The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Too much ovenspring...

Breadhouse's picture

Too much ovenspring...

I recently started using the stretch & fold technique with good results but since then my bread seems to over rise in the oven. I don't know why this is happening and would appreciate it if someone knows why the dough is doing this. Here are the details of my recipe:


Starter hydration: 108%

Starter %: 40%

total hydration: 70%

Salt: 2%


I mix the starter, salt and water for 10 minutes in a mixer. I let the dough rest for 45 minutes at 25'C(even though the dough temperature is 10'C after mixing, it only rises to 12'C after resting) and then stretch and fold a couple of times until the dough becomes stiffer. I place the dough in the fridge overnite and the next morning I take it out and let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. I then stretch & fold the dough again and shape into a boule. I proof the dough at 30'C for 1.5 hours. I baked it in a gas oven with an inch thick ceramic tile at 230'C(turned down to 200'C after placing the dough in), give the oven one good spray of water and bake for 40 minutes.

I use a lame to slash the top just before placing it in the oven. I try to keep the lame at a30 degree angle and about 1cm deep(maybe slightly less).

The taste and texture is just as I want it but the over blooming is an eye sore! I am not too happy with the crumb's holes and will slightly reduce the hydration the next time but taste and softness wise it is very good. 

I would really appreciate some advice!









Mebake's picture

hi Breadhouse!

Eruptions during oven spring such as the one you had is due to:

1 - Either You have underproofed the dough way too much, so the loaf will erupt at scores when you load it in.

2 - Tight Shaping

3 - Uneven scoring depth.


Hope this helps


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

during baking.  "ye ol volcano loaf"  I've had my share of those!   Heat bakes and sets the sides of the loaf more and then when the wet dough in the lower middle gets warmed up it rises straight up.

It would be helpful to tell us more about (or take a picture of the inside of) the oven.   I think the loaf will automatically improve when the baking situation improves.   Is that lower coil or bottom heating up nicely?   How close is the loaf to the bottom of the oven?


Breadhouse's picture

a large 'pizza style' oven with two, 1 inch thick, ceramic tiles which of course lies directly on top of a metal place under which the burners are. It's a gas powered oven. I use an external thermometer to measure the heat. I first switch on the bottom burner and let the temperature rise to about 210'C(as the heat still increases long after it is switched off). I then turn on the top burner to 240'C and once that temperature is reached, I place the dough in the oven, turn the bottom heat off, turn the top heat to 200'C and bake it.

I suspected the reason for my 'volcano' is the method I am using to make my bread now. I used to knead the old fashion way, place in the fridge and shape and proof for 3-4 hours before baking. This resulted in a nice round boule with no visible cracks or splits but with limited oven spring.

A few weeks ago I changed to the stretch & fold method and found the bread rises very nicely. I then reduced my starter to flour ratio from 70% to 40%. I also reduced the proofing times by half since I thought the good oven spring means I don't need so much proofing time. Guess I was wrong. I now strongly suspect that I am under proofing my dough. 

I will test this and place some photo's of the next batch by Wednesday. Thanx for the assist!

ananda's picture

Hi Mini,

doesn't that suggest the proof regime is too cold?

That was the way my thought was going too



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

The hints in

I used to knead the old fashion way, place in the fridge and shape and proof for 3-4 hours before baking.

sounds like no warm rise time and

I then reduced my starter to flour ratio from 70% to 40%. I also reduced the proofing times by half since...

further cut into the rise times.  But the crumb shows bubbles, a few good sized ones at that.  Knocking out the gas before shaping is a good idea unless there arn't any.  Then one would wonder if the rising before shaping wasn't a little short.  That initial rise plays such an important role in the entire timing of the fermenting process, then gets magnified with time.  I still think the oven heat is the problem here.  Too much upper heat and not enough lower heat.  The lower crust looks much too pale to me.

My oven here is Austria is a little marvel, but has its quirks too.   A grand pizza oven would be wonderful!  Although designed to bake pizzas, some toggling of the temp controls is needed to keep the oven from getting too warm.  I can understand that.  I think the trick here would be to keep the bottom heat on longer, I don't know how long but longer than it has.  The stone will start cooling from the burner side too when the gas is turned off and stop radiating heat if not thoroughly heated.   The "top heat" should not be warmer than the "bottom."  Try heating the top stone at the same time as the "bottom heat" both a little longer than before and then turn everything off and close the door. (There is a door, right?) It might be better to heat it up a little warmer and let it cool down to the right baking temperature, that way the stones are heated thru.

