The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Bigger Holes (w/ lots of photos)

cmcadams's picture

Need Bigger Holes (w/ lots of photos)

I made 3 recipes Saturday... King Arthur Flour has a recipe for French country bread, then I tried baguettes using the pain l'ancienne method in BBA, and also 2 recipes of pain de campagne.  They all tasted very good.  Some problems I had revolved around my spray bottle not spraying when I did the baguettes, and I think I did something wrong with them anyway; they didn't get the bigger holes I'd hoped for, though they are more irregular looking (holes) than I'd gotten before.  The pain de campagne has great crust and some more irregular holes in the crumb, but I still want bigger, which I'm assuming I need to do by using more water.  I solved the water problem when I did the pain de campagne by just really squeezing the bottle while trying to spray, and the crust came out great.  Any advice on bigger holes is much appreciated!

Here are some photos:



I tried 'monogramming' one of the loaves of pain de campagne


grepstar's picture

Nice pics! How did you do the monogram on the loaf? Is it just flour?

As you pointed out, if you used more water in the dough your chances of bigger holes are much higher.

cmcadams's picture

I just cut a large 'M' out of a piece of paper, and laid it over the bread after spraying the dough with water, then just put some flour on it.. that was about it.  I liked the look, though I tried it on another and didn't think about the slashing, and the 'M' didn't work.

I may not be able to make perfect bread yet, but I get a good photo now and then. :)  It comes from over a year of food blogging!

Curt McAdams

Paddyscake's picture

maybe you can monogram some nice sour dough rolls for a pulled pork sandwich for competition!

cmcadams's picture

Unfortunately, that would get me disqualified! :)

For competition, you just turn in a bunch of meat, no bread, and the "M" would be considered marking, which is a bad thing.

I guess part of my post here is a buried question... Can I just hydrate any recipe a bit more and get bigger holes that way?  I'm handling as little as I can, and I got better with this go around, but still not the big holes I'd like to get.


Curt McAdams

Cooky's picture

I just baked a batch that gave me the airiest, hole-iest, lightest loaves I've made so far.


Basically, I used the no-knead recipe (including the yeast) but began with the poolish from Floyd's Daily Bread recipe (which I made with a tiny amount of yeast, less than 1/8 tsp). I let it develop until it doubled. I'm pretty sure that poolish was the magic ingredient.


I ended up with a damp but not runny dough that rose like mad, even when I refrigerated it overnight. I gave it a few folds about three hours after mixing, then again about three hours later when I put it in the fridge, and once when I took it out. (For each of these 'folds' I left the dough in the bowl and used a big spoon to fold it onto itself, cake-batter style.) After the dough came out of the refrigerator, I let it sit for about three hours before shaping.


When it came time to shape, I poured it out onto a heavily floured board, stretched it out very carefully, gave it one final fold, and cut it into pieces which I shaped minimally into small baguettes and a couple of small boules. I let it rest/rise while the oven heated up, maybe 30-45 minutes.


I baked it in a steamy oven pre-heated to 500F, which I turned down to about 450 as soon as I put the loaves in. I baked them a little longer than I normally would -- about 35 minutes, if I recall -- and the crusts came out fantastically crisp but not over-browned.


I haven't been taking a terribly scientific approach here -- making notes etc. on each batch -- but I think poolish, long rise, wet dough and careful handling are the keys to my results.



"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."