The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

2 Lessons learned in getting an open crumb

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samf526's picture

2 Lessons learned in getting an open crumb

In my never ending crusade to figure out how to open up my crumb, I have tinkered with every formula, mixing, folding, and shaping variable, with some moderate success, but never consistent.  Yesterday I tried something new: I put my stone on the bottom of the oven, above the flame, where I normally put it for pizza, at 490 degrees, and voilá! 

So, Lesson #1:  Pre heat your oven well, especially your stone.  I should have figured as much from Hammelman's centerfold pictures of 4 different baguettes baked w/ an w/o  stone and steam. The stone is what opens up the crumb!


Lesson #2:  Don't overheat your stone (or don't leave it on the bottom deck after it's at temperature):

Totally charred the bottom of my baguettes.  This picture doesn't quite do the damage justice, but it will suffice.  

Next time I"ll heat the stone up to 475 on the bottom of the oven, and then move it to the center of the oven just before loading the bread.  Hopefully the effect will be the same!

This formula was basically the BBGA's recipe of 40% poolish, but I boosted the hydration to 69%.  The dough was too weak, though, and my shaping was too light to get a good ear. I'm going to see if I can get a similar effect with a hydration closer to 66% or 67%.  Boy do I hope that this is finally the answer I've been looking for!


BobBoule's picture

tip, thank you, the crumb looks lovely. Now I have hope for getting mine to open up.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

To avoid burning the bottom if you need to use the higher temp. 

clazar123's picture

My last bake FINALLY showed more promise of large holes. But I'm still working on ears.

Hmmm.... I thought one of the reasons for my success with larger holes was LESS and lighter handling of the dough during shaping-in other words-lighter shaping. This presents an enigma. If lighter shaping helped promote bigger holes,,will I still get holes if I shape tighter?

Maybe it was the slightest increase in hydration that actually promoted the holes! I didn't use any measuring for this loaf-just thrown together and it was a very wet dough,even for me. I am fairly used to handling wet doughs.

Nice looking bread! No pics of mine-devoured!

samf526's picture

I understand your situation, and i haven't figured it out either.  Whenever I do tighter shaping, I get nice ears but a more closed crumb.  That said, there may have also been variation in oven temperature.  I'm going to see if i can still get an open crumb with tight shaping so long as my stone is really hot.  That's the next experiment!