The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

quite a flat bread

kedicik's picture

quite a flat bread

Hello, i finally had my sourdough going :).. it is quite active (doubles in less than 8 hours) probably because of the very hot weather here (around 37c). i ve been trying the recipe from KAF ( for a basic sourdough bread to get used to working with it. the problem i am having is it comes out of oven quite flat. the recipe says dont worry if it goes flat after shaping it ll spring back in the oven but this doesnt happen to me. i tried to cut down waiting time after shaping but it didnt work either. here are the pics what it looks like, any comments appreciated (it looks like a ciabatta to me :D)

Sjadad's picture

Are you getting enough steam in the oven during the first part of the bake?  Adequate steam is necessary so that the dough can undergo oven spring without the outer crust setting too soon, thus giving the loaf maximum lift. Without adequate steam the outer surface of the dough will set and form a crust before the loaf has an opportunity to expand sufficiently. 

kedicik's picture

i am spraying the dough nicely before scoring and going into the oven. but other than that i am not doing anything. you think i should spray it in the oven ? or put a steam source in it ?

Sjadad's picture

Just spraying the loaf isn't enough. The water on the surface of the dough evaporates pretty quickly. You need a continuous source of steam to allow the dough to reach maximum expansion. Remember to stop the steam to finish the bake. 

When I bake sourdough (like Tartine's Country Loaf, for example), I steam for the first 20 minutes, and then bake another 20 -25 minutes without steam until it's done. 

Good luck!

dabrownman's picture

I use Sylvia's steaming method by getting a Pyrex looaf pan about 1/4 full of water with a kitchen towel rolled up in it that is microwaved until it starts bubbling and then put it in the oven to let steam before the bread goes in on theeh stone.   I actually use two of them now.  Never a problem with spring ever again. 

Nickisafoodie's picture

There are many ways to steam, one that I like - and not one of the methods that many have posted on this site (search box above left) is very simple:

Put in a cookie sheet or a layer of tin foil on the bottom of oven.  Put 1/4 cup of water in a cup, place loaf in oven, quickly pour the water on the floor/pan of oven, quickly shut the door.  Do this 3 more times every 2-3 minutes (i.e. at loading and for the first 10 minutes).  Be quick, open door, get it on the floor, and shut fast.  You will not lose heat if you are quick- one hand on the oven handle, the other hand with the water.   If your cup is low to the floor  as you gently toss the water onto the pan or foil you will not be anywhere near the light bulb.  This can be done in less than 4 seconds.

The other element is to make sure your are shaping and folding your loaves to be rather tight, this helps the spring as well, lots of videos and hints on shaping that you can search for too...

Good luck!!

sandydog's picture

Re Nick's great tip above - and the chance of dropping/spilling cup, or hitting light, or any combination thereof.

I have tried using the plastic water bottle that I also use for drinking water in the gym/cycling - It is very accurate, squirts a lot of water in a short space of time and does not break if you drop it. Additionally you can squirt it, using only one hand, from a good 6-9 inches away from the oven so there is no chance of getting a steam burn on your hand or face.

I have also used this in a commercial deck oven whose steam facility was broken, and it worked just fine - I could get about 500ml into the deck in about 4 seconds.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think you could add some more folding sets to your dough and you might try adding a little more flour to it too (or keep calling it excellent ciabatta)  as heat makes it ferment faster and loose the shape.  See about getting more heat under the loaf during the bake.  

Davo's picture

The light bottom crust is the thing I noticed. What was it baked on - a stone. If so, was the stone well hot, like and hour pre-heated, or not? Because I find that if the stone isn't well hot, the loaf spreads and doesn't rebound - there isn't that burst of rise action that happens at about the 10-15 min mark.

Because even well lofted final loaves spread and sag a bit on first entry to the oven, before springing back up. If the stone isn't hot enough, i find they don;t quite kick back up from that initial "sag". And the bottom might end up pale...

kedicik's picture

i baked it on a stone yes. i heated the stone for at least 1 hout before the bread goes into the oven. so i assume the stone was hot. though i ll check that too next time i bake, maybe keep the stone in the oven longer like 2 hours

folding might be the problem as well, maybe i am not doing it properly. 

thanks for all the comments, hopefully i ll bake again this weekend trying to apply everything above.