The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

why does my bread split when it rises?

benjamin163's picture

why does my bread split when it rises?


The crust seems to be rising away from the rest of the loaf when I bake at the moment.

I have tried using steam, not using steam, baking in a pot, making the dough wetter, drier.

It seems to be happening a lot now. Not sure what I'm doing to make it happen.

Also, as you can see, the bread doesn't seem to be rising much at the moment.

I usually get lots of oven spring even though the dough doesn't rise much at all during proofing.

But now it seems I'm not even getting much oven spring.

My starter seems ripe enough when I use it. A nice layer of thin bubbles after 2 feeds, one after 8 hours, the next after 4. Then mix it into the flour and leave that for a few hours where it gets fairly aireated and I punch down and shape in a tin.

It's at this point that it doesn't seem to be rising at the moment.

Any help gratefully received.

(I have a picture but can't work out how to post it. Any help on that would be great too!)


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Hi Ben,

I don't know where you are located (?) but if your seasonal temperatures are warming up, you may have to shorten your rise times to please the starter.  (Something similar happens in the fall but then it's a temp. drop and longer times are required)  It could be that the fermenting is going faster than a few months ago and that explains some gradual changes.  With warmer temps, the starter ferments faster and then needs more food.   Try looking for a cooler spot for the starter to mature or adding more flour thickening it up.  One or both will slow down fermentation.   Sounds to me like the dough is gradually heading toward overproofing so I would suggest shortening ferment & proof times, watch dough temperature more carefully (not the clock) and get to shaping sooner.   

About that punching, I hope you meant gentle degassing, like folding.  Sourdoughs can't take the punch or a drop kick like yeasted doughs do. :)


Yumarama's picture

Aside from Mini's observations, I would want to know if you slash your loaf before baking to control the expansion. If not, that may help avoid the "split" you refer to. Because you're baking it in a pan doesn't mean it won't benefit from a slash or two. If the dough wants to expand but has nowhere specific (a slash) to do so at, then it goes for the weakest point on the exposed loaf and in a panned bread, that's usually at the point where the dough and the pan meet. That's because the exposed surface becomes harder and the still soft edge just at the pan line is the easiest to bust through.

There's also a possibility you're forming technique may need to be considered. You still need to attend to the skin of the loaf before panning to get it nice and tight.

To add a picture to a post, click the little Tree image in the posting box (between the chain Link and the Quote marks); it reads "Insert/edit image" when you hold the mouse over it for a second or two. Then either add the image's URL if it's already on the web to the small window that pops up or click the square graphic at the end of that field to open up another window that lets you upload a picture from your computer. See the FAQ at the top of any page for more details.

Aside from seeing the problem bread, it may also help to see pics of your starter when you feel it's "ready" along with a bit of detail on how you keep it: ratio, temps, quantity, counter or refrigerator, etc.

flournwater's picture

Is your loaf covered throughout the proofing process?  Are you scoring your loaf just before loading it into the oven?  Are you misting the top of the loaf, brushing it with butter or oil at any point?

benjamin163's picture

I do cover the loaf during proofing. I am scoring the loaf too.

But having done a little more experimentation I think I may have found the answer.

I Wasn't folding the dough enough before and therefore the gluten wasn't developed enough. Could this have caused the crust to split do you think?

Also, with scoring, when I successfully score, the bread seems to rise. Unsuccessful scoring usually comes about when the dough is very wet (I find that if I proof the dough in a warm place this makes it go very soft). Scoring is very difficult when it's in this state as the cut just sticks immediately. Don't know if you have any tips on this. Should the dough be much drier? 

I do use steam.

My last loaf came up with no probs. But I have to say, whilst the bread is lovely, it always feels quite dense. I don't think I've ever had such a thing as a light airy fluffy loaf, even if I use only white flour with no rye. To my untrained eye it just feels like my starter isn't super active. I'd love a light loaf, full of air. Is that possible with sourdough do you think?

Thanks for your reply btw.

benjamin163's picture


Mini and Rainbowz, thanks so much for the replies, I've just seen them.

They both make a lot of sense.

Rainbowz I detailed the problem with slashing above and wonder whether you have any thoughts on that. 

Mini, it's still pretty cool here so I put the loaf in the oven with a candle! Seems to keep a constant warm temp.

Thing I can't work out is this...

Is there a difference between proofing the bread before forming it into a loaf and after.

