The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pls help.. trouble with big gaping holes!

the aspiring baker's picture
the aspiring baker

pls help.. trouble with big gaping holes!


i've been having trouble with this milk bread that i've been baking. the taste is great! but i really need to solve the problem of the big holes. 

the bread is baked in an uncovered loaf pan at 180 degrees celcius for about 35 minutes. 

i've read a couple of bread troubleshooting and they tell me that it's a flying crust problem with over-proofing the bread. i usually try to proof the bread for about 40mins, but i've also reduced the proofing time to 30mins, and the same problem still occurs. it reaches to about 2cm from the top of the loaf pan before going into the oven. i use a convection oven and the problem with this oven is that the heating is not even. 

the recipe is:

yields (650g/loaf)

tangzhong 65c (water roux)6%
full cream milk powder2%
instant yeast2%
whipping cream14%
full cream milk7%
unsalted butter9%

i've also tried to reduce the percentage of yeast and lower the oven temperature to 170 degrees celcius while increasing the bake time for about 5-10mins more. but the problem still persists.

is the dough too strong or too weak, that it collapses during the bake? 

does anyone have any ideas how to solve this problem? it's quite sad to see whenever i slice open the loaf. some of these holes can get really huge!

really appreciate any comments i can get for this! thanks so much!!!

ananda's picture

Hello "the aspiring baker",

I can assure you that the problem with your bread is nothing to do with "flying crust".   A flying top is actually a result of underproof, and is manifest as one side of the loaf crust lifting and breaking away from the rest of the loaf.

The proof levels in your loaf are fine; look at the lovely bold dome-shaped top to the loaf, and no evidence of splitting at all.   40 minutes final proof really is at the minimum end too; 30 minutes is insufficient.

I suspect you will find the problems in your loaf are due to something known in the industry as a "fat fault".

All good wishes


GregS's picture

Hi, Aspiring Baker,

Could the problem be in the way you form the loaves? The holes seem to spiral around the center. I have had similar problems when I have too much flour on the counter or too little pressing of the layers together when shaping the loaf. The layers won't stick to one another or air gets trapped inside while shaping.

Hope this helps.

PaddyL's picture

When you pat or roll the dough out prior to shaping, make sure you get all those pesky bubbles out of the dough.  I used to use a toothpick to burst the bubbles.

annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

I think you need to do pre-shaping and final shaping after the bulk fermentation, making sure that the dough is really tight before you put it in the tin.

Good luck.



DavidEF's picture

I'm not very experienced yet myself, so forgive me if I turn out to be wrong. From looking at your loaf, it seems to me that the dough might not have been kneeded long enough. Gluten structure is what holds the air in the dough. Proper kneeding helps to develop a good strong gluten structure. You gave us your ingredients list, but what is your technique for mixing, kneeding, forming, proofing, baking? I think annie the chef may be right, also. If kneeding is done properly, forming the loaf should result in a tight roll, that only relaxes a little bit while proofing. Forming the loaf in two stages (pre-shape and final shape) can help ensure a more even air distribution, so you don't get huge holes.

For a better idea of what's going on with your bread, look at a ciabata recipe sometime. It is supposed to result in a bread with huge holes in it, so you could use it as a measure of what not to do, in your case!

ananda's picture

The crumb structure in the loaf is really quite beautiful.   There is nothing wrong with the level of dough development.

And I'm not convinced it is a shaping problem either; these are usually much over-played.

To me, the most likely explanation remains that it is a technical problem relating to fat levels in the formula.

Best wishes


the aspiring baker's picture
the aspiring baker

thanks all!

yes, pre-shaping and final shaping were done and i made sure to press out the air bubbles. i agree with Andy that it's probably not a shaping problem. i'm not sure if it's a mixing problem..i did read somewhere that over-mixing can cause the dough to become weak as it proofs and can cause these holes. i use a spiral mixer to mix the dough, after that the bulk fermentation takes about an hour before i divide, pre-shape, and later final shape the dough. 

Andy, could you tell me more about the 'fat fault'... do you have any advice on how I can correct this technical problem? Will probably proof the dough for about an hour next time.



ananda's picture


One of the potential causes of this fault that I found was excess top heat.   So, it could easily be down to your poor convection oven.

Are you doing this commercially?   If so, it must cost a fortune to make.

Best wishes


ps. Clover flour is listed as available in Singapore and Sri Lanka.   Where are you based?

Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

I might be wrong but that looks to be baked in a loaf pan, in which case you just put too much dough in the pan.  If not in a loaf pan, Shaping mistake was made.