The cavernous bread

When I cut into this bread and saw what had happened I couldn’t stop laughing. Where did those holes come from? No, wait—they’re not holes… they are caverns!

(I think these are called “fool’s crumbs” in the specialised jargon!)

Slices of bread with big holes

Anyway, disappointing as it looked, at least it was edible, and kept being edible for a week. Sourdough is so amazing, it doesn’t cease to impress me.

I think there are two reasons for this failure:

  1. the starter wasn’t quite active yet (I took it out of the fridge the night before—I should have taken it two nights before)
  2. the dough needed more water; this flour seems to absorb a lot of it!
  3. and maybe it was proving for too long? maybe I should have kneaded better? I don’t know!

Apart from that, the other learning outcome from this experience is that I tried with placing a tray with ice cubes under the bread tray, to create steam, and this time the crust didn’t break in a ridiculous way, and was quite elastic. So, that part worked! 🙂


  • 200g sourdough rye starter
  • 280g water 20℃
  • 500g strong white flour (I used Gilchesters Organics unbleached white)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Gilchesters Organics strong white flour


  1. Mix the starter with the water on a bowl
  2. Place the flour and the salt on a bigger bowl
  3. Add the liquid starter to the bigger bowl
  4. Mix and knead well (using the hands)
  5. Slap and fold for 7 minutes
  6. Cover and rest for 30 minutes
  7. Stretch and fold, cover and rest for 1 hour (repeat 3 times)
  8. Flour the banneton and place the dough on it
  9. Leave to prove for 4 hours
  10. Set the oven to 200ÂșC, place the bread three quarters down from the top, and bake for about 45 minutes.
  11. Then take it out and place on a rack to cool down.


  • Bread number: 2 (in 2019)
  • Looks: 3, the holes are really embarrassing! It didn’t raise at all, and the crumb was too compact. But—the crust was quite flexible and nicely coloured. So there you go.
  • Smells: 6, somehow sour, but a bit too subtle.
  • Tastes: 5, sour, but not too much. A bit too dry. And it’s so compact it will barely absorb butter or oil or anything.
  • Frustration level: 6. Annoyed that after all the slap and fold effort it will not only barely raise, but develop this stupid hole. At least the result is edible, and I learned the ice cubes trick seems to work better than just spraying water before placing the dough on the oven.
  • Would I try baking this again? Maybe not, I’m done with this flour! (Unless I buy another package or they send me one for free, in which case I would add more water! and a more refreshed starter).

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