The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Low rise levain

lizzycooks's picture

Low rise levain


Thank you for the beautiful inspiration to try this bread today!  I developed a wild-yeast sourdough starter recently, and decided to use it to try this recipe, despite my skepticism about the 8 g of starter.

Well - I'm pretty happy with it!  The crumb is open - not as much as txfarmer's - and the crust rates with the best I've made.  Inside, the texture is very moist and chewy.  My skepticism about the amount of starter was proved wrong – the dough rose at the rates suggested.

One thing I did not understand in the directions was the process between proofing and baking. Here’s what I did:

Step 5 – shape, let rise in greased/floured bowls (2.75 hours, warm kitchen).  I don’t have proofing baskets.

Heat oven to 500, ready cloths in hot pan for steaming

*tried* to transfer loaves to flat pans for baking, but it was too sticky and would not let me make a nice tall round for baking!  I am used to rounding and boule-ing my loaves before baking, but that would have been impossible unless I used a lot more flour.

Sliced shallow cuts in each loaf with razor

b/c it was sooo very sticky, it ended up starting its bake by spreading; it was probably only 1.5 inches high when I peeked in at 5 min.

steamed it throughout, cooked for about 45-50 min at 500F.

Ended with loaves at about 3.5” each, with splits on the sides (instead of on the top).

I probably used about 820 grams water, instead of 800.  But still, I have never worked with a dough that was so sticky after the proof.  What have I missed, and did it lead to the low-rise of the bread?

Thank you all,




lizzycooks's picture

The recipe I was using was txfarmer from the Tartine bread book:

txfarmer's picture

Glad you liked it!

Regarding the step between proofing and baking: I proof updside down in a basket, when ready to bake, I dump the dough out of basket to the back of a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Score and slide the dough, along with the parchment paper, onto baking stone. The whole time I am not touching the dough with my hand, no sticking issues.


if you don't have a proofing basket, you can use any basket lined with cloth (floured).


With this dough, I think you do need a baking stone for max oven spring. OR one of those cast iron pots suggested in the book. Another possible reason for flat loaves is over-proofing, which can easily happen with such a wet dough (wet dough proof faster).