The Fresh Loaf

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My first sourdough seems a loan way off - HELP

Ain't no Mary Berry's picture
Ain't no Mary Berry

My first sourdough seems a loan way off - HELP


on my now 7th attempt at a sourdough loaf and the interior has no crumb whatsoever! A wonderful crust, but the inside looks and feels like a barely cooked gloop!

so I have this seemingly active starter for 10 days - 1:1 rye flour to water, and I've followed this recipe:


500 gram strong white flour

100 gram water

250g sourdough starter

and a tea spoon of salt

mixed to a shaggy pile and formed into a boule and left to prove for 16 hours on which time it doubled in size - all seemed to be well with the world at this point.

Pre heated the oven to 200 degrees C and baked on a hot tray for 30 mins then dropped the temp to 160 degrees C for another 25 mins.

and when the time comes - it has a decent crust but a crumb that is so tight and inside almost still doughy.

what am I doing so wrong? I thought I had the hydration levels correct as previous attempts had 150 g of water with the rest of the ingredients the same.

thanks for any pointers - am determined to get a sourdough loaf sometime soon!

adri's picture

I guess, you overproofed it by decades (or just hours).

If I want to built a levain I take 5% to 10% of starter and let it ferment for 16 hours. You take about 50%! And not for the levain, but for the final dough!

If I want to directly built the final dough (without using levain), my "general recipe" for white bread is:

400g flour; 300g water, 8g Salt, 8g starter.

For 500g flour added to the final dough I'd therefore would use just 10g of starter with such a long fermentation. With your still very young starter maybe a bit more, but definitely not 25 times the amount.


CeciC's picture

The hydration % of the formula you used is less than 50% could that be a typo? 

Did you second proof your bread? 

Mirko's picture

Your recipe sounds a bit weird anyway you need more water (65-67 hydration) and more heat 230-235 degree C all the time and bake for 40-45 min!


Bakingmadtoo's picture

I would definitely second more heat. My first few sour dough loaves, whilst not exactly doughy, were weird inside. I had to bake hotter and longer than I would with a commercially yeasted bread, I think the baking time is probably around right, but I normally turn the oven down to 200c for the last 25 mins, having started at 230-250c. 

Bigger holes in the crumb needs more hydration, the less water the more like sandwich bread the crumb will be.

Did the loaf rise nicely in the oven?

dabrownman's picture

instant read thermometer.  Bake the bread to 96 C on the inside.  Where did you get this horrible formula?  Get rid of it.  Use the 1: 2: 3  formula for a first go at SD 1 part starter 2 parts water and 3 parts flour with 2% salt.

Weigh everything Take 10 g of starter and add 60 g each of flour an water to it and let it sit on the counter overnight for 12 hours until it doubles in volume.  Once the starter has doubled you have 130 g of levain.  Combine this with 230 g of water , holding 30 g back to dissolve the salt in, and 390 g of flour.  Mix and let this sit undisturbed for 30 minutes.  Dissolve 9 g oif salt in the reserved 30 g of water.  After 39 minutes squish the salt water thought eh dough with your fingers until it is incorporated.

Do 4 sets of stretch and folds on 30 minute intervals to develop the gluten then let it sit for 30 minutes before pre-shaping an shaping.  Place the shaped loaves into rice floured baskets so they don't stick.

Now you can either let it rise in a plastic bag to 85% proof, slash and bake it at 240 C with steam for 15 minutes before removing the steam and baking at 220 C, convection this time, until the middle of the bread reaches 96 F,

Or you can refrigerate it overnight in a plastic bag after shaping, slash  and bake it cold out of the oven once it rises 85% in the cold.  Either way works great. 

Happy SD baking

Ain't no Mary Berry's picture
Ain't no Mary Berry

Ok - you've all given me some valid pointers to continue on with!

onwards for my SD journey!

and for the record the recipe is from Paul,holly woods BREAD - but after 7 attempts I've amended a little each time, with each one not much more an improvement on the last! 

mwilson's picture

I suspected this was Paul Hollywood's formula! Along with others here it's obvious this formula doesn't work on paper nor in practice as you have confirmed. Proof that Paul Hollywood is just a showboating celeb claiming to be a "master baker". He may have some skills in other areas but he certainly is no sourdough master that's for sure. Proper numpty!

chris319's picture

Try kneading your dough.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the flour

Is this the recipe?

(sure beats 36% hydration dough)

mwilson's picture

This is not the same formula. The OP is following the one from his book. Besides a 16hr proof at room temp with that high percentage of sourdough. Mental!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

but clearly the posted recipe was a bad one.  With that much sourdough starter, the dough would have to be chilled for the 16 hrs unless the kitchen was below 55°F.  I've run into that myself.  A cold kitchen takes forever!  Cold water, cold flour...  my stock cupboard is 60°F (outside wall old house)  so I'm warming up my ingredients.  

I like the 1,2,3 sourdough formula   (starter, water, flour)  by weight when using wheat.  Hold back just a little of the water while blending as some flours are more absorbent than others.   1,6 to 2% salt on the total flour weight. 

Heath's picture

To be fair, Paul Hollywood's show Bread did get me into baking bread, and his classic Bloomer recipe worked just fine for me.  When I moved onto sourdough, however, I found his recipes didn't work out well and I quickly moved onto formulas found here on TFL and other well-respected sourdough sites.

Don't give up on sourdough, Ain't No Mary Berry.  Try the 1:2:3 formula Dabrownman mentions above, and follow his instructions.

Ain't no Mary Berry's picture
Ain't no Mary Berry

can you suggest a good sourdough recipe book to guide me through my journey of sourdough? i've been told that the Dan Lepard "the handmade loaf" and Andrew Whitley "bread Matters" are very good.