The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No air holes in sourdough

barraboy1's picture
barraboy1

No air holes in sourdough

Hi all, here I am again, still trying to perfect my sourdough! I have a good starter, responds really well to feeding having been taken out of the fridge. I make my sourdough when the starter is really active, I get a good first prove after around 5/6 hours at room temperature. I knock the dough back and place in my basket and cover up, I then leave overnight. First thing the next morning the dough has risen nicely in the basket, usually reaching the top. I carefully flip the basket over and place on a hot baking tray ( I do not have a stone). I bake at 220c for half an our or so and the loaf looks good but when I cut into it there aren't many air holes, not like some of the photos I have seen, what is happening, any thoughts/advice would be appreciated.

Cheers for now

 

aroma's picture
aroma

and what hydration?  Knocking back sounds a bit aggressive to me - a gentle approach would be better.  Let's see the recipe before anything else.

Cheers

barraboy1's picture
barraboy1

I am using a Paul Hollywood recipe: 

375g - strong white flour

250g - sourdough starter

7.5g salt

175ml tepid water

Knocking back is probably the wrong term, I gentle fold over the dough a number of times and then form a ball.

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Strong flour is less likely to give you an open crumb than a lower protein flour. The holes are there because the gluten structure is marginal and it breaks down in places, creating 'no structure' voids. The dough will produce some large bubbles but you'll have to handle it very gently if you want to keep them until the loaf's baked. Get your stretching and folding done early and make any handling minimal from then on. Even then, if the dough's wet enough, you might find the holes migrating upwards and settling just under the crust.

As has already been noted, wetter dough is good.

aroma's picture
aroma

It works out at about 35% unless I'm missing something.  TBH, I have never had much faith in Paul Hollywood's recipes.  Why not try a classic 3:2:1 recipe

aroma's picture
aroma

.... you are trying to reply to messages when cooking dinner!!  Yes the hydration is 300/500 or 60% which is a bit low but not as low as I first said.  Certainly, if you want big holes then up the hydration (70%) and be gentle with the shaping.

Cheers

drogon's picture
drogon

I don't - the honey/butter/jam falls through.

It sounds like you do though - when I want bread with big holes it has a lot of water in it and I treat it gently - stretch & folds rather than "knocking back" - what's the recipe & technique you're using?

-Gordon

barraboy1's picture
barraboy1

Hi Gordon, I am using a Paul Hollywood recipe:

375g - strong white flour

250g - starter

7.5 g salt

175ml tepid water

Knocking back is probably the wrong term, I fold the dough several times and then form a ball which then goes in my basket.

drogon's picture
drogon

assuming the starter is at 100% (or 50/50 flour water).

That's going to get you a nice loaf, one that will shape and bake well, but one that might not have the big holes that you're after. Basically you need more water, but that's tricky to manage until you get the hang of it. I'd suggest trying at 65% and using a simple mix then stretch and fold techniques, then ultimately aiming for 70%. So at 65% overall hydration, you need 200g of water rather than 175, and personally I'd use it right out of the tap too - start it in the morning and you could be baking it by mid-late afternoon, depending on how good your starter is going/room temp. etc.

Good luck!

-Gordon

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

I'm with you and make sandwich loaves in tins for our everyday bread.

My wife's OK with holey bread. She says that you fill the holes with butter, which then supports the jam/honey/what have you. But then her natural bread buttering technique does involve laying slices of butter on the bread and using slight pressure to bond the two.

drogon's picture
drogon

Oddly enough I find that my older customers don't want the big "bold" sourdough loaves, but like a more traditional style - but the younger hipster types are the ones that will relish the holes. Ah well!

So your wife likes a bit of bread with her butter then? :-)

-Gordon

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

My wife definitely falls into the former group. As do I. That's not to say that, when we're in France, we don't appreciate the crusty holes with our meals but when we return we revert to UK bread eating habits and like a closed-crumbed sandwich bread.

I wouldn't say that the bread's only there to stop her hands getting greasy from the butter but she'd probably be quite happy if I could make bread that had the same butter absorbing power as my crumpets. She's watching cholesterol at the moment, however, so she's currently eating most of her bread without any butter, saving up her 'allowance' for the toast.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Lower hydration doughs. I was falling into the trap of trying to get as high a hydration as possible when I had an epiphany and reverted to lower hydration. We want our bread leavened but no reason for holes the size of Bournemouth. Finding the right balance is an ongoing challenge when coming up with different ideas. I used to think that bread baking was an exact science till I got into it and then realised that everything including hydration has freedom of expression within reason. So when people advise to adjust hydration for this and that ingredient it is still a little confusing when everyone's idea of hydration is different in the first place. Even when 'following' recipes now I adjust according to my own ideas. Except my lower hydration tighter crumb is to hold nut butters rather than butter. 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

You've got a lot of starter and a long fermentation time. If I did what you're doing my dough would turn into starter. 

