Forkish book: Flour Water Salt Yeast and flat bread

Hey all,

I am a newbie at breadmaking, and have been doing it from Forkish’s book after recs that it was a good basic book.

I’ve tried the Sat white and wheat, the white overnight, and the white with poolish. So far, flavor is pretty good and I’m learning how not to scorch the bottom of the loaf. But 1 problem I haven’t been able to solve so far is that my bread is cooking short and wide. i can’t get the loaves to be taller than about 3-4 inches at their high spot.

In googling, I’ve seen that some folks say this may be caused by a wet dough, overproofing, or using AP flour. However, if you’ve worked with the Forkish book, he is all about wet dough and AP rather than higher protein flours. As for overproofing, my kitchen is on the cool side in winter - usually about 66, so I proof until I get triple volume like he says. It usually takes at least an hour or two longer than his estimates.

What else can I do differently to get a higher, less wide loaf?

And as a secondary question, is there a good white sandwich bread recipe out there that isn’t artisanal - just slice and go? I don’t have a breadmaker or a pullman loaf (just regular loaf pan). But something like a pan de mie?

Thanks a bunch all.

I haven’t cooked from this book so I can’t comment on the recipes specifically.

As far as a squat loaf goes … two thoughts come to mind

  1. forming the final loaf - (again not knowing the dough from the recipes) if you don’t do the final ball formation “right” the dough has a tendency to spread. Be sure to get a nice taught surface. But with a 3 hour final rise (as you suggest might be the case) that might not fix things.

  2. you may consider doing your final rise in a bread form/mold (brotform)- those wicker looking bowls. They help with just this type of issue. Before buying one - if you wanted - you could improvise something by lining a bowl/colander with a floured towel and doing the final rise in that. Then turn it out to bake.

Bread baking is one of those things that seems simple but can take a while to get the technique right. Keep baking! Good luck!

Edit - after posting this, a 3 hour final rise is a long final rise. At that point the goal isn’t flavor development (as it would be in a long slow first rising). If you want to try option 1 above I would consider finding a warmer location to keep that final rise at an hour or less. At 3 hours the dough just has too much time to relax and spread, even with a tight skin.

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Thanks. It’s never been a 3 hr final rise. Typically it is a 6 hr rise after mixing/kneading, then shaping (which maybe I am not doing well enough to get a tight outside), then a 75 min final rise before baking.

I haven’t bought a mold yet (nor a scale). Still using whatever I have in the kitchen before investing in new equipment. I did the final rise of my first loaf in a clean plastic bowl with a floured towel on top. Unfortunately, it was waffle knit, and the dough got all caught up in it and tore quite a lot when I was taking it out to bake. Since then, I’ve used bowls sprayed with pam and covered with more pam’d saran wrap on top for the final rise.

I will look into some videos for shaping. I think that’s where I could improve.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold