The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Those damn big holes!

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MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Those damn big holes!

Hello everybody. It's me again...

I am still on the quest for big holes, as I am still not getting much result.

I had one bread which I proudly posted in here, but I found that further into the bread, there really was no big holes.

So any suggestions for what I could try?

I have consistently worked with 75% hydration.I have tried varying salt amount.

- with and without salt.

- AP flour, bread flour, and all brands of flour I could find.

- kneading on machine for a short while for underdeveloped gluten, for 5-10 minutes, and for over 20 minutes until I got "spiderwebs" of gluten on the mixing tool.

- 3 hours Autolyse. Autolyse with slap and fold, and 15-20 minutes of slap and fold.

- leaving it to ferment with 3 stretch and folds, or with no stretch and folds.

- Tried focusing on trapping air in the dough when kneading (still the one I believe in the most)

- with poolish, cold leavened with yeast, sourdough, slow rise with yeast.

- baked freestanding on baking steel. Moved to clay pot with baking paper sling, baked with nothing but a preheated oven, baked non-preheated, baked with pizastone on top rack, baking steel, and steam from 2 bowls with lava rocks.

 

I get fairly decent oven spring, and I get a fairly airy loaf with a nice soft crumb, but it is a irritatingly perfect SANDWITH LOAF, and absolutely not even close to being anywhere in the ballpark of that nice rustique large-holed open crumb I am looking for :(

So a last little desperate attempt.. Any suggestions for what I could try?

Ric Snapes's picture
Ric Snapes

I generally believe a shorter final prove is the key to those damn big holes. In my experience, you get a slightly heavier loaf, but the burst and the holes make it attractive on a totally different level. Try that I reckon.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I completely forgot to mention that I bake the whole thing as a loaf, so there is no shaping, thereby no break between fermentation and proofing.

Maybe this is an error? Maybe I should try folding the dough and give a short proof..

Heath's picture
Heath

It's not clear from your post, but have you tried stretch and folds as your only means of kneading.  That's what works for me, even at a lower hydration than you use.

Maybe you're knocking a lot of the air out when shaping?

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Heath, I tried stretch and folds, but I just found out there are letter, or 4-way folds, and then there is this much more gently kind: http://breadcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Folding001.MOV You are talking about that one? Because damn, I have completely missed that one...

Heath's picture
Heath

Those are stretch and folds in a bowl, which I used to do, but I now prefer doing them like this.  I just use water to stop the dough from sticking.

I completely forgot to mention that I bake the whole thing as a loaf, so there is no shaping, thereby no break between fermentation and proofing.

Do you mean you bake in a loaf pan?  I used to do this when I was less confident, but the pan compacts the loaf as it tries to expand, so you'll get smaller holes.  My crumb improved immensely when I stopped using loaf pans for my sourdoughs.

I'm not sure if a separate fermentation and proofing would improve the crumb, but it might do.  Hopefully an expert could chime in on that.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

That is interesting, I have tried making a dough with kneading like this:

http://breadcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/BaguetteMaking1.MOV

Then during bulk fermentation, work it like this:

http://www.breadcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/FocacciaFold1.MOV

About 2-3 times.

I THINK I also tried a very slight mixing/kneading, and then those folds during fermentation, but I don't remember.

I am baking in a clay pot to get steam (from the bread itself) and good heat volume, without having to preheat the full setup for an hour and all that.

That was mainly because I didn't see the difference, maybe I should get back to the other way, at least for testing.

Heath's picture
Heath

The first video you link to is called slap and fold.  The second is the same method of stretch and fold that I linked to in my above post (the method I use).

I just mix the ingredients then do several stretch and folds every 45 minutes or so until I feel the gluten is developed sufficiently (this is sourdough, so it rises slowly).  No other kneading at all.  I then allow to double overnight (in the fridge), shape gently, prove in a basket, then bake.  (I've been experimenting with autolysing recently too, but get biggish holes without it.)

If you're baking in a pot that allows room for expansion, then I don't think that would cause a tight crumb as it's a common method for getting good oven spring.  I don't do it because I haven't anything to bake the loaf in at the moment.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

It's funny you say that autolyse actually give you smaller holes (if I understood you right).

So you just mix all ingredients, and then do the "long" stretch and folds?It really seems that the less kneading, the better...

Heath's picture
Heath

It's funny you say that autolyse actually give you smaller holes (if I understood you right).

I haven't formed an opinion as to whether autolyse helps with hole size or not as I haven't experimented enough yet.

I definitely think you should experiment with just using stretch and folds for kneading and seeing how that affects the crumb of your loaves.

meirp's picture
meirp

On my sourdough loaves, I get great big holes (like in photos of authentic artisan bread). Typically it works better with mostly bread flour (the more whole grain, the smaller the holes), and doing S&F for about 1.5 minutes every 30 min., say for 2.5 hours. (Maybe you are slapping around your dough too much). Then I do long bulk fermentation (e.g., over 20 hours) in the fridge and relatively short proof (e.g., 60 min.). I am generalizing here, since I get good holes on recipes that deviate from above, too. Hope you find more holes!

