The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Super yeast?

petercook's picture

Super yeast?

I am attempting to re-create  loaves of 'New Orleans Style" French bread. NOT BAGUETTES. I am having great success but I'm plagued by quite large air pockets  (or bubbles if you prefer)during the SHAPING STAGE. When I say large I mean really huge. The biggest are the size of un-shelled walnuts, some are the size of grapes and many the size of blueberries. Just to be clear, I want a wildly open crumb in my finished loaf but all those air bubbles DURING SHAPING are giving me fits.  I am already using a tiny amount of yeast (1/4 tsp per 400 gm flour and 260 gm water) plus a small amount of yeast in the sponge ( 100 gm flour, 170 gm water, 1/8 tsp instant dry yeast). I let my sponge sit in a tupperware container, tightly covered of course, in a warm kitchen for about 7 hr or until it rises to 2 - 2 1/2 times its original height.  After mixing, autolyse, kneading, bulk fermentation ( during which I incorporate 2 French folds) I let rest until doubled. NO TROUBLE UP TO NOW.  I next do a pre-shape into "stubby logs". Cover and rest 20 min. NOW COMES THE TROUBLE. BUBBLES, BUBBLES AD MORE BUBBLES. Which, of course,  makes for a difficult shaping. I know that I want thousands of tiny air pockets but this is air-pockets on steroids.  Any thoughts on the matter? thanks

wdlolies's picture


It sounds to me as if your sponge might be enough to rise the dough, maybe you don't need anymore yeast, after incorporating the sponge?  Try to leave out the 1/4 tsp of yeast.  

Greetings from Ireland.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and don't be afraid to use brute force after the bulk rise! 

This is the kind of dough to "punch down."   I enjoying dropping the bowl (plastic) on the table and watching it fall.  A good shock smack!  Then go about flattening out the dough popping the bubbles and pre-shaping into stubby logs. 

Believe me, when you then let it rise, maybe only a 10 minute rest, and final shape, those bubbles will be back just not the monster variety.


mrfrost's picture

What recipe are you using? I'm always on the lookout for a good N. O. French bread recipe. Thanks.

davidg618's picture

here's a link to a brief video that I found very helpful when I first started shaping dough (about a year ago). It gave me a better understanding of how agressive I could address the dough. Prior to seeing this, although I'd watched other shaping videos, I was too tentative in how I handled the dough. Don't be put off by the fact it's about shaping baguettes; just focus on the baker's firm hands on the dough.

Secondly, am I interpreting your formula correctly? 400g + 100g = 500g of flour, and 170g + 260g = 430g of Water in your final dough; Hydration percent = 86%? If I've understood correctly, I'm impressed you can knead, and shape this dough, and develop a strong gluten network with only two S&F's. Or is it that you pre-ferment 100g flour, 170g water, 1/8 tsp yeast, and add 300g flour, 90g water, 1/4 tsp yeast: Hydration = 65%?

But back to shaping. If your dough is that wet, but manageable, I don't think you need to pre-shape and rest it. I recommend you simply shape it. If you feel it has to rest, shorten the rest time. If the dough is 65% hydration, I still recommend you shorten the rest period. 

David G


petercook's picture

My formula, which requires a decent scale , a double baguette pan (the kind with hundreds of tiny holes), A quality stand mixer (I use kitchenaid) and an instant read thermometer.  8 hrs before making dough, make your sponge:

Sponge: 170 gram bottled water, 100 gram of bread flour and 1/8 tsp of instant yeast. beat by hand with a sm spoon for 1 min. Cover tightly and leave on counter over night.

Dough: 200 gram bottled water, 250 gram of bread flour, 20 gram of whol-wheat flour and ONLY 100 GRAM OF THE SPONGE. Mix on low 3 min, remove dough hook, cover and let rest 20 min (autolyse).  Add 1 and 3/4 tsp of salt. replace dough hook and knead on #6 for 4 min. Dough will slap the sides of the mixing bowl.(hang on to the machine because it will walk right off the counter). You should now have a very "slack dough"... quite sticky. Remove dough to a very lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 30 min. Remove dough and do the first of 2 French folds. Back into the covered bowl. Rest 20 min: another F.F, back into bowl until doubled. Dump dough onto a lightly floured counter and  cut to scale (330 gram each loaf)use whatever method of shaping you are comfortable with. When you have formed you loaves, place them into the baguette pan put them into a proofing box (I use a clear plastic bag) and refridgerate a MINIMUM OF 8 HOURS. 2 hours before baking take loaves out of fridg and bring back to room temp to proof. 1 hr before baking pre-heat oven to 475 F with a heavy cast iron skillet on the bottom of oven. When loaves are fully proofed and "Jiggly" when gently shaken. Put loaves on to a low rack. Pour 2/3 cup water into fry pan. CAREFUL, YOUR CREATING A LOT OF STEAM ,and close door. Wait 5 min and turn oven down to 350 F  bake for another 25-28 min. or until deeply golden. Use instant read thermometer, interior of bread should be 205 F. your oven will differ from mine so you will have to experiment to get it just  right. Turn oven off, open the door and let cool for 15min.  Good luck

petercook's picture

Oops, I forgot to say that I use only 100 gram of the sponge. I calculate that the total hydration of the dough is 67.5% Sorry about that.

Also, if your fridg is as cold as mine (35 F) then the shaped loaves will go into a "coma". The action of the yeast will stop dead in its tracks BUT the flavors will continue to develop. If you wanted to actually proof the loaves (get them to rise)the temp must be between 48-52 F. But for this you would need a second fridg.

I have read about the "slapping technique" and I've been meaning to give it a try. I never thought about how that might effect the bubbles, but your idea makes sense. I'll let you know how it turns out.   Thanks all.

petercook's picture

Hello All,

First, I can't believe that I have another typo in the above formula. When making the dough I add 350 gram of bread flour (not the 250 as posted). Just to be clear, the kneaded dough contains: 100 gram of the sponge (33 gram of flour+ 66 gm of water) , 350 gram bread flour, 20 gm. whole-wheat flour, 200 gm of water, 1 and 3/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of yeast. 

Second, I watched that video and I was rather shocked to see how roughly he handled the dough, but I'll give that a try. Also, it seems that his dough is extremely extensible, otherwise he could not have rolled and stretched to such great a great length. I wonder how long he benches the dough between the pre-shape and final shaping. It must be quite a long time.