The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

the last rise and no big holes

pambakesbread's picture

the last rise and no big holes

Help!! I have a great starter and it will lift the bread but there are no large holes and it kind of lays there spreading out and not going up. the crumb is good I use Harvest King Commercial flour and get a reasonable sour taste  and a great crust the only thing I do not get is a significant lift either in the last rise or in the oven. It is definately eidable even though it is kind of flat but What is with the damn holes. I bake other breads and have reasonable success for a home baker but this is pissing me off big time. Pam

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Pam.

If you could provide the formula you are using and your procedures, it would help us provide you more specific advise.

You describe your loaf spreading out. This suggests either problems with gluten development, shaping or lack of support to the proofing loaf. It's hard to tell without knowing more about your recipe.


pambakesbread's picture

Dear David,  Yes thank you for helping me. Here is the recipe.

I use a reconstituted Oregon Trails Starter, It bubles like a volcano. I use the songe method.

Sponge; 1 cup each dechliorinated water , Harvest king flour unbleached,  starter, + 1/2 cup of fine semolina.  this proofs overnight in a cold oven.

Next day making the dough;  1 1/2 cups dechliorineated water,  1 tab white Vinegar (in the water), 5 1/2 cups of GMHarvest King flour,  1 Tab blond Barley Malt, 1 Tab + 1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt.  this is mixes on #1 on my Hobart for 5 min then let to rest 25 min.

It is then kneaded with the hook for 2--7 min time periords with short rests periods in between. the last 7 min are kneaded on #2 . At this point I can pull a window. the dough is smooth ,silky and elastic but somewhat more stiff than an ordinary bread dough.

The dough is left to rise in a cold oven 6 to 8 hours- in a covered buttered bowl, at this point depending on the ambient tempeture it has more than doubled in bulk with noticable small bubbles .

It is then turned out on a floured parchment sheet and gently shaped (to keep the holes I have I do not deflate the dough.

  I have preheated my oven to 450 (Convection) I have a stone in place and I let the oven come up for about an hour before putting in the loaf.

It is sprayed with water and I use a device I made out of several layers of heavy aluminum foil shaped over a deep roasting pan (the Hat) with enforced edges that is sprayed inside with water then slipped over the loaf and the whole contraption goes in to the oven. After 15 min I drop the temp 25 degrees spray under the Hat and let it continue baking  at 425.  After this 30 min (total)  I take the hat off  and let it continue till it reaches 205 internal and has a nice brown crust.

It tastes great and has a terrific crust it just has a uniform somewhat chewy interior  but no big holes.  What is it with the holes?  I see all these beautiful breads on Freash Loaf with big holes and I have hole envy. Please let me know what I can do. Thanks for your  expertise.  Pam

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Pam.

I have difficulty grasping formulas that measure by volume. I would urge you to get a kitchen scale and start measuring ingredients by weight. That is much more precise and will help you get a consistant product.

That said, it seems to me your bread is pretty low-hydration. All other things being equal, a higher-hydration dough will produce bread with larger holes.

Second, I am not clear on how long you are mixing, but it seems excessive. My usual procedure is to mix at Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes, rest for 20-30 minutes, then mix at speed 2 for 5-6 minutes. I then do 1-3 stretch and folds at 50 minute intervals during the first part of bulk fermentation. 

Third, gentle shaping is good, but you must also form a good, tight gluten sheath to support the loaf as it proofs.

Fourth, I can't tell for how long you are proofing. If it is just while the oven is pre-heating, that may not be long enough. Do you know how to use "the poke test" to judge when the loaf is ready to bake?

Fifth, keeping the loaf covered after the crust has started to form and brown is not necessary or even helpful. However, I do not think that is contributing to your current problem with lack of big holes in the crumb.

Lastly, skip the vinegar. Control sourness through time and temperature of fermentation.

So, in summary, the most helpful changes would be:

1. Get a scale.

2. Pick a formula with higher hydration (65-70%).

3. Use a short mix, and use stretch and folds to complete gluten development and organization.

4. It sounds like bulk fermentation is adequate (at least), but proofing may not be. I am not sure.

Hope this helps.


Davo's picture

I'd have said 6-8 hour bulk ferment to "more than doubled" followed by shaping and then only an hour of proof is a little off-balance, and too much more than adequate. Try a shorter bulk ferment stage - like 3 hours or so (and if you can attend to it, do some stretch and folds during this period to keep gluten development going), and for me it should not have doubled before shaping - otherwise no matter how much you try not to deflate the dough, you will (unless you don't really shape it properly). Then shape and prove in a basket or bowl lined with a floured cloth. Then make your proof period the balance of the total period you are using now - so around 5 hours (but this should not be pre-determined - it depends on many factors so use the poke test to establish ripeness to bake). Then, when ripe, invert it gently onto a peel - this is the first time it sits unsupported laterally - and slide onto the hot stone.

Low hydration dough will never have big holes.

Adding vinegar might also have hurt through early degradation of the gluten?