The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with Sourdough Troubleshooting

kamki's picture

Help with Sourdough Troubleshooting

I've been baking sourdough for a couple of years now and the inconsistent results are killing me. 

I've been following TPL's Best Sourdough Recipe or Beginner's Sourdough with great results sometimes, and horrible pancake-y overproofed loaves other times — most recently my loaves have all been overproofed (I am suspicious of the 16-hour cold ferment time being too long) so I returned to Tartine as a starting place. 

Here's the loaf I baked today.


My process was: 

11:15 AM — levain build with 30g of starter, 78° H20 

5:45 PM — passed float test; autolyse with 750g 80° H20, 900g AP, 100g WW 

6:35 PM— final mix with 200g levain, 20g salt, 40g H20. folded several times in the beginning and left the dough alone for the last two or so hours.

10:35 PM — ended bulk. covered bench rest + shaped.

11 PM — into fridge 

9:55 AM — loaf one into oven after a 30-minute preheat. this loaf turned out super flat and I didn't bother to finish baking it but composted immediately. 

In case it was underproofed, I took the second loaf out and let it sit at room temperature (probably about 65° ambient) for around an hour. Baked around 11 AM (preheated at 500°, baked covered at 450° for 25 minutes, then finished uncovered). However, this loaf was also a total pancake with that weird crumb structure! It doesn't taste particularly sour, though. At this point I have no idea whether I'm under- or over-proofing and am losing my mind. 


TL;DR I usually overproof my loaves so pulled back on my most recent batch but STILL had a bad bake. I would love some help diagnosing.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

But link doesn't show photo of the bread. See many other photos but non of the loaf. 

kamki's picture

Oh shoot! I'm not sure how to edit my post, but this is the link: 

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Sent you a private message

kamki's picture

I got the photos added! Sideways but they're there.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Ok, straight away I'm thinking insufficient ferment either in the starter/levain stage or bulk ferment. 

Now you say you're being cautious about not over fermenting. Perhaps too cautious? 

leslieruf's picture

How much increase in volume are you getting during bulk ferment? are you allowing dough to double or only say 50% increase?  less than doubling means dough should be easier to shape and also leaves some leeway for proof.  

secondly what temperature is your fridge?  if it is too warm this will allow dough to carry on fermenting and risk overproofing.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you switch out half the AP for bread flour?  Looks to me like the crumb is breaking down.

Jaymunnie's picture

I've been following a sourdough starter recipe.  It's my first time making sourdough and I don't know what to expect.  The recipe calls for:

Day 1 - 50g Flour 50mL water

Day 2 - Feed with another 50g Flour and 50mL water

Day 3 - Discard 100g of starter and then feed with another 100g Flour and 100mL water

Day 4 - Discard 150g of starter and feed with another 100g Flour and 100mL water

Day 5 - Discard 200g of starter and feed with 150g Flour and 150mL water

Day 6 - Discard 250g of starter and feed with 200g Flour and 200mL water

Today is day 3 for me, and I noticed that the top of my starter had scabbed over in the jar...not sure if that's a good or bad thing.  I've been keeping my jar in a lukewarm place with the lid just placed on top, not even sealed, just so pests or anything else can't get into it.  I am using White Lily unbleached bread flour which is one of only 2 other bread flour types I have access to in the small town that I live.  I'm noticing small bubbles here and there, and I'm not sure about the smell.  How do I know if this is a viable batch? Or if I'm even using the right flour? Or if I'm even doing it right at all?