The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why does my loaf always split apart in the oven?

tneveca's picture

Why does my loaf always split apart in the oven?

Sorry I don't have a picture, but I think my subject heading paints a familiar picture. I am infuriated with my loaf, because after 12 hours of meticulous preparation, the bloody damn f-ing loaf burst down both sides in the oven. I've been baking sourdough in brotforms for a year, and every time the loaf COMES UNDONE after I form it, which causes it to burst in the oven down both sides.

You see, when you use a brotform banneton, you place the newly formed loaf UPSIDE DOWN in the basket for the proofing period. But when you place it UPSIDE DOWN, it f-ing comes apart at the SEAM!!!! During the 2 hours of proofing, the dough slowy and insidiously UNFOLDS at the seems like a bloody rose in bloom. WHY WON'T IT STAY CLOSED!!!!!??????????? This is KILLING my loaves. I bake otherwise beautiful brotform loaves, but they all have bloody f-ing rips down the sides because of the BLOODY flowery unfolding process during proofing. I don't want my loaves to BLOOM anymore!!! THEY MUST stay shut.


What can I do? I'm am so angry I just smashed my loaf with my fists and hurled it out the front door. I WONT eat a damaged loaf. It MUST be unflawed.





Bread Breaddington's picture
Bread Breaddington

I assume you've tried sealing the loaves tighter?

Try out new shaping methods, you might find one that results in a better bottom seal.

Or, you could always switch to a proofing method that doesn't require placing the loaf upsidedown, if you really run out of luck.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How long is the bulk rise in relationship to the rise in the banneton?

What kind of flour is being used as the dough is shaped and placed into the banneton? 

I see several reasons but not enough info & too much rant to make a good guess.  Recipe, ash content of flour, the dough could be falling apart if the ash content is too low.  Bulk rise too short, yeast is slow and bursts into action just as the dough is going into the oven or underproofed dough.  Use of too much flour or rye flour on the work surface which is often used to keep dough from sticking to itself and sealing.  Too much gentleness in shaping and therefore not sealing the seams.  Recipe, dough too dry, not enough hydration or moisture in dough.   

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

First, drink less coffee. You are about to burst at the seams, which would be much more of a mess than a failed loaf.

Third, I have no idea what you mean by rips down the side. If shaping a boule, the seam/seal should be located bottom-central (If proofed upside down, then seam/seal would be top central). If the seam comes apart, it usually does so centrally–albeit unevenly. Overall surface tension would be lost and a flattened loaf should be the result of baking, but side rips? Maybe these side rips have nothing to do with the seam, but I can't really visualize a side rip as you've described it. Too many bloody expletives is likely the bloody cause my !@#$% incomprehension.


Second, tell us more about how you're shaping the loaf, seams and all. If you're creating a lot of surface tension (tightly shaping the boule), the seam can come undone. (Yes, it's possible to create too much surface tension, which will weaken (areas of) the boule's outer surface (skin, crust) and can cause blowouts and/or, perhaps, rips?). The seal/seam won't be able to resist the tension pulling on it from every direction, especially if it's malformed. Are you being really firm with the seam, really (s)mushing it closed? That's sometimes necessary. What about the hydration of the seam area. Is it really dry from being on a floured workbench? If so, use less flour on the workbench. You won't be able to seal dough that's too dry or has too much bench flour.

Fifth, why are you proofing for 2 hours? That'll overproof most loaves and cause any number of deleterious affects, including rips, flats, unwanted crumb density, and other problems.

gmagmabaking2's picture

of your problem... I pray these educated bakers can help you solve it.... BUT, I laughed til I cried at how well you expressed your frustration!  I will be peeking in to see your calm and blissful response once the problem is solved.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I think he'd be a good candidate to make my Apple Rage Cake.

G-man's picture

When I make boules, I always proof them seam-side down. Maybe this isn't the correct way to do it, but I find that when I tip the bread out, if there is a seam left (usually not), it serves as a guide for my slashes.

