The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Unattractive bread?

  • Pin It
lin's picture
lin

Unattractive bread?

Hello, Im brand new here and really new at bread making, in fact I have only been trying it for 2 weeks. I have been following lesson 1 on the site and have just branched out into using butter and milk and sugar in my basic white strong flour loaves. They taste wonderful, they rise, the crust in crunchy but soft and its all working out except the loaves look awful!


On the second rise before I place it in the oven the dough becomes pockmarked,the only way I can describe it is lots of holes form on top of itand it kind of looks ripped. It cooks with these holes still there so the finished product has a crust with dips and crevices in it instead of smooth? Kind of like ciabatta looks on the inside but in my case its the crust?


Other than this there is no problem but I cant work out how to remove these holes?


Thanks for any help from a beginner.

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I ought to know!  Sounds like you are making good progress.  Keep going!  Give us a little more information, please.


How long did you knead the dough and how smooth was it?


The cups should be very lightly filled with flour and weigh 4.7 gms or so.


When shaped, the outside "skin" of the dough should be fairly tight and smooth.


FF

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

cups should be 4.7 grams?

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

I shouldn't have used the word should and after looking around it appears I was a little high.  As you know, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of all purpose flour, it's the author's cup weight that we need to know.  Authors differ on this.  That's why weight is a better system than volume for recipes.  I use 4.7 for white flour and 4.6 for whole wheat but that's just me and it came from the back of a sack of somebody's flour once and who-knows-where else.


From some of my books and recipes, I see Reinhart using 4.5 to 4.6 oz/cup, King Arthur reipes call for 4.25 oz/cup and Rose Levy Beranbaum says a "dip and sweep" cup is about 5 oz, a "spoon and sweep" cup is 4.4 to 4.6 oz and a "lightly spoon and sweep" cup is 4.25 oz.   


see this thread:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13397/measuring-cup 


 

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I see you mean ounces, not grams, as in your original post : )  There is indeed a lot of difference between each cook.... and each cookbook author....as to how many ounces are in a cup of flour!


 


 

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

...if I had brains.  Yep, meant to say ounces.


FF

pjaj's picture
pjaj

I suppose that once you've got the measure of your measuring cups and your recipe gives the results you were hoping for, it's OK, but I've always considered them too hit and miss for dry goods. How they are packed is so subjective and variable with each cook. That's why I always use a set of scales, they are far more consistent and accurate.

lin's picture
lin

Thanks so much for the reply. Im kneading for 10 minutes first rise and the dough looks smooth after that. Then I leave it for 75 minutes and knead again for 5 and leave it again for 40 minutes. Its during this rise that the holes appear in the dough and it seems to almost seperate? Im using 3 cups of flour (spooned out) to 1 cup of water.


Im sure Im probably making some very simple beginners mistake. The first loaf I ever made was too doughy inside but totally smooth on the outside with a good crust. Now I have the inside right but the outside wrong somehow.

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

A couple of things - what flour are you using?  Bread flour might give you the results you are looking for. 


Also,  I wonder about the kneading for 5 minutes after the first rise. If your flour is not strong (high protein content) you might just be wearing out the gluten, resulting in rips in the surface.  Instead of kneading again after the first rise, try simply folding the dough a few times to de-gas gently, let it sit 5-10 minutes to relax the gluten, and then shape into a loaf.


When the dough is puffy and fills in slowly from a when you gently press with a finger, it is ready for the oven.  If you wait until the dough is so puffy there is no 'spring' left to fill in a bit from your poke, it is over-risen, so have your oven hot and ready for your dough.


Best of luck to you!

pjaj's picture
pjaj

After the first rise, the technique is sometimes known as knock or punch down, and I literally do that.

Tip the risen dough out onto a floured surface, fold it a couple of times and punch it down with my fist until it is 1 to 2 inches thick, then repeat the folding and punching once more.

No more than that, it doesn't need any further kneading. Personally I don't find it needs resting either, I just go straight on to the next stage.

Divide into individual loaves, shape, put in pans if you are using them, and set aside for the second rise.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

A bit of excellent advice for new bakers is -as phrased by dmsnyder- "watch the dough not the clock". The times given in recipes are just estimates/averages. If any of a whole host of things are different (including just a few degrees warmer or colder in your kitchen), the recipe times can be off by quite a bit even for yeasted breads (they can be off a huge amount for sourdough:-). They're good guides; if for example the recipe says 40 minutes there's not much reason to check after only 10 minutes, and if the dough seems "done" after only 15 minutes, be quite suspicious of your testing technique  ...but guides is all they are.

Often the recipe will say you should "let double"  ...which if you put the dough in a straight-sided container you can see through is pretty easy to judge. Put a rubber band around the container where the top of the dough was when you first put it in. When the dough has expanded to twice that height in the container, the bulk rise is done. (Once in a while a recipe says "let triple", which again is easy to measure using the same technique.

An alternative for figuring out when the rise is done is the "finger poke test". Wet your finger, and stick it half an inch or so into the main body of the dough. If the hole just stays there (i.e. it doesn't spring back much at all) for at least 5-10 seconds, the bulk rise is done.

For judging the end of proofing (last rise), a very similar "finger poke test" works except you're looking for a different condition this time. Again poke a wet finger into the dough up to the bottom of your nail. If the dough springs back all the way to pretty much erase the hole, it's way too soon, a lot more proofing time is needed. If the dough doesn't spring back hardly at all leaving a deep hole, the dough is over-proofed. What you want is  the hole to spring back half way over 5-10 seconds, which tells you proofing is done and the dough should go in the oven. (My experience is the finger poke test for judging when proofing is done does not work right if you do it immediately. Only start testing after something like half the time the recipe guesses has already passed; if you test right away as soon as proofing starts you'll get the mis-impression that proofing has completed.)

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

is if you don't have a good "gluten cloak" on the loaf when you are doing the final shaping.  This is a bit hard to explain, but as you are shaping the loaf you are creating a "tight skin" on the outer surface that will contain the dough like a balloon contains the air within. 

When ready to shape your bread after the first fermentation rise, LIGHTLY flour your surface and put your ball of dough, smooth side down on the floured surface.  To shape a boule, you would pull the sides into the center, but to shape a loaf you might end up folding it in thirds like a business letter, or flattening it slightly and rolling it.  In either case, the floured side is going to form the skin on the outside of the bread.  With practice, you'll learn to stretch and pull that skin around the ball of dough and pinch it and seal it on the bottom of the bread (the bottom may look all wrinkly like the neck of a balloon pushed in).  You will eventually learn to do it without adding any flour, too.  It just takes a while to learn all these new manual skills--working with an experienced home baker helps you know what you're looking for and what it should fee like--if you know any. 

The gluten cloak will keep the top of your bread smooth and help contain the dough so that you get a good oven spring (don't forget to slash before baking so you don't get a "blowout"). 

Do a search here for "gluten cloak" and I'm sure you'll find much better explanations than I have given you and maybe even some videos. 

BTW, I'm personally not a big fan of "punching down" the dough, even though it is "traditional".  You worked hard to build up that gas that is going to give your bread a good airy crumb.  I gently flatten the dough after the first fermentation, leaving as much air in as possible for shaping.