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Loaf formation...I learned something. - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
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Loaf formation...I learned something.

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  • Loaf formation...I learned something.

    Sour dough is so weird. You can do everything the same and the results change.

    I bring this up because I was completely baffled for a while. Maybe this will help another newbie. So I started baking sourdough just over a year ago. I had some generous tutors on this board and in relatively short order (say three months) was baking passably good looking loaves with nice crumb and crust.

    First bake ever was June 21, 2012 and looked like this.



    By mid September, 2012 I was routinely getting stuff like this:






    And then in December/January everything changed. As far as I know, I did nothing different. The only variable was that my starter continued to mature. Suddenly I was getting huge mouse holes in my loaves. I mean HUGE. Consistently over an inch, frequently two inches...running the entire length of the loaf. I was so bummed I didn't even take pics. I was completely baffled. At first I assumed that I hadn't properly developed the dough (not enough s&f's). Then I wondered if maybe I was actually physically shaping the loaves incorrectly.

    I had always assumed that the dough (and the gas bubbles inside) that formed during bulk fermentation were fragile things which needed to be coddled. When I would form loaves I would rather gingerly cut a 750 gram ball off and carefully stretch the skin around so as to form the oblong ball which would become a batard. I would treat it as if I was holding a water ballon which might pop. I had no concept of outgassing the dough (I guess that's the down side of learning from written descriptions...unless you watch a demonstration...)

    The amazing thing though is that even though what I was doing was clearly wrong...it worked. Judging by the pics, it worked relatively well. And then it didn't work....at all.

    All that I can figure is that between June and November my starter wasn't so active that outgassing was a requirement??? And then suddenly....the starter changed...I guess.

    So after a three or four month hiatus....and after running back to the board and (once again) getting advice from Jay and Faith... realized there is thing called "outgassing" where you beat up your dough before loaf formation. So then I searched for and watched videos.

    So on this last bake I would cut off my 750 gram ball of dough from the bulk ferment. And then I would press it flat (about an inch and a half or so) like a square-ish pancake. I mean FLAT. Using the heal of my palm and finger tips. And then I rolled it up like some sort of pop n fresh sleeping bag and just sort of squished and pulled it into a batard shape. And it frigging worked! Twenty-nine loaves....Not one mouse hole! So, to parrot Jay and Faith....well developed dough can take (and in my cases needs) a lot of abuse. Here's what Saturday's bread looks like...all twenty-nine loaves.




    If anyone has a different take on what might have caused the change in results, I'd love to hear it.

    Bill
    Last edited by WJW; 07-29-2013, 08:01 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

    That is a beautiful loaf. Fantastic job Bill. Now you should look at different slashing patterns and start exploring different bead types.

    My menu of bread has greatly increased so now I'm always torn as to which bread's to bake.

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    • #3
      Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

      Thanks Faith.

      I really do need to expand my horizons. I have to tell you though that this whole loaf formation thing has been such an eye opener. I had previously tried to form baguettes using my old way of very gently trying to stretch the ball of dough out. Couldn't really do it so I was kind of limited to boules and batards. But the whole idea of pressing that dough flat and rolling it up, stretching it out, etc has got me all fired up to form some baguettes next. Then I'll start trying some different breads. So fun to be stuck on a problem and suddenly figure it out...(understanding that I didn't figure it out as much as listen.)

      Bill

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      • #4
        Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

        Very nice Bill! Very nice..


        Chris

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        • #5
          Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

          Inspiring! Makes me want to get back to bread baking
          My build progress
          My WFO Journal on Facebook
          My dome spreadsheet calculator

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          • #6
            Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

            Originally posted by WJW View Post
            Thanks Faith.

            I really do need to expand my horizons. I have to tell you though that this whole loaf formation thing has been such an eye opener. I had previously tried to form baguettes using my old way of very gently trying to stretch the ball of dough out. Couldn't really do it so I was kind of limited to boules and batards. But the whole idea of pressing that dough flat and rolling it up, stretching it out, etc has got me all fired up to form some baguettes next. Then I'll start trying some different breads. So fun to be stuck on a problem and suddenly figure it out...(understanding that I didn't figure it out as much as listen.)

            Bill
            Bill, I've put in a link to a Ciril Hitz youtube video on forming baguettes. I've been using his techniques now for quite a while and they really work well. Not a great picture attached, but it gives you a look at my basic baguette results with his shaping method.

            Good baking!

            Baguette Shaping with Ciril Hitz - YouTube
            Last edited by SableSprings; 07-30-2013, 12:12 PM.
            Mike Stansbury - The Traveling Loafer
            Roseburg, Oregon ( www.sablesprings.com )
            Photo Albums: http://www.fornobravo.com/community/...BForum_Gallery

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            • #7
              Re: Loaf formation...I learned something.

              Thanks guys...and thanks for the link Mike...I'll take a look.

              Bill

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