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Problem - large holes on top of loaves of bread

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kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Problem - large holes on top of loaves of bread

When I bake bread in a loaf pan I am getting a very large hole at the top of the loaf that goes almost the full length of the loaf. It is happening with whole wheat bread and sourdough bread.


I mix the dough in a kitchen-aid mixer. The dough rises in a bowl in my dishwasher. I then form the loaf by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and rolling it up. I seal the seam and place the loaf in a loaf pan. The bread then proofs in my dishwasher. Then bake.


When I cut into the loaf the large hole along the top is there.


What am I doing wrong?


Jack

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jack,


Can you post a picture?


Your problem could be due to a number of factors.   Seeing the offending loaf crumb shot would be more than useful


Thanks


Andy

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Andy,


I will try to get a picture up either later today or tomorrow.


Thanks,


Jack

flournwater's picture
flournwater

"I then form the loaf by rolling out the dough into a rectangle and rolling it up. I seal the seam and place the loaf in a loaf pan."


Jack,  I think your problem rests with the method you're using for shaping.  Your method, it appears to me, traps a lot of air inside the rolled loaf and provides an enclosed space for an accumulation of the CO2 gasses that develop during final proofing.  Floydm has a video about forming a batard that may help:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1688

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Yes, I suspect my problem is my shaping technique. I say that because the holes are appearing in two types of bread (whole wheat and sourdough) where I use the same technique.


These loaves are rectangular, not the batards in the video. However, next time I make bread I will try to modify the "batard" technique to the rectanguar loaf.


The sourdough loaf usually has raisins and cinnamon placed on the dough before roll up giving a nice swirled effect on the finished product. It is not worth the big hole though.


I will try to post a picture later.


Thank you.


Jack

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Here is what the holes in the loaves look like. This is sourdough which was rolled up with walnuts and dried cranberries. I get the same effect with whole wheat bread. I suspect my "rollup" technique is trapping gas producing this effect. I am not sure. Any ideas?


Jack



ananda's picture
ananda

Hi,


If there is moisture in the fruit mix, this will turn to steam, and the pressure will create a cavity such as the one shown in the photo.


BW


Andy

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Andy,


This problem happens with my whole wheat bread also. There is no fruit (or anything else) added to that.


Do you think my technique of making these loaves is doing it? I am rolling the dough out into a rectangle, rolling it up, pinching the end closed and putting it in the bread pan.


Thank you,


Jack

staho88's picture
staho88

Jack,


I have shaped pan loaves similar to the way you describe and I have not gotten that big hole.  For pan loaves that are intended for sandwiches, I personally want a tight crumb (no big holes) so I knead to expel that trapped gas.  Perhaps that is what's going on.  Or, maybe it is being overproofed.  Just a few possibilities to think about.  


Dave

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jack,


the method you describe seems fairly typical for moulding pan loaves.


If you are concerned about this, do it as follows:


Flatten your dough into a rectangle 25cm/10" x 15cm/6".   Use a rolling pin if you want to.


Fold the rectangle in 3, and roll/knock flat so it is now 15cm/6" x 20cm/8".   Using your thumbs as flippers, roll tightly from the top.   Roll your dough cylinder so it is the same length as the tin.   Carefully drop it seam side down into the tin.


To me a hole in that part of the loaf indicates weakness of structure, as it is caused by the sudden rise of the dough when it hits the oven in the early minutes of the bake, before the yeast dies.   Overproof could be an issue, so, possibly could underproof.


But, basically your dough is not strong enough, in terms of elasticity/extensibility to cope with that sudden lift.


BW


Andy

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Andy,


I do not get any "oven spring" with the sourdough bread, so there is no sudden rise in the oven. With the whole wheat bread, this could be an issue. 


Overproof... maybe. I will try a little less proof before baking next time.


I think I will experiment with different ways of forming the loaf to see if that helps.


I also wonder if slashing the tops before baking to release trapped gas would help. That would be a work-around that I should not have to do.


Jack

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jack,


Ovenspring or not, that hole is surely forming as I describe above yes?


So your dough is not strong enough to cope with the early moments in the oven, for whatever reason.   A hole that size is unlikely to form and grow to that size during final proof.


No ovenspring indicates overproof to me; you should always look for some spring.


BW


Andy

008cats's picture
008cats

either way, if it is happening at the same architectural spot, the dough doesn't seem to be adhering to itself.


