The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Tale of Two Loaves

linder's picture

A Tale of Two Loaves

Today I baked two loaves of SF Sourdough using David Snyder's formula.  The loaves didn't oven spring as much as previous bakes.  The crust of the first loaf(boule) remained pale throughout the bake which started at 500F and then was reduced to 460F per the formula.  I baked the second loaf(batard?) about 1 hour after the first loaf, having reheated the oven to 500F.  I left the oven at 500F through the first 20 minutes of the bake and it did brown.  What caused this?  Underproofing?  Oven thermostat out of wack?  Sourdough starter not at prime activity level?  Any thoughts/ideas on this gratefully accepted. 


dabrownman's picture

the first bake was too low in temp, not enough pre heat or too little time time or some combination.  After seeing the 2nd bake brown up nicely,  I would make sure that you test the temp of your oven by heating it to 460 F for 45 minutes and see what it really reads with an oven thermometer.   Do you have a temperature probe for bread?   Well don't use it for testing the oven or you will melt it like I did my old one.   If you shoot for 205 F in the middle of the bread with a probe (and really are at 460 F on the outside) I think your problems will fade away.

wally's picture

Assuming your oven isn't broken, since you talk about previous bakes I also assume you know how long it takes to bring your oven to temp.

It looks to me, from the lack of color in your first loaf and pancake profile in both, that your levain may have expended all available sugars in your dough.  This would account both for the back of oven spring and the pale color of the boule.  Yes, the batard has more color, but you're baking it at 500 F for 20 minutes.  And despite this, it has flattened out rather than sprung up. 


Ruralidle's picture

I second your comments Wally (Larry), that was my first thought.  So a little less proofing might have helped, at either bulk ferment, final proof or both

ananda's picture

Larry and Richard are right linder,

Levain needs more food; definitely short of "prime activity level"

Best wishes


grind's picture

Did you change flour, linder? Was it stickier than normal?  Did it spread out as it proofed?  If yes, the culprit could be too much diastatic activity, either because of a low falling number of too much starch damage. 

linder's picture

Thanks everyone for all your help.  Grind- I did change flour- AP instead of bread flour (both King Arthur) and it was a little stickier.  Andy, you brought up a good point about the levain.  I was too anxious to make the breads and didn't allow for two days of twice daily feedings of my starter before I made the levain.  (I keep the starter in the fridge  and take it out for feedings when getting ready to make bread) I'll know better for next time - there are no shortcuts with sourdough.