The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Heavy Sourdough White Loaf

ragbeara01's picture

Heavy Sourdough White Loaf


My white sourdough loaves (baked in a 4lb tin) are of a heavy consistancy and appear to be "just about baked" within the recipe time + 5 to 10 mins. I note that most pics show an aerated  and therefore a "lighter" loaf and wonder if there may be an obvious solution to this heavy crumb.

The loaf is on the strong sour side (nice for me) and slices well after leaving overnight.

Bakingmadtoo's picture

The main reasons for a heavy crumb would be, either adding to much flour or using a low hydration recipe (perhaps if you put your recipe up we could rule that in or out), heavy handling at any stage, or too much working of the dough. There is skill in developing the gluten to the correct point for the crumb that you want. To get big holes put in a very uncomplicated way, you knead or work the dough less. 

There are also all kinds of other little things that will help. Also, leave to cool properly before slicing, even a little warmth left can make the crumb heavier and moister when you slice. 

If your loaf only appeared 'just about baked' you need to either bake hotter or longer, again some details of how you baked would help. But it is very difficult to over bake bread, if you have any doubt at all always leave for an extra 5-10 mins then check again.

ragbeara01's picture

Recipe + Pic


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Sourdough Standard White:  07- JAN- 2014



Gram Volume

% Volume


























1: Oven Preheat: 200C

2: Makes 1 Loaf

3: Approx time to loaf: 24 hrs

Sponge: (100% Hydration)

300 grams of Sourdough Starter

150 grams of Strong White Bread Flour

150 grams of Warm Water

Time to Proof: 8 hrs (Overnight)


600 grams of Sponge

450 grams of Strong White Bread Flour

20 grams of Olive Oil

100 grams of Warm Water

18 grams of Sugar

 9 grams of Salt


1: Mix together the sponge, sugar, salt, oil and water. After mixing the wet ingredients, incorporate them into the flour.

2: When the dough is ready place it onto a dusted surface and kneed for 10 mins.

3: First Proofing: Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and allow too double in size.

4: Second Proofing: Punch down and knead a little. Make a loaf and place it on a lightly greased baking sheet for a free-form loaf or in a baking tin / pan of choice. Slit the top and cover the loaf with some oiled cling film and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk: Approximately 4 hrs.


1: Re-slit the top of the loaf before placing into a preheated oven at 200deg C, and bake for 30 to 40 mins.

2: If desired place a shallow pan with water in the bottom of the oven for the first 10 mins.


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ragbeara01's picture

sandydog's picture

I think an extra 50g of water in the final mix will give you a result more to your liking.

60% water in white bread is more usual - 53.3% is too little - Who's recipe are you folowing?

ragbeara01's picture

Thanks Sandydog:

This recipe was cobbled together about 2 years ago from digging about across a range of resources from which I used the most common features available. I then looked at a "lot" of tech around the subject to try and understand the basics. I spent a lot of time at...!searchin/$20french$20bread/

which gave me the interest to go further.

The hardest part for me was creating my starter from my "local flying yeast" which finally "flew" into my waiting bowl of flour / water and decided to make its home... the resultant family is still around 18 months later.

I must admit to being a casual baker, baking 1 SD loaf a month + the odd ciabatta as a treat and a Rewena Paraoa for my better half

My next SD bake is two weeks away so will try your 60% suggestion... Many Thanks


mwilson's picture

You get what you deserve. I'm not intending to be mean, just it's clear to me from looking over your "cobbled together" formula that I'm not surprised that the bread is sour.. Now I know you are happy with this, but the problem is, the use of an unnecessary and excessively large inoculum results in a high acid content which causes sourness but it also causes the denseness you experience.

Xenophon's picture

...and by no small measure imo.  If the OP likes the acidity of the bread then there's no problem for him/her, end of story.

Disagree about the link you mention between the quantity of starter and the density.  The problem here is insufficient hydration, not the starter.


ragbeara01's picture

Thanks Sandydog and Xenophon... us "casual" bakers on the learning curve of fundamentals appretiate your input. I'll "tip" in a bit more water as you both suggested and post the result later.

dabrownman's picture

a lot of Micheal Wilson.  The amount of levain in this recipe is extreme and will partly result in a heavy bread,  Sandydog is right in that 53% hydration is bagel territory for heaven's sake and they are known for their heavy, no holes wonderful selves.

Here are my rules of thumb for % of levains in bread.

30% used when you have no time and usually when you want more sour because you have no time

20% the usual amount when you want to develop flavor over a reasonable amount of time and plan on a 8 hour retard

10%  when you have more time and want to use it to develop the best overall flavor with an 18 hour retard

For bread flour white bread i would be at least at 72% hydration and more likely 75% hydration If I wanted big holes

For the current 1050 g of flour and water at 72% hydration the flour would be 610 g (1050/1.72) and the water would be 440 g

I would make the levain at 20% of the total or (1050*.2) = 210 g total at 100% hydration  by using 20 g of starter and adding 95 each flour and water and leave it on the counter for 12 hours.

610 g - 95 g - (20/2) = 505 g of dough flour and

440 g - 95 g -(20/2) = 335 g of dough flour

9-12 g of salt.  I would use 10g

I don't know what the sugar is doing in there and, as a diabetic, i would leave it out.  If I wanted a sweeter tasting bread I would add 3 g of diastatic white malt instead.

I also don't know what the oil is doing in there but, if you want it, then don't put it in until the dough flours are properly hydrated.  At least 20 minutes after mixing the rest of the ingredients so that the flour is properly hydrated first.

For large holes you don't want to be kneading this dough which will just give you uniform small holes.  I would mix with a spoon wait 20 minutes and then add the salt and oil adn mix with a spoon.  Then do 6 minutes of slap and folds with a 15 rest.  Then do 4 sets of stretch and folds ( from the 4 compass points only) on 30 minute increments.  make sure the dough is covered with a bowl on the counter between sessions.  Then let the dough ferment for an hour in an oiled bowl covered in plastic.  Bulk retard in the fridge overnight covered in a plastic bag.  Let the dough warm up for an hour on the counter and then gently shape into a tin loaf.

When the loaf has proofed to 90% (in American that would be 1/2" over the rim for a tin where the dough filled the tin 60% of the way to the rim)  then bake at 230 C for 10 minutes with steam, take the steam out and turn the oven down to 215 C convention this time if you have it.  When it tests 96 C n the inside middle it s done.

This recipe will give you loaf with big holes you seek and the great sour you love.

You don't have to retard and can go after ferment to shaping when the dough has risen 50% in the bowl. then gently shape and follow the same routine thereafter.  The flavor won't we as complex and you may not get a blistered crust

  So if you have more time use 10% levain and if you have less time use 30% levain - max

Happy Baking