June 26, 2019 - 5:11am
Struggling with big holes in the bread
I am still struggling with obtaining those big holes in my bread like everyone who post here on this wonderful blog, but it seems that I cannot manage this.
Yesterday I baked Pain au levain from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book. I used T80 flour (stone milled) instead of bread flour which I suppose is 55 or 550 flour. I proofed the dough (65% hydration) for 2 hours and 30 minutes at a temperature that started at 24C (75F) and reached 26C (78.8F) in my room. The dough was kneaded by hand a few minutes till the levain and salt were well incorporated.
Can you, please, give me recommendations on how to proceed in the future?
Thank you in advance!
I see beautiful loaves of bread with big holes. Don't beat yourself up. They're great! Nicely done!
Thank you for the appreciation!
looks interesting. Scissors? Knife point? I want to replicate!
Thank you for the appreciation!
The scorings were made with two types of blades because I wanted to test which of the tools gives me better results. The “zig zag” score came out accidentally because, I think, the length of the blade was short and the dough got cough to the end of the blade. I also think that due to the fact that the blade was not sharp enough caused this “zig zag” scoring. All this and the surface of the proofed dough got me to this result, which I took it as an unsuccessful result.
Below is the picture with the blade that I did just one score on the bread.
Below is the picture with the blade that I did three scores.
of those x-acto blades around, esp. the dull ones, some even a little rusty. :) There was a time when such a tool was always in my hand. Some old blades might even be antique now.
...and it was a straight score? ....cool....
I inclined the blade so that I could obtain the ear.
There are some details in your process that are missing and which could affect the 'hole sizes' in your final dough. How long was your bulk fermentation? How mature was your starter? Did you supplement with any commercial yeast or was it 100% levain? Did you do folds throughout the bulk fermentation or just the initial hand mix?
The bread is 100% levain. My starter in almost 4 month old and triples it’s volume in approximately 6 hours. I started with one hour of autolyze then I added the starter and the salt. Bulk fermentation was 2 1/2 hours with 2 SF. First SF after the first 50 minutes and the 2nd SF after another 50 minutes.
The DDT before bulk fermentation was 24C.
Below I put 2 pictures with the starter. Frist picture is after feeding and the second one is after picking.
So your levain seems to be good. Right now, I would be focusing on your flour, your gluten development and your hydration as the culprits.
Gluten: If you are only hand mixing with autolyse at the beginning and then doing 2 folds, I'm afraid that will not develop your gluten enough. You would probably need to extend your bulk fermentation to 3 to 3.5 hours with a fold every half hour. Or you could develop some of the gluten in a mixer after autolyse to get a short-to-improved mix up-front and do your two folds over 3 hours.
Flour: As for your flour, I don't know what your stone milled version looks like. Is it pretty coarsely milled? If so, that will definitely affect your hole size because it will weaken your gluten network. Also, I assume your stone milled flour is not malted, this will also have a big effect. You might consider going to 50:50 bread flour:stone milled and then adding some diastatic malt (1% to fresh milled flour weight).
Hydration: fresh milled flour is usually lower in water content than store-bought flour (which is 14% water in the USA). If you are following a recipe from Hamelman, he is using 14% hydration flour. You are probably too dry. I would need to see the formula to help you with that, but you should be checking your dough consistency after mixing initially to see what it feels like. It should have a medium consistency and not be overly stiff.
Hope that helps. Let us know if you make some tweaks and what the results are!
Yes, the T80 flour is coarsely (it feels like salt). For the next baking I bought T70 flour stone milled and it’s les coarsely but I got the same result. I didn’t add diastatic malt because I haven’t founded here on the few stores we have. I will search and apply the advices you gave me.
Unfortunately on the packaging of the flour I have no information about the protein content and humidity of the wheat an also the type of the wheat (spring/winter). I’ve tried to find some informations about the standard hydration of the flour here in Belgium but I have had no success on finding precise information. Just some mentions about wheat on a promoting magazine of bio products for the region I live in. They say that under 14% humidity shows a quality flour. Here is raining allot (approximately 200 days of rain/year) so I’m guessing the wheat is not so poor in water.