I understand your frustration and sympathize. We've all had similar experiences, if not exactly the same then close enough to know what you're feeling.

hanseata's picture

I think, Mini and Thomas might be right about getting too much flour on the seams when shaping the bread. But why the blow-outs at the side of your loaf? I had those only when I either underproofed the bread (if it were a slow rising 100% sourdough, and I was too impatient to wait long enough), or didn't score deep enough.

And G-man, also, has a point, because if you proof the bread seamside down in the banneton, you can either score along the seam lines, or you just leave it, and the bread can develop a nice pattern on top with cracks along the seams (see Hansjoakim's blog).

But, nevertheless, it would be good to know what goes wrong to cause these problems.



Polish Babka's picture
Polish Babka

I used to get ripped sides, I was placing them too close together in the oven. Also, it depends a lot of shaping, it has to be nice and tight.

I proof my boules in banettones seam side up, then I flip them straight into hot dutch oven to bake. Try using less flour when you shape the bread.

Good luck and let us know if anythg worked for you.

linder's picture

I used to have a similar problem.  There were two things that helped - 1) Don't add too much flour when kneading or shaping the dough. 2) Bulk ferment and proof the dough longer and do the finger poke test to ensure the dough is done proofing. Pay attention to the condition of the dough and not the clock as others on this site have said.  Hope these suggestions help.  By the way- I saw no mention in your post about scoring the boule before baking - this helps as it gives the dough a place to expand as it bakes as opposed to blowing out the sides.


highwaymanco's picture

first of all...

you should maybe try paintball or predator hunting...(by yourself with no one around for many miles)



i have only made about 100 loaves


the old adage regrding... if you do things the same,  accept (expect) the same results

agree with previous comments


1) just cause a formula works in one kitchen doesn't mean the same conditions exist in yours... adjust !!!

2) i am as confused about the splitting as everyone here (due to the seams)...if they are on the bottom when bakin..

3) pictures would do worlds for helpful solutions

4) i know of at least one bread baker who loves the way some of his loaves split..."artistically"

makes each one individual...


i'm just sayin

tneveca's picture

Thank you, my friends. You know, it possibly does have something to do with my dough being too dry. It is very difficult to seal a loaf when it isn't sticky enough. HOWEVER, I deliberately use dry dough to avoid the equally infuriating problem of my proofed loaf spreading out flat like a secretary's buttocks when I put it in the oven. Without fail, my higher hydration sourdoughs kept spreading out, so I solved the problem by using a ridiculously stiff dough. But now rather than spreading, my bloody loaves are blooming. You know, even with a ridiculously stiff dough, I manage to get a nice open crumb and a powerful rise from my all-natural sourdough--but the whole beauty of the thing is lost when the loaf splits. Even after scoring two inches deep, the dough splits because the bottom of the loaf insidiously unfolds during the upside-down proofing period.

Here's some more details:

-95% bread flour with a TBSP of gluten flour for extra strength.

-5% rye

-low hydration (I'm not sure of the percentage, but imagine a dough that's a little difficult to knead by hand)

-5 hour bulk fermentation until doubling

-2 hour proofing until the loaf is the PROPER size and light and airy, rather than squat and heavy like those damn BRICKS I used to make.

-one to two inch scoring, 400 degree oven, placed high up to avoid burning


My dilemma is this: either the dough is too loose and ends up looking like an Italian flat bread, or it is too stiff and comes apart at the seams.

I am about to put another loaf in the oven, this one slightly more hyrdated, and if it either falls flat or blows out again I'm going to punish it worse than before.

I apologize for my rage. I am in a battle against my baking, which was originally intended to be a relaxing past-time. I am not a perfectionist, by any means, but I demand excellence, especially after doing so much hard work and study and experimentation.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Stretch and Folds are your answer to tighten up the dough's self holding buttocks.  

