The Fresh Loaf

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Frustrating issues with loaf rise & scoring

mburns87's picture

Frustrating issues with loaf rise & scoring

Hey all, 

I'd love to get the community's thoughts on some consistent challenges I'm having with a Hamelman sourdough recipe. This is a basic white bread flour loaf, about 78% hydration with 3g of added instant yeast in addition to ~300g of vigorous starter. 

Following Hamelman, this doesn't have an autolyse or folding but uses the French Culinary Institute's "improved mix" method of putting all the ingredients together in a stand mixer and beating on 2nd speed for 5-10 minutes, then bulk fermenting for an hour. Divided and shaped into two 550g boules and let those proof for an hour, again exactly as the Hamelman recipe recommends. Baked at 500F for 20 minutes, down to 460 for another 15.

Below are my two final products. The one on the RIGHT was done in a Dutch oven, and you can tell because it picked up a nice color. The loaf on the LEFT I did on a baking stone in the same oven, spraying it in the early phases and (trying) to keep the oven damp. Judging by the paleness, I didn't get there. This has been a consistent problem with multiple loaves across recipes - I just get far better results from the Dutch oven method than trying to do this like you pros with a baking stone and spray bottle. 

Also of concern here, I tried to flex my creativity and do two leaves on the left loaf, but as you can see the loaves barely rose at all from their pre-bake sizes, and both sets of scores are almost flat against the loaf. No lips or signs of depth. I've noticed I have this scoring problem consistently when using a curved lame (I normally slice a deep cross with a straight lame and get a nicely developed lip). But I can't account for the total lack of rise from either given some of the photos I've seen of loaves from this recipe.

Anyway, monologue over. Would love your thoughts. 

berryblondeboys's picture

I could have written this post. This is my loaf almost every time. And I wouldn't say this hasn't risen. It has, but it's spreading out versus up. It is expanding, just now how you want. I feel your pain. I can get nearly everything else right with my loaf, but it's something I'm doing with proofing. I even tried the jar method last time (for the first time) and my bread was a BIT better, but it's still not great. Crumb is good, but it's not quite right yet.  I look forward to hearing what others say.

idaveindy's picture

Gas oven?


mburns87's picture

Yes, it's a gas oven.

idaveindy's picture

That's most likely it. It's not your formula. Bread doesn't like to be "naked" in a gas oven due to the venting.  So a DO or cloche works, but bare loaves don't do well.

I recognized the symptom of the pale loaf and the crust texture.  

(updated after seeing Dan' reply, he's smarter than I am:)

Tweaking things will improve the DO loaf.  But the bare loaf... fuhgedaboudit.

DanAyo's picture

We'll need a whole lot more info.

  • which Hamelman SD bread
  • gas or electric oven   Gas ovens bake breads best in covered vessels. They are built to vent, so all moisture is vented.
  • show us the crumb shots
  • give us as much detail as possible

It seems there are 2 separate issues.

  1. browning in covered pot vs none on stone
  2. lack of oven spring (this one is very common)

Without oven spring, ears are not possible. 78% is a very high hydration for all white flour. Have you had success with other breads?

Update -
Checked some of your old post and cab see that you have had good success in the past. Is your issue only with this formula?

mburns87's picture

Here's a photo of the crumb on the loaf that got the Dutch oven treatment. I think the other, pale loaf was pretty well explained in the past post as being a regrettable side effect of a gas oven and an uncovered loaf. 

Here's the adapted recipe: 

575g unbleached white bread flour

400g water (~74 degrees F)

300g 125% hydration starter

14g salt

3g instant yeast

It's interesting to me that it didn't seem to proof up much during the hour final proofing suggested in the recipe.


DanAyo's picture

is it possible your Commercial Yeast has lost it’s potency?


The bread was not properly fermented.

Your actual hydration appears to be ~80%. What type of flour are you using and what is the percentage of protein? This is a super wet dough.

The yeast kicker is 0.42% which is reasonable.

Is your starter very active?

idaveindy's picture

Which Hamelman formula are you trying to adapt?

Name/chapter, and if you have the 1st edition, page # please, and I'll look it up tomorrow. 

(You probably have the 2nd edition of Hamelman, because I can't find a formula matching your formula in the 1st edition.  Or ... perhaps your adaptation strayed a bit far.)

Did you substitute in white flour where the formula called for whole wheat or rye? That might explain the overly wet loaf, and under-fermentation. (whole wheat and rye are not interchangeable with white flour, they require a new formula, or at least other adjustments even in small substitutions. WW takes more water, and ferments faster than white bread flour.)


"stand mixer and beating on 2nd speed for 5-10 minutes"

By "beating", do you mean using the paddle or the dough hook?


In the end, you're not actually too far off. I do like the crumb in the photo, it looks to make a good sandwich.

naturaleigh's picture

I'm not sure which specific recipe you are referencing, but 300g of starter for a 575g loaf plus an additional 3g of commercial yeast sounds like an interesting ratio to be sure.  That, coupled with only 2 hours of total ferment/proof time could be clues to whatever overall issues you mentioned.