Maverick's picture
Maverick

How do you mix your dough? The more handling while kneading the dough, the more uniform the holes (for the most part). Higher hydration is the other key. If your starter is 100% hydration then the dough is 60% hydration as mentioned above.

I would add more water (maybe 40-50ml) and try an autolyse followed by stretch and folds. Since 25% of the flour is coming from the starter, the initial bulk ferment seems to be a too long unless your room is quite cold. Also, going that long without any stretch and folds to redistribute the gasses is going to make for some weak gluten. Of course the lower hydration might help a little with this.

Just Like Bread's picture
Just Like Bread

Ahh, so you're after a nice open crumb. Try this recipe.

  • 400g strong white flour
  • 100g medium strength white flour
  • 100g leaven
  • 375g water
  • 10g salt & 25g water

The keys to the nice open structure that you're after are utilising an autolyse, creating a very active leaven, keeping the dough at a warm temperature throughout the bulk rise and not allowing the dough to overprove.

I go into a lot of detail about the entire process on my blog here, just follow the links 

http://www.justlikebread.me/white-sourdough-bread/

If you have any questions, drop me a line - happy to do a Skype demo for you :)

victoriamc's picture
victoriamc

Lots of great advice here, I would start first by increasing the liquid first.  For ridiculously holy bread I find at least 75% hydration is required.  

junglejer's picture
junglejer

Thanks for all your fantastic comments and apologies it's taken me so long to respond. 

The recipe is 375 g strong bread flour, 7 g salt, 250 starter, cold water ( circa 160 ml )

Are you saying to be gentle at the first kneeding stage or when you push back before second rise?

A couple of further  questions

Does it matter how long after you have fed your starter before you introduce it to your flour? I fed mine in the morning and added it to the flour approx 12 hours later.

Secondly, I am confused about the time i leave it to prove. I find it hard to schedule it so it works around my timings. I did the following for the last dense loaf. Mixed and kneeded the dough at 7 pm, left it over night to prove. Knocked back at 7 am, shaped it, placed in a banetton and then cooked it at 1pm circa 40 mins with steam

Does that suggest anything I am doing wrong?

 

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

"The recipe is 375 g strong bread flour, 7 g salt, 250 starter, cold water ( circa 160 ml )"

"Mixed and kneeded the dough at 7 pm, left it over night to prove".

That is a very long fermentation time for such a high proportion of starter. This recipe needs a bit of a rethink.

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

VERMONT SOURDOUGH

by

Jeffrey Hamelman

 

 

Bakers’ Percentages

Flour :     100%  [90% bread flour, 10% rye]

Water :   54.5%  [Final hydration including levain : 65%]

Salt :        1.9%

Levain :   39.76%  [20% starter + 125% water + 100% bread flour]

 

 

Final Recipe

Flour :    490g  [440g bread flour, 50g rye]

Water :  267g

Salt :      10-11g

Levain : 196g @ 125% hydration

 

 

Levain Build :   14g starter + 102g water + 80g bread flour [12-14 hours before]

 

METHOD

1.    Mix flours with water and levain until well combined. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.

2.    Add the salt and knead by hand till fully incorporated & medium gluten formation [10-15min].

3.    Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 2.5 hours with folds at 50 minutes and 100 minutes.

4.    Shape on floured surface and let rest for 15 minutes.

5.    Shape again into banneton with seam side up and final proof for 2-2.5 hours

6.    Bake in pre-heated oven.

 

I don't know how big your banneton is so adjust if needed and keep everything in proportion. I have left in bakers' percentages to help.

 

junglejer's picture
junglejer

Great I'm rejuvenated and ready to bake. I'm away this weekend, so it will have to wait until next week

When is the optimum time to feed your starter before using in your dough mix?

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

And build the levain. Aim to build the levain as suggested. 12-14 hours before using in the dough. 

So this is a type of preferment. Enables you to build to different requirements and keep your starter how you normally do. 

You can feed your starter and take some off to put in a dough or you can take a some starter off and build to different hydrations and/or flours etc. 

barraboy1's picture
barraboy1

Many thanks to all who responded to my sourdough plight and for the many suggestions. I have stuck to my original recipe and allowed more time in the prove and have come up with some great bread, Anyone out there tried using poolish, thats my next quest!!!

Arjon's picture
Arjon

What would you like to know about it?