The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need Help with Oven Spring!

ellens's picture

Need Help with Oven Spring!


I have been baking sourdough for about 5 months now. Lately I am having a lot of trouble with oven spring.

I use Tartine method, 75-80% hydration. 45 min autolyse (with starter, Chad's way), then 2.5 hours of turns every 30 min or so, then another 30-60 min rest before pre-shaping. 20 min bench rest, then shape, then chill for 12 hours in fridge.

I am happy with the crumb and the bread is fine to eat. Seems a bit more sour than it should be after only 12 hours chill but that's ok. My starter is good. But I am just not getting the height I would like to see and that I used to get in the past.

Not sure if it's the warm weather?? I did adjust my bulk ferment down from what I was doing in the spring. Am I under-fermenting now? I had some major flops that were left out too long in the heat and have dialed things back. Did I go back too far?? Or is it my shaping? When I do the 80% hydration the dough is sometimes fairly sticky and hard to pull around on the board to get tension. Not sure if this is normal or not?

I am attaching some pics.

Thanks for any help or advice!!!

ellens's picture

I think the angle of first pic makes the bread look taller than it is. In the middle of interior it measures 3.5". I use a 9" round banetton and this is loaf made with 500g flour.


DanAyo's picture

Notice how dark the top of the loaf is. I think your crust mat be hardening pre-maturely. Once the crust hardens the bread is no longer able to expand upward. This will have a negative affect on your crumb, oven spring, and possible ears.

2 questions

  1. how high is your stone or covered pot placed in the hot?
  2. what temps are you using to bake?

Ideally you are looking for a multi-colored crust ranging from light to darker.

ellens's picture

Thank you for your reply! You are right, it's coming out very dark lately. I am using a Lodge Combo Cooker. Maybe it's too high in the oven, I will lower the rack one notch. I also have an issue with oven temp that I can't figure out. I had a thermometer in the oven that was consistently reading cooler than the oven was set for. I bought a new thermometer to doublecheck. Still running cool. But my oven is only a few years old and I was surprised the calibration would be off so soon. But I was trusting the thermometers and cranking up the heat. Thinking on this now, I think it was around the same time that my breads starting coming out darker and may be when they started flattening out so maybe that IS the problem. I will go back to my original setting, which was 475 or 500 depending on my mood (I have been setting to 520 lately to bring that thermometer reading up).


Will investigate and report back!


ciabatta's picture

Are you using the upper elements in the oven? (I’m am assuming electric oven).  For preheating that’s ok but after the loaf goes in I think bottom heat only is better.  The combo cooker will heat up too much if the top is near the heating elements. 
I preheat at 500 and bake at 450 covered 20 mins and uncovered 25 mins.  Even if your oven is cooler by 25F you should be ok. 

ellens's picture

Gas oven! I will lower the rack down. Thanks for the suggestion!

kendalm's picture

^^^^ wow dan thats a masterpiece ^^^^