Now, regarding this flour I can tell that is not dry because I use 65% water and the dough is not stiff, it is elastic after first 30 minutes of bulk fermentation.
Thank you very much for helping me understand what was the problem and thank you for the tips.
I will keep you informed with my next results.
You can make diastatic malt simply by grinding rye or barley malt, which you can get from a brew shop.
WheatBeat: please correct me if I'm wrong.
I have Daniel Lepard’s book and there is a formula for Sprouting and home malting.
Can you please tell me if it’s the same thing?
but you may bypass the entire malting process by merely buying the malt and grinding it, I suppose.
Weekend bakery also has a post about sprouting grains and then grinding to make your own diastatic malt.
Yippee, brewers malt comes in all sorts of Diastatic Power. The darker malts have been roasted at hotter temps that will kill all enzymatic action. If you buy the lighter colored malts (such as Crystal Malt) they should possess the enzymes necessary for diastatic malt. In brewer’s terms the strength of the enzymatic activity of the malt is called Diastatic Power (DP).
A small bag of Baker’s Diastatic Malt will keep in the freezer for years and a small amount goes a long way.
Sorry Dan, but crystal malt has no diastatic power at all; you are best with pale ale malt or lager malt.
Thanks for the correction, Lance. I always thought Crystal Malt contained some diastatic power. But I looked it up and sure enough is 0 (zero).
Glad to learn that...
During the kilning process for crystal malt, the heating is paused at around 65C, and while there is still plenty of moisture left in the grain. A sort of pseudo-mash then takes place with the malt enzymes creating sugars from the starch. This is why it tastes sweet.
After this pause, the heating profile now raises the grain temperature to give the desired colour and flavour, ie light, medium or dark crystal. The cara malts like carapils will be made in much the same way.
The T80 you have may have diastatic malt already. If there is (enzymen) on the label then you know.
Julie99nl, unfortunately I have no informations written on the packaging. I asked the seller for more informations but I haven’t got any answers. Also on the manufacturer website there is no information.
Here is a picture with the packaging.
I just learned a ton from your one post. Lol. Thanks so much.
Beautiful loaves. Nice crumb
Thank you for appreciations!
Why make life difficult for yourself? Stoneground flour is implicated in poor loft and dense crumb. OK, you may get better flavour - at a price. Life is full of trade-offs.
I'd go further than Wheatbeat and say to use 30% of your stoneground and 70% of a good quality roller milled white flour with a 12% + protein content. You can always up the stoneground % once you are happy with your crumb.
Albacore, the taste is great and now I understand the costs. Now it’s clear for me the reason for not obtaining those big holes.
I've been getting larger alveoli, but with 85% bread flour and 15% whole wheat. I guess T80 is similar to Le 5 Stagioni macinata a pietra (stone ground). It is not as heavy as we, but heavier than regular bread flour. I hydrate at 80% and bulk for 5h or 6h. Room temperature for me is around 25C now. I do 5 sets of coil folds, every hour or so. So, I sould definitely increase hydration and probably also bulk time.
T80 flour that I am using is a semi-complete flour that has between 75 and 90 % ash content. For the bread from the pictures I used 65% water. Next time when I will make a new bread I will raise the amount of water and see what the result will be, and maybe playing with the mix of flour. Unfortunately the types of flour which I can find in stores are limited.
and I bet they tasted also great...
I find that I developed better gluten by using a few slap and folds...I still AL with almost getting a windowpane and then a few slap and folds so that the dough is well developed before let's say 3-4 hours of bulk with a number of folds depending on hydration. If you look like Richard Bertinet does it you see how beautifully the dough develops.
I started this after people commented on getting better oven rise mixing with a mixer. I always handmix even up to 5kg combined with slap and folds.
Also, I find that just adding a bit of Spelt makes the dough beautifully soft and extensible and learnt this when baking Trevor Wilson's Champlain loaf. So many of my breads include some Spelt...and it tastes great too...
Finally, I am still learning about shaping and reached a point where I think the fermentation and gluten is ok but my hands need practice, practice and again practice..... Happy Baking... Kat