The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourgdough air pocket problem

Andybs's picture

Sourgdough air pocket problem

Hi, I'm new here so excuse me if this has been dealt with before but I have been making bread with a home made sourdough starter for several months now but recently the loaves have started to come out with numerous air holes, it doesn't seem to matter what shape I make them the problem remians...

I don't make the loaves daily so the starter dough sits in the fridge until it is needed (never more than a week), I then take it out at least a day before it is needed and feed it - although I have noticed that the starter needs to be mixed back together as it seperates whilst in the fridge. I have tried starting it off the night before (using only half the flour and starter but all of the liquid and then adding the remaining flour and salt the following morning), I have also tried knocking it back more than once and letting it rise from as little as two to as much as six hours and the results remain the same. 

Unlike the loaf in the picture there is seldom any problem with it rising (if anything it usually really balloons up), but the results are full of large air pockets.

No problem with the taste, in fact I think I would have given up if it wasn't for how great it tastes, but the consistency is rubbish.

Any help would be greatly appreciated

isand66's picture

Not sure what recipe you are following or why you would do 1/2 the recipe the night before.   I would say your main problem is most likely from our shaping.  You must be getting air pockets due to not shaping properly.  You can find some good videos online to show you the proper way to shape.  

Mirko's picture

Looks like your starter is too sour and has very litle yeast activity. Keeping your starter in cold environment (fridge)

killed your yeast and make the starter too sour.

Try to feed your starter daily (once) for one week and then bake the bread again and let as know how it does.


grandmamac's picture

I had 3 similar loaves during the worst of the winter; I had been keeping my starter in the fridge which had just got too cold in my unheated kitchen. Retarding overnight in the fridge did not help and, although the loaf had risen a little, oven spring was non existent. Thanks to advice from more experienced bakers, I now keep the starter on the counter. 

I'm letting the dough rise during the day in a heated room but I'm finding that, although I have a good shaped loaf with great oven spring, my large air pockets have shrunk. Time to re-think my routine!

Andybs's picture

Hi, thanks for the pointers, for the record the recipe is a very simple 550g S/W flour, 300 ml water, ladle of sourdough starter and 1 1/2 tsp salt, I found the 'start the night before with half the flour' recipe in the River Cottage Bread handbook, apparently it gives the starter a chance to realy get going, and it did work well to start with and I have spent quite a lot of time and effort on shaping so possibly my starter is too sour, I will try the feediong for a week and then reback and post the results.

Once again thanks for the help folks

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I would suggest not a ladle of sourdough starter but a tablespoon,  Add to that water and flour to get the volume of one ladle and let if ferment (so do this in the morning) and then around noon or evening when the sourdough starter has a nice aroma and has risen well, continue on using that refreshed "ladle" into the next loaf for your overnight ferment as the recipe states.  

It also sounds like your refrigerator starter needs refreshing big time as it is lopsided with too little yeast.  Tell us more about the refrigerated starter... amount, age, feeding schedule etc, how long you keep it at warm temps before chilling.  The more detail the easier it is to help get the starter back up to yeasty.  Also how often do you bake with it?  

Andybs's picture

The starter is in a kilner jar about two thirds full (sorry not sure what that is in American cup measures), it is about six to eight months old. I use it once a week to make a couple of loaves (make normal yeast bread in the week for time saving sake) and I feed it when I get it out the night before it is needed and then once again before I put it back once I have used it so I guess it is only out of the fridge for two days tops, I'm guessing this isn't long enough and that I'm not getting it out early enough.

Will definitely try the tablespoon/ladle idea before doing next weekends bread...

Thanks again for the help

phaz's picture

weak starter is it.  starter is best to use when it is at its peak -  the time of max activity after feeding.  you mention trouble bringing back the starter from the fridge - I think that's the key.