The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help .. not sure what happened with my olive bread

Jacob's picture

Help .. not sure what happened with my olive bread

Hi friends,

This is my first post here and I am very excited to join the forum.

i need some help and guidance to help me understand what went wrong here.

I (attempted) :) to bake a sourdough olive bread *using AP flour at 73% hydration" but the results were horrifying, I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture would have happened here if its under-cooked, under fermented, is it too wet or too much olives?


I baked for 15 min. @ 475 F then another 13 min @ 450 F.

Any idea/comment help.


thank you,


Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

To me this looks under fermented. Whether the issue is with the starter or timing i'll need more info about the starter, recipe and method.

Jacob's picture

Thank you Abe for getting back to me, appreciate the welcoming note :) 

My starter is at a 100% hydration (50% water, 50% flour), for this bread i used the following:

50 g levain

250 g AP flour

171 g water

9 g olive oil

5.5 g salt

handful of coarse pitted olives


the levain passed the floating test before i started mixing, Autolyze,  then stretch and fold every 40 min. for 2.5 hours, shape  rest 30 min, kept in 76 F degree for final ferment about 1 hour.


Even though, i thought it passed the "press test" before it went to the over, but to your point i guess i should have kept it for another 2-3 hours to final proof before baking.

I was not sure if the olives are releasing moist to the bread during baking hence and that cause the problem? or how should we make for that in our hydration calculations?


thanks again,


Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Starter passed the float test. Sounds active, healthy and ready to use. 

Hydration is 71% which isn't too high. It's at the higher range for an all AP flour sourdough but won't be make or break if handled correctly. 

If you drained the olives I wouldn't worry about them adding to the hydration too much. 

I think it's not enough bulk ferment time. At 20% starter I would expect the bulk ferment to be longer. You've given the dough 2.5 hours when 4 hours is about average depending on starter and temperature. What you're looking for is a puffy aerated dough. 

Should the bulk ferment be done to an optimal level then the final proof is about 2-2.5 hours give or take. Times do vary but both your bulk ferment and final proof seem to fall short for 20% starter. 

I think the answer is just time. Recipe seems sound. 

Jacob's picture

thank you for taking the time to analyze it for me to identify what went wrong, Its always exciting to bak a new patch and i should not rush it, lesson learned :) 

I always wonder (and i should try it one day) what would have happened if starter % is at 50%? would that cut the bulk ferment time in half? and would it impact the flavor? I always use my starter when its young and fresh (before it peaks) to avoid the soury phase/flavor goes into the bread.

I will also, try out a bread flour next time instead of AP to experience the difference: I read the bread flour has higher protein % and it will handle easier, is that true from your experience?



Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

and get the ferment right before changing anything else. Bread flour and dropping the hydration will help but don't throw in too many variables till you've sorted out the problem. Keep the core of the recipe and do away with the add-ins for now. 

  • Bread Flour 100%
  • Water 60% 
  • Salt 2%
  • Starter 20%

Hydration has been lowered for ease but should the flour need more add a little at a time till it feels right. 

  1. Autolyse the flour and water for 30 minutes. 
  2. Add the salt and starter; combine.
  3. Bulk ferment till puffy and aerated giving the dough a stretch and fold every 30 minutes. 
  4. Pre-shape and bench rest till the dough relaxes.
  5. Shape and final proof.
  6. Bake. 


Golden rule... Watch the dough and not the clock. Will take time to get a feel for when the dough is ready but looking for good gluten formation and an aerated dough is the aim of the game. 

Jacob's picture

Keep it simple and watch the dough and not the clock (i love it).

Thanks mate for your help and guidance. 



Anon2's picture
Anon2 (not verified)

Check your private messages. It focuses on making a sweet levain with less tang but no less flavoursome sourdough. Enjoy!