The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking help

Lilpastrysplashy's picture

Baking help

Hello, I have been baking bread for a while now and I have come very close to getting a satisfactory texture, but I just don't understand how people get the Giant holes in their bread loaves. I have tried to make a wetter dough,knead longer,have a longer final proof, and I use bread flour and pretty good ingredients, I just don't understand. I also put steam in the oven and everything I just don't see what I'm doing wrong. I also don't seem to get very much flavor yet I am letting the bread rise for about three hours each time I make some, yet there really is very little flavor.

Someone please give me pointers or tips on bread baking to get that wonderfully holy texture and strong flavor.

Thank you

hutchndi's picture

Could you post the actual recipe and steps you are following? "Kneading longer" sounds like it could be your problem though, I started getting larger hole structure in my breads when I switched more to the no knead side of the fence, and the little "kneading" I ever do is something allot gentler than what might be typically considered kneading, more of a lifting and folding over and over but trying not to degas.

imaloafer's picture

Not all breads are supposed to have a large open crumb. This is usually the mark of artisan breads with a higher % of hydration, combined with lower protein flours, autolyse technique and folds to develop gluten, not kneading or use of common mixers which oxidize the dough. It would be helpful to see the formula you are using. Is it a natural leaven or yeast? Natural leavens generally require a longer fermentation period, for example 4-5 hours bulk, then depending on temperature, another 3-4 hours after shaping and into bannetons.  Room temperature will play a big role in this. When shaping, they are handled differently than yeasted doughs where "punching" is done to degas. These fully hydrated doughs require a gentler touch in the shaping phase. The flavour is developed through a long proofing, thus again many naturally leavened doughs are proofed at low temperature (retarding) for 10-12 hours. If you are using yeast, then you might want to try a poolish or other preferment to develop more flavour. Again, difficult to give advise without more formula info. Hope this is helpful, along with other posts to this question. 

lazybaker's picture

Do you have a baking stone?

I don't have a baking stone but use a cast iron pan that I turn upside down and place on top of the baking rack. The pan is preheated for about 20 minutes. I found that the transfer of heat from the pan to the bread really helped at forming larger holes. Before, I just place the baking pan on top of the rack, and I never really got the large holes.

I also read that unglazed quarry tiles can be used. Just make sure to find ones that are safe to use in baking.


richkaimd's picture

I used to have your problem.  I don't anymore because I spent 4 hours in a class on the making of high hydration (Southern European) breads.   If you're accustomed, as I was, to making breads of the low hydration (Northern European) style, you'll have all the wrong moves.  If you cannot find a local class, I recommend that you post on this website that you're seeking a person with knowledge of this technique in your area.  There's nothing like hands-on experience to learn the moves.

In the meantime, try these tips:  1.)  watch all the videos on this site, and any other videos you can find using your favorite search engine, to see the hand movements for baguettes and other French or Italian breads that have lots of holes,  2.) learn from those videos and/or books you may have access to how to handle doughs so as not to de-gas them (de-gassing is the step in Northern European bread-making that guarantees their cake-like crumb; avoiding degassing guarantees that you'll get the holes of Southern European breads), 3.)  read about over-proofing wherever you can because you may be doing it inadvertently and you need to know how not to, 4.)  because your questions are good probably means they've been asked before so use the search function (upper left-hand column of any page on this website) to ask your questions first, using key words such as de-gas, baguettes, whatever.  Get creative in your searches.  I promise you that you'll find your answers there and more quickly than by taking the time to ask your question and await answers from readers.


longhorn's picture

Posting some pictures will help also. My preliminary guess would be overdeveloped dough (too much mixing) and/or too low a hydration don't give enough details to have any confidence. And what is WET? 70-72% AP is a good start or 74-75% BF. Are you that high? I doubt it! More details and pictures if we are to give you meaningful help!