The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Constructive criticism is needed....

SallyBR's picture

Constructive criticism is needed....

As part of the "Mellow Bakers" project, I made Hamelman's Rustic Bread today.   


If you could please take a look at my crumb and give me your opinion about it:  notice that the bubbles are larger in the outside of the loaf, and tighter in the center.   Is that ok, or should I be aiming for more regular crumb structure everywhere?

If not ok - any ideas for improvement?  

I have a full blog about it here


but I'll try to attach a photo


thank you!

mcs's picture

Good job!


dmsnyder's picture

I've never made that bread myself, and my screen resolution is not good enough to see any nits to pick.


SallyBR's picture

Well, I now realized that further down in the bread the "problem" with the larger bubbles outside is even more pronounced.   My camera is not active (batteries recharging), so I cannot document it.


anyway, I must be doing something wrong when shaping the round, I guess

txfarmer's picture

As for the outside bubbles - I have that happen whenever I don't get ride of the bubbles on the surface while shaping, so those big surface bubbles take up space and the inside ones can't develope. I know during shaping you are supposed to preserve bubbles, but I think the obvious outside ones need to be pressed out. It's the most evident in baguettes, if I leave them there, they will inevitably burst later on, results a flat part.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

But since you want picky...  I can see a bubble formation on the lower right edge of the dough in the lower left hand photo.  That is the toothpick popping moment!  ...or is it just flour.  Aw gee, Sally, really mess it up so we have something to talk about!  This is a rustic bread and those holes are soup scoopers!  Or for scooping up crab salad.  Crust lovely!  Shape perfect!  Even the picture looks A+!

davidg618's picture

There's folks here on TFL would sell their first born to bake bread like yours. If you want bread that looks the same from every angle bake pain de mie.

Bye-the-way, any offers for my first born? He's over fifty, fat, opinionated, and very vocal ;-)

Your loaf looks great! How did it taste?

David G.

SallyBR's picture

Thanks, guys.... I think I might be getting a little bread-paranoid... :-)


Yesterday I cut a slice and stared at it, completely forgot about time, until I heard in the background my husband laughing... he goes:  "at some point you ARE going to eat it, right"?

It tasted delicious - I am surprised by the complexity of flavors, probably given by the three flours plus the pre-ferment.  It had a crumb texture very similar to Hamelman's Vermont sourdough series,  but of course, no real sourness. 

Txfarmer, what you mentioned about the bubbles outside is exactly what I had- very large bubbles at the bottom of the outer layer.   Heck, I won't worry about them, it is true that  pain de mie is the one supposed to have uniform holes   


althetrainer's picture

Bubbles?  What's wrong with bubbles?  I love bubbles, the more the better.  The crumb is open and the crust is nice and crusty.  If you don't like that loaf, send it to me.  :-)


ryeaskrye's picture

Can't say I see much to criticize.

I'm intrigued by the pasties recipe at your blog. I'm thinking I'm going to have to make those soon, but might try a filling of spicy curried beef and potato.


SallyBR's picture

You can definitely try any filling you want - including sweet ones...


Just make sure that whatever you use is fully cooked once you form the pasteis - to fry them correctly, they will be done in a minute or less - the filling will be hot, but even if you were using shrimp - that cooks quickly - just the frying time would not be enough to cook it.  


Mebake's picture

I get bubbles on the outside when the dough gets friction with the surface while trying to do the final shaping. The bubbles preserved within a dough will merge into one another and creat larger bubbles which will migrate outward due to baker's shaping. To reduce this effect, the dough must be minimally handled during final shaping. My 2 cents. 

scottsourdough's picture

That bread looks absolutely perfect, but if I had to guess I would think those larger holes on the outside might have something to do with the way you shaped. That being said, I wouldn't do anything at all differently if I were you.

tananaBrian's picture

I think that for anything thicker than about 2" or so, the dough mass itself seems to suppress larger bubble formation in the center, while the outside only has the air itself to restrict it.  I'm no expert, but I've noticed this before and these are my thoughts on it.  If someone else with more experience and knowledge can explain bubble distribution patterns versus bread size and shaping techniques, then I hope they will share that with us.



scottsourdough's picture

That's an interesting thought. I've always wondered why my crumb seems to be the most open at the edges of a loaf rather than the middle, where there are scores and where there is presumably more oven spring.

SallyBR's picture

That makes sense....     I've had some huge bubbles in the middle of the loaf in the past, but I know I was not handling the dough correctly.   That problem is a thing of the past. 


but what you say might be the explanation for holes being generally larger close to the surface.