The Fresh Loaf

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Sourdough Rising problems

Sandeepm's picture

Sourdough Rising problems


I’m having issues with my sourdough rising. The starter is seemingly active and bubbly, passes the float test. I’ve made a few loaves and they all taste great. I used the Vanessa Kimbell basic recipe and the Tartine country bread recipe. Both were quite wet, the tartine one worked better. I am no trying the Vanessa Kimbell method again but with lower hydration. 

While doing bulk fermentation there is rise and bubbles you can see in the dough. When I let the dough proof in baskets before retarding it just doesn’t want to rise. Am I leaving it too long and should shorten the bulk fermentation?

there is oven spring but not a full round loaf like expected. 

or should I let it sit out for longer before retarding. My starter generally takes about 8 hours to come to full activity. My starter is 25g starter, 100g water, 50g each rye and whole grain wheat. 

Any help would be amazing!

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Can't comment on much without the recipe. From what I understand Vanessa does leave a lot open to interpretation. Her recipes aren't always very precise (for a good reason) and does expect the reader to know things like watching the dough and not the clock. We also need to look at temperatures and your starter. 

Sandeepm's picture

Recipe called for:

225g leaven

735g water

800g white flour

200g whole wheat flour

20g salt

temperatures here have lowered so I’ve been proofing in the oven with the light on. Keeping it around 25 -27 degrees Celsius 


Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Is 25g starter + 100g water + 100g flour (1:4:4)

That is 25% starter and it takes about 8 hours for it to become fully active. 

Not a very fast starter but also gives us an idea that your bulk ferment might also need more time. 

The leaven is 22.5% so a tad less than your starter maintenance. 

You also mention that there are some bubbles in the bulk ferment but I get the impression it's not showing quite enough activity. Then you say it's shaped and refrigerated. 

I'm thinking the dough might need more time. But I'd like photos, if possible, of your starter, leaven and dough at each stage of the bake. From beginning to end. 

I wouldn't proceed with the shaping till the dough has more visible signs of puffiness and bubbles coming through to the surface like blisters. Does your dough have blisters at the end of the bulk ferment?

sourtrout's picture

What I'd like to know is how vigorously are you shaping the dough when you get to that step? You don't want to knock out all the gas bubbles, but you need to rearrange the dough enough to provide the yeast with more food. If you're just very carefully forming it into a boule then popping it in the basket, then you need to do more folds and such.. Just my two cents.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You might find it helpful to pinch off a little piece of dough before the bulk rise and place it into a narrow straight sided glass.  Press it level and mark it, then mark "double."  Keep this covered and with the dough as it goes thru rising and folding etc but leave the gauge alone as it rises to almost double. That will give a better interpretation of where the dough is in the bulk rise.   Can also tuck the gauge dough into the loaf when shaping or shape it separately and use it to judge the proof.   Especially helpful when trying a new recipe.  Do remember that the small sample will warm up and cool off faster than the main dough but it does help.   

If the dough is rising for long periods of time including long retards, may I suggest using part bread flour in the recipe?  It all depends on the white flour in the recipe.  A low protein flour may not be holding up to the abuse it has to take with sourdough.  Check the flour protein and fibre.