down" into the container for the final proof. You don't even have to flour the oven paper! When ready to bake, take a pair of scissors and cut of the excess paper you folded down around the outside. Then, do your slashes while it is still in the container. Then, grabbing the edges of the baking paper, lift the loaf and paper out of the container onto the peel, as if the loaf is laying in a shallow bag or a hammock!. You will find that the over paper is STUCK to the dough BUT DON'T PEEL IT BACK! In essence, it is acting like a soft loaf pan, giving your dough extra support. From the peel, slide the whole thing into your hot over, paper and all! You will find practically no change in shape from your container all the way to the baking stone. As the bread springs and crust hardens the paper will peel away. I usually go in and pull the paper out after about 25 minutes.

Here's a loaf I baked using this method. Not a great picture, but you can see the roundness I think.