The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Loaf Bottom Blues

mpiper's picture

Loaf Bottom Blues

Greetings everyone. I've been enjoying reading all the great threads and viewing those beautiful photos of breads for a awhile now and need some counsel.

I tackeled my first Sourdough the other day. One of Tom Leonard's from Maggie Glazer's great book on Artisan Breads. The crumb was too tight

and it lacked real tang, but it did "work". The culture took around eight days, but didn't seem to have much spring. I'm just starting to scratch the surface,

so much to know. Here's my latest problem. The bottom of my loafs sometimes seem almost under done. The crumb is more open near the top of the loaf

and the very bottom is tight like a pumpernickle. I'm not getting the nice open crumb, should the bottom color always match the top? Should I lower my rack?

I'm already baking on a half inch pizza stone and pre heat my oven for at least an hour. I generally bake on parchment paper. I'm baking several times a week

and would love to get more consistent color and better volume in my breads, (I have been folding). would love any advice. I have been baking Craig Ponsford's

Ciabatta to rave reviews and get wonderful open webbing from that recipe, I know that's the nature of a slack dough, but I struggle with lower hydration recipes.

Love this site and the wisdom and generosity of it's members.  I'm a real newbie but artisan bread baking has changed my life and I want to learn.



Piper Pane 



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds to me like you need to get some heat at the bottom of that loaf during baking and you could have an oven problem. Do you have an oven thermometer you can hang inside the oven or set on the stone? Would be good to know if it's getting up to temp. Can you control the bottom heat? Bake to get the crust evenly browned tops and bottoms.


Here is a little picture with a loaf that sat over a cold spot: it's lower right and it's top made a little volcano. See the very light bottom? And the air pockets appear to come in from the sides. The lower left loaf has similar problem with large bubbles forming first on the top, slashing, or cutting marks into the dough might have prevented these large bubbles.

Three sourdough loaves, one yeasted

Four sourdough loaves, one yeasted

Lower left is 1/2 kilo, others 1 kg,  The sour yeasted oatmeal loaf cut again in half makes great cheese toast!  These were all baked in various caseroles.  

Mini O

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Moving the stone down should help if the lower coil (electric) is working.  

Mini O

grrranimal's picture

I had a thread over in the Forum on exactly this same problem.  Help!  Help!  I have a soft bottom!  I want a firm bottom!  Crunchy even!

I got a lot of advice about pre-heating for longer, which makes sense, and conservative pre-heating may have been part of my problem.  

However, I think the larger issue, in my case, was that I was over-hydrating my mixes.  For whatever reason -- my current theory being a relatively humid UK environment putting infusing a high ambient hydration into my flour -- pretty much every formula I tried ended up over-hydrating.  I thought I was going crazy, what with all my troubles shaping loaves, slashing, and even getting from peel to stone.  And, of course, my soft, under-done bottoms. 

One day, I realized that I might just have a hang-up about drier doughs, and I should just get the heck over it.  So, I've backed off 5-10% hydration on most formulas, and it's worked like a miracle.

I think that issue of variance in hydration, from kitchen to kitchen, stemming from differences in ambient humidity, are rather under-discussed, here.  We talk a lot about the different absorption properties of different flours, but I see very little allowance or discussion bout the variance introduced by climate.

All that said, hydration may or may not be part of what's making *your* bottom soft.  

"I could have nice buns. But I'd rather loaf."

Prandium longa. Vita brevis.