The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Postmortem: Overproofed or Underproofed

texasbakerdad's picture

Postmortem: Overproofed or Underproofed

Main Question: Are the loaves in the pictures below underproofed or overproofed?

I baked same recipe twice with 1 major change to the process, a 12 hour bulk retard. The crumb was less open in the bulk retarded loaves. I can't tell if I overproofed or underproofed and I am hoping you all can help.

Full list of changes from 1st bake to 2nd bake, I indicated whether or not the change has anything to do with the crumb openness by marking the changes as major/minor:

  • major change: 5 hour mostly room temp bulk > 12 hour cold retard to 50% rise
  • major change?: Baked each loaf separately > baked loaves together.
  • minor change: left lid untouched until removing it after 45 min > cracked pot lid in oven at 25 min to reduce steam and removed lid at 45 minute mark
  • minor change: used hard white wheat > used hard red wheat
  • minor change: did not sift bran > sifted bran and used bran in final levian build. 
  • strong dough > strong dough but colder from retard and more extensible, but still strong. 

The 1st bake that worked out better:

Pictures of loaves from the problem bake are below. You should probably ignore the odd crust texture and color. I am testing out cooking in a cold clay pot with the lid soaked in water. There was so much steam created that it caused the odd crust. The batard in the 1st bake was also baked this way.

Danni3ll3's picture

from hard white wheat to hard red wheat is a major change. From my observations, bread made from white Wholewheat comes out much lighter than regular Wholewheat. 

Elsie_iu's picture

The crumb I achieve with either is usually very similar if not identical. Their colour and flavour are very distinctive from each other though.

texasbakerdad's picture

What is ya'lls opinion regarding whether or not the loaves were underproofed or overproofed?

Elsie_iu's picture

I haven't tried baking in a dutch oven so I can't comment on that. 

The crumb looks even (not denser on the bottom), which isn't usually the case for under-proofing. Also, the scoring doesn't really show and oven spring looks lacking. Those are what I observed when my bread was over-proofed.

There might be other possibilities for the outcome but I'm just not proficient enough to diagnose. We'll have to see what others say about this.


barryvabeach's picture

I am about the last person who should offer an opinion, since I so regularly overproof, but for me the difference between underproof and overproofed is comparing the size of the loaf going into the oven versus coming out.  If I get some oven spring, or even better a little bit of an ear,  I assume that means it was not overproofed - or at least not too overproofed.  If on the other hand it comes out smaller than when it went it, which happens to me pretty regularly, it means I overproofed it, yet again.  

dabrownman's picture

with proofing in pot you are baking in and baking from a cold pot and oven  It you would proof in a basket ans show us a picture of what it liked like going in and what it llked in the basket like right before you bake it and then bake it in a hot pot in a hot oven .

You can preheat the Romertoph if you soak it for an hour in water first just heat it with the oven preheat to 450 F.  Overturn the basket onto parchment on a peel, score then slide into the hot clay pot and bake for 30 minutes at 425 F with the lid on.

We can then tell if it over proofed with the before and after pictures.

Happy clay pot baking

texasbakerdad's picture

I too thought cooking from a cold romertopf was a bad idea. But, the idea is appealing, because I hate keeping my oven on for longer than needed. Makes the kitchen uncomfortably hot and wastes energy.

There are quite a few posts on the fresh loaf of people having success cooking from a cold pot and an oven that has not been preheated. And... my first attempt went surprisingly well.

There is a King Arthur blog post about this exact same topic, and they concluded that cooking from a cold oven in a dutch oven produced indistinguishable results compared to cooking in a preheated dutch oven.

After my bake last week, I feel like cooking from a cold oven will work, I just need to perfect the times and the process. But, I am want to continue to explore this route, because it substantially simplifies my baking process.

I am interested to read your thoughts though. Thanks for all of the thoughtful feedback!