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Bread Newbie Needs Some Help: What am I Doing Wrong?

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Bread Newbie Needs Some Help: What am I Doing Wrong?

emerilcantcook | May 14, 2008 01:38 PM

I have been playing with Peter Reinhart's whole wheat bread book these days. I have been working on the whole wheat hearth bread and I am very very impressed by the taste of the resulting loaves. I think his technique really elevates the taste of flour+yeast+water into something much more complex than the arithmetic sum of the parts. The crust is really good, and while it is sometimes a little wet (because I use convection oven, which is probably not the best type for breadmaking), the crumb usually has good texture and irregular holes. And while I am spoiled being Montreal and walking distance to many great artisanal bakeries, I still think it is worth all the sweat and labor that I put into a single loaf.

Taste aside, I am having a hard time with the vertical lift of my boules, supposedly the easiest shape to make. The bread rises well in the form (for which I use a spherical bowl), but when I put it it in the baking surface it flattens considerably (think ciabatta). It doesn't deflate, just spreads. Additionally, I get very minimal oven spring to add any verticality. What am I doing wrong?

a) I have not yet perfected the shaping technique and thus my breads lack surface tension
b) I need more gluten; which means I need to knead more
c) Because I use a convection oven, the outer side cooks way too fast (even though I use a lower temperature), disallowing any oven spring?
d) None of the above, please explain.

Thanks!

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