The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


The Cats Other Mother's picture

Pain de Mie overflow!

June 3, 2011 - 2:21pm -- The Cats Other ...

Twenty minutes in to my latest loaf of Pain de Mie, and instead of the wonderful smell of bread baking, I was alarmed by the smell of something burning instead.  Peeking in, I found that the dough had forced its way out and some had fallen to the bottom of the oven.  I got the lid off and hopefully what stayed put will be as good as ever, but I need to know if the cause was:

A: Too much dough.  I added about a cup of extra flour, plus 1/4 cup mixed grains to my recipe, the first because my dough was very wet, and the other for more texture.

Salilah's picture

Wanted to share a sonewhat strange experiment with you!

I was refreshing my rye starter from the fridge, so kept 75g and refreshed (back in the fridge after a while) and decided to boost what was left with some white flour and water to build into a baking levain.  I knew I could only do one small loaf, but the starter seemed so lively, I thought "Why not use all of this?"

Dubious recipe:
53og rye & white starter 100% hydration (roughly)
200g flour
50g warm water
8g salt
(to get to around 68% hydration I think)

Mixed up fine without the salt - autolyse for around 45m then S&F in the bowl.  Getting late so it went into the fridge for around 14 hours

Out again this morning, S&F, added salt, S&F.  It appeared to be getting more rather than less sticky with the S&F in the bowl, and I had a reasonably good windowpane.  Turned out onto a floured board and shaped roughly then one formal S&F and covered for 30m.  Repeated again and waited 30m.  Rough shape and waited 30m.  Final shape - it seemed fine, quite firm, getting a reasonable shape (though I am not very good yet).

Floured very lightly, then covered with oiled clingfilm to proof.  After about an hour and a half, I checked and saw - the cowpat!


The skin was tearing all across the loaf - in some places just gently folding away from the inside!  Finger-poking felt normal (some spring back) but I thought I ought to bake ASAP!

Oven 230, didn't bother to slash as it was splitting anyway - just a little bit of steam at 5m and 10m

It came out looking almost reasonable (if a bit still cow-patty):


It tastes quite nice!  Quite sour - which I guess comes from teh long retarding and the really high %age of sourdough starter.

I'm guessing the tearing of the skin comes from being well over-proofed?  It wasn't particularly long, but I assume the low amount of flour compared to the amount of starter meant the yeast ran out of food too early?  Any other thoughts?


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


In my blog entry Test Tube Baking [1]: White French Bread I investigated how the final proof  affects the outcome: Where does underproof end and where does overproof start, and what are the symptoms in the finished bread...

I chose to make batards proved seam-side up, and I think the choice of this method somewhat carmouflaged the effects of overproofing: Because the loaves had to be turned over onto a peel the fragile areas just under the skin collapsed, resulting in loaves with a surprisingly even texture. (this is my interpretation)

I wanted to see those big holes!

This time I decided to make 200g boules and avoid all handling during and after the final proof: after shaping I put them on buttered baking trays.

3 boules at 200g each, proved for 60, 120 and 160 minutes. The environment was slightly coolet than last time, about 22 to 24C.

At 60 minutes the boules seemed well risen and the poke test showed a slow response.

At 120min the remaining 2 boules had spread quite a bit, and when poking the dough it didn't resist any more.

boule raw 60 min


At 160 min the piece of dough which had been a boule looked more like a focacia, but it had all those bubbles. Poking the dough created bubbles places far away from the dent.

boule raw 160 min

A sad sight.

Here is a picture of the baked loaves:



Oven spring: the 60 min boule had good oven spring (30%), the 120 min boule had little oven spring, and the 160 min boule had no oven spring at all.

Blowouts: The 60min boule had a blowout near the base.

All loaves had fairly weak bottom crust due to them being baked on baking sheets, which were cold.

Some crumb shots:

crumb 60min

A big hole! at 60 min proof!

proof 120min

A different kind of a hole at 120 min. And quite a different crumb. Signs of gluten breakdown.

proof 160min

Total gluten breakdown at 160 min.

The crumb of this last specimen is more like the crumb I know from 100% hydration rye breads, just much dryer. The bubble structure of a bread at 60 min has turnted more into a complex structure with no distinct air pockets: everything is connected. There is no springiness, and the feeling in the mouth is more like cake, the taste a bit yeasty.

Here a direct comparison of the crumb:


The huge blowout at 60 min was a surprise, I attributed it to a lack of slashing.

