Advice for a Bread Project

Joined Jan 1, 2001
I hope some of my friends here at Chef Talk can help me. I am working on a recipe development project about simple bread baking. The thrust of the article centers around how to bake simple, yet scrumptious loaves of bread-sandwich style-to feed the needs of a family for daily sandwiches, toast, french toast, nutrition, etc. Each recipe makes two sandwich loaves about 1 1/2 lbs. and the recipes are designed so that one could bake a week's worth of sandwich bread on a weekend afternoon. I have developed several recipes that are pretty, very tasty and nutritious and have the same basic procedure. The method is: combine dry ingredients (including instant yeast), warm wet ingredients and add to dry, knead dough, allow to rise, punch down and shape loaves, rise and bake.
The crumb is great, the flavor great, nice rise, nice crust (firm but won't tear your mouth to shreds), nice color, etc.
Basically, I'm very happy with the recipes except for one thing---when slicing into the loaves, I find a hole along where the dough was rolled to shape the loaf. All the other holes in the crumb are evenly spaced and sized.
What does this large hole come from? Too much yeast? Not enough fermentation time? Not enough salt (although the hole was smaller when I decreased the amount of salt)? Too much kneading? Proofing in too warm a place?
Tell me what you think.
Joined Sep 21, 2001
I make a lot of bread at work. 40-100 loaves a day. I find that irregular densities in the second kneading and subsequent forming account for a lot of the problems in my finished loaves. On my loaf-style breads, the problem you are experiencing is in the forming and proofing stage. Knead the dough and get the big bubbles out as you form the loaf. Don,t just push the bubbles to the end of the dough sheet. Those bubbles will continue to grow. Then let the dough rest for just a moment. You may also roll them tighter and see if that helps. I haven't had a loaf not turn out in years. I will share some pictures one of these days.
For Thanksgiving this year, I made a Foccacia that filled an entire sheet pan!
Joined Feb 21, 2001
Are you using any flour on the table when you shape the loaf? At that point, flour is your enemy, for that kind of dough. Once in school we took a bunch of cinnamon raisin pullman loafs out and opened the pans, and they all collapsed. The instructor just shook his head, and said "Extremely poor loaf shaping." I think they were underbaked, but the point is, that's what I think you got going on.
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I am on the Rank Amateur side of the roster:) As such, I find it challenging to roll the dough when I shape it. I prefer to fold it. I pat the dough into a rectangle and then do the business letter fold thing. I allows me to seal each seam with the side of my hand. It also allows me to control the surface tension. When I roll the dough I invariably wind up with uneven surface tension and an uneven loaf. Just one amateurs opinion :)
Joined Jan 1, 2001
No, I don't use flour when shaping the loaves and yes, I do press all the gas bubbles out before shaping. The loaves are beautiful and perfectly edible when done, I just get one or two annoying holes (about 1" in diameter) along the "roll-up" shaping line in the top 1/3 of the loaf.
I think it comes from lack of fermentation time and too much yeast. I've got a batch going this morning that I started with a sponge. I mixed the yeast, liquid, sweetener, and 1/3 of the flour; then let it rise 30 minutes. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, kneaded, proofed, punched down and shaped, proofed and baked.
I'll let you know how these loaves turn out.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
The best recipe I found for scrumptious loaves of bread-sandwich style-to feed the needs of a family for daily sandwiches, toast, french toast, nutrition is from Baking with Julia's White Loaves. The recipe includes a tad of butter which makes golden toast.

As for the hole along where the dough was rolled to shape the loaf, I roll the dough into a flat rectangle, with a rolling pin then fold it like a business letter (KyleW's method).

As TBH mentioned, flour is your ennemy at this point so avoid it.

I will try to post the recipe tonight so that you may compare the proportions. It makes 2 loaves of about 1 1/2 lbs. each.

Joined Mar 13, 2001
From Craig Kominiak

I'm back with a correction. The recipe yields two 1 3/4-pound loaves. These mountainous loaves baked to a generous four and a half inches high, providing a large-enough slice for the most Dagwoodian sandwich. This is a basic, have-it-on-hand-at-all-times white bread with a difference—it's got full, rounded flavor and a substantial texture; not your average sandwich loaf. And it makes great toast—the little bit of butter in the dough browns nicely under heat. Since the dough belongs to the direct-rise family, meaning there are no starters, sponges, or unusually long rest periods, you can mix a batch after breakfast and eat still-warm-from-the oven bread for lunch.

2 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
7 cups (approximately) bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Mixing and Kneading. Pour 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a heavy duty mixer, sprinkle in the yeast and sugar, and whisk to blend. Allow the mixture to rest until the yeast is creamy, about 5 minutes.

