The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

critique please

highwaymanco's picture

critique please

Hello all,

I have been around here for about a year or so.

i really enjoy baking bread it is a form of relaxation for me (my work is relatively high-stress). So i am getting to a point where i feel i want to take another step. I have tried many different breads and most of them are good to eat but I want to step up the "art" form and I figure this is the place to do that with so many incredible bakers.

I should add that I simply enjoy home baking of breads and also add that there are few if any artisan bakers in my area to compare with, ask critique or share ideas.


Here is a boule I made today. If you don't mind i would like a critique of this boule.

To me

the good things are...

-I like the color (coulda gone another five minutes) but...

i want the (ears ???) on the sides of the loaf to be as brown as the ones on the top (torch ???) LOL

-Although it doesn't show in the phone pic. the loaf generally has a nice sheen

-I think most of my problems were from underproofing (slightly ???)

-The crumb is ok and there is a nice sheen in the holes

Again, the uneveness is my bad (underproofed) or ???


I am really looking forward to any and all comments.

By the way this is sourdough from a starter I have been feeding for about a year. i keep one batch in the fridge (backup... refurbished every few weeks for a few days) and another at room temp (fed regularly) and used to bake regularly.

Thanks All !!!




Yerffej's picture

I am not sure what problems and uneveness you are refering to, but I am sure that what you have there is one wonderful looking loaf of bread.  Very very nice.

How did it taste?


Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

The eneven crumb stucture could be a temp while proofing thing, or temp in the oven thing.

If you ask me though it looks fine, never EVER forget...the number one rule of ALL food, FLAVOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dabrownman's picture

your bread's main problem has to do with its magnificent appearance inside and out.  Other than that it is fine :-)

Nice baking.

highwaymanco's picture

My father (Rest his soul) taught me there is always better. That said, thank you all for the comments.

It should be obvious that I don't know what I am asking for.

I am looking for critical advise which can turn a good boule into a better one. As stated, I have no good comparisons locally ( most thrive on tortillas and bolillos in these parts).

I really enjoy viewing all the great "bread art" here and really appreciate this forum and all it's knowledge. There is a level of mastery and masters here that offer skills and knowledge that is unavailable to a simple home baker like me.

Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks in advance.


The bread tastes wonderful. I have a "ton" of patience when it comes to rise, proof or cooling ( even tho I often have to literally "restrain" my wife from slicing into the breads before they are properly cooled, LOL ).

by the way,

The method of baking for this particular boule was...

cast iron skillet with a cast iron dutch oven as the lid

beginning with a cold ( natural gas ) oven and cast irons

first 10 minutes at 500 F

temps decreased as the baking continues and the lid removed for the last 20 minutes 

method I found here !

highwaymanco's picture


The temp during proofing was about 74 F. I think I have the time (2 1/2 hrs) about right for this hydration. Would you think warmer oven or less oven temp to help the evenness of the holes in the crumb ? Would a cold time in the frig help even the crumb out ? ( My starter is just the right "sourness" for my wife's tastes and I am afraid time in the frig would take the taste  over the top for her )

Thanks for your thoughts !


It's almost gone. It was delicious.


Thanks ! 


Sean McFarlane's picture
Sean McFarlane

IF you like the flavor as is, don't change anything.

If you really want larger wholes, push your ferment times as far as you are wiling to go, and as  you said you could add a cold ferment.

I get a light sour flavor by  using my levain as the bulk ferment, and then shaping immediatly.  After shaping I retard it in my garage fridge(at about 52F, since i only keep drinks and non spoilable stuff in there.) Then i take it out and let the dough hit room temp, its USUALLY ready for me at this time, but sometimes it needs a little extra time to proof.

I dont get the biggest holes, but i get the flavor i want, and as i said, that to me is far more important.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

covered with the DO another 10 minutes.  Did you mist the DO with water before setting it on top?

Another score tweak you might try (not sure if you did already) is a pinwheel  instead of #.  The link is a card but if you have 4 sticks you can make the inside pattern with a square with one extended side.   Score with your knife edge almost flat with the table as you cut the top of the proofed loaf.  If you have your loaf on parchment ready to score, start with the corner of the top square and score, turn the parchment and do the next corner and score, turn the parchment and keep going...    :)  See if that kicks up some ears!

highwaymanco's picture

Thanks Sean !

i plan on working on fermenting variables next.

A 52F frig is interesting ! (That's the kinda ideas I was looking for)



Great... I am baking tonight and I'm gonna try that "pinwheel" !

Thanks for the ideas y'all !

highwaymanco's picture


the pinwheel helped and was exactly the kinda ideas (for improvement) i was looking for !

Sorry, no crumb pics. I took it to work sliced the whole boule and it was gone in minutes.



This loaf had kalamata olives and serrano peppers from the my garden baked into it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Oh, my!   That is one perdy loaf!   Makes my mouth water just looking at it!     Congratulations!