The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Getting the hang of it - first big holes!

BriannaF's picture

Getting the hang of it - first big holes!

I've made basic bread for years, but am just now getting into the specifics of crumb and crust, folding and long proofing.


After many failures, today I have had a breakthrough!


First, a dark, denser, square loaf. This dough was in the fridge overnight, and was pretty wet and sticky, but not unmanageable. I did a rise, knockdown, knead session before stashing it in the fridge over night, and then letting it slowly warm up while folding it over every half hour or so (when it felt ready again). Baked at 500 for 10 min, reduced to 375. A little too dark, I think.

First Loaf 

And a closer look at my first big holes!



That turned out pretty well, but I decided to try for a second loaf. This time I created sort of a stiff sponge (1C flour, water until it was sticky, a bit of buckwheat honey and 1/4 tsp yeast), kneaded it, let it rise in a warm area, and then chilled it for several hours. When I got home, I cut it into pieces and added it to 2.5 cups of flour, some salt, 1.5 cups of water, and another 1/4 tsp yeast, and mixed it until it was sticky and sort of spread when turned out on my cutting board. I let this rise over two hours, folding every half hour or so, and this time could /really/ see the difference the folding made! When I first turned this out, I couldn't really handle it, it was very slack and sticky. After the second fold, it had a nice smooth 'skin', and by the third and fourth it had a nice tension. 


I was doing little gleeful happy dances with this one. I did it right, I did it right!




Just out of the oven. It sprung up really well, my slashes were pretty deep, I thought. There was just water and some sea salt on the top for the crust.


I let it sit for a while, and then cut it open




Big holes!


It's not perfect, but it's the best I've ever done. And it tastes lovely, especially with a bit of butter.


One more, slightly blurry, slightly different angle




I have no idea what shapes these would be classified as, or what genre of bread save for 'whole wheat', though the top loaf has about a half cup of white mixed in.


I'm going to have to hold off on further loaves for now, lest I be up to my ears in bread!



ehanner's picture

Very nice Brianna, looks tasty!


spsq's picture

Wow!  Nice holes for whole wheat!

rainbowbrown's picture

Very, very cool.  I noticed you said you knocked down the first dough, did you for the second?  For bigger holes I usually avoid doing this as it helps to create smaller uniform sandwich loaf kind of holes.  Just to throw that out there for you.  I love the shape of the big rectangular loaf, I want to just throw it under my arm and walk proudly down the street with it.  Is that wierd?  I don't know. Anyhoo, have fun.

BriannaF's picture

I didn't knock down the second at all, which I see helped a lot. The sponge was kneaded traditionally, but the final dough was only folded.


 Yeah, I wanted to walk down the street with the second one, too! =)

dmsnyder's picture

Welcome to The Fresh Loaf, Brianna!Those are very pretty breads. I think you are ready to graduate to sourdough. ;-)

Sean's picture

Nice looking loaves.

for my sourdough, I've been doing that rectangular loaf also, lately. I like to use the bread for sandwiches and boules/bagettes don't serve that purpose well. Lunch today: tuna salad on homemade sourdough! Can't get much better.

foolishpoolish's picture


Nice looking crumb!  I have only recently made the 'hole' breakthrough myself.  I had no idea that folding, handling etc. made such a huge difference.  

Great stuff...look forward to seeing more (don't hold off! :D ) 




weavershouse's picture

I think your bread is perfect. Inside, outside, it all looks great.                                  weavershouse

holds99's picture


Very lovely loaves and interiors.  Such nice holes, especially for whole wheat. You did soooo good. 


KipperCat's picture

Yum!  It looks great.

Paddyscake's picture

Looking forward to seeing more of your accomplishments!!!

JMonkey's picture

Nice looking bread! And welcome!

home_mill's picture

I noticed you are doing some things different than "standard":

Only 1/4 teaspoon yeast

2 hour rise 

Folding during the last rise

 Do you think all these methods account for the large holes?

Is this 100% WW or a mix?




home_mill's picture

Oh, and is the refrigeration part of the process or just because you needed to delay because you didn't have time to work on it?


mike721's picture

 Those look great for whole wheat, your crumb is perfect IMHO. You mentioned you thought the first was too dark, I think that's perfect, the darker the better, just short of burnt is where I find bread the most flavorful. But of course, your the final judge for your own loaves.

I just started doing folds during bulk fermentation, after reading the Hamelman 'Bread' book, and it does make a HUGE difference in the hieght of the loaves and the crumb. I find mixing a shorter time than normal and then folding a few times later will definetly improve most breads, and I always do it that way now. 

I like using overnight retarding for my hearth type breads too, I find the crust is darker and more flavorful after a long cold overnight session. My order of things is different than yours though, I do the folds during the bulk fermentation ( at room temperature) , then the final shaping, then I retard the loaves in their final shape in the cold. Then the next day I let them warm up and proof, and then slash and into the oven. I'll have to try doing it your way too, with a few folds during the cold portion followed by the final shaping. It sure worked great for you.

Mike in New Jersey