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Help With My Bread Please

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I keep getting these holes in my bread. The taste and the texture are perfect but I keep getting these cavernous holes; can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong?

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
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"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
post #2 of 9
Could be the result of several things -- maybe even in combination.

Numero uno: You're probably over-proofing the dough. Don't count on the clock to tell you when the bread's doubled in size, use your eyes. Letting the dough rise too long is the most common reason for those kinds of holes. Welcome to the club.

Number two: You're using too small loaf pans and the bread's going nuts when it starts spreading out as it bakes (I think we can see evidence of that from the shape of your loaf).

Number three: You're forming the loaves improperly. If you use the folding method, you have to make sure the dough goes completely together.

Number four: You're not punching the dough down evenly.

If you're getting the idea I've made all of these mistakes plus many, many more... you're smarter than I look.

BDL
post #3 of 9
When you shape your loaves, you are not getting that final roll correct. You are pulling in a pocket of air or when you are pinching it your are pinching in a little air.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
You mean I'm letting it rise too long after it's in the loaf pan right?

Does it matter how long I let it rise before I shape it?


The two loaf pans I'm using are the largest ones I could find...they are 9 inch loaf pans. The recipe I'm using is for two loaves and it gives me 3 pounds and 3 to 4 ounces of dough, which I’m dividing between the two pans.

How much dough should I be using in a 9-inch loaf pan?


I'm using a rolling pen and rolling the dough out into a rectangle. I'm then folding the dough into thirds long ways and rolling it out again. I then roll the dough into the loaf shape and seal the edges and the ends.

Is that the proper way to do it?
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Could you please explain how to roll a proper loaf? I would really appreciate any help.
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
post #6 of 9
Did you mean rising time in the pan? Yes.

Does it matter how long I let the first rise go? Yes. Too short or too long will effect the final rise, the taste, and the texture.

You've got me paranoid. Anything else I can do wrong?
Yes, the punch downs. Old school was very rough, modern is to leave a tiny bit of gas in the dough.

I'm using the right sized pans for the recipe, is that a problem?
No. You've got it right. My final weights and volumes don't depend on recipe amounts because I add liquid to "feel." Occasionally, I go too far and have to add more flour to compensate and end up with more dough than anticipated. I'd forgot how following a recipe makes everything work together. [smacking palm of hand to forehead: smilie] One of these days, I'll have to try it.

I use the letter folding method to form my loaves, what's wrong with it? Well, this is one of those things where there's a few right ways, but none of them perfect. With the letter fold, sometimes the folds don't come completely together, even if you roll the package out again before putting it in the pan, and the result is something like you showed us.

I'd like you to try a different method to form for a pan, just for the heck of it. After you've cut the dough into two halves, you'll be left with two torpedo shapes with a cut, flat bottom. You can either pick up one of the pieces (big hands), or use the board (small hands), and "pull" the dough from the top to the bottom, until the bottom has been completely reformed. (This is called "pulling." Pulling is a step or two gentler than kneading in that you work with the surface of the dough rather than digging deep into the middle. Don't lean on the dough, hand strength is enough.) You'll end up with a sphere that wants to reform into the torpedo it started as. Help it out by putting it on the board and starting to pat it into a rectangle. To whatever extent the rectangle is uneven, reshape it along the sides and the top until you have an even, seamless rectangle, slightly smaller than the bottom of your loaf pan. You've done it.

Anyway try this and see what you think. I think you'll prefer your final textures. Your loaves, however, won't come out quite as even. A real positive is that you'll have learned to pull the dough, which is one of the most important baking techniques and the way you (should always) form your ball after you finish kneading anything.

Pulling for you,
BDL
post #7 of 9
Well I hope this isn't the most useless response ever, but years ago I was reading the troubleshooting section of a bread cookbook and your specific problem - one huge hole right under the crust - was specifically addressed, ie something like "here's what causes that."

Only trouble is, I've never had that particular problem so I don't remember the solution! BDL's first suggestion, over-rising on the second rise, rings a bell, but I'm not sure. The book may very well have been James Beard's bread book, but I'm not sure about that either.

