The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Spring" while baking

suzanneulrich's picture

"Spring" while baking

How do I get good oven spring?  My loaves come out looking just like they did when I put them in.  Am I not letting them rise enough, or too much?  Did I exhaust my yeast?   The crumb is a little dense, but not bad.


nbicomputers's picture

post the recipe and how you are handeling the bread.  i am sure you will get some answers

suzanneulrich's picture

Sorry, I am new to this...I made a preferment that stood overnight (1/4 tsp yeast, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup water). In the morning I added 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/4 cup Better for Bread (King Arthur) plus 3/4 tsp yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 cup water. I used a lightly floured board to set it on for degassing it after a 1 hour 15 min rise. I put it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for about an hour. Then I degassed it again, shaped it into a ball and let it rise about 45 minutes - it was about doubled. Then I cut it on top with 4 cuts in a square shape on the top and put it in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes. I misted the top. I dropped the temp to 400 for the rest of the bake time - about 40 minutes total. After I wrote the first time I set a new sponge (let it ferment for 2 hours) and redid it adding some Italian seasonings. I used a sharper knife and had a better result, but not as good as when I look at the pictures I see on the website! Maybe I need to cut deeper than about 1/2 inch? I am at 6000 feet elevation and it is very very dry here. Is that a factor? What, if anything, should I be doing differently for the elevation? I might add, both loaves are very tasty and I would not be ashamed of serving them, I just don't get that extra spring I am looking for.

HogieWan's picture

My solutions to poor oven spring have been longer proofs, better slashing (deeper and more "vertical"), and a hot oven (preheat 50 degrees above baking temp and reduced after loaf is put in).

nbicomputers's picture

don't be sorry i just wanted some more information

from what i see this is a very lean dough with no fats or sugars

if i have this right...

pre ferment over night

mix final dough and let rise

punch or fold (degass)

let rise again


rise cut and bake

your reast might be very week by now and all available food for the yeast has been consumed.

try to cut out the second rise  as in

perferment over night
mix final dough
shape and rise
cut and bake.

as for cutting a single sided razor blade wouks wonders or you can get a n exacto knife from a crast store thay cost a little for the handle but the blades are replaceable and the handle will last a lifetime not to mention there as sharp as a scalple. 

also dip whatever you use for cutting your bread in water each cut   you will get a cleaner cut with pulling the dough.

HogieWan's picture

I slash with a standard short kitchen knife (~4" blade), though the wetting is necessary.

malkuth9623373's picture

The secret to very light bread with incredible oven spring is energetic mixing.
I see on your pizza page that you took Artisan I and II at the San Francisco Baking Institute.
I also too took Artisan I.  Prior to Artisan I, I had been baking for several years.  All of my loaves turned
out like bricks and non of them had oven spring.  I had read about oven spring but had never
actually seen it. It was in Artisan I that I first witnessed oven spring.  I was amazed at how 100% of the baguettes that the students loaded into the oven puffed up.  It was incredible.  I, with my own hands, formed loave which inflated like balloons.
What had I been doing wrong all these years?  Loaf after loaf had oven spring.
When I got home from Artisan I, I hit a brick wall.  I followed the instructions to the letter.
Here was the basic recipe that I was using:

500 grams of Harvest King Artisan flour
335 grams of water (67% hydration)
10g salt
3.5 g yeast

mix 2.5 minutes on first speed
mix 5 minutes on second speed
let ferment in covered container 1 hour
divide and preshape and let rest 20 minutes
shape loaves and proof for 1 hour
bake at 485F for 18 minutes

I loaded this into my KitchenAid Artisan mixer and mixed it the same amount of time as in
school.  I followed the procedures EXACTLY as I had done them in class.   To my amazement,
there was no oven spring.  My bread was dense and heavy.  For several months I tried loaf after loaf. 

At first I thought it was the lack of a steam oven, but that wasn't the problem.
Then it occurred to me....GLUTEN WINDOW!!!  The instructor would pick up a piece of dough
right after mixing and he would streatch it and it would form a gluten window.
I tried to do the same thing using my KitchenAid but the dough would fall gluten window.
My dough was grainy with no gluten window.  The dough that I had seen in baking school
was silky smooth and showed a gluten window right off the mixer.  So I decided to let
my poor KitchenAid mix and mix.  After about 45 minutes I got to the silky smooth dough.
I pulled off a piece of dough and got a decent gluten window.
So then I realized.......the problem is mixing time.....the mixers at baking school are very
effecient spiral mixers.....mixing time on my KitchenAid took much longer.
I baked some loaves and got some oven spring but it wasn't like in baking school.
But that's when I realized that making light bread is ALL ABOUT THE MIXING!
I decided that I needed a better mixer but I didn't want to spend $1,300 on the
school's mini spiral mixer.  So I decided on the Bosch Universal Mixer.  Then my bread
started turning out great.  Light and fluffy with great oven spring.
The Bosch has a strong motor and twirls and streatches the dough over and over.
The Bosch mixes the above recipe to perfect gluten development in 22 minutes.
I load all the ingredients into the bowl and mix  for about 5 seconds.
I let the flour absorb the water (about 5 minutes) then crank up the Bosch to speed 3.
I don't use any other speed.....just the fastest speed.
After 22 minutes I get a perfect dough.
This is the secret to making light, fluffy bread!  Nobody here seems to get it (except SevenB).

