The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

need help getting a lighter sandwich roll

petercook's picture

need help getting a lighter sandwich roll

I have been trying to make a really great sandwich roll. What I want is a super thin brittle crust with a very open crumb with large holes. I have the flavor and the crust that I want but the open crumb is so far eluding me. I use a sponge AND a biga, and, of course, un-bleached bread flour. I get a teriffic rise in the bulk ferment which takes about 2 hrs at 70 degrees. After the dough is deflated I portion out the rolls and complete the shaping. I use baguette pans for the final rise which takes another 2 hrs. I always check to see if the rolls are properly inflated by lightly poking a roll with my finger. The impression fills in about HALF WAY which tells me (I think) that the rolls are ready to be baked. The result is a nice roll with great flavor but alas NO BIG HOLES IN THE CRUMB. Also the rolls are a tad too heavy. not very heavy, just more heavy than I want. Can anyone please tell me what bakeries do to get that wildly open crumb.

lazybaker's picture

Bakeries have a good oven.

On my recent bake, I used a a large round skillet with two metal handles as an alternative to a baking stone because I don't have a baking stone. Luckily, the handles were horizontal, so I was able to place the skillet upside down on the third rack from the top (4 racks in my oven). The oven was preheated at 475 F for 30 minutes.

I used a firm tacky dough. I gave up on high hydrated doughs because I was having problems. Anyway, I placed the baguette pan on top of the inverted skillet. Closed the oven door. I used no steam. Surprisingly, the bread had good oven spring and large holes. I never had that happen before when I would just place the baguette pan on the rack.

So maybe use some kind of pan that you can invert and heat in the oven. I think a cast iron pan or large cast iron grill/griddle pan might work.

For a thin crust, use some kind of lid to cover the entire baguette pan for the first 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove the lid for the rest of the baking time.

lazybaker's picture

I made two batches with different results. I think it's getting the right proofing time after shaping. My first batch that I made recently didn't have many holes. The few holes were small. The oven spring wasn't much. The proofing time was 1 hour and 40 minutes. 

The second batch had better results. The oven spring was good. There were a lot of large holes. The proofing time was 1 hour.  With the second batch, I wasn't gentle with the preshape. My fingers pressed down on the preshape to de-gas the dough. I think gluten is needed to create large air pockets during baking, so you don't want the dough to be too relaxed during proofing.

The dough I used is of low hydration. It can be easily kneaded by hand. I repeatedly fold and punch down on the dough. I used King Arthur all-purpose flour.

Maybe cut down on the proofing time after shaping. 

Chuck's picture

If the flavor is right and the texture is approximately right, you probably already have the rising and proofing times, the steaming, and the temperature about right. What remains is to get big holes. There are several different routes that work to get to bigger holes. 

  • One thing to try is a little more yeast; try increasing the yeast by about a quarter.
  • A common route to bigger holes is higher hydration. Can you put more water in your dough? (Of course too high a hydration introduces shaping problems; you can make flatbread without intending to. Try to strike a reasonable balance.)
  • Something that helps a lot is to retain holes from the bulk rise into the proof. This means not being too vigorous, nor resorting to the old "punching down". Instead treat the dough gently. "De-gas" the dough, remove the outrageously large bubbles that would be obvious flaws, but retain the rest. Flatten the dough somewhat into a thick disk, and work the outrageous bubbles to the edges with your finger tips.
  • It often helps to minimize kneading. Do enough Sretch&Folds to develop the gluten so the dough holds its shape and the bubbles don't pop by themselves  ...but don't do any more.
  • It may help to use lower-gluten flour. Big holes with bread flour is difficult. There needs to be enough gluten to keep the gas from leaking away, but not so much it constrains the bubbles from expanding. Once in a great while you even find a situation where you can't get big holes no matter what, but changing brands of flour magically cures the problem.
  • Some swear by higher oven temperatures, and have been known to crank their oven up to 550F and even beyond. This may play havoc with the crust though. (My personal experience is this is not a great route to use, and I don't recommend it:-)
  • It seems to me (and here others may disagree strongly) one of the main routes to big holes is to be sloppy. Autolyse, Stretch&Fold, do just barely enough to make bread, but no more. The right things to do to get a uniform small crumb for a sandwich loaf (lots and lots of kneading, very thorough degassing before proofing, etc.) are the wrong things to do to get bigger holes. Think uniform small crumb, then do exactly the opposite. Pretend you're a hausfrau in 1500 and you've got lots of other things to do and so pay only very minimal attention to the bread that has to be baked today. Dmsnyder expressed this something like "you want to develop the gluten but not organize it".

It's possible (and a good goal for experienced bakers) to get big holes without resorting to these routes. These routes are typical and convenient, but not necessary. Really careful dough handling is all it takes. However, just because it's possible doesn't mean it's a good idea. It's quite difficult, and not typically recommended as an initial goal. Instead, just work with some combination of routes including the above suggestions.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You can try portioning your yeast, adding half at the beginning of the mix, half at the end. The latter half should be dampened, such that the yeast clumps. Those clumps of yeast will make big(ger) holes, a consequence of the clumping and the lower (late mix) distribution.

I still think of it as cheating; but, it works–just not always as you might want. (*mumbles something about dough caverns, lava tubes, and spelunking*).

I've been tempted to buy one of those Cajun injectors and inject loaves with a yeast slurry, just for kicks. Haven't gotten around to Frankenholes yet, but it's on the list. ;)

petercook's picture

Thank you all for the comments. I am in the process of working my way through the advice. I´ve tried increasing the yeast, but that alone does not seem to work. I think that perhaps a very long retard of the shaped loaves might work.