loaf size...?

wishfish's picture

I was just wondering what kind of effect, if any, the size of a loaf has on handling the dough, shaping, proofing and oven spring.

My instinct is that small loaves would be easier to handle but I haven't really experimented that much. Any ideas, based on more extensive experience?

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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 October 29

Hello wishfish,

I have never tested this and others might know more but if you think about it, the amount of gas expansion will be affected by temperature and the resistance to expansion from the crust of the loaf.  Rate of heat penetration is driven by temperature difference and takes time to penetrate.  Thus, temperature inside a large loaf after the same time will be less than for a smaller loaf but the crust strength is likely to be higher because the setting of the starches and gluten will be more advanced (possibly affected to some degree by greater surface area and water - read steam- escape and possibly humidity in the oven as well).

On a similar note, loaf shape could have a similar effect with a baguette shape reacting differently to a boule (of the same mass).

Not very practical in answering your question, I'm afraid, bu definitely something to think about and maybe test some day but then given the natural variability in loaves that we make how would you measure the effect.

In terms of shaping and handling, I also think that smaller loaves might prove easier even only if we can get our hands around them better.  On the other hand, extremely small pieces of dough can be difficult because we can't get our hands around them as well - if you see what I mean.

Good luck with your projects.


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