You know your rise times, so interrupt the bulk rise once you see it starting to rise and do a simple letter folding of the dough continually stretching the top skin.  It truly is amazing to watch a dough shape up.  Sourdoughs especially have the tendency to relax quite a bit during rising.  As the folding progresses so will your frustration seem to just vanish into the work surface.  I do think you ought to stretch out the bulk rise while you're at it (folding every hour or so) and try to aim to have the final proof last between half an hour and 3/4 of an hour.   Meanwhile look up S & F to get more precise info.

To figure hydration: take the weight of the water and divide by the flour weight and then multiply by 100 to get the %.  Sounds like you're under 50%.  A very dry dough will also slow down fermentation and delay the yeast requiring a longer bulk rise.  

I think by adding the water back in and adding the stretch & fold technique while it bulk rises, you're on your way to a big improvement.  Hang in there! 

tneveca's picture

Thank you for the tip, I really appreciate it.

I forgot to mention something, by the way. There is always a "BOOM" or two in the oven about 12 minutes into baking. This happened again last night, and when I checked up on it, the loaf, as usual, was split vertically down one side. Just picture a loaf with a verticle blow-out hole on one or both sides and you'll get the picture.

The good news is that the loaf didn't unfold this time, thanks to a slighly wetter dough. But it still exploded, dammit.

Also, sometimes the loaf looks "choked" close to the area of the split, just like a balloon when you clench it in the middle and the air expands into the space on either side of your fist. This particular failed loaf has a sort of center-choked figure-8 shape and the verticle blow out is located down the side of one of the hyper-expanded lobes of the 8.

What do you think?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sounds like big 'ol gas bubbles.  (...and a leather bra I almost bought, yup, cross ur heart type, for carnival)  Once you stretch and fold that dough that itty bitty blow out problem should get under control.  Any big bubbles should be popped with a toothpick or some such pointy instrument before baking.  Handle your dough more!  You can sort of feel where those bubbles are hiding sometimes.  When shaping try not to trap air pockets into the dough.  We got some great videos of shaping around here somewhere...  check the tool bar and scroll down.  Keep track of the top side of your dough.  :)  

You're doing just fine!  One change at a time is the best way to learn.   


copyu's picture

Your user-name gives a hint that this is a 'troll'. [Just so you know...]

But, I've had the same problem, following a formula to the minutest details—and this happened three or four times straight with a well-recognized sourdough recipe, pain au levain by Hamelman, although my "blow-out" was only on one side of the loaf, every time.

One QUICK way to stop it is to use a cold dutch oven (with lid on) for 30 minutes and then finish the bake with lid off (which works great for me!)

NOT using a pre-heated baking/pizza-stone also works OK to reduce blow-out. I use a regular oven tray and plop the loaf from the banneton/brotform onto that. It doesn't matter much if the tray is pre-heated or not, but it needs to be sprinkled liberally with corn-meal, as does the bottom of a hot or cold dutch oven...

You'll get 'better' answers if you specify the methods and formula more clearly, but your results will almost always be better with a few stretch and folds in the EARLIER part of fermentation...   



tneveca's picture

Thank you for the response, but I'm not a "troll" nor is this a pathetic attempt at bugging people to get a rise out of them. I am a ridiculously high-strung perfectionist with bipolar disorder and I was sincerely and self-destructively pissed off about how my bread wasn't turning out. The pseudonym is to protect my identity from possible employers or clients who might go online and catch a glimpse of the real me behind the mendacious professional facade that society forces me to put on all the time. To be authentic it is necessary to masquarade in order to avoid condemnation--how's that for an Adorno-esque social critique. The so called "trolls" out there are the ONLY people you can pretty much count on being real. We live in a culture of oppressive and labyrinthine mendacity. But then, this is only a bread forum.

THIS is the first off-topic comment.

Well, any way, I really appreciate the insight. It has been very helpful.