How many holes is enough?

Cave inHoley Moley


this is my very first time attempting sourdough. I used the machine dough making method and then shaped according to the tutorial on this site. I used the steam method to bake in a fan forced oven. The bread tastes yummy especially the crust, very chewy. But the bread is dense and I think the holes are too big and too few. Also parts of the crust caved in. I feel that maybe I didn't prove the dough for long enough - 3 hours. I also may have used too big a bowl to prove the dough which didn't let it rise enough, not sure - any suggestions?




Hello Caz,

Your pictures give the impression of perhaps having a high proportion of rye flour but I would be interested to know.

In my experience, high rye gives a denser loaf unless you are very skilled - which I am not!  I have been told that high rye needs higher hydration and is often tinned as the rye is not high in gluten and needs support to give a reasonable rise.

The large gas pockets and the crust bubble probably arose during your shaping.  Perhaps too much flour on the bench coating the dough surface an not allowing a seal to develop.

If you can give a more detailed description of your ingredients and method, it might help with diagnosis.

The other thing is - don't be discouraged.  I always recommend that you make the same simple recipe a number of times to get your techniques right.  Very often after a few attempts the 'failures' turn to success without changing the recipe or finding the 'miracle' method.  I've never heard of an inedible loaf yet :)

And who wants their bread to look like the fluff balls that most places sell these days!


Thanks Farinam

The only rye was in the starter which was 30 grams rye 70 grams wholemeal to 100 grams of water. The actual bread ingredients were 800 grams unbleached white flour, 500 grams of water, 150 grams of starter and 15 grams of salt. I mixed the starter and the water in a bowl first until it was all liquid. I put the starter/water in the machine first followed by the flour then the salt. I let it run through the whole dough cycle which was 1 hour 30 minutes.

Good tip about the folding, I will try it again with less flour. 

Hi Caz,

What does the machine do for an hour and a half?

Why don't you just try following the manual preparation technique as outlined in SourDom's beginners blog?

The quantities you give should be enough for two loaves.  A basic single loaf recipe is 180g starter (100%), 500g flour, 320g water, 10g salt.


 Hi Farinam

the machine kneads and rests the dough, I think maybe I could take it out after an hour and it would be kneaded enough. I used the recipe provided on this site, it didn't say to make two loaves but I did think it was a tad large. I'll try your recipe. Also I only refreshed my starter once after being in the fridge for two days. Do you think that would have made a difference. I am going to refresh it twice this time.



Hello Caz,

In terms of effort, I find it hard to believe that using a breadmaker on dough setting really advances the cause much.

My technique is to take some of my mother starter out of the fridge (90g) and refresh it with 45g flour and 45g water - usually the night before.  Then in the morning, make the dough using the recipe that I gave.  Knead according to your preference - hourly stretch and fold over say four hours - knead vigourously once and leave for four hours - knead vigourously four times over an hour and rest for three - or whatever.  I have used just about every variation and I would not like to pick a 'best' method.  Then shape and leave to prove for about four hours.  The total time depends on your room temperature and the activity of your starter.  As a guide, I suggest monitoring your starter after a feed and then matching the total time of bulk fermentation and proving to match the time that it takes your starter to peak.  If you use retardation, then that changes the equation a bit.

There are a couple of possibilities.  The texture suggests that there are a multitude of air pockets that have not filled with gas from the fermentation.  So possibly the machine kneading has been effective but the bulk fermentation has not been effective in filling them - or your shaping has let the gas escape and it has not been replaced in proving.  As I said before, you could have produced 'cold shuts' during shaping giving the large holes and crust bombs.

As I also said before, I would advise going back to hand preparation - it really is not that onerous.  Also you must listen to what your dough is telling you - don't be bound by time-lines published by others.  Your starter is unique, your room temperture is unique, so your time-line will be unique.

Let us know how you go.


 Will do Farinam, thanks again