Do you use an oiled surface or anything that would keep the surfaces from holding together? What about a bit more tension as you roll that last lap, or an effective flour-free pinching to close the seam and keep it tight?

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

It is happening at the same spot everytime. The whole goes almost the length of the loaf. It is biggest in the middle. It happens with sourdough and whole wheat, which are rolled up identically. I get no oven spring with the sourdough which I believe is typical. The bread is rolled up tight on a floured (not oiled) surface. The seam is tightly closed and placed at the bottom of the loaf pan. The seam does not appear to be opening.


I think it is my roll up technique, but I can not pinpoint what it is.


Another data point - A while back I made whole wheat, but instead of rolling up the loaf I divided the loaf into six pieces. Rolled them up and put in the pan. I got perfect bread with no hole. So I think there is something wrong with my technique that I need to improve. Still not sure what it is.


Jack

BettyR's picture
BettyR

I was raised on homemade bread. The only time I ever buy bread is in an emergency situation. So I have had a LOT of experience making bread and I still cannot make a loaf of bread in a loaf pan that doesn't have a hole in it.

My mother never owned a bread pan, all our bread was cooked in a cast iron skillet rolled into several small round loaves and baked together.

When I first got married I did my bread the same way. After a while I got lazy and started shaping one large oblong shaped loaf and placed it in the middle of a cookie sheet and baked it that way. I just grabbed the dough kneading it slightly to degas it and pushed it into a torpedo shape and put it on a cookie sheet.

When I found this site and saw all the beautiful loaves of bread I decided to play too and bought some loaf pans. I can't make a loaf of bread in a loaf pan with no holes in it to save my life. It has got to be something about the rolling out and then rolling up of the bread that I can't get a handle on. I finally just gave up and went back to making my bread the same way I always did.

So if you ever discover what it is you are doing wrong PLEASE post it.




kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

That is nice bread!!


One way or another I will figure this out. I will experiment with different techniques. I am sure I am doing something wrong. I am obviously not the only person to have this issue.


I am going to play with my "rolling up" technique. Per the good suggestions I have recieved, I am going to try adjusting my level of proof. Maybe I am overproofing the bread - I don't know.


People everywhere are able to make a loaf of bread without a big hole. I want to become one of them.


I will post my findings.


Jack 

davidbweiner's picture
davidbweiner

Have you tried slashing the bread just before putting it in the oven? A few quick slashes with either e razor blade or a very sharp serrated knife will allow extra gas to escape and maybe prevent the pocket from forming. Also, it really adds class to the look of the bread.


David


www.breadmantalking.blogspot.com

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

David,


No I haven't tried that with my whole wheat or sourdough breads. I bet you are correct, slashing before baking will probably release the trapped gas and get rid of the hole. We will see.


Thank you,


Jack

ananda's picture
ananda


I get no oven spring with the sourdough which I believe is typical




 


Hi Jack,


I think we'll just have to agree to differ here.   Placing fully-proved dough pieces in a hot box should always induce some kind of movement before the yeasts are killed off at 53*C.   You don't get spring, because your dough structure is too weak at this late stage.   So instead, the rise you get is in the form of that big gaping hole you don't like.


Try to catch your dough a little earlier, and thing might improve for you.   I've baked a lot with rye, and with English wheat.   It is a classic sign that the flour is either poor quality, or not properly developed.   These are the 2 faults I can see with this loaf.


BW


Andy


008cats's picture
008cats

If you aren't getting strong oven spring with sourdough, more often than not over proofing is the culprit. This happened to me at first, but my hole was just under the crust and I didn't recognize it from your photo.


A couple of words on proofing: once I started proofing inside a large measuring container, I started getting consistent oven spring, because I could regulate exactly how much each loaf expanded. Don't double the volume; start at 170% and be willing to work your way DOWN (some of mine finish primary ferment at 125%)


Also, if you are using a larger portion of starter in your recipe, it's going to take less time before the yeasties are exhausted. Less will give you more window of opportunity to act.


Hope some of this helps!

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Thanks,


I guess my first crack at fixing the "hole" problem will be less proof for the bread as it rises in the pan.


Interesting about the oven spring with sourdough. I have never gotten a bit of oven spring with this sour no matter what level of proof I bake it at. The sour is mostly liquid. I feed it a cup of water, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons potato flakes. There is one cup of this sour in three loaves of bread. There is no added yeast. Makes great bread - look at the pictures. I trade this bread with neighbors for eggs from their chickens. Amazing to have chickens in the middle of the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta.


