The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What’s Wrong Here?

gabrielsyme's picture

What’s Wrong Here?

Anyone want to to troubleshoot this loaf? This is maybe the 4th or 5th loaf with a rye starter that’s about three weeks old. I used Tartine. I’m really not sure which details would be pertinent to unclude. Bake time/temp? Rise method? Bulk fermentation was 3 hrs. at 76 degrees. (Oven with the light on) and I let it rise again for two hrs. after shaping at the same temp. Baked for 40 minutes at 450. Sprayed there inside of the oven several times for steam.

I learn something new with each loaf so this time was the first time I was able to get the loaf out of the benneton without sticking (rice flour mix) so I call that a win. Clearly there are other things going on here though. The bread is not rising evenly in the oven. I get a kind of lopsided loaf at the end. It’s also not getting as much oven spring as I’d expect so that the score marks are barely visible in the finished loaf and the top is flattish rather than fully rounded. Any ideas? Is my starter just young? It rises and falls predictably every day. Am I not proofing it enough somewhere along the line? My other loaves have been retarded in the fridge but I just decided to try one loaf without doing that and I’m not sure I notice a difference. The crust is definitely not right. Not crackly and defined near the score marks.

David R's picture
David R

The only thing I feel at all qualified to say is, it sounds as if you waited nice even amounts of time on the proofing stages. This would indicate to me that you could probably improve your results by keeping your eyes away from the clock a bit more, and looking more closely at how (and what) the dough is actually doing.

It's similar to waiting for paint to dry. If the paint label says "Dries in three hours", you're not going to suddenly rub your expensive jacket on the freshly-painted wall when the timer reads 3:00:01 just because the label said it would be dry. 🙂

View recipes' proofing times (if they're listed) as guides to when it would be appropriate to go and have a look to see how it's doing. If it says "About 2 hours", you know not to come back in 3 minutes, or in two days - but if your place is warmer than average, maybe you'll want to be back in an hour and a quarter just in case. And so on.

Experience is a kind of information that you always get just after you needed it. ☺️

hreik's picture

Probably the bulk proofing is too short, but perhaps both. Three weeks is a young starter.  It will become easier as it ages.




Ferment A Lot's picture
Ferment A Lot

I think you're off to a good start. The issue isn't with the starter being new, if it's active it's active. More time will give it a better flavor profile.

In my opinion, your issue has to do with not building enough strength, structure and tension in the dough. Do you apply any folds to the dough during bulk fermentation? I would recommend stretching and folding several times during the first couple of hours after making your mix. Make sure to not tear the dough while stretching.

When shaping, keep building strength by pushing/pulling the dough against your working surface. Shape once, let rest for 15 minutes and shape again before proofing.

My last note would be to let the dough ferment a little longer during bulk fermentation, at least 5 hours or overnight.

Hope this helps, keep us updated :)

gabrielsyme's picture

Thanks guys. So what I hear is underproofed and maybe under handled in general. I did not stretch it during the bulk rise 🤦‍♀️ I have four children under nine and they’re homeschooled so they’re here all day. Somewhere between teaching fractions and phonics and diagraming sentences I forgot. This gives me the next step in the road though. Stretch and fold, give it time to rise.