Sure, this doesn't guarangee great bread.....but without understanding of gluten development,
you will never have light bread with good oven spring.

Gluten development is tricky.  On my Bosch I have noticed the following:

less than 19 minutes will give a very weak or no gluten window.....the dough will just pull apart with no gluten window.
at 21 minutes and 30 seconds, there is nice oven spring and the cuts open up nicely
at 25 minutes there is even more oven spring and the bread is even lighter....but the cuts don't open explode like they do at 21 or 22 minutes
past 30 minutes the dough starts to turn to chewing gum with no gluten feels like melted wrigley's chewing gum on hot asphalt (this is overdeveloped dough)
at 21 minutes and 30 seconds, the crumb is more open with bigger holes, at 25 minutes the structure is finer with fewer big holes.

Any hydration between 65% and 80% will have the same mixing time.
These mixing times are for my Bosch mixer loaded with the 500grams of flour recipe.
If you change the amount of dough, you will probably have to adjust the mixing time.
If you use a different mixer, you need to find the point at which you get a gluten window
right off the mixer and work from there to determine your own mixing times.
As we have seen, a KitchenAid will not's just not energetic enough.
Preferments and autolyse will shorten mixing time and mess with gluten development.....but to start out I urge you
to work with just straight autolyse, no preferment.....this will lead you
to understanding of gluten development.  Worry about flavor after you undestand  gluten development.

The french went through all this in the 1950's.  There was a revolution when they discovered that
energetic mixing makes light fluffy bread.  Then in the 70's there was another revolution back to the old ways.
Although energetic mixing does give light bread, it oxidizes the dough and makes it whiter and less flavorful.
You have to find the balance between flavor and lightness.

All other factors aside, mixing time is the most important.  Without it you will have dense bread.  It might be full of flavor but it will be dense.

If you just mix flour and water by hand and let it sit a while, you will get a gluten window.  Don't be fooled.....your must form a gluten window right off the mixer....if you can't get a gluten window off the mixer, change mixers!

The reason that you need to develop the dough to the right point is so the gluten will perform like a bunch of tiny balloons.  The elastic balloons retain gas and puff up.  Baking bread without developed gluten is like trying to blow up a balloon with a bunch of holes in it.

Tips1:  adding 17grams of butter to the above recipe will give a softer crust and a less chewy crust.

Tip 2: I always ferment this recipe for 1 hour.  Normal proofing time for a baguette is 1 hour. can proof this dough for up to 6 hours and it will not deflate.  After 6 hours of proofing your bread will be as light as a cloud.  To do this, ferment bread 1 hour then divide dough and place dough on a baking sheet and put the sheet inside a garbage bag.  Let it be for 4 to 6 hours and carefully remove the baking sheet with bread from the bag.  Put baking sheet in oven without disturbing the loaves and you will have cloud bread. 

oven spring is the result of energetic mixing

oven spring is the resutl of energetic mixing

oven spring is the result of energetic mixing 


Should I say it once more???   OK!



Marni's picture


I have almost always done only two risings.  I also don't slash since I generally make sandwich bread or challah when I'm making loaves.  I have found that two risings works perfectly and that if I put them in the oven before it reaches peak temperature, the loaves get an extra boost.  This seems to be especially true if I forget and let them rise too long the second time. (proofing) I've read that the rising temp makes the yeast go for one last hurrah before dying.  This is just my experience and I am far from an expert, but I hope it helps.


nbicomputers's picture

two risings yes but if you look at the post she was doing 3 risings


mix dough and rise-2

punch and rise-3

shape and rise-4


that could be enough to over work the yeast to death

my opinion :)

suzanneulrich's picture

Thanks everyone for your comments!  WOW.  I am excited about mixing and mixing and mixing and mixing my next loaf.  I didn't know about dipping the blade before slicing.  I will follow all the good advice and relate my experience. 

malkuth9623373's picture

This is the procedure that I recommend you use

to experiment with gluten development and oven spring:


Add 500 grams of Harvest King flour to your mixer (any AP flour should work too)

Add 335 grams of water to the mixer.

Add 10 grams of salt to the mixer.


Turn on the mixer for 5 seconds so that most of the flower gets wet.

Let the dough sit for 5 minutes (autolyse if you like)....

this is supposedly to prevent damage to the starch....but

I don't know if it's really necessary.


After 5 minutes of just sitting there, add 3.5 grams of SAF Instant Yeast.

There is no need here for sourdough starter.....were are only interested

in observing how gluten development and oven spring are affected by mixing.

We want to get this over with as quickly as possible and this recipe takes

only 3 hours from start to finish.  This is a slightly modified version of the recipe we were given on

day 1 at SF Baking School but scaled down.  Do it first this way until you understand

oven spring.  Later you can experiment with starters, folding, autolyse, and other

techniques.  Incorporating other techniques now will just muddle the

situation by introducing more variables.  When experimenting, you need

as few variables as possible.  The yeast has to be instant but doesn't

have to be SAF (but SAF is what we used at SF Baking.)