Jack

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jack,


Is there any reason why you choose not to use wheatflour in your sour dough?


Potato is gluten free: hence the hole???   Perhaps?


BW


Andy

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

Andy,


I use this sour because it was given to me many years ago and the recipe called for no flour in the sour. There is plenty of gluten in the bread - about 6 cups of white bread flour in three loaves. Great bread that everyone loves. Except for the holes.


Andy, the trouble is this is happening with my whole wheat bread too. That is not sourdough. Two packs of dried yeast between three loaves. About a 60/40 mix of whole wheat flour and white high gluten bread flour. And I still get holes. My best guess is this is either over proofing as you mentioned, or a flaw in my technique when I roll up the loaves.


Looks like I need to experiment a little before I reach the "Eureka" moment. Part of the fun.


Thank you,


Jack

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jack,


All the best finding your "eureka" moment soon.


I don't have any understanding of volumetric measurement, and tend to use fresh yeast myself, so I can't add anything further to my previous comments.


But I do hope you find a solution, quickly 


Best wishes


Andy

008cats's picture
008cats

The bit of dry-yeast baking I have done, I limited myself to no more whole wheat than 50/50 white because predominate whole wheat dough did affect my loaf rise & crumb density. You may be beyond what I could do, I don't know.


But generally speaking with solving problems, I pick one thing I think might be the cause and make a significant, but not overwhelming change (around 20%). If you see some benefit (or increase of problem) and everything else is just like you've done before, you know you are on the right track for a solution.


Good Luck in the Bread Laboratory!!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

1. How stiff is your dough? (Hydration). How much flour is on the board when you roll out (not roll up) your bread dough. Is there a film of flour left on the bottom or top of your dough when you roll it up? When you add fruit and nuts are they moist? Do you rehydrate them before adding? A very thin coat of flour or liquid can/will create a weakened structural path in your loaf: result a big hole.


2. I suspect your sourdough starter isn't very active, or you're not using a sufficient amount in your formulae. Like Andy said you should be seeing some expansion during final proof. How long do you bulk ferment, and final proof? I'm suspicious of any sourdough levain that takes more than three hours to bulk proof, and two hours for final proof.


David G

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

David,


See my answers below (in bold type)...


 1. How stiff is your dough? (Hydration). (I think both the whole wheat and sourdough breads are stiff doughs. Neither sticks to the mixing bowl). How much flour is on the board when you roll out (not roll up) your bread dough. (A thin layer of flour) Is there a film of flour left on the bottom or top of your dough when you roll it up? (Yes. There is a film of flour on both sides when I roll up. I have been using a rolling pin to form the rectangle of dough. I roll it on one side, flip the dough over and roll it again. A film of flour is on both sides.) When you add fruit and nuts are they moist? (no) Do you rehydrate them before adding? (No. Also, I get the big whole in my whole wheat bread which has no fruits or nuts) A very thin coat of flour or liquid can/will create a weakened structural path in your loaf: result a big hole. (Could be my problem. Do you think I should roll out the dough without using any flour on the surface?)


2. I suspect your sourdough starter isn't very active, or you're not using a sufficient amount in your formulae. (It is real active. I mix it before use and let it sit for hours. When I use it, it is visibly bubbling. If you put your ear to it, it is loud. As for sufficient sour, I use 1 cup of sour, 1 1/4 cup of water. 1/4 cup of oil and almost 6 1/2 cups of bread flour. Do you think this is sufficient sour? I could up the sour and reduce the water. The sour is very liquid. I add 1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar and 3 Tablespoons of potato flakes to feed it.) Like Andy said you should be seeing some expansion during final proof. (I see lots of expansion of the loaf in the pan. I see no oven spring). How long do you bulk ferment, (long time - around 12 hours) and final proof? (long time - around 12 hours) I'm suspicious of any sourdough levain that takes more than three hours to bulk proof, and two hours for final proof. (Maybe I should adjust my sourdough recipe, but again - I get the same holes in the whole wheat bread using dried yeast.)


(You really have me thinking about the surface flour used when I roll out the dough. Never thought that was a problem. Now I wonder.)


Do my answers give you any insight into the big hole in the bread?


Thank you,


Jack


David G

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Try rolling your dough out with no flour on the board's surface. You could also lightly spray the top surface with a mist of water, after you've rolled it out. The intent is to get the rolled-up dough top surface to adhere to its bottom surface as if it were a homogenous single log of dough.


