I'd love some second opinions on my loaves. I am pleased with almost all elements of them (flavour, texture, crumb) but they always come out a bit muchroom shaped. I'm wondering whether this is a result of underproving or maybe my dough is too wet.
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Well that looks pretty much perfect to me!
If you want it taller, underproving is your last suspect. If anything, it'll end up taller with less proving. But then there are risks that it'll be overall denser/smaller, and will split well beyond the slashes. And have lesss developed flavour. But I guess you could try a little by degrees.
Other factors are making sure the baking stone is hot - some do a cold start, but I find my loaves set a little in the sagged shape before their rising potential is completed. And keeping the oven a bit moist for the first 10 mins or so to also delay that prevention of vertical rise by the crust starting to set.
Slashing patterns can also affect shape, as can overall loaf size. Smaller loaves and narrower/longer loaves (for non-round loaf shapes) will tend to end up a bit more vertical...
Annie, Your loaves look terrific!
If I read you right, your problem is that the loaves rise more in the middle than on the edges. An expert in physics may be able to clarify, but it seems that always happens. Have you ever baked a cake? Same thing. Most of the loaves I have seen are wider than they are high, and highest in the middle!
If you REALLY want a loaf of UNIFORM height, make sure you OVER-PROVE it. You will get NO oven-spring and the loaf will come out of the oven exactly the same height it went in!
PLEASE IGNORE - MY MISTAKE!
Your hydration level is just fine. The loaf is rounded at the base which indicates good oven rise, and you have a very nice grigne on top. Perhaps you could try a batard (football) or a "parisien" (like a baguette but much wider) next time. With a parisien, there are different patterns for slashing (long parallel slash, or alternating diagonal slashes). You can experiment and see if you get the shape you want.
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