I wonder if anyone can help. I have been baking sourdough for about a year now, but I still have a problem with the shape of the baked bread. Unfortunately I don't tend to keep note of baker's precentages, but the loaves I tend to make are big - using about a 3/4 kilo of white flour and 1/4 kilo of spelt/rye/wholemeal. The starter (stiff) is usually half-rye/half-white, and weighs about 300g.
When I mix the bread, I always add some water first and leave the dampened flour for 10 minutes. Then I add the starter and mix and leave for another 10 minutes. Afterwards I add the salt and additional water. The dough is not at all sloppy at this stage (though sticky), and I knead it three times at 10 minute intervals for about 20 seconds. After it has doubled (goes to a cool place – takes about 8 hours), I tip it out. It is not sloppy, but is soft. I stretch and fold, leave for about 40 minutes, then stretch and fold again. I roll it into a kind of cylinder and place in a baking tray. By the time the bread goes into the oven (about 4 hours later), the dough has flowed out – more or less covering the whole of the tray, much to my disappointment. The bread bakes fine and tastes great but I would like a little more height and definition. I am unsure why this is happening. Maybe I just need to add less liquid at the beginning? But I think the dough would be stiff to knead, and surely that is not the right way to go?