The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Todays mutant loaf . . .

Skibum's picture

Todays mutant loaf . . .

Okay this loaf definitely blew a tire and I am not sure why. Overproofed? Underproofed?  Poorly shaped?  Poorly scored?

This was a simple lean hearth loaf using my new SD starter and following dabrownman's excellent instructions:

to the tee.  HELP, any suggestions would be welcome. Other than the sidewall blowout the crumb looks pretty good and the flavour is great!

TIA, Brian


yy's picture

Maybe that section of the seam wasn't entirely sealed, so the expansion blew out threw the weakest section?

proth5's picture

you look at the shape and nature of the blowout along with the crumb that surrounds it, it is pretty straigtforward that shaping plays a role here.

The blowout potion is rounded and on the interior, it is not really an open crumb, but almost like edges were folded and pleated to make the path for the round portion to travel.

Perhaps when you scaled the dough prior to shaping, you had a substantial little piece of dough that was added to scale up to weight?  Perhaps you failed to degass and preshape the dough so that the small piece was fully incorporated? Perhaps the shaping technique allowed that piece to stay intact?

Certainly a little more proofing and some deeper scoring might have mitigated the issue, but the shaping problem - almost certainly tracing its roots back to scaling and pre shaping was lurking in your loaf no matter what you did after shaping.

Sorry to sound a bit blunt in my observations, but the bread does tell the tale...

These seemingly small things can make a big difference in the final product.  Each step must be perfect.

The rest of the loaf looks good, though.

Happy Baking

Skibum's picture

This was a single piece of dough, which I pre-shaped, rested and then shaped -- badly as it turned out.  As you say, one must do everything perfectly and as an old ski bum, as I always say, practice, practice, practice.  I have another batch on the go now that I will bake tomorrow.  There is a very fine line between degassing the dough too much and not handling it enough, a most elusive and worthwhile goal.

Happy baking, Brian

proth5's picture

dough was a guess because somehow the dough got a little tuck in it that caused the round shape of the blowout.  Normally a blowout would be smooth - more like a shred.

Very often people put little scraps of dough in place before the pre shape to get the weight right - these follow through the whole shaping process.  If this was a single cut from the dough, even, without ragged edges or little dough sraps then something else in the pre shape and shaping caused that cavern. Because from the photo, that is not an opem crumb, but a fold. So, next time you want to observe how you divide and pre shape to see where this might have formed.

Yes, it is a balance between degassing enough and overworking the dough.  My motto is: Practice makes perfect, but only if you practice perfectly.  I have a teacher who pounds these things into my head.

Good luck with the next batch!

Skibum's picture

I was a little firmer in the pre-shape and very careful to make sure the seam was sealed and proofed down.  I forgot to turn convection off for the steam part of the bake yesterday which accounts for the mutant's dark crust, which I actually kind of like.  I scaled today's bake in half to be able to practice on 2 loaves.  I also proofed this batch longer and had a devil of a time scoring with my lame and ended up using a serrated knife.  One mini loaf didn't get a deep enough score and the other barely deep enough.  If it is that difficult to score perhaps it is over proofed?!?  

Moving from baking mostly yeasted breads to using sourdough starter has been like learning to bake bread all over again in some ways, but I am finding my SD groove and have adoted dabrownman's methods of work around SD.

Thanks again for sharing dman!  You have described excellent methods of work and oh yeah, you have the bread to back it up.

I am now also starting to "GET" the whole sourdough thing!  It is bout the flavour silly Skibum!!! and the nice chew you get with the crumb which, in my very humble opinion, are most superior compared to a similar yeasted bread.

Well it has taken a while, but then again, I am just an old skibum . . .

Happy baking folks!  Brian

Janetcook's picture

Hi Brian,

My first thought was that it is a loaf that just wanted to be a cactus like those hugh cacti that grow in the desert……

Not very helpful but it is what crossed my mind.  As with all things bread I am sure you will discover what went wrong at some point along the way while you are practicing, practicing, practicing.  I always like to recall that Edison was quoted as saying something along the lines of how he found out what worked was by finding out what didn't and the 'didn'ts far out numbered the 'dids'

One of my favorite saying is 'If you don't make mistakes, you don't make anything.'

I look forward to reading more about what you do discover.

Take Care,


dabrownman's picture

portion should be devoured quickly since it is showing itself to be the best part :-)

Skibum's picture

was the first part eaten! :-)


yozzause's picture

 Hi Skibum another source of blowouts and 'mouse holes' can be excessive flour on the bench and or traces of oil from the proofing container  that can get incorporated into the loaf, it simply stops  dough from adhering to its self there by the chance for gas to form a bit of a reservoir.  This in turn erupts with the rapid production of more gas as the oven heat takes effect and even further expansion once the moisture starts to vapourise into steam which has the capacity and awesome power to expand greatly forcing its way along a line of least resistance to the edge of the loaf an blowing a bubble where there is less confinement.

