The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven Temperature

M2's picture

Oven Temperature

Hi all,

To bake a sourdough bread, I usually set the oven temperature to 500F, then lower it to 4XXF (depending on the recipe). Do you use 350F to bake a sourdough bread?

Here's my confusion:

In Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread, there are quite a number of recipes that involve a soaker, biga and final dough. The weight of the biga is usually 398g. On the side note, he said that the biga can be replaced by the wild yeast starter. My question is, if I do use my sourdough starter in this recipe, does this make it a sourdough bread? And that I should bake it in a pre-heated oven of 500F?

I just did the Multigrain straun the other day with my sourdough starter (instead of a biga). The whole process went well and the dough proofed exactly what the book says: 1 1/2 times the original size. When I moved the dough from the proofing basket onto the sheet, the dough collapsed, and it remained flat in the oven, i.e. no oven spring. I wonder if it is something to do with the low temperature? At the same time, I read success story about baking this bread in 350F on this website...?



Yerffej's picture


It sounds as if your loaf was likely overproofed but it is hard to tell without knowing exactly what you did.


bassopotamus's picture

If it splatted on the way out of the proofing basket, either it's overproofed, or you may have jostled it a little too hard on the way to the sheet (I speak from experience).


As for temp, I don't think the sourdough makes any difference at all. I bake my SD 475/425, but I like it crusty. I do several other loaves that way too that are made with yeast. The whole wheat I make most often I bake at 375 to keep the crust soft, and because it has lots of honey, so it is prone to burning at higher temps

M2's picture

THanks Jeff and Bassopotamus.  It did sound overproofed...But I thought I did follow the instructions:  

1 after mixing everything together, I kneaded the dough till it passed the windowpane test, then formed the dough into a ball and waited until it was 1 1/2 times its original size.

2. shaped and placed it in a proofing basket and waited till it was 1 1/2 times its original size.

3. preheated the over to 425F

4. carefully turned the dough onto the sheet, scored (which was almost impossible as it spreaded out), then put the dough in the oven, poured hot water in hot pan and steam, then turned it down to 350F

5. Dough remained flat.

Maybe I shouldn't wait till the dough rised 1 1/2 times if that is the overproofed stage...

I'll definitely try it again.


ericjs's picture

Try proofing to something that looks short of 1 1/2 times. It's hard to judge exactly and maybe you just tend to underestimate the size.

RobynNZ's picture

While you mention you'd replaced the biga with your starter, it's not clear whether you included any yeast in your final dough. You haven't indicated how long it took for the dough to reach 1.5 times its size or at what temperature it was working. How did you measure the 1.5 size? Eyeballing? Or did you put it in a container with volume measurements marked?  Did you do the poke test when proving?

Sorry to ask so many questions, it's clear you are familiar with sourdough.  I couldn't help but wonder if you did use yeast whether you should try cutting it back a bit, your starter probably has more umph than the little bit of yeast in the Reinhart biga. However if you did the many hours of sourdough fermentations without added yeast to reach the 1.5 size then poking the dough and getting used to what happens during proofing this particular formula may be your best bet. When it reaches the stage that the depression you make with your finger only rebounds slowly and an indentation still remains, your dough is ready for the oven. You may not get 1.5 times expansion with your particular blend, before it is ready. A slightly underproved loaf will give you better oven spring too.

Have fun experimenting!

M2's picture

Hi Robyn,

You asked good questions!  There are so many details to consider... ;) I paid more attention to the rising of the dough and not much to the time or the temperature (I did retard the dough and took it out 4 hours before baking, just like the book says).  The dough was in the basket, so whether it was really 1 1/2 time or not was an could be twice the size...hmm.

I agree with you that it is better to err on the side of underproved loaf (again. I really enjoy watching the dough via the oven window and see it changes!  Thanks again.

RobynNZ's picture

Maybe you could line your basket with a large strong plastic bag and fill it up with a cup of water at a time, to get an idea of the volume.

It won't be long til you recognize when the dough is 'telling' you it's ready in your conditions and you won't be so reliant on what the book says.

It's the challenge of all the many variables which drives the passion that you see from all the contributors to TFL - and the yummy results of course!

Happy Baking