The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Debugging unintended large holes

vvhh's picture

Debugging unintended large holes

I have baked Trevor Wilson's "Open Crumb from Stiff Dough" bread a dozen times or so now. I've upped the hydration a bit to 67%:

- 50g rye starter @ 100% hydration
- 435g King Arthur Bread Flour
- 25g King Arthur Whole Weat
- 300g water
- 13g salt


Day 1:
- 23:00: Mix water, flour, salt

Day 2:
- 8.30-9.00: Mix starter into dough
- 9.00-13.00: Bulk
- 13.00: Light stretch and fold, followed by light preshape
- 13.00-13:25: Bench
- 13:25: Lightish shape and 5 minute rest
- 13:30-14:30: Proof
- 14:30-15:15: Bake in cast iron pot with lid on ~450F for 20 minutes, followed by 25 minutes lid off at ~400F

Ambient temperature at night probably ~20C, raising to ~25C at noon.

Oven spring is nice, bread tastes great, no complaints. But for the past five bakes or so, I've had a few very large holes as pictured above. For all previous bakes I did 4-5 tight S&F, so I thought I would change it up this time. But it came out looking exactly the same way – down to the pale, shiny score etc.

What's frustrating is that I've previously had a couple of breads that were perfect for me with the same recipe/process/flour, except this one was at 65% hydration. Here's an example from mid September:


LevaiNation's picture

I would do then stretch and folds earlier in the bulk ferment. And not super light but more vigorous. All in  the first 1.5 hours after adding the starter.... Maybe it would help create a tighter web of gluten...

Not one of the experts here, but it's what i gather.

Regardless; butter and eggs and it's all good.


Bread1965's picture

Like LevalNation I think the issue is your stretch and folds. I think 10/15 minutes of mixing in the levain is likely more than enough - no need to go at it for 30 minutes. #2 I would then give stretch and folds minimum each our during your bulk.. and i wouldn't worry about them being "light' until the dough feels puffy and starting to rise well.. which likely won't be for several hours.. You could even do stretch and fold every half hours for the first two hours after your levain mix - so mix plus four stretch and folds, and then move to the hourly.. and your last one should be very light and gentle .. don't stretch for the last hour before you decide to pre-shape.. This should give you a nice uniform crumb.. no big holes.. I don't think this has anything to do with hydration.. even with the exact same process .. the difference could have been your starter/levain on the two days was acting differently.. that's my two cents..

Let us know how it goes!

leslieruf's picture

during pre shape and final shaping and pop them carefully.  not an aggressive degass, just any big ones as you do that final shape. good luck with next bake


ackwright's picture

I think this is a proofing problem. Guessing underfermented/proofed. Are temps/conditions controlled between the two bakes you show?

Gauging the bulk ferment and proof remain my primary challenge. It's easy for me to gradually err on one side or the other against the change of seasons/temperatures in my house.


suminandi's picture

What I see is that -

nice loaf shows correct bulk ferment, perfect proofing. Holey loaf shows too short bulk fermentation, slightly too long final proofing. The day the holey loaf was made, either 1) starter was weaker or 2) kitchen was colder. Do you check that the dough is airy when you do the preshape? If it’s not, extend the bulk.

If you really kneaded the dough for 30 mins, s&f are not necessary for airy crumb. 

ackwright's picture

Yes, I think suminandi is on to something.

I baked this consistently for years:

Haven't reproduced that crumb in 3 years! I'm back looking for help.

Thanks for this.





Bröterich's picture

While I can't offer any useful advice I am grateful that you bought this up. I am trying to replicate Ken Forkish's "White Bread with Poolish" FWSY, page 98, using sourdough instead of yeast and trying to use something akin to a poolish. I wasn't aware of the Breadwerx website until I saw your post. I think Trevor's method should produce a similar bread, at least in theory. I am going to use your recipe above and see what comes of it.

Happy baking


Filomatic's picture

I think it's underproofed is all.  Tight crumb with explosively large holes elsewhere is a telltale sign.  Very nice result on the other bread.  You need to control temperature to fight impatience.  20 C is low 25 is good, so the time it was at 20 it was slow-proofing.  Getting the Brod & Taylor proofer changed everything for me.