Question for any professional bread bakers out there...

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Joined Jan 3, 2005
I work with a few restaurants and we buy our bread and buns from a local bakery and they are quite good. However, I am constantly having issues with large holes in the sandwich bread (making those slices unusable). And am now having trouble with some of the loaves being wider than others. So, this makes the sandwiches look inconsistent.

When I discuss this with the head baker, he apologizes and explains all of the steps he is taking to resolve the issue, but it keeps happening. Now, I like making bread, but my specialty is dessert and I don't have experience doing bakery-scale bread production. So, what I am asking any of you that have done that kind of bread production - Is this truly a difficult problem to fix with hand-shaped loaves? Or am I right in thinking this shouldn't keep happening?
Please correct me if I should be more patient over this problem.
 

chefpeon

Kitchen Dork
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Joined Jun 15, 2006
I managed large scale bread production for a couple of years and I can say undoubtedly that narrowing down a bread problem can be fairly tricky just because there are so many different causes for the same problem, and on top of that, it may not be one cause, but several. The other thing that makes it tricky is that shop conditions in regard to heat and humidity change from day to day. Not to mention workers who may or may not have the best judgment about knowing what the dough should be like and how to know when the bread is perfectly proofed. They may also not be shaping the loaves properly. After my experience leading a bread crew (Alki Bakery....you know it?), I can honestly say that pumping out consistent loaves every single day can be hella hard. So, yeah...be patient. I attached a professional bread troubleshooting guide in regard to large holes; maybe you could share it with the baker. You’re not using Essential Bakery are you? I know someone there.
 

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chefpeon chefpeon - Thank you! That is a rather long list of potential causes, but I really appreciate the perspective. I will cut him a little slack and see if any of these ring true for him.
Thank you!
 
5,192
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
I understand you prefer the hand forming, but you might want to consider the possibility of your baker using forms or baskets.
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2015
A picture of the bread in question can help pinpoint the causes, or at least give some pretty good clues as to the cause.
 
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Joined Jan 3, 2005
panini panini - I am outsourcing to this bakery, so I don't have direct control over their methods. The bread tastes good and the owner is trying to work with me, so I am hoping he can fix the issue.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
jellly jellly I have to say, if that is a sourdough type bread, it looks really good. The size of the holes don't look that unusual to me especially if ambient yeast is part of the production.
I can see where it may create a problem if the hole is near the crust or directly in the middle. Maybe it might take a little creative thinking on your part instead of the baker.
Maybe placing meats or spreads in different formats. Back before you were probable born we used to use an old sourdough Italian quasi flat bread. We had the bakers drop off a few every loaves a day. When we encountered a sandwich that had a large hole in the bottom, we would just pinch a piece of dough from an extra loaf and just lay it in the hole. Never pressing. It did work.
Just some thoughts from an old fart.
 
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I do not know too many specifics for this dough, but when I spoke to the owner last he was going to work on their shaping technique to minimize trapped air.
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2015
the dough looks properly proofed, and higher than average hydration.
My suggestions would be to add a fold or two during bulk fermentation, or mix a few minutes extra (assuming the use of a planetary mixer) or just extra care to try and de-gas the dough before final shaping, or lower they hydration to tighten up the crumb a bit. The shaping looks fine.
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Jun 11, 2001
Stick with it but slice it the long way maybe?

From experience, the dough may be a bit too slack, but it looks like it has great gluten development. A denser loaf might solve your problem but the crumb may not be what you want.
 
429
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Joined Jan 3, 2005
Stick with it but slice it the long way maybe?

From experience, the dough may be a bit too slack, but it looks like it has great gluten development. A denser loaf might solve your problem but the crumb may not be what you want.
I'm not sure that would make for good sandwiches, but thanks for the suggestion. I think we are actually making progress with this shaping and I really appreciate all of the suggestions.
 

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