The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

too big holes

ericb's picture

too big holes

Sometimes, I end up with large holes throughout my bread. I'm not talking about the nice irregular holes we all know and love, but a giant hole right through the middle of the loaf. I'm not very precise in my baking methods, so I can never pin down what I do differently or incorrectly to achieve this. Does anyone know what causes this (over-proofing, poor shaping technique, low/high hydration, etc.)?

On another note, I made a delicious loaf of Pain au levain (Leader, Bread Alone) today. If you're not familiar with this recipe, it calls for a levain developed over four days. The final dough gets a two hour fermentation, a 35 minute bench rest, and a final two hour proof. This dough always has me on the edge of my seat: two hours for proofing seems like a ridiculously long time. It always surprises me, though, and pops right up in the oven. This is a very toast-able bread with a tighter crumb and mild sourdough taste.

If anyone has any suggestions about the giant, loaf-length holes I'm experiencing, I would love to hear about it!



Floydm's picture

If it is a big hole near the bottom, it likely is leaving a cavity inside the loaf while shaping.  More likely though, if the hole is near the top and it is a high hydration dough it is from insufficient surface tension when shaping.   You gotta pull pretty hard so you have a pretty tight film on the outside for it to rise correctly.  Otherwise your loaf gets a bit flabby and you end up with a big cavity right on top.

I hope that helps.

Wisecarver's picture
Wisecarver (not verified)

...There's an old trick you can use to check for air pockets.
When your dough is ready to bake pinch the top and pull up.
The motion is like lifting a canvas, and you'll be able to spot air pockets.
Just release the dough and allow it to come back down, it leaves a nice texture for the top, nothing to worry about.
If you see the dough stretching around an air pocket just pinch it.

nbicomputers's picture

take a chopstick and stick your bread down through to the bottom three or four times several inches apart

if there are any large gas pockets the gas will escape through the holes abd the rest of the crumb will be unchanged

it will also help keep the crust from cracking open like slashing