The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ode to Bourdin boule - shaping problem?

Catomi's picture

Ode to Bourdin boule - shaping problem?

This was Take 2 of Tartine's Ode to Bourdin (white-wheat blend), and the first time that I tried using bolted flour (the previous loaves used bread flour in place of the bolted wheat flour). So this was actually 100% whole wheat, just with some if the bran sifted out and applied to the outside during proofing. 

The loaves looked fine coming out of the oven; perhaps a bit dark, one of them slid into the dutch oven crooked (but actually I might not be able to tell unless I knew), and the parchment paper stuck to the bottoms, which is annoying but easily fixed next time. However, when I cut into the first loaf I discovered a sizeable pocket right in the middle of the loaf. See below:

This is the loaf that went in crooked:


Whoops! Big 'ol pocket:


I was thinking that this was likely due to my not shaping it properly. Does that seem likely? Details are as follows:

I did an overnight autolyse, adding salt in the morning (probably should have added it at the beginning of the autolyse, but as with previous loaves I set my dough up and then went and read about the technique I was trying). Leaven passed the float test in 6 hours, so I mixed it in with the last 50 g of water and basically kneaded it into the autolyse. I did notice when I went to mix everything together that there was a little bit of liquid at the edges of the autolyse, making it look like the flour had lost some absorptive capacity - not sure if this was a product of me adding salt part way through autolyse, or something else. I was concerned about gluten breakdown, but to my non-expert eyes/hands the dough seemed just fine (stretched instead of tore).

I did a 3 hour bulk fermentation (room temp around 75 degrees F), shaped, bench rested for 30 min and did a final shaping. The loaves proofed in bran-dusted kitchen towel-lined glass bowls at room temp for 3 hours, then were baked in cast iron to 210 degrees F according to Robertson's directions. 

I'm still very much learning how to handle and shape dough, so I assume that I did something inappropriate during shaping to cause the pocket. (The second loaf remains unsliced as of yet, so no idea if it has a similar pocket.) Any ideas what that could be, and what I could do to avoid it in future? My husband reports that it tasted great with olive oil, but most of our bread goes to toast/sandwiches and that's more easily accomplished without giant holes. Also, it makes me wonder if my thermometer reading was accurate; would it be off if I accidentally stuck it through into the hole? I can't decide. I must need more coffee. 



cerevisiae's picture

Yeah, I think it seems likely that it's a shaping/handling problem.

I don't know what your shaping technique is, so it's hard for me to offer specific feedback on that. It may be that you didn't degas the dough enough when shaping, or perhaps you need to make your boules a little tighter, or perhaps there was some flour that got folded inside the loaf and didn't let the dough adhere to itself as well. I'm not sure what the right answer is, but those are some ideas.

ExperimentalBaker's picture


I had something like that when I shaped my boule by pulling all the sides into the centre on a floured board. I think it's too much dry flour being included in.

For temperature checks, I normally poke a few places to check.

isand66's picture

I would agree that it is most likely your shaping, but sometimes if the dough is under-proofed this can happen as well.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Occasionally, if I find slicing my bread difficult because there is an ill-placed hole, I just turn the bread, cut it down the middle again and then slice off in another direction.  Sometimes that can make all of the difference!

dabrownman's picture

shaping videos from KA Flour that can be found on their web site or on YouTube.  I think many newer bakers end up with these odd holes in their bread - I know i did.  My problem was not really knowing how to shape a loaf properly and being too delicate with it.   Gentle degassing is just as important as proper shaping techniques - except for ciabatta :-)  As you bake more these holes will forever disappear and be forgotten - No worries.

The bread looks great otherwise and the holes have no taste at all, so you aren't missing anything by having them anyway.   Well Done and

Happy Baking

PS you have my old oven - lucky you  - It made great bread - better than my Big Old GE - named Betsy today

Catomi's picture

Thank you everyone for the comments and suggestions.  I'm sorry it took me so long to reply, life intervened with bread baking (darn life anyhow). Underproofed is highly likely, as is inadequately degassed and improperly handled. I have decided (sigh) to ignore all the other shiny recipes I'd like to try for a while and focus on this one, since it's really what I set out to make, a 100% whole wheat sourdough loaf. Once I have mastered this, I will move on to other breads. 

Thanks again!