I have made bread that I have proofed for hours then shaped and baked immediately without waiting for it to rise. Other times I proof it a few hours then form a loaf then let it rise again before baking. Both have had decent results. Which would you say is better? And if I get good results without proofing after forming a loaf then what is the point of waiting for hours after forming the loaf?

It's complicated innit? Nothing I seem to do gives absolutely the same results each time but I guess this is part of the fun of sourdough baking.

goose13's picture

I'm having similar problems now that the temps are rising here, or have gotten just plain hot I should say. 

I've noticed the dough it far stickier than previously, it doesn't want to leave the mixing bowl sometimes, and it has trouble holding it's shape in the basket. It feels tight when I put it in, but when I look an hour or so later, it's spread out like a puddle and it's torn apart. I tried shortening the proof times as well as adding more flour/less water to the recipe, but I'm not having much luck as of yet. 

Any other suggestions?



clazar123's picture

Benjamin163-The way you describe it, it sounds like what is sometimes called "flying crust" where there is a large hole just under the top of the loaf. Use the "Search" box and type in "flying crust". There were several good discussions on this and it seems that shaping may be an issue.

Goose13-I think your problem may be an enzyme issue and it may be that your starter needs some work. The heat can affect how it behaves and sometimes the lacto beasties get a little too enthusiastic. You may need to discard and feed aggressively for a few days to resolve this. The increased stickiness and dough spreading are the real clues indicating gluten breakdown from enzymes.Start another thread to get some help as this sounds like a different problem from what this poster is experiencing.

goose13's picture

Thanks for the tip, I'll do just that.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I have made bread that I have proofed for hours then shaped and baked immediately without waiting for it to rise. Other times I proof it a few hours then form a loaf then let it rise again before baking. Both have had decent results. Which would you say is better? And if I get good results without proofing after forming a loaf then what is the point of waiting for hours after forming the loaf?

Sourdough gets "wetter" as it ferments.  More so than a yeasted dough.  I like to think of sourdough on a time line beginning where the culture is introduced with water and flour and stopping at a point before being over-proofed.  Fermentation degrades the gluten structure of the dough to falling apart.  The speed of fermentation is dependent on temperature, amount of beasties, the amount of water or liquids, and the type of flour or available food.    You seem to know not to go too close to the over-proofing end.  The middle of the time line is filled with mixing, rising, stretch & folds (to give a wet dough more structure) degassing, shaping  all happening during fermentation.  The beginning of this variable time line would be lack of gluten development and under-proofing so when breaking the time line down to proofs or resting the dough (shown below as ".......") it all depends on what kind of crumb you want in your bread.   All things considered equal, the first two would come out similar.  The last two examples would result in bricks.  Knowing when to bake depends on you knowing your starter and a consistent condition of maintenance.  



Inoculate.....................shape..........................bake  (under-proofed)

Inoculate.....................shape................................................................................. bake  (over-proofed)

Then you can attach a rough actual time to this line. If your normal bakes run from mixing to baking using 10 hours then:


As long as you stay around 10 hrs from start to bake, just about anything you do between 3 and 9 in handling the dough is up to you.   There will be slight differences.  For your experiments, I would suggest taking notes on each loaf including how each tastes, feels, etc.  That way you can find out what method works for you and your sourdough for the kind of crumb you desire.   It would be good to research what speeds up fermentation and what slows it down.   Do change the above time line to fit your basic dough.  

Playing with one recipe, changing one variable at a time will teach you more about cause and effect.  


(Edited to correct math in the time line as it should start with zero.)

jcking's picture

Very interesting perspective! You're tickling my cerebellum.

Thanks ~ Jim

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Starters have their own time line by themselves only they don't end in "bake."    They end in "feed."  

If you get into multiple builds, then naturally there will be multiple time lines in my view.   Each flour addition sets up a new dynamic.  


jcking's picture

It's hard for me to put into words but your layout, time line, allows me to view the entire building/baking process from a different perspective. Sometimes I look at the individual process steps so closely I lose sight of the big picture. By laying out a time line it makes more sense to my analytical mind and makes it easier to compare changes and make future adjustments. The time line would allow me to plan other activities (yard work, laundry, TFL loafing) around the loaf schedule.

Thanks again ~ Jim

benjamin163's picture

I've only just been able to revisit this thread and I'm very grateful for all the responses.

I shall try all the tips out and let you know how I get on.

Thanks very much for the help, it's much appreciated. And it's good to know I'm not the only one who experiences these frustrating things.