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I'm using the "Saturday White Bread" recipe from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I'm very happy with the results so far, except for the irregularity of the bubbles. Here's my loaf:

My sliced bread

For contrast, here's a photo of the same recipe from Forkish's book:

Ken Forkish's Saturday White Bread

His bubbles are not perfectly uniform, but they are a lot more uniform than mine. The dense areas are not as dense, and the largest bubbles are not nearly as large.

The recipe I followed:

1000 grams all-purpose unbleached flour

720 grams water, 95°f

21 grams salt

4 grams “active dry” yeast

Complete procedure here.

Some areas are very dense with small bubbles, while others are large and cavernous. An average 1/2" thick slice has two or three large holes going clean through.

Is there any way to even out the bubble size without reducing the overall airiness?

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    Looks like pretty good hearth bread! Some seek that kind of crumb, with its custardy goodness. It looks squat, so hydration and gluten content/development are probably in play. Would you share hydration percentage and type of flour (e.g., general type, protein content or milling coarseness if available)? I make something like this; is yours similar? – hoc_age Feb 13 '15 at 2:38
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    Would lowering the hydration help? – Rick Feb 13 '15 at 22:41
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    To clarify my comment more. To me, those bubbles indicate you are doing everything correctly. If this reference is accurate artisanbakers.com/crumb.html I wonder if your hydration is accidentally higher than 72% and I wonder if lowering your hydration would help? – Rick Feb 13 '15 at 22:48
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    Maybe it was a humid day! – Preston Feb 14 '15 at 0:17
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    This is just me, but your bread looks better. Look at the pictures here! YUM! cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/47667/… – Jolenealaska Mar 2 '15 at 12:11
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Given that the second picture is what you desire, your bread is over proofed. The large irregular bubbles and flat or sunken overall shape is indicative of such. There are a couple of things you can try:

  • Make sure to form the loaf such that it has a nice taught skin on the outside prior to final proofing. You will notice in the second picture, the bubble structure is obviously interrupted from where the loaf was folded inward onto itself to stretch the outer skin tight. (Note the concentration of large bubbles towards the lower mid-left of the loaf)
  • Don't let your bread proof for so long. Typically the longer the proofing period, the bigger the bubbles.
  • Punch the bread down more vigorously between proofings. This helps to pop the bubbles that have gotten too large.

That said, I would much rather eat the first loaf of bread, as that open structure and sturdy crust is what a lot of us home bakers enjoy most.

Extra Credit: If you want your loaf to be tall instead of flat there are a few other things to try.

  • Develop a stronger gluten structure by kneading or stretching.
  • Make sure to form a taught skin around the outside of the dough when shaping the final loaf. This will help to constrict the outward spread of the dough.
  • Use a structured vessel to support the dough during the final rise. If you try to make a loaf like the one pictured on a flat surface, it will inevitably spread out and droop. Cheers!
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I almost closed this as a duplicate of other "small bubbles" questions, when I realized that you may not be aware that it is connected. Especially, you say

even out the bubble size without reducing the overall airiness

which is different than wanting dense bread.

What you ask for is impossible. Yeast builds lively colonies, and they grow, well, organically. What is a bad word in the tech sector is perfect in bread. But of course, the resulting bubbles are not uniform.

The only way to make uniform bubbles is to make a crumb which is so unconductive to bubble growth that all of them stay tiny. This results in a dense bread resembling a dish sponge in texture. As soon as you follow a method geared towards "as much air as the dough will hold", you get large bubbles with lots of air, and in the space between them, small bubbles, and between, smaller ones, and so on.

By the way, this picture shows that everything has been done right. Your recipe is geared towards this result, and you got it. Again, if you want other types of bread which are known for small bubbles, such as American toast bread, you will have to use a completely different method.

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    Thanks for your answer! I added to my question a photo from Ken Forkish's book, showing the expected result of the recipe. To my eye it looks like it is just as light and airy as my loaf, but with a more uniform bubble size. There appear to be more medium-sized bubbles, and the largest bubbles are not nearly so large as in my loaf. That's all I'm trying to achieve. – Robert Feb 13 '15 at 23:27

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