The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice needed - I want holes in my bread

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Advice needed - I want holes in my bread

I've dabbled in bread baking on and off for years and I keep getting the same result - a dense loaf with a fine crumb. I've tried less yeast + longer rise, different flour brands, different yeasts (always packets though), ciabatta, baguette and pizza dough recipies, but all come out more dense than I want. They're good for sandwiches but not for crusty bread wonderfulness. I do not use a bread machine. I knead either entirely by hand or start with food processor and finish by hand. What's the secret to stretchy holey bread?  If it's in rising/proofing, could you point me to your favorite book chapter or article on this?  Thanks  Doh


 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

You might find the TFL handbook helpful for a start (see the tab at the top of the screen).


Then try the relatively easy
ficelle
recipe.  Follow it carefully and you'll get a lovely, open crumb.


I trust you have a scale for weighing your ingredients?

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Thank you. I was just reading the TFL handbook. I also followed a link to some helpful videos from a Montana baker whose kneading technique is different.


No, I don't weigh my ingredients and don't have a scale. Hmmm. Thanks for mentioning it.

cleancarpetman's picture
cleancarpetman

Udoughgirl--I had the same problem when I came to this site.  I started making My Daily Bread out of the recipe file and have continued to refine my results.  At first it was intolerably too slack to handle but advice from Floyd said he folded the bread on a highly floured board and that made all the difference but I still used a bench knife to aid in the first few folds.  My latest attempt is posted on the bottom of the thread, My Daily Bread.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/mydailybread#comment-57501


ccm

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Oooh, lovely loaf. And a nice long thread to read through for tips. Thanks.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hi there Udoughgirl,


There are a couple of things that will help give you a nice open airy crumb.



  • First you need to be able to trap the gas that is produced by the yeast so it doesn't escape out through the structure in the dough. This is done through what is called developing the gluten. There are different ways to accomplish this. Kneading or folding are the most common. For cibatta or baguettes I suggest folding. If you go back to www.thebackhomebakery.com and see how Mark folds in the bowl and later shapes the baguette, you will see how that is done.

  • Most people here are on the side of gentle handling after the ferment. Being gentile will prevent squeezing the air out of the fermented dough. While I agree in the case of Batards or rustic or larger loaves, baguettes may be knocked down and handled firmly if they are high hydration. There is an interesting thread here that demonstrates the Famous French baker Anis Bouabsa and his remarkable method for making baguettes.  I suggest you read this thread from end to end. It is loaded with good information on how to make this very flavorful, open crumb bread. The first poster (Dmsnyder) is an excellent baker and very thoroughly describes the process. Hope this helps.


Eric

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Thanks. I read through this one and saved it. I think I've been overworking my dough for one thing. I like the light touch Mark uses in the backhomebakery videos.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Keep in mind that the fellow that won the Best Baguette in Paris says you can be firm and flatten out the dough while shaping. He says it rises in the oven and the holes appear. You can't argue with his results and I know it works here also with the Baguettes. As I said above, the larger loaves should be handled more gently.


Eric

xaipete's picture
xaipete

This video from Mark on Rustic White & Kalamata really does a great job of showing how to do stretch & fold and get big holes. It helped me a lot.


http://thebackhomebakery.com/Tutorials/RusticWhiteKalamata.html


--Pamela

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Thank you Pamela. I love watching these videos. His dough is much better behaved than mine. ;)

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Try kneading in the mixer, letting it rest for a bit then doing the stretch and folds like in the video by Mark--let it rest 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding to the next stretch & fold. It works for holes. But then be careful not to degas any more than you need to before proofing.


--Pamela

davec's picture
davec

Doughgirl,


Why not try Jim Lahey's no-knead method?  He gets exactly the results you are looking for, with practically no effort:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU


Then, with your experience with baking tachniques, you can encorporate his long fermentation, minimal handling, and closed container techniques to other styles of loaf.


Dave

JIP's picture
JIP

Funny thing is, till my starter started to mature I NEVER got the holey airy crumb you see so many people on this site get.  I purchased a KAF starter 4-5 months ago and the last couple of batches I have made I have goten such a great crumb structure.  I have been making yeast breads for many years with just about every different method you can use but as I said things have just started to get better with this starter.

executor's picture
executor

In my experience, the difference between a open bread crumb whit big holes, or a compact one, lies in the level of hydration of the dough (It should be close to 70%), but the most important to take in count is that the dough SHOULD NOT be degassed after rising nor while shaping the loaf. Also the amount of fat included will affect the result. If you want to include fat or oil in your dough, you must add it until the dough has rested a little bit after  mixing flour and water, but before kneading.

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

"the dough SHOULD NOT be degassed after rising nor while shaping the loaf..."


Guilty. I've been overhandling it at this stage. Thanks.


Actually, there are several things here I've never tried. Thank you all for giving me lots of suggestions to work with.

bodger's picture
bodger

If you're working with wetter doughs (70%, for example) you may still find it tricky to move the dough from one container to another, shaping in between, without degassing.  I know I certainly did!  If you want to avoid adding extra flour by flouring the worksurface (it's something I like to avoid), you should use wet hands and a wet counter.  This should be enough to stop your dough sticking at all and allow you to shape and put into your proofing basket (or whatever).  You get a lot of degassing if the dough sticks to anything as you then have to pull it away and that bursts a lot of the air bubbles.


 


Good luck!

yonason's picture
yonason

Thanks UDoughGirl for asking that.  Hopefully I'll also learn from the many good suggestions here, as I've had no success on my own.  I confess, I've only been using a bread machine to bake in, though I now kneed by hand (VERY minimally) - by folding, mostly.  I also pretty much only make sourdough now, because I prefer the taste and the moister texture.  In fact, even though it's far from what I consider ideal, I can still eat half a (small) loaf at a single sitting without feeling full or the flavor loosing it's appeal.  But I'm still far from the crumb I want, so, again, thanks for that great question.

Udoughgirl's picture
Udoughgirl

Success! Not huge gaping holes mind you, but holes and a realllly tasty loaf with a crisp crust. What worked for me:


Startedwith Daily Bread Pain sur Poolish recipe, divided the poolish in half to use on separate days. Worked the dough a lot when flour was added, let rise, then folded two times as suggested.  The first time I tried to keep the dough wet, but it kept spreading out like Jabba the Hut on the pan after shaping so I added more flour to later efforts. this helped.


Even so, I used a terra cotta loaf pan for baking (not over my fear of flatness yet). I also let the dough sit overnight in the fridge after the second fold & before shaping. This might have helped flavorwise but I don't know. For final rise I sprinkled water over the loaf, covered the pan with another loaf pan (also sprinkled with water) and continued according to recipe.


Oh yes, and I did my best to handle the dough very lightly when folding & shaping.


It could still be lighter & higher, but what an improvement already. Thanks again.