The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with Whole Wheat Sourdough Pan Loaf with Rye deflating in the oven.

don.sandersg's picture

Help with Whole Wheat Sourdough Pan Loaf with Rye deflating in the oven.

I'm trying to bake a simple pan loaf of bread with 50% whole wheat flour, 25% whole white flour, and 25% rye flour.  I've tried various things to try to get a nice rise and open crumb but every time I bake it the loaf seems to deflate in the oven.  It loses height and pulls away from the side of the pan.  I've tried rising longer, rising less, adding gluten, increasing hydration, hand kneading, folding, machine kneading, rising in the oven with the light on, rising at room temp (~71*), etc.  Any thoughts on what could be going wrong? 

Here is what I'm doing that seemed to work the best:

250g whole white starter at 100% hydration Montana Prarie Gold

235g bottled spring water

250g whole wheat flour King Arthur

125g Rye Hodgson Mill

1 Tbs of vital wheat gluten

2 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients except salt with a wooden spoon and let sit for 10 mins covered with plastic wrap.  Knead on 2-4 in a kitchenaid for 8-10 min.  Shape into a ball to rest for 15 min in a bowl sprayed with olive oil spray covered with plastic wrap.  Knead in salt to mix it into the dough.  Shape into a ball and rest 1.5 hrs in a bowl sprayed with olive oil spray and cover with plastic wrap.

Shape into a loaf and proof 2.5 hrs in a greased loaf pan in a shoe box.  The dough was about 1.5 inches above the 9x5 loaf pan.

Place in a preheated 375° oven for 45 mins.  Internal temp reached 207°.  The bread deflated to about the level of the pan....maybe a little above.

Any help would greatly be appreciated.




thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Rye doesn't have gluten, and whole wheat (generally) has less gluten than white.

The gluten in your recipe is mostly in the starter (from the white flour), but that gluten will be almost completely broken down by protease enzymes in the 100% hydration starter.

You might try using a rye starter and then adding the "highest gluten-containing flour" (the white flour) to the final dough, essentially switching the rye with the white flour. Or you could try a rye/whole wheat hybrid starter too, again adding the "highest gluten-containing flour" (the white flour) to the final dough.


I'm not a fan of vital wheat gluten. I'd remove it from the recipe, but that's just my preference. If you keep it in, reduce by half.


Consider adding some commercial yeast, like instant yeast, to the final dough. Hamelman does it all the time (as do I), so it's not the sacrilege many would have you believe it is. Reduce your bulk fermentation and proofing times if you do, as fermentation will be (more) brisk.

I'm tempted to say you're overproofing, but since it's an all sourdough, I can't know for sure without being familiar with your starter's strength/activity.


As for open crumb, not sure what you mean. If you mean "big holes", you won't get it with this dough. The best you can hope for is probably a tight crumb with even hole distribution (small hole distribution).


Why such a low baking temperature?

don.sandersg's picture

Yes, I was hoping for some bigger holes and a taller loaf.  I am getting a fairly even small hole distribution so maybe I'm expecting to much??

I was baking at 375 because the whole wheat loaf recipe at used 350 degrees.  I tried baking at that temperature originally but 375 seemed to work a little bit better for me.  I'm certainly willing to increase the temperature to something higher if you think that it would help.  I was thinking about trying a higher temperature to see what happens next time.

I haven't used commercial yeast yet but I'll give it a try to see if it will help. 

I did try using both a whole rye and a whole rye/whole wheat mixed starter but neither one seemed to make much difference other than making a more sour finished loaf which really isn't what I'm after.

I wasn't really wanting to use the vital wheat gluten either but it did seem to make the loaf rise a little higher.  I was thinking that it might help since the rye is low in gluten.  I'll try reducing it by half as you suggest.

Thank you for the reply!


pmccool's picture

that the bread is overproofed.  Other than time, what are you using to guage the dough's readiness for baking?

And as Thomas notes, those flours in those proportions are more likely to produce a tighter crumb instead of an open crumb.  The 8-10 minutes of machine kneading will also produce a smoother, tighter crumb.  Even though your dough is at 72% hydration, the whole wheat, whole rye and added gluten are all going to absorb quite a bit of water and produce a dough that feels and behaves like a lower-hydration dough.  If an open crumb is desirable, you might want to try a series of bakes that progressively nudge the hydration higher by, say, 2% increments until you get to the texture you want.  You could also switch from baking in a pan to baking on a stone at temperatures in the 400-450F range, which would drive a greater amount of ovenspring.  That can also contribute to a more open crumb.


don.sandersg's picture

I've been letting it rise to about double where it has risen over the top of the pan and when it doesn't seem like it is going to rise any higher.  I poke it with a wet finger and check to see that it fills back in slowly and maybe not all of the way.  I am new to all of this so I don't really know what a properly proofed loaf should look like.  Should I be doing some other test?  I guess that if I am overproofing but still want a taller loaf, I should just prepare more dough when using a pan???

I had tried using a higher hydration (80%) stirring with a wooden spoon several times over the course of an hour and then folding a few times without much noticeable difference.  I had recently tried lowering the hydration because I had good luck with a whole wheat recipe without rye at 72%.

I haven't gotten into baking free form loaves yet so I'll have to give it a try.



thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Proofing is more art than science.

The poke test works well most of the time, but it's not infalliable.

The goal is to get the loaf in the oven before proofing reaches the parabolic inflection point. If you're waiting until the loaf "doesn't seem like it is going to rise any higher", you're at the inflection point. Nowhere to go from there but down (loaf collapse).

Think of your loaf as an Angry Bird:

If you want more height, more dough will do it; so will using a smaller loaf pan.

don.sandersg's picture

Haha, nice picture.

I'll make sure to not let it rise as far next time.


AnnaInMD's picture

the last two loaves I baked with it didn't rise, the dough looked as if it were overproofed despite just coming out of the mixer. Very disappointing since I love a good piece of rye bread.  It might just be the flour is old - I hope.