The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cavernous sourdough

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Atropine's picture

Cavernous sourdough

Hello everyone.  I am new here, hope this is ok for a topic.  I have not seen this addressed on the pages I have looked at.

I have been baking bread for a while, but am branching out into sourdough.

I have started my first sourdough starter (not from scratch...tried that before and I think we have too much mold in our house for it).

 Anyway, got the sourdough starter going, made some bread.  Tasted fine, but both the round loaf and the loaf in the loaf pan had one HUGE bubble under the crust the entire length and breadth of each loaf..... I could have hidden a chihuahua in there lol.  The crust was obviously fairly strong, but I was puzzled by the one HUGE bubble.  Any ideas?

If anyone is interested, my sourdough is actually a commercial starter that they sell up here (for tourists lol).  BUT I have been pleased so far.  After the "secret compartment bread", I made another loaf using some of the tips I found here for increasing the sour of the sourdough....the resulting loaf was VERY good, VERY tender, nicely crisp crust.  It almost had a sour taste--you could tell that it wanted to be a "real" sourdough, but just couldn't quite make it.  However, the more it cooled, the more tang it had.

I am eager to do more, now that I can see that the code CAN be cracked :).  Thank you for your time and for this forum--it really helps!

Floydm's picture

Yeah, that is common problem. You can see a few example of that here or here. It is known as "the hole where the lazy baker sleeps". Creating more surface tension on top by pulling it tighter on the bottom while shaping will remedy the problem.

At least it still tastes good, eh? ;)

Atropine's picture

Thanks!  LOVE the name btw--"hole where the lazy baker sleeps"...PERFECT.  Wished I had taken a picture of it--if you took two loaf pans and put them on top of each other, the bottom would be bread and the top would be FULLY hole--the lazy baker could have invited a few of his buddies in to watch the game.

Surface tension, eh?  xsighx.  I am probably way out of my league on this board.  I have been reading threads thinking "These people actually MEASURE stuff?  And.....they use WEIGHT or percent, not plain ole measuring cups???". lolol

TBH, I am more of a "TLAR" (that looks about right) kind of a person.  I am trying to actually remember the last bread I made that I measured stuff on.....been months and months.  Guess I had better start!

Well, looks like I have a bit of a learning curve for to hop on over to the pretzel thread....for some reason when I tried to boil then bake mine, I got instant noodle, not pretzels.  But the "preztel/noodle" recipe actually makes a GREAT loaf of bread.

 BTW, does everyone name their starter?

Thanks again for the tip!

Floydm's picture

Nothing wrong with TLAR. You should use whatever technique you enjoy.

Surface tension isn't that big a deal. Just be sure you pull it down and pinch it tight on the bottom. Or just live with ugly bread, which is what I usually do.

browndog's picture

You aren't out of your league, you've just joined up! I've only been around a few months and my new-found commitment to to-the-gram accuracy still makes part of me kick and scream. Just think of it as 'horizon-broadening' and 'flexibility'. TLAR bread still gets made; it's a relaxing break nowadays...but you'll be hooked soon, you probably already are :). So you wait--"these people" may soon end up in your mirror...

No, not everyone names their starter, some of us are steadfast curmudgeons. But as you seem to have a naming flair, how hard will it be to christen a new pet?

By th'way, where is sourdough sold primarily for its novelty factor?

Atropine's picture

:-)  --No offense meant by the "these people" comment, my spouse is one of "these people"--he measures everything (though he does not make bread)! 

 I do not have much of a naming flair.  My husband gave me the name "atropine" :-).  My dd just decided to make an amish friendship bread starter which she named "Blessing"...she is more of a "name your starter" kind of a gal.

 Alaska is big sourdough country.  :-)  In fact, people here the first year are called "cheechakos" (spelling!) and those who have been around a while are called "sourdoughs".  While sourdough is a very important part of the cultuer (get it?  sourdough is a culture and part of the culture??  Oh, I crack myself up...), with sourdough being a major staple for miners, hermits (which we have a TON of), etc, it is also played up for the tourists in terms of selling packages of starter, etc.  I bought one of the tourist starter packages.

 I think that perhaps the "scale measuring" thing will probably wait.  In my experience, it depends so much on the humidity (WOW do we have fluctuations here on that--winter is BONE dry even in the house, and summer is nice and moist), etc that it seems that it would necessitate going more by feel than scale.  BUT I could be do y'all get around that?  Do you stick with your measurements, no matter what, or end up just tweaking anyway?





browndog's picture

Oh, please, atropine! I am fragile and sensitive, yes, but what I actually thought when I read your comment (about these people) was how very familiar that sounded! It could've been me a few months back, and still is, sort of...some of the discussions around here require a PhD in microfauna and of course anything involving numbers puts me in a coma. I knew you weren't looking to ruffle feathers. There's such a variety of folk here and even the experts are accessible and friendly, so have no fear.

I did convert to a scale for artisan and sourdough and but still love winging it, and prefer to trust my fingertips first. And I'm very much a freshman, as regards this precision baking.

Alaska, way cool! (Ha. See, I can do it too.) I could feature being a hermit in Alaska, except I don't eat meat and that might make tough going.



Atropine's picture

roflololol--are we both going to get kicked off the board for horrid puns??? ;-)

Yep, I have never met a vegetarian alaskan hermit..... :D

Rosalie's picture

TLAR is really an old tradition.  It's hard to write instructions for someone else to follow that way, but you can show your students (offspring, whatever).  Anyway, I have scales and actually use them, but when it comes down to it I do a lot of guesstimating too.  And, anyway, when it comes to flour I always find myself adding more to make it the right consistency.  Makes me wonder why I bother weighing.  But I do.

But don't worry about being "out of your league".  Some of us talk with more precision than others, but you'll find all kinds of bakers on this forum.  We're all here to have fun and to learn, not to get stressed out.


mkelly27's picture

It's just an old bakers expression. And no, we're all learning here.


From the sound of it I really don't believe it is an ingredient or mixture error, but more of a technique flaw.

I make some of my best breads "freehand" , with enough dough experience and no performance pressure you can do great things. Most probably you will find there is something in your technique during the final shaping that traps an air pocket or a flap of floured dough near the top of your loaf. I could go on, but I won't.

And no I don't think we all name our starters, I do label mine with "R" for Rye, 5/15 for my original and "S" for Sarkozy, the name of the bakery who gave me the starter.



Two wrongs don't make a right. Three lefts make a right

dwg302's picture

i had the big hole in my free form round loaves sometimes too and never could figure out where it came from.   however, if i flipped it upside down and let it rise in a banneton it came out fine.   i assumed it was some kind of error with shaping the bread but never did figure it out until now.   thanks everyone!