Meir

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Really? then I am going to ask you the same guestion as Heath:

Do you mean this kind of S&F?: http://breadcetera.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Folding001.MOV

meirp's picture
meirp

Except that I use a wet plastic scraper to do it, instead of my hands. That way it doesn't stick and it's fast! Like in this example: 

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRlSbp3FxHMh2iiw-2C9cTlKx8KHB7E66NaGb2SkvXUYVxVFrc3

Meir

WoodenSpoon's picture
WoodenSpoon

aside from the aesthetic value of a properly shaped loaf. when you shape a loaf even one destined to baked in a loaf pan you are creating surface tension that will allow the baked loaf to spring and bloom. also when you are shaping no matter how velvet your glove you are degassing the dough slightly making more possibly unused sugars available to the yeast and hopefully evening out any big pockets that may of developed during bulk fermentation.

The way I see it bulk fermentation is for flavor and proofing is for structure (that includes crumb) and if you aren't shaping you are not getting the most out of proofing.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

holes in size and irregularity come from no knead bread.  I think this points to handling the dough as little as possible.  I personally like to do 5-6 minutes of slap and folds right after mixing with a spoon, on a 75% hydration all white bread until the dough does'lt stick to the counter any more - then stop, in order to get a much gluten developed in the first 5-6 minutes.  Then I do 4 sets of gentle stretch and folds, 4 stretches from the compass points each set on 20 minute intervals.  That's it.  Then pre-shape and final shape 10 minutes later making sure to get the skin tight and then into rice floured baskets for a 8 -18 hour retard depending on how much preferment was used.  Then bake straight out of the fridge once the dough has risen 85-90% in the baskets.

Preheat the oven to 550 F non convection and put your favorite mega steam method in the bottom at 500 F.   Once the temperature hits 550 F the Stone will have caught up to at least 500 F  and the steam will be billowing.  Slash and slide the dough onto the bottom stone and turn the oven down to 475 F and for an 800g loaf steam for 12 minutes.  Then remove the steam and bake a 425 F convection until the center hits 205 F.

This method seems to work best for me - a very brown, crispy blistered and cracked crust, great spring and boom with large irregular holes - plus it tastes great.

Hope this helps and happy baking

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Thankyou guys! You all seem to be pointing me in the same direction here.

Knead a minimum, let the high hydration do the gluten development, and do gentle stretch and folds to "wrap" the gluten around and create surface tension and hold the loaf together, right?

I am gonna give this all a try. Thanks a bunch! :)

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Goodmorning

As Wooden Spoon points out shaping too contributes significantly to the outcome. David's shaping tutorial is really worth checking out. The pictures really help, in particular the photos with the toothpicks helps us visualize the creation of the outer gluten sheath. Even if the shape of your clay pot is not 'boule', the principles are the same.

Quality bread shaping videos by experienced bread bakers   (King Arthur Flour, Mark Sinclair, Ciril Hitz Northwest Sourdough etc etc etc) can be found on YouTube.  There are many variations on the theme, one method will feel comfortable for your hands. Essentially after a pre-shape, the dough is rested (bench rest)  allowing the dough to relax, so that it will stretch without tearing and make final shaping easier.

Use the library and get out one of the bread baking books TFLers recommend and follow a basic formula. Forkish's voice and modern style seems to work for many newcomers. It seems to me you are jumping around. It might help if you stuck to one proven formula and work with it until your hands understand the entire process of creating a loaf from flour and water (salt & yeast) right until it goes in the oven, better.

 With patience and practice, practice, practice (friends and family enjoy eating bread that doesn't meet our aesthetic standards) you will get there. 

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

I'll look up some of the shaping videos. Until now i have stuck with a simple shape, to avoid doing too much handling and degassing of the dough. I have always made sure it was folded into itself though, so it was not just a sticky mass poured into a pot.

The problem with getting the books is that the library here only have danish books. However, a danish translation of one of the books from Chad Robertson just came out. It is just called "The Good Bread" and haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but that was my plan.Besides that, danish books have been pretty weak on explaining the craftmanship of things.

I checked out some of the youtube videos you mention, but it mostly seems to be lower hydration bread? Also, they handle them awfully much, and there are no crumbshots of the final result anywhere..

oslon's picture
oslon

Most, if not all of the books mentioned here on TFL can easily be had from amazon.co.uk, and an original Robertson will be cheaper than a translated one, if my googling didn't fail me.

I ordered some Reinhart books from amz and had them within a couple of weeks in Norway. Would love to read about the Tartine stuff, but I just started with Reinhart.

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Yes, most books mentioned around here are very affordable on amazon, and shipping is at minor cost.

I am definitely also going to invest in a select few books at some point, when I'm through the Tartine Bread.

I can see the original Tartine Bread is only €17.