Turn on the mixer to the fastest speed that your judgment allows.

If dough is just sticking to spinner and spinning around, the gluten

is not developing.  This is not what you want.

You can add more water.  I have done this recipe at hydrations up to 80%.

It will still spring.  The only difference is that your dough will be more slack...

no big deal.  As an additional experiment I suggest you mix a batch of dough

and intentionally over mix it.  You will know when it is over mixed because

it will be very, very, very sticky and it will stretch like melted chewing gum

and it will have no pull (it will not tug back).  This is your upper time limit.   You can even stop the mixer

at five minutes intervals and try and stretch a gluten window.  Write down your

observations for future reference.   If you can't get

the dough to this overworked stage, you might need a different mixer.


Anyway.....back to the recipe....


Keep mixing until you get a gluten window.  The dough should strongly resist pulling.

It should really tug back when you pull on it.  If it stretches too easily with no pull,

you may have over mixed.  If the gluten window tears too easily it may either be

over mixed or undermined.  You should get a nice strong rubbery window pane

that doesn't tear too easily.


Once the dough has been mixed, place it in an oiled plastic bag or other container.

Let sit (ferment) at room temperature for 1 hour.


After one hour, put a little flour on your work surface and just dump out the dough.  No need to

punch down.  Divide the dough into four 200 gram rectangles (a little dough will be left over).

A pizza cutter works well for dividing dough.  Pat the rectangles flat with the palm of your hand.

Roll up each rectangle of dough into a cylinder shape.  Leave on lightly floured work surface

and cover with a large kitchen trash bag.  Let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.


After 20 minutes pat dough back down into rectangles and roll up again trying to

keep a tensioned skin on the outer surface of the cylinder.

These cylinders can be rolled out into baguettes but for experimental sake, just leave

them like that.


If you can, get a piece of cloth about the size of two kitchen towels and spread a little flour on the cloth.

Place the cylinders of dough on the floured piece of cloth.  Pull up a piece of the cloth between each loaf

so that when the loaves expand a little they don't touch.  Preheat your oven to 450F to 485F.


Cover them again and let them sit (proof) for 1 hour.


If you have mixed properly, the dough will be quite strong.  You can pick up a cylinder and place it

on the baking stone by hand and it will not deflate; or you can use the following procedure:


Get a box and cut out a rectangular piece of cardboard about 6 inches wide and 16 inches long.

Spread flour over the surface of this cardboard and shake to remove excess flour.


Grab one end of the cloth on which the loaves sit.  Put the piece of cardboard between the

first two loaves.  Pull out and up on the cloth and flip the first loaf over so that it rests face down on the

piece of cardboard.


Take the cardboard and loaf over to your oven and dump out the loaf on your baking stone or sheet so that

it flips back over right side up .  If you don't have a baking stone, the bread will still spring and the cuts will still open.

What I mean to say is that the hearth (or baking stone) is not what causes oven spring.


Slash the loaf while in your oven.  One slash lengthwise would be best for this experiment.

Try to slash about 1/4" deep. 


If you have steam, start your steam now.  If not, it doesn't matter.

If your dough is properly developed it will spring and the slash will open with or without steam.

I have done this many, many times.  Steam will give a nice shiny and crackly golden crust.

Without steam the crust will be dull and harder....but it will spring and open the same.


For this experiment it is best to bake 1 loaf at a time.  You can rotate the loaf 90 degrees after

about 12 to 14 minutes so that it browns more evenly.


If your dough is mixed properly, your loaves will nearly double in size in the oven and the cut will rip open.

This oven spring will happen in about the first 5 to 7 minutes.  You can open the oven after 7 minutes.

You will either be thrilled or disappointed.


Now about the cloud baguette....this is the part that I wasn't clear about.

If you want oven spring and open cuts, you should proof no more than 1 to 1.5 hours.

You can proof for longer.....the loaf will grow and grow while proofing.

It will get very big because the gluten is very strong and will hold in all of the gas produced

by the yeast. BUT!!!!!!! you will get no oven spring......nor should you cut the bread at this stage

because it will deflate.


If you proof for 1 to 1.5 hours and slash and bake, you will get a French-style white bread

with good oven spring and open slashes.


If you proof for 4-6 hours, the dough will be too fragile to pick has to be baked on the

the sheet on which it was proofed.  FOR THIS RECIPE, DOUGH PROOFED THIS LONG WILL BE VERY,


BREAD.  I have seen rolls like this in the pick them up and they feel

almost weightless (and tasteless).


If you don’t get good oven spring…’s not your steam, it’s not your oven temperature,

it’s not your yeast,  or flour……it’s your gluten development. 


If you can get some oven spring, make more batches with mixing times at two minute

intervals.  For example, when mixing this recipe on my Bosch Universal Mixer, I start

getting some oven spring at 17 minutes of mixing.   I could make batches at  15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, and 29 minutes.  I would, through experiment, find the best mixing time for my mixer for

optimum spring.  You can do the same with your mixer.