Frankly, I don't understand your Sour. I've never heard nor read of a sourdough culture made of water, sugar, and potato flakes (if I'm understanding rightly). I highly recommend you try building a conventional levain by adding equal weights of flour and water to a small amount of your Sour. You can do this a couple or three times at eight to twelve hour intervals the day before baking. Prefermenting a portion of the bread's flour creating levain has two purposes: 1. build the yeast to produce good bulk fermentation (double in two to three hours), final proof the panned or shaped dough (nearly double in one to two hours), and give good oven spring which is fundamentally a yeast feeding frenzy, with much CO2 created, before the heat kills the yeast, and 2. create flavor, which in sourdough is the work of the bacteria, and some complex chemistry in the dough. Typically, bakers preferment up to 40% of the total bread flour. So in your recipe prefermenting 2 cups of the 6 cups of flour would be approximately 33%.


Finally, at the risk of starting yet another thread of arguments defending volume measurements. If you can, buy yourself a scale, and weigh your ingredients. Volume measurements are notoriously inaccurate and inconsistent.


There are many threads on TFL that describe, in detail, how to make a conventional starter, and use it to build levain for a recipe. You appear to have something, a culture similar to flour-based sourdough. I do, however have some reservation that your Sour doesn't have a strong yeast population. Nonetheless, concentrate on building formula-ready levain.


Here's a link to a blog entry I wrote about a year ago, describing how I build the right amount and correct hydration of levain for a sourdough recipe.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12766/building-formulaready-levain-starter


Hope this helps. I know its a departure from some of what you are doing, but it works well for a lot of TFL bakers.


Good luck and Happy baking!


David G

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

David,


Thank you for the great reply. The first thing I will try to get rid of the holes will be to get the flour off the workbench when I roll up the bread.


Regarding the sour I use on this bread...


Yeah, it is unusual isn't it? I was given this recipe and sour about 15-20 years ago. I tried it and the results were an astounding hit. My friends will trade almost anything for a loaf. Some friends in North Georgia started a restaurant and asked me for the recipe so they could sell it. They were not bakers. I showed them how to make and gave them some starter. I figured after they saw how much effort it took they would change their minds. They didn't. It is on the menu as "Jack's Bread". Menu says it is their "signature item". They make everything with it. French toast. etc. Their mixer broke and they stopped making it. Almost went out of business. Started making it again. (This version is made with rolled up with raisins and cinnamon)


So it's a weird sour. But it is good bread.


That said, I take your point and advice about the more conventional levain. I make bread with levain much like yours with pretty good result. The bread you made showed in your writeup looks magnificent!!


Thank you,


Jack 

davidbweiner's picture
davidbweiner

sounds to me like a gas bubble. Try giving the bread a slash or two just before placing in the oven to allow the CO2 to escape. Otherwise it forms a bubble just under the surface. Especially since you roll up the dough to tighten the surface tension (which is great) but it might be trapping the gas. Hope this helps,


David


breadmantalking.blogspot.com

kayakjack's picture
kayakjack

I know it is a long time since I posted what the resolution to my large hole in the top of my loafs were....

I started giving all of my pan loaves three slashes before they went in the oven. Problem solved. No more big holes.

I suspect I have an underlying issue causing the large holes. But slashing them lets the gas out --- no big holes.

The big holes were always between the rolls of the loaf. Near the top of the loaf. As if they were not sticking together and a little gas gets out of hand.

Jack

rayel's picture
rayel

Hi Jack, Happy the slashing cured the problem for you. If you choose not to slash your panned loaves, King Arthur Four has come up with a fix that I have tried and seems to work fine.    http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/cinnamon-bread-recipe ...Holes near the top in breads that are swirled or not, crop up once in a while, and over proofed often is the cause. Too warm a proofing temp. might be part of it. I like your idea of using the dishwasher for proofing and have also tried that method with success. I usually pre rinse the dishwasher to make a moist environment, but then check the temp. to be sure it hasn't become too warm. Venting some of the heat before the loaves go in is usually needed. The King Arthur recipes use white whole wheat, and one is a cinnamon swirl only, the other is a cinnamon swirl, that puts raisins in the dough durring the mix (partially solving the separating with that one change) . The dough gets brushed with a filling, cinnamon, egg, and all purpose flour is part of their fix, and one optional ingredient. I hope you check these out with success.   Ray