The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Mission to Oven Bloom!

Valdus's picture

A Mission to Oven Bloom!

The above is typical of my sour note experiments. Nice crumb, medium tightness. Golden color. Above is a typical example of my oven spring. I want more, a lot more. 

I want a bursting loaf, something that will rise so high that it scrapes the top of the oven. I have accomplished pretty much everything in a basic sour loaf except exceptional oven spring. Some things I have learned that have improved it are:

  • a tight bread forming, particularly the crust. 
  • A half of cup of water underneath the parchment paper +
  • the parchment paper soaked in water even. 

I have used Raffa's Everyday Sourdough recipe consistently without much deviation. I also moved toward the The NMNF Starter.

I wonder if a low hydration loaf has more or less of a chance to make the sacred spring. You guys don't understand I want an oven bloom!

I am feeding my stiff starter tonight to make Teresa Greenway's introductory loaf tomorrow during the day. If anyone has any questions, feel free. Suggestions on Oven bloom are also welcome. 

 Greenway's recipe is (roughly) 140g starter, 400g flour, 240ml water and 9 salt no autolyse.


Valdus's picture

Is Oven spring related to technique (folding, steam etc) or the recipe? Further, is it related to temperature, like everything bread?

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

Perhaps start with terminology, so that you and TFL readers are on the same page.

'Oven spring' is the overall expansion (mostly vertical) that one observes between uncooked but fully fermented dough and the volume it attains after the initial steaming period in the oven.
In artisanal baking, 'bloom' specifically refers to the opening up and bulging of slashes made in the loaf's upper surface.
Bakers subdivide their methods into 'formula' (= ingredients and their proportions) and 'process' (step-by-step methods through which ingredients are manipulated to achieve the final baked result).  Those two distinct elements are lumped together in the general cooking term of 'recipe'.

Let's assume your goal is a loaf with a dramatically open crumb.  Bad news is, it is impossible to identify a single factor responsible for it, since doughs and the machinations of those who prepare and manipulate them are essentially infinitely complex systems.  One cannot even say that it is the formula or the process that is most important here, since they interact with one another and contribute separately to the character of the final product. 

Commonly cited factors contributing to crumb openness include dough hydration (the higher, the more potential for openness, in general), gentleness of dough handling (extremely important), degree of dough fermentation (not too little, not too much), physical properties of the flours used (lower protein [gluten] generally contributing to greater crumb openness, but not as low as pastry flour).

Bottom line:  There is no simple answer.  If you want a thorough and authoritative treatment of these issues, you might want to download and read Trevor Wilson's Open Crumb Mastery.


Xaimerafiki's picture

So I'm far from an authority on this, and still haven't achieved my own perfect loaf yet, but I have read a lot and made some progress and here are a few things that might make a difference.

1. Quick heat transfer. If you're not already, using a baking Stone, baking steal or cast iron pan/Dutch oven will help transfer the heat quickly leading to a greater spring.

2. Good tight shaping really makes a large difference. The tighter the outside is, the more the insides will burst out during baking.

3. A lower hydration, in my experience, lead to a nicer oven spring. (Though I suspect because I'm a shaping noob and it's easier to achieve tension in a stiffer dough).

4. Steam. You might want to develop how you introduce steam. I currently employed a tray of lava rocks to which I add my cup of water after the loaf goes in. I also use a tray with a wet towel in it. I spray my loaves before they go in and after 5mins. (This may be a bit over zealous but I am using a fan oven and j don't have a Dutch oven to use).

5. Shape of loaf. I notice you're going for a boule. Though it may actually rise the same amount as a batard, a batard tends to look more drastic when is goes through its oven spring and is much more likely to achieve the "ear" compared to a boule.

6. The proof. I can't teach you how to get this right. Use the finger poke test? Get a hang of it? I will say that a slightly underproofed dough will experience more oven spring. 

7. The slash. Slash the loaf at a narrower angle instead of at 90 to the surface. 

Again, I am far from an expert and I probably couldn't tell you why all of these might make a difference but I'm sure there are people here that will let you (and me) know.

dabrownman's picture

technique and timing.  Get them right and boom!  Get one wrong and no boom!  Once you get it then you got it.  I tell folks to start with the basic greatest loaf of all time  - the 123 and use half AP and half bread flour.  Get the 100% hydration levain ready and make sure it is 1/2 hour from doubling before starting the autolyse wIth the salt sprinkled on top.  Do 1 set of 150 slap and folds and then 4 sets of stretch and folds from the compass points being more gentle as you go - all n 30 minute intervals,  Do a pre shape and final shape making sure the dough is tight and then into the rice floured basket seam side up.  Now for the hard parts,  It has to go into the 500 F heat at exactly 85% proof.  It is hard to know when 85% proof exactly is when looking at a basket that isn't straight sided and you can't see through it.  So make a small dough ball and shape it like you would a roll and place it into a straight sided glass and cover it with plastic so you can tell exactly when it is 85%.  When it is 85% the basket is risen 85% in volume too.  Look at the basket and you notice that it has likely risen less than an inch or so but now you know what 85% looks like in your basket with that size of dough..

Score, spritz well with water and get it into the oven stone or steel and put 2 cups of water on the lava rocks that are at 500 F below, for Mega Steam, 1 cup is not enough,  or get it into a DO.for 20 minutes of steam turning the oven down to 450 F when the dough goes in the oven either way,  After 20 minutes you will have beautiful spring and bloom.  I'm guessing your problem is the hardest thing to know in bread making -  when you are at exactly 85% proof.

There you go and here is what you get!

Or this more boldly baked with more whole grains and 80% proof

Valdus's picture

Dabrownman, you sent me on some serious homework assignments. I found out the ratio method of 1-2-3. Fascinating. I still wonder if 150 slap and folds refers to slapping the dough 150 times with Richard's slap and fold method. I am intrigued and interested by the 50/50 AP/Bread Flour. 

On occasion I have done the dough ball test in a jar. It has never served me well BUT will try it again. I just need more training/ practice. Judging size and space has always been difficult for me (I call it a time-space problem, imagine what moving is like for me!) Tell me more of how you do it. 

Perhaps the best I have done.

The above is perhaps the best spring I have done, but did I write notes on it? Not sure Ill have to go into the archives. 

dabrownman's picture

by a fold!  Lucy says you can do anything to the  dough in the first half hour and it is too stupid to know what what heck is happening to it,  Before Lucy went deaf, I used to scream take that ,,,,and that ,,,Yee haw....and other such nonsense when I did slap and folds and Lucy would go crazy barking at it and telling it what for too!  Now I sing to it instead and Lucy pays no mind whatsoever and doesn't even know the banging is going on.t all anymore. 

With the baskets Lucy got at Goodwill for 50 cents, I let it rise about a 1/2 of an inch and then turn on the oven for 45 minutes of preheat and then it is about an inch rise which seems to e about 84.4367% and perfect for out nor,al 25% whole grain Bread.  When I first started posting years ago. I was always over proofing so I started posting before and after pictures of the dough in the basket .  The first one I said I though it was 100% proof and Mini Oven said - what a doofus!  That is way over 150% proof and you shouldn't be proofing to 100% anyway you nitwit!  Well, she might have been kinder than that but that is what she should have said for sure!  So after that no over proofing except if I did a shaped proof in the fridge while Lucy is sleeping and it proofed too much but she l=sleeps all the time at her age!

This loaf looks way better for sure.  Bet it tasted better though!