Hence the term a dusting of flour, i was always amused when i started my apprenticeship as a baker and the tradesmen would grab a hand full of flour and throw it across the moulding bench with some force that produced a cloud and settled as ' a dusting of flour '  i originally thought it was going to be the start of a flour fight but no it was always well measured and confined to the area that they were using, the men were always generous in their comments and explained the reasons for doing things or for not doing things as the case maybe. Even in the plant bakery it was very important not to have to much flour on the dough pieces as it moved from the rounder to the traveling proover for the same reason, it could interfere with the moulding machines ability to shape the dough piece into an even homogeneous  piece.

I might add my wife is not a fan of my dusting of flour in her kitchen as a little can go a long way. Another party trick i learned as an apprentice then and have demonstrated to my fellow bush campers around the campfire on fishing trips when they have left me to baking duties whilst they were enjoying a drink at night was a dusting of flour over the campfire it can produce a sizeable almost magician like flame. although i think the magic was the fresh bread on the beach miles from anywhere (don"t try this at home the fire dusting not the fishing trip) save it for your mates miles from anywhere preferably on a fishing trip to shark bay Western Australia.

It doesn't get a lot better  freshly baked  bread freshly caught and cooked fish good mates and full eskys of beer (for a short while anyway)

Apart from the area of the blow out the rest of the interior looks fine, there does seem to be a little bit of blotchiness on the crust sometimes an indication of oil or something on the skin of the dough piece

Another trick that i was shown was to use "a dusting of flour ' to check if an oven was hot enough to bake or too hot , a dusting of flour on the hearth and see how long it took to go brown  less than a minute too hot more than a couple of minutes to cool. 


Kind regards Yozza


Regards Yozza

Skibum's picture

I am most impressed that a professional baker would take the time to read the post of a home baker and take the time to make a thoughtful reply!  I think that is what I like best about The Fresh Loaf!!!

I like your idea about oil on the proofing container -- definitely a possibility.  I also love your idea of dusting the campfire with flour and will try this one next trip out!

The blotchiness on the crust was because I forgot to turn off convection bake for the steam period and the crust got over browned, another oops . . .

Regards, Brian

yozzause's picture

Hi Brian 

A former professional baker, but one that enjoys  sharing with others on this great site, there are many bakers on this site who's work i admire greatly. For me sour dough baking is a new experience and one that i too am enjoying.

I am quite fortunate that i can do some (most) of my dough making and baking in a professional environment, i work at a teaching college that has a training restaurant and a small bakery. The bakery is mostly used by chefs for dinner rolls for the restaurant. I work as a procurement officer for the whole of the college but do get some guest stints demonstrating bread and dough handling. i have recently put together 3 evening classes that run under the adult education banner "Basic Bread Making''  "Introduction to Sour Dough"  and  "Wood fired oven Pizza and Bread" these classes are from 6pm to 9.30pm and fairly action packed, i have run all three that i put together and all have been very well received. We have had to cancel a few if we do not get the 6 required to run the class, i am devising a plan now to get an article into the local paper so more people are aware that we have this course on.

The blotchiness still intrigues me, i have seen similar when drips have fallen on the outside of the bread  and as i said previously when there is  something like oil that has been  in contact with the dough piece, you can also get that effect if ingredients have not been thoroughly distributed especially salt if it is added later in a mix.

I think i did mention i liked the crumb in the rest of the pic. Happy baking. 

kind regards Yozza

Skibum's picture

. . . kind comments and thoughtful remarks.  I think it is VERY COOL that one with your pro baking experience takes time to weigh in on MY bread WHOOWHO!  Sorry mate stuck for words on this one other than thanks for weighing in and making me think about things.

For these new, (to me), SD bakes I have added salt to the top of the dough ball, after mixing the levain with the autolysed dough.  After 20 minutes rest aka dabrownman's master teachings, I add the oil and mix in bowl with a strong plastic spatula.  My reason for doing this is that it is eassier to get an wet 80%+ dough out of the bowl and on to the counter for the stretch & folds.  Now,, I will I have got a bit lazy and the dough goes back into the same oily bowl for the long bulk and  S&F's at 30 minutes. Just for fun, I will use a clean bowl with baking spray today.

Once again Yozza, many thanks for weighing in.  It sure sounds like you have the ideal baking gig and pro facilities when you need it.  I have greatly enjoyed learning to bake bread and other goodies and have often thought it would be interesting to teach homemakers to bake and particularly the low income and/or disadvantaged, as it costs me roughly $0.30 for a better loaf than many of these people are paying $2.50 and up at the grocery.

I did a sin a couple of weeks ago.  I purchased some of my favourite Western Bratwurst from my local Swiss deli and realized I had no long buns on hand.  Their baguettes looks nice, so I bought one and BOY was I disappointed! Ate my Brat on it and pitched the rest.  There is NOTHING like a fresh baked loaf!

Happy baking mate!

Best regards, Brian