Sourdough rising & baking issue!
Hello I'm new to the forum & new to baking bread!
After having some success & a lot of enjoyment baking with dried yeast for a few months I decided to look into bread baking more seriously & recently bought Crust by Richard Bertinet.
I started by baking some simple baguettes with a fermented white dough & then a Poolish ferment which went well. I have to say I was intrigued by sourdough having not previously understood what sourdough was (I think I had it confused with Soda bread).
So using the very clear instructions in Crust I made a ferment starter which seemed to go like clockwork with my ferment matching the pictures in the book every step of the way. I have to say I didn't find the smell of the ferment pleasant but my fiance did & once it had been fed & left in the fridge I really liked the smell.
I then made up a dough working it in the French style outlined in the book. Again this went very well & my dough appeared as the pictures & demonstration video for every step right up to its entry to the oven.
However at this stage everything appears to go rather badly.
My loaves don't rise very well, often being misshapen & uneven, however the biggest issue is that where they do rise they leave a large pocket at the top of the bread with the dough at the bottom an inch high a rather rubbery.
I have now baked 4 loaves all of which have gone wrong, I was convinced that the issue lay with my using the fan setting on my oven baking the loaf too quickly however today I used the conventional setting & had the exact same issue!
On the bright side when sliced very thinly & toasted the bread tastes great, with a nice nutty flavour coming through, perhaps from the spelt flour.
I can't help but think I'm missing something obvious & that my lack of experience is the issue.
At this stage any ideas would be welcome as I'm drawing a blank!
Please could you advise me?
Here is a photograph of todays effort.