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Flat loaf with little oven spring but a nice flavor

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spacekadet's picture
spacekadet

Flat loaf with little oven spring but a nice flavor

Hi all,


I'm a bit new to sourdough baking, and freeform baking in general.  So bear with my newbie questions!


I've tried a few loaves with the my sourdough starter, both wholemeal and a mix of whole and white flours.  The sourdough seems perfectly active and the dough always rises nicely (doubles in size) during the first rise.  The trouble starts between the second rise in the proofing basket and putting it into the oven.


When I turn the dough out of the basket, it flattens appreciably, and even more when I slash it.  It doesn't rise very much in the oven.


 


First sourdough loaf, pre oven  a bit flat


I tend to let it proof more than the recipe-recommended hour (I'm using this recipe as a guide) because it doesn't rise very much in the basket after only an hour - it seems to need at least 3 or 4. Could this be the problem? 


Another question - should I be letting it proof right-side-up or upside-down?  If the former, how do I get it right-side-up before putting it into the oven?


Sigh, current loaf in the oven is look more like a cow patty than a loaf of bread (I must confess - this one proofed in the basket overnight before baking it this morning).  Back to the drawing board!


Thanks in advance for your help,


Monica

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi Monica,


It sounds like over proofing and possibly a bit too much hydration to me.  I just had a similar problem with my baguettes.  Also, for me, was letting the starter get a little past its prime.  Once the starter heads down that road, it tends to dissolve the protein and make cow-patties.  If I were you, I'd be sure that my starter was fairly freshly fed (I feed mine twice a day - morning and night), and I'd back off on the hydration a bit (I'm at 65% myself these days), and I'd try respecting the recommended proofing time and see if you don't get a nice bit of oven spring.


Good luck.


:-Paul


PS  If you proof upside down, then you turn the proofing basket over onto a piece of parchment paper.  An easy way to do that is to put the paper on top of the basket, then the peel on top of that, flip the whole mess and voila! you've got your boule on the parchment paper and on the peel.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Monica! 


Welcome aboard!


I pretty much agree with Paul but will add some wrinkles.


You have nice crumb which suggests to me your problems are probably overproofing. Could be hydration but...I don't think so - at least not much because the crumb looks about right. Could also be a bit underdeveloped (underkneaded) but again I think the crumb votes against that. 


The biggest symptom seems to be lack of oven spring and that generally results from overproofing and potentially low oven humidity (which allows the loaf to form a crust prematurely and inhibit oven spring.


Don't wait for it to double before baking sourdough. At 70 degrees F or higher it should be ready to bake in 3 to 4 hours (or less) of loaf formation. It may only grow 50% or so. But it will leap in the oven!


Good Luck!


Jay

spacekadet's picture
spacekadet

Paul and Jay - Thank you SO much for messages.  This was incredibly helpful, especially Paul's P.S. about the proofing basket.  It seems so obvious now!


Well, I put both of your suggestions to use and tried another loaf.  This time, I made one smaller loaf and 4 rolls.  I still used a mix of white and wholemeal breaf flour, but upped the white flour a bit.  I didn't mess with the hydration much, just did what I always do - add enough flour until it "feels right" then kneaded it for 10 minutes.  I only let them proof for about 3 hours.  I did this directly on the pele instead of a basket.  After the 3-hour proof, the dough didn't look as if it'd risen much, but I resisted the urge to let them proof any longer and put the dough into the hot oven with a tray of boiling water at he bottom.


You were so right: they sprung in the oven!  Especially the rolls - it almost looks as if they sprung once, and then rose and split again? Is this a good thing?


 


Sourdough bread experimentsSmall loaf - not bad!A little lopsided but I'm diggin' those holes!


I'm pretty happy with this, though I know I can do better. =)  I feel like I've crossed a major hurdle in my bread baking.  I've been doing Mark Bittman's "no knead loaf" for the last couple years, and while I still like it for ultra-easy bread baking, the sourdough is far more rewarding and WAY more flavorful. 


Looking forward to my next loaf.  Thanks again!


Monica

longhorn's picture
longhorn

Hi Monica!


That looks much better! Nice, erratic crumbe. The rip on the slashes looks good and, yes, a double "spring" is I think s proper look, a gentler initial expansion and an area of rip where it tears a bit. I want that. 


Also note the color of the loaves. The big loaf looks more "golden" in the new batch. Shorter proofing means there is more sugar in the dough that can caramelize. The rolls are interesting. Note that they are lighter. It looks to me like they dried a bit on the outside and that the "crust" kept them from expanding until they sort of exploded. I am guessing they dried a bit because the color is wrong and the rip pattern. It could also be they were baked later (and more overproofed) which often gives a less golden color due to less sugar. I think it was drier crust and/or less humidity in the oven (not true if they were baked at the same time!)


Gorgeous loaf! Well done!


Jay