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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Breads & Baking / How do I get the big bubbles in artisan-style French bread?
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    How do I get the big bubbles in artisan-style French bread?

    Tue May 10, 2005 10:10 pm
    Experienced "Head Chef" Poster
    I made the pre-ferment mixture; overnight it rose to a beautiful height. I then made the dough the following day (but it took 5 hours rather than the 2-1/2 hours in the recipe to rise). The next step said to pour out onto a floured surface and form into rectangles. Form into loaves after a 30 minute rest. Let rise and bake. That's what I did.

    I got WonderBread with a really neat flavor. However, I wanted the flavor with a really open crumb. It didn't happen. I suspect that I was too rough when I formed the initial rectangles. In retrospect, I think I should have gone directly to the final loaves for the finished shape, without letting much of the gas escape. What do you think? I sure would appreciate some input as this has been a quest I've been on for months!
    Donna M.
    Wed May 11, 2005 1:32 am
    Forum Host
    This is a technique that I actually haven't done yet myself, but it seems to be the ultimate bread-baker's goal so it is on my list of things to do. I have done some reading on the subject and have learned that you need a quite wet dough. After it has risen, don't punch it down and shape but rather stretch and fold the dough to shape the loaf.

    I have ordered a book from Amazon that is said to have excellent instructions on how to do this technique (plus much more). It is titled "Bread, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" by Jeffrey Hamelman. I just ordered it a couple of days ago so it will be at least a week before I get it. I will keep you posted.

    What recipe are you using?
    Heather Sullivan
    Wed May 11, 2005 11:49 am Groupie
    If you're using a standard french bread (flour, water, yeast, salt) recipe, Jacque Pepin says you get larger bubbles if you let the dough rise multiple times before shaping and giving it a final rise.
    Wed May 11, 2005 6:39 pm
    Experienced "Head Chef" Poster
    Thanks Donna and Heather! I think the solution might include both of your suggestions. After the complete dough (not just the preferment) had risen for the first time, the CO2 pockets were many and large. That impressed me because the amount of yeast in the recipe was minimal, both in the preferment and the bread dough.

    If I am going to let it rise more than twice, do you think I should punch down the dough each time, except for the last and then gently shape it so as not to disturb the trapped gas? It seems that this technique shows some promise.

    BTW, I have tried a number of recipes (all with generally the same ingredients but a variety of techniques). My last attempt, and the most flavorful so far was from the "Better Homes and Gardens 75th Edition Cookbook".
    Donna M.
    Thu May 12, 2005 12:03 am
    Forum Host
    I wouldn't punch down the dough. Just stretch it and fold it back upon itself to shape the loaf. According to what I have read, stretching the dough realigns the gluten strands so that the dough can rise again. Also, make sure that you have a very wet dough for big holes. Bear in mind that I haven't tried this myself--I'm only passing on info that I have read!
    Thu May 12, 2005 6:12 pm
    Experienced "Head Chef" Poster
    Thanks Donna, I'll be gentle with the dough. You are right about the wet dough. My first rise produced nice big gas pockets and that was a very sticky dough. I will take another run at it and let you know how it turns out. Please let me know what you think of your new book, OK?
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