The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

is this possible that rye starter is too strong ?

pysiek's picture

is this possible that rye starter is too strong ?

Hi there, 

this is my first question here. For a long time I was only a reader here but lately I started to have some difficulty with my bread making technics and need some advise.

I am baking different types of bread and using different types of flour, most of the time I prefered to use my own starters.

I made rye starter around 3 years ago and I was using it at least twice a week. Last few weeks when preparing the bread dough it "behave" normally during knead-rise-fold etc process and only once in oven it almost exploded ! The bread is not only with holes, the bread is one big hole inside ! I have  not changed the type of lfour or proportion of bread mixture so this is really wierd to me. After a few disasters bread loafs I decided to de-creased the amount of starter. After adding only half of usual amount of starter the bread was mostly fine but again the big holes accumulated on the top of bread and very dense near the bottom. 

I am quite happy to keep my experiments but ... also need daily bread :-D

What do you think ? what I am doing wrong ? 



BreadBro's picture

Probably problems with your kneading and shaping technique, not the starter. Your gluten could be underdeveloped, allowing the gas to form in one big pocket at the top. 

Here's a pretty interesting post about the topic:

pysiek's picture

Thank you. I feel quite confident to knead and fold bread dough and as I hav e mentioned I am making breads with success for awhile now. That is why the sudden big bubbles inside surpirised me a lot.

Thank you for your link I will keep trying.


pmccool's picture

Hi Evangeline,

Here are some ideas to consider.  Perhaps one of them will be useful.  Or perhaps not.

First, even though you are using the same kind of flour, the flour may be different.  Perhaps the protein content has changed.  Or the miller is using a different kind of wheat or rye. Or, something else.  Unless you can perform some complex laboratory analyses, the only way to find out is to talk to someone at the flour mill.  They may be willing and able to answer your questions, or they may not.

Second, have temperatures changed recently?  If your kitchen or bakery is much warmer now than it was just a few weeks ago, dough fermentation will proceed rapidly.  That might lead to weaker dough.  Your comment about better results after reducing the amount of starter in the bread suggests that something is happening during fermentation.

Have you noticed any differences in the dough before you bake it?  If you have, the differences may provide clues about the changes you see in the baked bread.

Best wishes for a diagnosis and improvement with the bread.


pysiek's picture

Hi Paul :)

thank you very much for your ideas. ACTUALLY this is something I have not considered: the temperature ! yes, this may be right b'coz I am living in Australia and we are in the middle, maybe not very cold, but still cold winter. So, maybe the fermentation takes longer or as per previous note maybe my bread dough is under-developed because is colder and I need to work on it longer ?

You are right about flour type as well ... honesty, we don't have much choice here. The mills selling flour directly to traders only and as individual I can purchase flour in bulk from some continental shops and is always different :( 

Anyway thank you for your notes and I will send more info if get a better result.




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"...big holes accumulated on the top of bread and very dense near the bottom."   

and it could be that the rye is more powerful.   Try reducing the rye starter to even less or get your salt in right away (if you are delaying salt.)  

If you are adding additional yeast, stop.  The rye sourdough starter is strong enough to do it alone.

pysiek's picture

Thank you but ... now, I am confused under developed or overproofed ? 

I am still trying and I worked bit longer on dough and give it more time to rise. Today bread look much better, still hot so I may send some photos once coooled.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Does your starter still smell and taste the same when it is peaked and ready to be added to the dough?  Can you taste yeast or the aftertaste of yeast?  

If not, then the starter needs work.  Boost dough with some added yeast until the starter is back up on its feet again.

If the starter is the same and your temps have dropped... then find a warmer spot for the starter and/or use more starter in the recipe.  

If using less starter in the the recipe is helping, then the starter has gotten stronger and/or there are more enzymes fermenting the starters.  

Tell us about the crumb that is in the middle between the wet heavy and the big holes.  How dispersed is the gas?  A good close up shot of the crumb would help.  If the crumb is generally dense, the small bubbles very round and encased, development was slow the bulk rise was cut too short.  The gas and dough needed to be folded or shaped again bursting the large gas bubbles and improving the dough's ability to trap gas and rise evenly.  

If the bubbles in the crumb are irregular and odd shaped, gas at the top and density inside the crust and at the bottom, that sounds overproofed.  (just to mention it:  Forgetting the salt can also lead to overproofing or irregular proofing.)  How did the finished bread taste?