The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Huge tunnel at the bottom of my sourdough!

aditisawhney's picture

Huge tunnel at the bottom of my sourdough!


I've been reading a lot of posts on this forum and have really appreciated all the help and advise offered!

I've been trying to make sourdough and had a peculiar problem on my second try. The dough developed a huge tunnel at the bottom.

My recipe is below:

All purpose 160 gm

Whole wheat 40 gm

Levain 40 gm (100% hydration and passes the float test)

Salt 4 gm

Water 133 gm


My kitchen is at 95* F and so the dough tends to proof quite quickly. I autolyse for 45 mins, then did 3 stretch & folds in 15 mins intervals (longer intervals have led overproofing due to the heat), preshaping after 15 mins and shaping after 10 mins. I'm new to all of this so my shaping capabilities are limited.

I proofed over night for about 15 hours in the fridge and put it straight to bake in a pre heated dutch oven at 450* F.

Any clue where I've gone wrong? Really really appreciate help on this!


andykg's picture

If it looked bulk fermented properly pre shaping stage then could be a forming issue with the final shaping, when you rolled it did you use a lot of flour? if it doesnt stick well when rolling you're get layers and then big air pockets.

aditisawhney's picture

Shaping is definitely something I need to learn, I may have over compensated with flour. Definitely got a better result after some shaping practice! Thank you for the advice! 

just passing by's picture
just passing by

Looks like a shaping problem to me.  When you shape the loaf, you want to make sure you have a solid loaf with no air pockets or gaps in the dough.  Press down on the loaf all over in different spots and see if it has the same amount of resistance in each spot.  If you find a spot that seems softer than the rest of the loaf, there's probably a bubble underneath that spot.  Just press down on the dough to fill it in.  One trick I sometimes do is take a toothpick and poke holes in the bread.  You have to do it all over and you have to make sure the toothpick goes all the way through the loaf.  It's best to poke the loaf from the bottom rather than the top so the holes don't show when the bread is baked. 

aditisawhney's picture

that's a really neat trick! Thank you for teaching me something new!

Shaping is definitely something I need to learn, I may have over compensated with flour. Definitely got a better result after some shaping practice! Thank you for the advice! 

teigbildhauer's picture

I believe, that the hole is the result out of different reasons:

a) your autolyse for 45 min at 95F makes the dough to warm. You can store your autolyse in the fridge / cooler for one hour. The colder autolyse gives you also a lower dough temperature. As I am living in the Caribbean I know the problems due to high room temperatures.

b) I agree that another problem is the shaping, you need some more tension in your dough.

c) when you put the dough directly after rounding in the fridge, how much did the volume increase after 15 hrs?  

Can it be that the bread had almost the same height like it had after shaping? Your kind of hole / tunnel and especially the elevated sides of your bread, indicate that the bread was 'underproofed' 

After shaping I wait for some time before I put it in the fridge, it also depends how cold the fridge is as colder as less proofing. 

aditisawhney's picture

Your advice was really insightful.

I think a couple of things happened:

1. You're right temp was too high and I made my next one in the basement pantry that has a stable 28 to 29 Celsius 

2. Underproofing! I realized the fridge was 4 Celsius! Which probably didn't let the dough proof at all!

3. Shaping.. for sure!

I haven't attempted the cold autolyse but will definitely experiment with that one! I also need to get a hang of the bulk fermentation.. the stable temp in basement makes that a tiny bit easier.

After taking into account all the advice, I actually managed some oven spring, a small ear with an ok crumb, I quite happy given its only my third try!!!

Thank you for all your advice!

JerryW's picture

You haven't told us the temperature of your water or the dough temperature after the dough is mixed.  Given your high kitchen temperature, I'll guess the resulting dough temperature is rather higher than the recommended 78 or so.  You can lower the dough temperature (at least initially) by using cool or even cold water, which will let you stretch out the bulk fermentation.  The dough will, of course warm up some as the fermentation proceeds, but this is an easy way to slow it down.