So I made 2 more boules with 60 min final proof, on buttered cold baking trays, one slashed, the other not.

slash 1


Both had blowouts of some degree, and the area under the skin was still very weak in the slashed loaf, while the unslashed loaf had a big hole.

slash crumb


I attribute this crumb to the cold baking tray- when put in the oven the top of the boules start fermenting immediately while the bottom gets going only after the baking sheet gets hot.

So many things to consider.


In this experiment I produced some overproofed loaves with visible effects of gluten breakdown.

The reference loaves proofed at "optimum" time showed blowouts and flying crust which (I think) are effects of not slashing, and using cold baking trays.

I hope you find my investigations useful.

My family found these experiments tasty, and you will be glad to hear nothing has been wasted.





nicolesue's picture

Is it possible to overproof?

May 18, 2010 - 3:24am -- nicolesue


I made the French Loaf using the Lean Dough Recipe from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Everyday (ABED). The recipe said to leave the dough in the refridgerator overnight for fermentation, and it will double/triple in size after 4-12 hours. I took it out the next day, and noticed that the dough hasn't doubled at all (not even an inch). So I decided to leave it on the counter for about 6 hours. The dough doubled in volume and look promising. I know it's not a good idea to abandon the dough for too long, fearing overproofing, but the results turn out to be fantastic.

Susan's picture

This little loaf is a perfect example of overproofing.  This is not a good thing.  Note the light color of the crust, the short stature, the spreading, and the more biscuit-like crumb.  I made a pizza with half the dough, and forgot the rest for a few hours.  A little bird told me to go ahead and bake it, but being hard-headed, I shaped it and put it in the fridge for the night.  You see the result.  My apologies to the little bird for not following her suggestion.

Susan from San Diego

parousia's picture

After 1 year from the birth of our son I have returned to baking bread. The steam thing for crust and rise has never worked for me with certainty, and my wife thinks that it is a bit overly dramatic to have plumes of steam in the kitchen. So, I started to get the outer surface of the loaf really wet and every 5 min(for the first 15-20 until starts rising) remove the loaf and re-wet. All this from a cold start.

A child has been a phenomenal aid to the motivation of time management and systematic trial and error.  For those visual learners out there, I would like to share this side by side comparison below.

It seems that the loaf did not quite double. As can be seen by the rip at the upper left, it could have proofed a while longer, maybe until it showed a more pronounced clearing of the lip of the bread tin. The wetting technique allowed me to get this rise whereas before with steam I could not.

Below are 3 pictures:

  1. The first successful sourdough 65% hydration.
    1. Crust was way too thick on the sides from the baking tin(450deg and too long time)

  1. Same sided by second loaf same formula(for size and rise comparison).
    1. The first had just crested the lip of the baking tin but expanded to fill the shape of the tin.

  1. The second loaf but the horizontal consequence of over proofing.
    1. filled with sharp cheddar and cracked pepper, while a monster to look at, it is to be reckoned with next to a pot of homade chicken soup.

      Strangely the second loaf at 65% hydration, when folding, when overproofed felt more like 85% hydration at mixing.

Merry Breadmas and may this season be full of life to you and your kitchen,


KipperCat's picture

No Knead Half WW

This is the bread I baked yesterday, using half and half whole wheat and white flour. It barely rose, though got a little oven spring. But it isn't a brick! The flavor is very good and the crumb is nice and soft. I think I overproofed by about 2 hours, but may have the other elements right.

Here's the dough just before going in the oven. The gluten strands on the dough surface didn't hold when I rounded the dough. You can see how torn up it looks. I stopped shaping because I was making it worse with each little stretch. Would the overproofing account for that? Quite a contrast to my last dough pic, isn't it! It's not well-risen, but it passed the finger-stick test, so in the oven it went. I didn't think it would take a free-form bake, so used my 4 quart saucepan for baking it.

Once the dough is losing it like this, is there any way to return it to a nice plump state that holds together? It actually has risen some in the colander since I shaped and placed the dough there, but the dough seemed rather torn up, and further rounding was just making it worse.

I should clarify that the overproofing seemed to be in the 18 hour stage.  The dough seemed a bit liquid in the center when I dumped it out on the board. 

Here are the exact ingredients used, with the standard NYT Jim Leahy method

215 grams KA white whole wheat flour

215 grams all purpose flour - GoldMedal

1.5 tsp. salt

.25 tsp. yeast

1.5 Tbsp. gluten

1/8 tsp. Vitamin C crystals

1 3/4 cup water

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