With such a big oven (where's the steam injection button?)  maybe a tent of foil (ask the oven owner for permission) for the initial rise might help keep the upper part of the loaf from drying out or quickly parking shallow pans  (like two loaf pans) on either side of the loaf each containing half a cup of boiling water.  A domed tent of crunched foil to cover all to keep the steam around the loaf.  Do remove half way into the bake but if the pans simply dry out quickly push them away from the loaf and grab the sheet of foil covering the whole lot.  The pans can be removed after the loaf is done if the oven is as big as I think it is.


Mebake's picture

Mini, Nice point you got there, i never thought of it.

I had one eruption, when i underproofed, and did not grease my pan, so the dough was forced to erupt at the top.


BakerBen's picture


You sound like you are proofing just on a "fixed" amount of time - many factors can change which may alter this strategy - air temp, flour, type of dough, and more.  I beleive you may have better success by gently "poking" the dough to test when it has proofed enough to bake - when a finger is pressed into the shaped dough it should rise back "slowly" (i.e. there is still some spring but not much).  I am a firm believer in touch as your best tool in baking bread - it can tell you when your dough is mixed, if your shaping has the desired tension, when your dough has proofed enough, and even as part of telling doneness from baking. 

Good luck - I am sure your next bake will be perfect.


GaryJ's picture

Hi Breadhouse, Try changing the brand of your flour. I was producing loaves that looked exactly like yours and was given the suggestion to use different flour over at Dan Lepard's bread forum. I did so and my sourdough bread improved dramatically. I tried three different brands - one wasn't much better than my usual flour, the other two were much, much better. I haven't looked back since. Hope this helps. Regards, Gary

Mason's picture

I agree that underproofing is a possible contributor to your problem. Proper dough development (about 85% proofed) is the key.  that comes with experience.  (I recall one person on this site once advise visiting an artisan bakery and asking to look at the loaves before they bake them to get a sense of what just-proofed-enough loaves look like.)

A compounding factor, though, might be the placement of slashes and the amount of steam you use.  If you make the slashes look less like a hash (#) on top of the loaf, and more like a square around the edges, then the swelling will lift the whole top crust of the loaf more evenly rather that exploding out the most central of your slashes.

Having good steam in the oven will also help.  Try this: instead of giving the oven a "good spray of water", preheat the oven really well, and place a solid shallow oven tray on the rack beneath or above your tiles.  as you tare about the slash the loaves, put about 1/3 cup of water in this pan to moisten the oven's atmosphere a little.  then when you have loaded the bread, pour a cup or so of boiling water into this heated pan (wear oven gloves to prevent steam burns) and close the door.  You want a solid pan so it keeps the heat and boils the water you put in it. Some people put river rocks in this pan to increase heat retention.

The extra steam, for a slightly longer time, that this produces (as far as I understand the process) helps the expansion of the crust happen for longer so the extra internal pressure can keep the slashes slowly opening for a bit longer to get a good "grigne" like the one pictured below (from David Snyder's scoring tutorial; which is well worth your time).  Without the steam, the crust sets too soon, and you get eruptions like yours if your dough still has rising to do when the crust is set.

One last possibility: might using the top heat rather than the bottom heat result in the crust setting too quickly (broiling, rather than baking the bread)?  It might be better to use the bottom than the top heat for baking (as most conventional electric ovens do).


Davo's picture

The hole size distribution isn't even. The really really big holes right int he middle are much bigger than the general run of hole sizes. Could you be enveloping some largish air pockets in the middle of the dough. If so, these on heating will want to expand greatly. Could this be your issue?

Part of the reason I wonder this is that the texture in the typicla part of the bread doesn;t suggest underproving to me. A grossly underproved dough looks very tight with very small holes, more like the semolina bread in the other thread.

If it might be the crust forming too quickly, as others suggest, you could always try scoring more deeply and/or spritzing the loaf just before popping it in the oven.