Working in the mixer with the dough hook in place, add the remaining 2 cups water and about 3 1/2 cups flour to the yeast. Turn the mixer on and off a few times just to get the dough going without having the flour fly all over the counter and then, mixing on low speed, add 3 1/2 cups more flour. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat, stopping to scrape down the bowl and hook as needed, until the dough comes together. (If the dough does not come together, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time). Add the salt and continue to beat and knead at medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you prefer, you can mix the dough in the machine for half that time and knead it by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes. When the dough is thoroughly mixed (return it to the mixer if necessary), add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until incorporated. Don't be disconcerted if your beautiful dough comes apart with the addition of butter—beating will bring it back together.

First Rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Place it in a large buttered bowl (one that can hold double the amount of dough). Turn the dough around to cover its entire surface with butter, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Shaping the Dough. Butter two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans and set them aside.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto your work surface. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece at a time. Using the palm of your hands and fingertips, or rolling pin, pat the dough into a large rectangle about 9 inches wide and 12 inches long, with a short side facing you. Starting at the top, fold the dough about two thirds of the way down the rectangle and then fold it again, so that the top edge meets the bottom edge. Seal the seam by pinching it. Turn the roll so that the seam is in the center of the roll, facing up, and turn the ends of the roll in just enough so that it will fit in a buttered loaf pan. Pinch the seams to seal, turn the loaf over so that the seams are on the bottom, and plump the loaf with your palms to get an even shape. Drop the loaf into the pan, seam side down, and repeat with the other piece of dough.

Second Rise. Cover the loaves loosely with buttered plastic wrap, and allow them to rise in a warm place (about 80 degrees F) until they double in size again, growing over the tops of the pans, about 45 minutes.

While the loaves rise, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Baking the Bread. When the loaves are fully risen (poke your finger into the dough; the impression should remain), bake them for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are honey-brown and an instant-read thermometer plunged into the center of the bread measures 200 degrees F. (If you like, 10 minutes or so before you think the loaves should come out, you can turn the loaves out of their pans and let them bake on the oven rack so they brown on the sides.) Remove the loaves from their pans as soon as they come from the oven and cool the breads on racks. These should not be cut until they are almost completely cool; just-warm is just right.

Storing. Once completely cool, the breads can be kept in a brown paper bag for a day or two. Once a loaf is sliced, turn it cut side down on the counter or a cutting board and cover with a kitchen towel. For longer storage, wrap the breads airtight and freeze for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Note. During the past two months, my Kitchenaid was not available and I did this recipe, once a week, totally by hand, with superb results.

P.S.: A recipe for whole wheat loaves is also available from the same book, just as fast as the white loaves above. It also makes two 1 3/4 pound loaves. Here's the description: There's just enough honey and malt in this recipe to bring out the natural sweetness of the loaf's whole wheat flour. A tall crowned loaf with some chew and stretch in the crumb, this bread has the flavor and heft to stand up to strong cheeses and spicy cold cuts, making it first-class sandwich fare. Like the White Loaves, these are good loaves for bread-baking tyros: The rechniques are basic, the rewards many.

If you are interested, let me know and I will post it for you ASAP :)
Joined Jul 28, 2001
You mentioned Craig Kominiak. Do you know him? I haven't heard his name in years. We worked together in NYC many years ago and became great friends, working , drinking, and fishing. Lost touch long ago. I heard he went the bread route and opened a place. Would you know the name?
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Hi Jeff,

No, I don't know him personally. He was one of the guests on the series Baking with Julia and he seems like a nice guy. His recipes featured in the book work beautifully.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
Kimmie, thanks.
He is a great guy. I've already started to track him down. When I find him I will have him log on here and post. I think he has an Artisian bakery in NJ.
Joined Aug 14, 2000
The Bread Bakers Guild of America Membership Directory...

Craig Kominiak
Vieira's Bakery, Inc.
Plant Manager
34-48 Avenue K
Newark, NJ 07105

Mailing Address:
5 Lakeview Avenue
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Joined Nov 29, 2001
I've had a similar problem with the gap in the middle of the loaf and I was wondering, could it be dryness? As in not enough liquid in the dough mixture? I think people tend to add too much flour because of bad examples of bread dough - just like when you make pie crust, you should see butter blobs in it, not like what you get in the supermarket freezer section.

Instead of using extra flour to combat stickiness, how about a bench scraper in one hand, while you fold with your empty hand?
Joined Aug 14, 2000
The bench knife is your friend :) The more you knead, the less sticky the dough should get. Finished dough should be "tacky but not sticky", to quote Peter Reinhart. When you get to that stage, there are still a bunch of places where things can go wrong. Shaping is very important. If you roll the dough into a log and it's not tight enough, you are likely to end up with a non uniform loaf. That's why I like the folding method. For me there is less chance of uneven tension.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Thanks Jeff. I hope Mr. Kominiak will indulge us with his insightful posts. I've baked almost every bread recipe in Baking with Julia and his recipes were amongst my favorites! :rolleyes:
Joined Jan 9, 2002
I never knew about the folding method! I've always rolled my loaves, and they never shaped quite right. I'll have to try this...

Thanks! :bounce:

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