The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Oven Spring & Ear Woes

pardela_de_quartera's picture

Sourdough Oven Spring & Ear Woes


Been trying to dial in a very basic country loaf recipe to produce consistent results. It's a bit chilly where I am, so ambient temps are an added challenge. Struggling to achieve a dramatic ear + oven spring. 


350 (90 degree water)

450 organic bread flour

50 unsifted organic whole wheat

100 levain (100% hydration, 1:2:2 ratio 50/50 whole wheat, ap)

10 salt

25 water


30 minute autolyse

4 1/2 hour bulk @ 78/80 degrees ambient temp (oven w/ light trick)

4 stretch & folds spaced 30 mins from start of bulk

30 minute bench rest after pre-shape

20 min rest in banneton

~16ish hour cold proof in the fridge


Other then visual signs, are there any tricks ya'll use for testing if bulk is complete? I've been pinching a tiny bit of the dough, and feeling for little bubbles as an indication. But I'm concerned this stage may be too late, and it may be over proofed. This dough in particular doubled in its container during bulk, and showed standard signs of fermentation (visible bubbles, was pulling neatly from the container during S&F, was billowy and cloud-like). Judging from the crumb, I imagine this is under-fermented. But the lack of spring makes me feel like it was over-proofed?


This is baked in a combo cooker at 475 for 20 minutes, then 450 w/ the hood off for 35 minutes. Nice blistering, good flavor, but unfortunately not the spring or dramatic ear I am looking for.


Theory's picture

I have very similar issues and always conclude I have over proofed the dough yet then I look and wonder could it actually be under proofed … So confusing 

kendalm's picture

will rise up in the oven and then deflate. That's an easy way to tell if it overproofed. If it's under proofed it will have trouble reaching it's maximum height amd look very tight - but its better to be able to guage this before you get to that point (see my blog which has an entry showing an overproofing disaster - then compare the pics to some of the other loaves - the difference is pretty obvious)

bikeprof's picture

I'm not seeing any signs of this being underfermented...what are you seeing on this front?

I'm also not seeing any problems or shortcomings, unless you don't want open are looking for more oven spring???

If you want a more dramatic bloom, you can cut your proofing a bit short...but the loaf on the cover of Tartine Bread doesn't have a very dramatic bloom on it.  It does throw an ear, which may be more about scoring in this case...what blade angle and score depth do you have?

Nice work (despite your feelings of woe)...

bikeprof's picture

a bit more supportively ;-0

You might try to eek out some more spring with higher temps...particularly at the start, 500F+ is appropriate

Ears can also be facilitated (or not) in shaping...tighter pre-shape and shape sets up how things will expand when it hits the oven, including peeling back of would-be ears...the wind up makes a difference on this front

pardela_de_quartera's picture

interesting. all excellent advice :) I'll try doing the first 20 minutes at 500, and then dial it back. I think I could also possibly aim for a tighter pre-shape. Will keep you posted!

bikeprof's picture

You might try just 5 minutes or so at 500...20 may be bit much

And realize that with attempts at tighter shaping may compromise crumb at some point...but one of the reasons I chose batards for my standard loaf was that they are easy to "wind up" for a dramatic bloom: