The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hole in the Middle

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Bread winer's picture
Bread winer

Hole in the Middle

Hi all,

I need some advice.  Lately, I've been getting a 3/4 to 1 inch hole in the middle of my baked loaf.  

My mainstay loaf is a poolish starter french loaf consisting of 33% spelt and 67% bread flour (Gold Medal Better Bread).  My only change in practice in the last couple years is that I have begun using a yeast thermometer.  So, I'm getting my water to 120 F and adding my yeast and a 1/2 tsp of sugar.  My yeast foams like never before.  Also, I'm proofing at 80 - 90 degrees in my oven.  I don't over punch the first rise, but I do fold and pinch the loaves (like always) into the cast iron pans.  I usually do a five cup mix - 1 and 2/3 cups water total, including poolish (2/3 water 1 cup flours scant 1/2 tsp yeast).  Both pans are cast - one a loaf pan, one an oval.  Second rise is great.  My crust is perfect.  My crumb is awesome.  The oval loaf has no inner divot, but the loaf pan does.  Flavor?  Nothing like a spelt blend folks.  Amazon Great River Organic Milling (Fountain City, WI).  

So, to all you better scientists out there - what gives?

Any thoughts will be gratefully appreciated. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

:)  use little if any flour.  Might want to give us the specifics on the shaping technique.  Do you use flour or water or oil?  I especially like to knock down my dough around the edges before rolling up a log shape.

Bread winer's picture
Bread winer

I will have 5 cups in one bowl, risen.  I'll slice off 2 cups for the oval cast iron pan.  That loaf does well.  I don't smash, punch or otherwise abuse the dough - I learned early on that spelt was pretty fragile.  I use no flour at all.  I have discovered PAM - sparingly used.  I'll drag my fingers/hands inside the cast iron pans and rub my hands together before I handle dough.  Great stuff.  DONT READ THE LABEL.  I pull the dough out of the bowl - it does not touch the counter.  I gently shape with my hands, roll it, pinch the seam, and nest it in the bread pan.  That's it.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Lying the dough down on a firm surface may help you feel any large bubbles that need popping, deep inside the dough that you can't detect "in the air" while rolling it up.  Worth a try.  Everything else seems right to me.