The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why does my sourdough look like this?

Jwhite8040's picture

Why does my sourdough look like this?

I followed the KAF Sourdough recipe.  I made one batch of dough and let it rise until doubled.  It looked great.  I put it on the counter and cut it in half and formed two boules and let them rise on parchment.  One boule came out smooth and nice, the other came out ragged and torn on the surface.  It did not effect the crumb, but it looks bad.  What did I do to one boule that I didn't do to the other?  I'm stumped.  

See photo 1 boule nice, 1 not so niceCooked BoulesCrumb not so badCloser look at ugly boule

PaddyL's picture

It looks fine, nice and rustic.

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Jwhite8040.

I am not familiar with the recipe you used, but I see a few things you could work on.

First, neither boule looks like you really "tightened" the surface to form a smooth gluten sheath. If you have any of the recommended bread baking books, look at the material on shaping loaves. If you don't have any, we can give you some more specific tips.

Second, your crust looks rather dull. This suggests not only a problem with shaping but also with steaming your oven. It's  the humid environment for the first part of the bake that creates a shiny crust. You can do this many ways. Search TFL on "oven steaming" and also on "magic bowl." 

Third, I can't tell if you scored the bread, but you should read about scoring techniques. Search TFL on "scoring tutorial."

I think these are your main issues. I'm suggesting things to work on. If you need more help with any of them, please ask.


Syd's picture

How long did did you let it rise for?  It looks over-fermented to me.  A sure sign of over-fermentation is a pale crust.  All the sugars have been used up in the fermentation process and there is nothing left to give it color at bake time.  Another sign of over-fermentation is broken gluten strands. (That is your problem with the second boule). Perhaps the dough temp was allowed to get to high, too. This would favor the development of the lactobacillus which makes for a more sour, acid dough.  Too much of it, though, will start to break down the gluten.   Just some thoughts. 

Jwhite8040's picture

The recipe doesn't say to steam the loaf.  But I'm up to try it.  The first rise was for 90 minutes and the second for 60 minutes as listed on the recipe, but it was a very hot day in NYC and my kitchen may have been over 90 degrees so I probably should have let it rise less.  

It  is quite an art to all of this.

alabubba's picture

One of the things I tell people when they are learning to bake it to watch the bread, not the clock. Slight differences in temp and humidity (probably barometric pressure and astrological position as well ;o) will effect the rise of bread. It may take 90 minutes for a loaf to double one day, and only 45 on another.

Dump the clock and get a clear plastic container that you can clearly see when the dough has doubled. Something like this from amazon. 



longhorn's picture

Whether a recipe calls for it or not you will get a better crust and oven spring if you steam. David Snyder has a very good blog on the topic and an excellent method. (Basically a cast iron skillet with lava rocks in it. Load the bread in the oven and immediately pour boiling water in the skillet and get the door closed. Is definitely better than most approaches.)

I am with Syd, the bread looks overproofed too and that will also give you a pale crust for you will have a low sugar content. Sourdough need only expand by 50 percent or so to be ready to bake.

Hang in there!