The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Is this overproofed? Underproofed? Something else?

smorkoch's picture

Is this overproofed? Underproofed? Something else?

I'm pretty new to sourdough and I've been using the Weekend Bakery's pain naturel for the past couple of weeks. While shaping has gotten a bit easier and I'm starting to wrap my head around the numerous details involved in the process, I'm still having trouble pinpointing exactly what needs to be changed to improve my loaves. 

I maintain a stiff (60% hydration) rye/AP starter that reliably doubles every 10-12 hours. I made the poolish for this loaf around 9:00 last night, used it at 11:00 this morning, and followed the recipe pretty much as written.

The issues I'd like to be able to address are as follows:

1. My loaves are consistently spreading at the score marks rather than producing ears.

2. More often than not, the dough spreads quite a bit when removed from the banneton and when scored (overproofed or not enough strength in the dough? The recipe calls for 2 stretch and folds...can one just add more if necessary?)

3. I'm not seeing a lot of oven spring.

4. The crumb, while light and springy, doesn't have that coveted "holey" texture and is uneven in places.


Any tips or suggestions would be much appreciated!

David R's picture
David R

That's a nice loaf of bread!

I can't answer all of the questions, but...

  • Your unevenness of crumb-hole-size is not significant enough to be any kind of problem, unless you're baking bread for the photo department at an advertising agency. (Extreme unevenness does matter, but you don't have that.)
  • Increasing or decreasing the proofing time, the proofing temperature, and the number of stretch+folds, are always meant to be flexible and under your control. Being able to see and feel when little adjustments are needed, and which ones, comes from failing. So get out there and make some bad bread, so that you can learn something! 😁
BreadLee's picture

I don't know,  that loaf looks great.  You may be getting as much spring as possible there.  On the score,  just make sure you're angling the blade.

Nice looking bread!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

That looks just gorgeous, actually! I think the crumb is perfect - it looks tender, moist and springy and I bet it tastes great. Re the shaping: yes, go for as much strength as you can. Do more S&Fs if you think they are required. If the dough relaxes nicely in between you can do them 20 minutes apart to get more in before too much fermentation gas develops. Also, shape the loaf as strongly as you can, tightening it up for a good smooth tight skin.

The spring looks fine, really. That's about what you will get for this kind of scoring. If you want an ear, then do a single score with an angled blade. Curve the score line off-centre to the top of the boule. Even better, shape the loaf into a batard (longer loaf) and do a single score. It's as if you are undercutting the 'skin' of the loaf to let it lift up.

What do you bake on or in? I find I get the best spring baking either on preheated stones with oven steam for the first 10-15 minutes, or baking in preheated cast iron pots.