The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Post - A work in progress, but a question?

AlamedaSteve's picture

First Post - A work in progress, but a question?

This is my first post at this incredibly helpful site.

Here are my latest loaves - pretty happy w/crumb and taste, but would like more oven spring.  I am using a 40% hyd starter, and Sir Lancelot 14.2% flour.

Ingredients - 675g water, 420g starter, 964g flour, 75g raw wheat germ, and 20g salt.

Rough mix, autolyse, 3 S&F's, fridge overnight, out of fridge 3hrs, bake 450deg. covered for 20mins., uncovered for 15mins.

Any suggestions on better volume?



davidg618's picture

my estimated 70% dough hydration, I think you're getting about all the oven spring you might expect. However, I have one suspicion: underproofing.

Do you keep your dough at room temperature while you stretch and fold, and for how long? Or do you begin to chill it immediately after autolyse? When do you shape it? (I noted you are using bannetons.) Does final proof occur during the three hours out of the fridge, or following? And for how long?

My questions are pointed at the possibility you are underproofing your loaves, perhaps both during bulk proofing, and final proofing, but the information you provided re proofing isn't detailed.

I find, ovenspring depends largely on how active (yeast performance) is my formula-ready starter--I look for its volume to quadruple during its final build--and carrying bulk proofing, and final proofing to 90 to 100%.

Another trick I use: High heat at the beginning, with steam (500°F), lowering the heat to 450°F when I insert the loaves, or after five minutes.

David G

AlamedaSteve's picture


Thanks for the input.

During S&F I maintain the dough in the mid to high 70deg range.  Final shaping occurs after final S&F.

I suspect you are right about underproofing.  I have assumed final proofing occurs during the 3hr period out of the fridge, before baking; however, I have this strange fear of OVERproofing, and may not be allowing enough time.  I will try letting it go longer.

As for steaming the oven, I usually get a cast iron pan very hot on the stove, then pour boiling water in it just before putting it in the oven.  However, I have been experimenting with a system offered by Susan from San Diego.  Her theory is to forget about steaming, and just put a steel bowl over the boule trapping and steaming the moisture leaving the boule.  Then, remove the bowl during the final 15 mins of baking.  This seems to work as well as the pan method.

I will try reducing the water and increasing the proofing time.

Thanks again.


milwaukeecooking's picture

I agree with David.  It doesn't seem like your dough could handle more oven spring.  Do you use a baking stone?  I heat my stone to 500 before baking and that adds a great initial spring.  The only other thing I can think of is bulking up your flour percentage or dropping your water down to 68-67%.  A 70% hydration won't have much rise to it because your dough can't create enough nice starch bubbles. 

AlamedaSteve's picture


Thank you.

I do use a stone, preheated to 500deg just before baking.

I will try reducing the water; which, I assume will produce a compromise between spring and crumb.