Debug the Bread


 Hello all;

I have improved my baking quite a bit from the early days, now I have consistency and the bread tastes yummy as expected from "homebakes". Here are a few photos of my recent bake, it's a 800 gram medium hydration (65%) loaf with mostly white and a bit of spelt flour.  I keep having the same problem as the pictures will explain. I keep having a large airgap on the top of the loaf, it rises really quickly once it hits the stone. My oven is a fan assisted electric oven. Sorry for the bad quality pics.



So far looking good, thats the edge slices.. but as I slice more in to it...



I'm not really complaining about the bread as it is really nice, just wanted to know why I keep getting the big bubble. Could it be to do with my bad slashing? Sometimes I noticed the bubble is as long as the slash, although this could be just coincidence.  Many thanks in advanceOliver




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farinam's picture
farinam 2012 April 11

Hello Oliver,

I wonder whether you have trapped some large bubbles of air during shaping that have not resealed during proving.  This can be caused by having too much flour about that forms a coating that does not allow the dough to re-weld properly and when it goes into the oven the expansion of the air creates the big bubble.

So one possibility is to try using less flour during the shaping procedure.  The other is to check the loaf for any large bubbles after shaping  (and after proving) and just prick them with a skewer to deflate them.

Hope this helps.


olionel 2012 April 11


Thanks for the points made Farinam & LeadDog. I think I need to work on my shaping a bit more. I am pretty sure I have not taken much notice on how tight the skin is, and I'll watch how much flour I use on the surface.


Many Thanks



Baron Weasel 2012 April 12

I have had the same in the past and I use an almost identical recipe to you (66% hydration. 30% wholemeal/70% white. 1.4% salt). To solve the problem I now shape my loaves twice. For the first shaping I don't worry too much about how much flour I use, I then let it rest for a couple of minutes to let the gluten relax and then shape again making sure to remove any excess flour (as you would if making puff pastry or croissants). I find that when I do the second shaping that the dough is much less sticky than during the first shaping making it easier to use less flour and as a result of twice shaping find that I get a higher rise and more desirable crumb structure.


If you bake at higher hydrations then a bit of excess flour seems to be less important because the moisture simply permeates through the dough into the dry flour and binds itself back together during the final proving before baking.  


For the shaping itself, do make sure that the skin of the loaf is nice and tight and seal it well on what will become the underside of your loaf. It was explained to me that the skin of your dough is a bit like a leaky balloon and by stretching the gluten you are creating a structure within the dough that traps the carbon dioxide bubbles better, which = better bread in every single way :-)



dave 2012 April 12

"it rises really quickly once it hits the stone"


It looks like it's going into the oven too early, the above statement is another symptom of that.

Ruralidle 2012 April 18

I was thinking just the opposite :) .  The slashes haven't opened up very much at all and the large hole that was developing at the top could be the start of a "flying crust".

southwesterly's picture
southwesterly 2012 April 19

I have also experienced this issue, although fairly infrequently.  In my case, it seems to be associated with under-proofing, as evidenced by very strong oven spring and a much bigger loaf than usual.  I usually bake an 80% hydration dough which is generally a 50/50 mix of white/wholemeal strong bread flour.  I bulk ferment over the afternoon/evening and prove in the fridge overnight.  I suspect that leaving the dough for another hour or two in the fridge, until there are some visible air bubbles under the skin of the dough, would solve the problem.  Strangely, another aspect of my loaves is that the slashes very rarely open up very wide, which I always thought was associated with over-proofing rather than under-proofing.  I would attach some photos of the my latest example, but can't work out how to do so.

olionel 2012 May 13



I think I have solved this problem.. my last 2 bakes were all good. I shape my dough tight now make sure all the big bubbles are out. Also when I used to transfer from banneton to stone the top of the bread used to stick to the bottom of the linnen lining and maybe stretch the skin? Now I dump a good load of flour on the top and the bread just falls out after being lightly encouraged from the sides. So tight skin and not sticking to the top of the basket seems to have solved it. Thanks again.


olionel 2012 November 30

Hello all;

Havent posted in a while, I haven't been baking as often and started again last week. I went out for a ride on the moto couple of wweks ago and rode past this beautiful place and thought on the way back I'll pop in and if they have any flour for sale. Oh they do. It's from the fields surrounding the mill. I live about 40 minutes (in the city centre) away so it is local as local gets. If you're in North West UK, get this flour.


I bought their, Wholemeal, Strong white and Malted flours (bag of each). I tried a 100% malted loaf and it had structure but was pretty much flat as a pancake, the gluten never quite got going.. not sure why.. maybe I got my hydrations mixed up. Anyways yesterday I did a bake with mostly white, sprinkle of spelt and some malted in the mix. I made three small boule's (5 inches in diameter - 190g-200g in weight), and they turned out to be really nice. Thanks to all the advice and help I got here everything is nice about the loaves, I think it's my best 100% sourdough attempt and I am very proud. Thank you all. So here they are:









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