I just have to get the money for such stuff first, and right now, as a student, every coin counts.

oslon's picture
oslon

Back when I was a student I had my first shot at creating an sd. I forgot it in the cupboards and my wife-to-be claimed it started crawling out of the hard plastic container it was in, and etching the bowl along the way. It smelled kind of dangerous, so we threw it away. This was around 2002, no tfl back then that I knew of :)

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Well, at least it's a hobby that could potentially save a bit of expense, instead of just adding more...

I mean... As long as the need for new books and equipment can be kept down ;)

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Personally, I like Chad's methods and have incorporated them into my own processes. I am reading Tartine3 at present, in it he mentions having been to the launch of his earlier book in Denmark. Hope you find time /opportunity to take a look at it soon.  

Also have you seen this video made in Denmark when Chad gave a masterclass in conjunction with Claus Meyer? Chad's process is shown in The Art of Making Bread

Highish hydration doesn't mean we must not/can not handle the dough. While on the high side, 75% isn't especially high hydration. Creating that outer sheath helps in handling the dough. It is true you do want to work with "iron hands/velvet gloves" so as not to lose all the gas, but the fact is manipulating the dough during shaping you help bring equilibrium in terms of temperature and food resource to all those bugs you have cultured during the bulk fermentation phase. Removal of some of the gas (at this point waste product) allows the bugs to reach food, so that once the loaf is shaped the stage is set for the final stage of 'blowing up the balloon' as it were. I have this little simplistic image in my head of getting the full team of bugs together (bulk fermentation), providing the playground (well shaped loaf) and then leaving them undisturbed to get on with blowing up the balloon (final proof).

Take a look through Mark's blog, he is a professional baker and has chosen not to publish his formula here, but he is a kind and helpful teacher and I am sure he will answer any questions you have regarding the hydration level of the dough in his shaping video.

Excuse my ignorance, is Swedish accessible to a Dane? Some people on TFL like Jan Hedh's breads. Some books are available in English. I have not seen them so do not know if they would be worth taking a look at. And as to whether they are available in Denmark ....

It is amazing what a lot of techniques go into making a seemingly simple loaf of bread. Harder when we have no-one to work alongside. How lucky we are to have access via the internet to all manner of wonderful bread formula and YouTube demonstrations to use as we learn the skills required to make outstanding bread in our home kitchens.

edit: Here is the bread David used in his shaping tutorial. Shows you don't need high hydration to produce beautiful crumb. I always like to check out the crumb between the big holes, well crafted bread has  myriad of hole sizes. Don't get too fixated just on the big holes.

 

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

So yea, if you live in Copenhagen it is a lot easier to get access to bread baking classes and such, like the one you just linked to, but if you are stuck over here on the Peninsula of Jutland... :(

I would have loved to attend such a class, but thankyou very much for the link, i had no idea he had been around here. I actually got the book today. It is translated and with foreword by another danish auther, Kille Enna.

Swedish is, somewhat possible to understand for danes, so yea, good guess ;)

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Heheeeeeeeeeyyyy! Look at THAT!

That was one step further towards the real deal, right there!

Granted I could have been a lot more tight with the final shaping, it flattened a bit and didn't stay as round. Also, it overproved for a good warm half hour, so the oven spring wasn't the best, and I forgot to turn the heat down after 10 min :(

But hey, I got something to go for, so thankyou everybody!

Heh, I didn't really need a kitchen machine for baking anyway...

Heath's picture
Heath

That's a lovely loaf with some big holes :-)

What did you do differently after?

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Well, I just mixed the ingredients loosely, and did S&F's like what we discussed. Did this every half hour for a few hours, when fermentation was up, I took it out of the bowl, folded the edges under the bread, did the cupped-hands-and-dragging to get the seams in under the bread, and proofed for what ended with being 1½ hours.

I then used my baking steel, baking stone, and lava rocks preheated for an hour, to get as much oomph as I could :)

Heath's picture
Heath

Stretch and folds are wonderful, aren't they?  So much gain for so little effort - doesn't happen very often in this world lol :-)

You've got a nice set-up going there.

Well done!

MBaadsgaard's picture
MBaadsgaard

Yes, they are quite the thing :) And so contradictory to everything I heard about baking before I started playing with it myself. You know "Knead until it passes the windowtest" and such..

And thank you, I take you mean for the oven, right? It's actually the result of plenty of scavenging and opportunism. The steel plate was a left-over part from a friend's workplace, the pizzastone was my mother's, but she somehow bent it, and lavarocks were a purchase split with friends with fish and they were put in steel bowls that were the only things my girlfriend brought for the kitchen when we moved in together. Oh, and the oven was me complaining about lacking bottom heat in the old one. the old one went to 400F, this one goes to 500. Good for pizza ;)

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

You'll be hooked now!  

Bread makes for a good trade when on a student budget, ingredient/firing costs are low but your time & expertise are incorporated in the final loaf. I'm sure you can get creative in swopping bread amongst your friends for other goods.

Have fun as you learn more.