The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Problems with Ovenspring (No ovenspring)

fernandarodella's picture

Problems with Ovenspring (No ovenspring)


I'm having some trouble when trying to bake a simple 1, 2, 3 sourdough bread recipe. Here's my recipe:

Starter 100% Hydration Manitoba Flour/Rye Flour

120g of mature active sourdough starter

240g of water

300g of Manitoba flour (12% protein)

60g Rye Flour

2% salt

I mix the flour and water and wait about 50 min (autolyse) then add the starter and knead for about 5 minutes, then add salt and knead some more for about 3 minutes. Rest dough for about 6 hours (this last time it took 8 hours for proofing). Folds every 30 minutes, 4 times. Dough looks bubbly and happy, but no incredible raise already (maybe 1,5x).  I take it to the fridge wrapped up (usually maintains the rise with no addition (still at 1,5x). In the morning I take it out, shape it, leave it for about an hour outside until it rises again (same 1,5x)

I currently live in Denmark and the temperature inside my house is about 22 degrees, so I proof the bread inside the oven with the light on and a thermometer to keep it around 25 degrees. (I'm moving back to Brazil and hopefully will get better proofing over there :P)

Now, for the tricky part:

I only have an electric stove with a fan and a baking tray. No baking stone or cassarole or such (I intend to get those but since I'm moving to another country soon I don't wanna carry those heavy objects with me)

So, what I do is heat the oven 250 with a tray of boiling water at the bottom of the oven, with the fan on, with the tray I'm gonna lay the bread on inside. Then score the bread and just slide the bread onto the baking tray. What I immediately see is despite there being a lot of steam in the oven, a dry looking pellicle forms all around it and then I get no oven spring. Bake it for about 15 minutes at 250 degrees, then around 20 minutes at 200 degrees.

The result is a very tasty giant pancake! It's got a nice crumb, humid, airy, sour, delicious but no height.

PS- The bottom of the bread (picture) also looks a weird white brownish color with a smooth surface and heavy texture.

Any ideas as to what I could do better??




Lechem's picture

Oven light on should be warm and provide good proving temps. You have 33% starter and 6 hours bulk ferment before a further all night fridge bulk ferment. I'm thinking too much bulk ferment and an over fermenting dough.

fernandarodella's picture

It has crossed my mind, but the thing is that I'm watching the dough all through the bulk fermentation and it's not rising fast at all. When I touch it there is air inside but it doesn't double like the doughs I see pictures of and so I am always in doubt whether I should just put it in the fridge sooner, before it has risen a considerable amount. (Especially since I'm using strong flour. Shouldn't it develop more?). Because I don't see much rising after I refrigerate it. 

Lechem's picture

Doubling isn't always the indicator it's done. Since you're also doing a long bulk ferment in the fridge I'd keep the dough at room temperature just long enough to develop the gluten and to see the bulk ferment is underway then I'd refrigerate. I would do everything as you have up until you have added the salt and given it a bit of a knead. Then I'd give it a stretch and fold every 10-20 minutes until I see signs of fermentation and the gluten formation is done. The dough should feel billowy and aerated (at 33% starter I reckon 2-3 hours from when the starter has been added) then I'd refrigerate to finish off the bulk ferment. Come the next morning just shape and final proof till ready.

fernandarodella's picture

I'll be putting this advice to the test this week and will report back my findings!

Thanks for taking the time to help! :)

IceDemeter's picture

I also think that having the fan on in the oven is not a great idea at the beginning of the bake.

As Lechem already mentioned, it seems like you are fermenting the dough for too long at the beginning.  If using this table as a rough guideline (, then you should be getting the dough in to the fridge after no more than 2 to 2-1/2 hours from the time that the starter hit the flour (your recipe is basically 15% pre-fermented flour, fermenting at 25 deg).  Since the bulk of dough will take some time to cool down in the fridge, you need to take that in to consideration.  I hope that you're using a see-through fermenting container with straight sides, so that you can see the bubbles on the sides and bottom of the dough, and have a better visual understanding of how much it really is increasing in volume (which will not necessarily be a doubling in height).

Also, it seems to me that you aren't letting the shaped dough warm up to room temperature and proof long enough in the morning.  At about the same amount of preferment, I usually need at least 2 to 3 hours out of the fridge for the dough to be ready to bake.

Finally - I suspect that you really need to turn the fan off in the oven for the beginning of the bake.  I would think that the fan will be stripping the steam / moisture off of the surface of the dough, and "setting" it before it has a chance to rise.  You should find that waiting until you want the steam "released" (about 20 minutes in to the bake) to turn on the fan might make a difference.

I hope you find the answer, and that it works for you after your move, too!

fernandarodella's picture

I greatly appreciate all the ideas! I haven't been using a clear bowl but I'll get one ASAP, it's true, because when I fold the dough I can definitely see bubbles so I might be giving  a the doubling more importance than it deserves.I will definitely put them to use this week and let you know how it turns out! 

I did think of turning off the fan 5 minutes into baking in my last attempt but I think I was too late and the damage had already been done! But that makes a lot of sense!

Always good to get a fresh view from more experienced bakers! Thanks for taking the time to help me!

Pretty soon gonna dry my starter and pack it up to come with me! :D

All the best