The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Failed Loaf, Who's the Culprit?

Tyler Dean's picture
Tyler Dean

Failed Loaf, Who's the Culprit?

Recipe as Follows:


50g Stiff Starter (Organic AP Flour)

400g Spring Water

500g KA Bread Flour

Lots of Minced Onion (the dry kind in a spice container)

Lots of Raw Wheat Germ (stored in the fridge)

Lots of Unpasteurized Whole Milk Plain Yogurt

Hefty Pour of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

17g Sea Salt

Dash of Cornmeal


Mixed the starter with water and olive oil until fully combined. Mixed in the minced onions and the yogurt until fully combined. Added bread flour, cornmeal, wheat germ and salt. Mixed with rubber spatula until mostly combined. Began stretch and folds after 30 minutes. Performed several stretch and folds over the course of the next 6 hours - maybe a total of 10 stretch and folds. The reason I did so many is because I wasn't seeing a nice gluten development.

The bread failed to develop much of any activity, not much rise, no bubbles, floppy structure. The starter is very active and I've had much success with very high hydration dough even with lots of olive oil and yogurt of the same nature. The bread was very heavy and dense, baked on a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven turned down to 425 near the end. The bread started to burn before the inside was fully cooked. After sitting overnight I cut into it and it was still slightly raw in some places. I have lots of success with my starter and baking method using the same recipe WITHOUT the minced onion/raw wheat germ/raw yogurt combination. So what was the culprit does anybody know? I'm trying to run a home bakery and I want to develop a nice onion and yogurt loaf with the wheat germ.


BaniJP's picture

With that much fat from the yoghurt and oil you have a lot of tenderizing agents which make it more difficult for the gluten to form. 

Plus with the raw yoghurt you are introducing a bunch of other live cultures that might compete with your starter.

I can imagine the onion also provides some antibacterial properties, but I have nothing to back up that theory.

The low amount of starter will result in a quite slow rise (like 6-8 h at least I would say) and the high amount of salt slows it down even more. Currently you are at 3,5%.

So I would do some things:

- drop salt content to 2% (10 g in your case).

- increase starter to at least 20% (100g) and adjust water to maintain same hydration level.

- use pasteurized yoghurt or at least less raw yoghurt, you get enough tang from the starter.

- fry off the onions before to get more flavor and maybe also reduce the possible antibacterial properties (again, just a theory).

- maybe also reduce overall hydration, it's 80+% now, I would drop it to might need to do some math for that.

- maybe drop temperature to 450-465°C

MichaelLily's picture

Dried onion absorbs a lot of moisture and will prevent a loaf from proofing. I’ve been there. Weigh the dried onions and soak them in twice their weight in water. Let them absorb as much as they can (~10 minutes) and then add into the dough. Alternatively, use fresh onions instead of dry.


for example, if you use 100g of onion, soak them in 200g water.

pmccool's picture

"Lots" or "Hefty Pour"?  The dough is already at 80% hydration before the onions, wheat germ, yogurt, and EVOO are added.  None of those will do anything to help the gluten formation.  The yogurt could be 80% water all by itself, making the dough much wetter.  The oil will interfere with gluten formation.  The wheat germ won't add any gluten to the dough but it will absorb some of the moisture, as will the onions (assuming you didn't rehydrate them).

I think you need to restructure your formula with careful consideration for each ingredient's effect on the dough.  Then weigh all of the ingredients so that you can manage both the inputs and the outcome.


BreadLee's picture

You're going to need to weigh everything and write it down.  Seems like you need more starter.