But there is an answer.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
Reply
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I’ve been mixing the dough up in the morning and putting it in a 7 liter plastic tub with a lid and leaving it on the kitchen counter until I have the time later in the day to finish it. The dough has usually risen to fill the container by the time I get back to it.

As far as the taste and the texture go I’ve been very pleased with it….will leaving the dough like this make holes….which is the only complaint I have?



I have been opening the tub dumping the dough out onto the kitchen counter, cutting it in half, weighing it, shaping it and putting it in the pan to rise.

The recipe says to let it rise at room temp for 1 hour or till almost double in size. I've been letting the dough rise for 30 minutes then turning the oven on and letting the oven preheat for another 30 minutes, then baking the bread.


I’m really anxious to get this right, we live in a small town and the closest grocery store is a 30 minute drive. With the price of gas a casual drive into town for a loaf of bread is no longer an option. I can make a loaf of bread at home for a lot less than what I pay at the grocery store and it’s of course much fresher and tastier.

I’m going to give the pulling technique a try…thank you for your help!!!!!
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell.

"What we do, more than anything we say, reveals what we truly value the most." - An Unknown Soldier
Reply
post #9 of 9
Your texture certainly looks good. In part that's probably a product of the protracted first rise, so we don't want to change that too much. Whether it's making that big hole on top is somewhat in doubt. All I can tell you is that letting the first rise go too long often has that effect. I wish I could give you a certain answer but I can't.

Good baking technique requires you to let go of the clock in favor of the dough's appearance. I don't mean to sound snarky or superior because I recognize the convenience, the comfort, and the assurance of using the clock as the primary metric, but double means double and not sixty minutes. Every time you make a yeast dough, you're making a new culture. And every culture is different and will respond somewhat differently to the ambient conditions -- which also vary.

The more you bake the more you learn to rely on your eyes, nose and fingers and the less on your clock and measuring spoons. Think of the clock's function as telling you when to start paying attention. Think of your measuring cups and spoons as less accurate than your fingers and eyes. And think of someone else's recipe or technique (including mine) as an intermediate step to developing your own.

As a way of facilitating that paradigm shift -- Bread is always four things and always within a rather restricted range of proportions. A bit more than six cups of flour, requires about 2-1/2 cups of water and a tbs of salt, and an amount of yeast roughly equal to 2 tbs of "instant" yeast. You can use different yeast cultures which will require a different amount. But other than that, that's bread. Every other addition is a minor variation. Break almost any bread recipe down into liquids, flours, etc., and you'll find those four things in similar proportions -- whatever else is in there.

When I wrote about the proportions, I was never very exact. Everything was "roughly," or "about" or "a bit more." That's because there is no exact proportion for making bread right. Not ever. It's a look, a feel, a smell. We keep our yeast and flour proportions fairly constant (for any given type of yeast) because that comes so early in the process and because variations in timing can compensate for variations in the ingredients or ambient conditions. Liquid we add to suit. In that way, every bread is couture.

Here's some technique: If you're using a stand mixer to knead, measure in 2/3 of the recommended liquid as the last ingredient, start the mixer, let it mix the dough, then start adding liquid until every bit of flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl. If the dough doesn't clear the bowl, i.e., if it still sticks to the bowl, sprinkle on just enough extra flour so the dough comes away cleanly.

Knead about 20% less than the recommended time (time to pay attention, remember), take the dough out and finish kneading by hand. The first thing you should notice is whether the dough is sticky or not. Most bread doughs should be sticky. They should be just dry enough so the dough prefers to stick to itself, rather than your hand. But ... a bit wet and a bit sticky is what you want. And the only way to know is to feel it. To feel every part of it. In other words, to finish kneading by hand.

When it's kneaded, oil it lightly to keep it from drying out and keep the surface flexible; put it somewhere it can't escape (your tub is fine); and let it rise. How long should it rise? To about 2-1/2 times its original height, which is the proverbial "double in volume" (didn't know that, did you?). There's no particular number of minutes. That depends on how active the yeast, how sweet the bread, the temperature, the humidity, and a number of other factors. Is the timing important. It's important but not critical. Your hole on top is one reason it's important.

Why am I telling you all this when all you want to do is fix the hole? To make bread making the artisanal and satisfying experience it should be for you instead of a task. To give you mastery.

A great pleasure,
BDL
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