The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What am I doing wrong?

gigithegreat's picture

What am I doing wrong?

I have made sourdough 5 times now and it keeps turning out flat. The directions I have say to put the formed loaf on a baking sheet and let it rise. The problem is it "rises" the wrong way. It gets bigger, but not by getting taller it gets wider. Is there some sort of pan for a sourdough loaf? Is there some trick to getting it to rise and not just widen? This is really frusterating me! I don't want flatbread, I want beautiful half circle sourdough loaf. =O 

arlo's picture

Sounds like this could be a shaping problem. Sometimes if you do not create enough surface tension on the loaf while shaping, the loaf can and will seem to 'deflate'. Try again but after watching a video on shaping a boule or round loaf. That just may help out : )

Marni's picture

You can use a banneton, or bsket for letting the shaped loaf rise.  I use a linen lined basket, sometimes even just a sieve with a linen towel in it.  When the loaf is ready, I turn it out, slash and bake.

The above comment is one possibility, it is also possible that the loaf is over risen or very wet.

There are more possible ideas, but these are some to start with.


LindyD's picture

Could be the recipe you're using, or maybe your SD culture isn't sufficiently mature/active.  

It might be helpful if you would give some details about the recipe, including the proofing times, as well as the age of your SD culture and how often you refresh it before using it.

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

I agree with arlo that it could be lack of strong surface tension, because I have had the same problem.  My sourdough loaves improved greatly when I took more care to develope the surface tension by folding, tightening the seam, etc.  If you look under "Lessons", above, you might find some advice on this.  I know there's a video posted on this site, maybe it's the Julia Child bread episode under "Favorites".   I have not needed a banneton.  Another thing that helped give my hearth breads more heighth is to use a baking stone.  While the loaves may look kinda flat going into the oven, the almost immediate oven spring makes up for it. 

5n1k's picture

I think you are adding too much water or too much kneading your dough.... your dough has not enough energy to stand

dont forget that recipes should be changed by changing conditions...

your flours gluten percentage could be different from the flour in recipe.....

good luck...

muscat_gummy's picture

Have you tried maybe making a batard instead of a boule? I had the same problem with a boule (It actually broke apart on top of spreading out too much.) but a batard rises wonderfully for me. Or, if you don't mind smaller breads, try making two small boules. I guess it still boils down to not having enough surface tension for a large boule, but if your loaves rise well with the other shapes you'll at least know it's a surface tension problem and not something else wrong with you dough.