The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to recover when the dough looks like moon's surface

pigskins's picture

How to recover when the dough looks like moon's surface

I admit I am still very new to breadmaking, but I love it. I have been making "sandwich" style loaves in bread pans that are coming out pretty nice. But there are times when I am trying to make French or Italian loaves, that bake directly on a sheet pan or baking stone, and the results are really ugly. I typically make my dough in a bread machine because I work from home and am doing other things while the dough is mixing/needing. When it's done I'll put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let it rise for an hour. When it's done I turn the dough out onto the counter and divide it into 2 or 3 pieces (3 if making French loaves, 2 if making Italian round loaves). I then take the 2 or 3 pieces and knead again to try and form that tight ball that all of the videos show me, and this is where it goes wrong. Either my kneading is very wrong or my dough is bad or something because after a couple minutes the surface of my dough tears and pits, and looks like the surface of the moon. Of course it still bakes, and it tastes good, which matters the most, but it would be nice to be able to form a really nice looking loaf.

What else do you need to know from me to be able to help? I will keep trying because practice makes perfect and I like eating the bread no matter what it looks like!


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

You could be creating too much surface tension (too tight a surfrace), causing it to split.

"Moon's surface" doesn't sound like splitting, though, so a picture would help.

pigskins's picture

How embarrassing. :)


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

No, no, I'm joking.

Can't learn bread until you fail about 10,000 times.

That said, I haven't the vaguest idea what would cause that, but it does look like the moon.

My best guess is that it's being caused by a bread machine malfunction.'s picture

Looks like maybe you reached for the sparkling water instead of the spring water to mix the dough...

?'s picture

You deserve better than my bubbly water crack.  If that's all I got back from posting my failures here, I'd be a lot further from Thomas's "10,000" loaf threshold than I am now (still far far from it though).

Best to share with your readers here the path that led to those lunar orbs.   Much harder to troubleshoot an end product than the formula and process that produced it. did you produce those and at what stage are they in the picture?

Tom's picture

Sorry - was focusing on the visual and not your text.  Yes, tearing is a sign of incomplete gluten development, so perhaps an additional stretch & fold or two.  However, if I read you correctly, you're mixing the dough in a bread machine?  Could it be over-mixed?  Today's discussion of hand vs. machine mixing tells a story: there's no reason not to hand mix small batches of dough, esp. when machine mixing can do damage if allowed to go too long.  I've never used a machine to mix dough, so I can't tell you how long it takes to wreck it.  Then again, if you're using the bread machine's canned settings for mixing time, it's hard to imagine that could damage it.

Not much help, but at least I'd try hand mixing & kneading the same formula once, to eliminate the bread machine as a suspect.

Keep us posted!


dwcoleman's picture

It looks pretty shaggy, maybe it's not being mixed long enough.  When it's done mixing, try adding two stetch and folds @ 30 minute intervals, then proof/bake.

MANNA's picture

After you take it out of the brewd machine I would divide it and then knead by hand a bit to develop it a bit more. Definitly looks underdeveloped.

pigskins's picture

I'll try to respond to the last few posts. This was a very simple dough recipe.

3.5c ap flour
1t salt
1T sugar
1.25c water
1T gluten
1T instant yeast

I followed the recipe in the breadmaker manual. When dough was done I put in an oiled bowl and let rise for 25 mins. I then punched down, divided in half, and tried to make 2 round loaves by kneading and forming smooth round ball. My kneading method is basically fold dough in half with fingers then push forward with palm. Quarter-turn, and repeat until...whenever. Then I try to form a ball by folding dough into itself but by then it was a mess. The first ball turned into what you see on the left. For the second ball I only kneaded a few times and I saw it start to do the same thing so I stopped and shaped.

I guess the one thing I have leared about making the dough in the bread machine is that I tend to dump in the ingredients and let it rip. It's possible the measurements were not exact and the dough was a bit dry to start.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In the initial post the dough rested one hour in the bowl, here above, 25 minutes.  A difference of 35 minutes.  Is it possible the dough has already gone thru a first rise in the bread maker?  When it comes out of the machine is it light or dense?  If light, deflate, divide and shape right away.  Still, the time span sounds too short for the dough to break down.

Gluten, unless it is thoroughly mixed into the flour tends to clump, leave it out and see what happens. (Add one tablespoon more ap flour) One tablespoon gluten seems like a lot to me and could be the problem. 

pigskins's picture

When I went back to get the list of ingredients I rechecked the resting times, so sorry for the discrepancy. My bread maker does have an initial rest of 35 mins but I was not counting that.

So, the dough rested in an oiled bowl for 25 mins, then I divided, shaped, and then it sat for another 40. This is what the recipe specified and what I used.

We did enjoy the bread with dinner and it sure tastes good!