The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Troubleshooting Guide?

Squid's picture

Troubleshooting Guide?

Does anyone know of a troubleshooting guide (here or elsewhere) to help you troubleshoot problems?

I just made BBA's Ciabatta and the bottom of the loaf is very soft and seems uncooked. I had to keep throwing my loaf back in the oven to cook. I'm wondering if there's something wrong with my oven or if I overproofed my dough since it's warmer than normal here? However, I can't find anything on this problem. 

bwraith's picture


I wonder if the higher hydration is causing this. The higher the hydration, the longer it probably needs to bake. You could try turning the loaf upside down in the oven after it has baked 10 minutes. Is it on a stone or on a baking sheet? I have not experienced what you're talking about, but I've always baked them in a 500 degree oven on a stone. One other thing that can really throw it off is to forget the salt (been there), which will make the dough much more slack and hard to work with. How large are you making the loaves? That could also affect them. I make 4 using the quantities in the BBA recipe, and it helps to press your fingers into them to make them flat before baking them, a technique mentioned by Glezer in Artisan Baking. By the way, the ciabatta challenge thread has some discussion and photos here and there.

Although the dough isn't flat after it's baked because it spring nicely, it is essentially a flat bread dough, like focaccia. Making it flat by pressing your fingers into it, as in Glezer, is similar to what you do for focaccia.


Squid's picture

Thanks, Bill.

This was the very first recipe I made when I started baking and I didn't have this problem.

To answer your questions:

1) I baked them on my new Saltillo tiles, which worked well when I made my sourdough loaves. The oven temp was 500F, then I turned it down to 450F with my convection setting.

2) I definitely didn't forget the salt. I took everything out mise en place style. If I don't do that, I'm likely to forget things. LOL

3) I made 2 loaves, just like the first time I made the recipe. It wasn't a problem back then. That's a good suggestion, though. I should try making them into 4 loaves.

I guess I should have turned them over. Now that you mention it, Nancy Silverton has you turn her Rustic Bread (Ciabatta) over to cook. I'll do that next time.

I just had a taste and the bread's very limp from the unformed bottom. Does overproofing change the taste of the bread? It doesn't taste the same as the first batch I made. Just like regular bread, really. I'm not sure that I overproofed the dough, being a beginner, but I'm wondering since the crust didn't get really dark either. I sure hope it's not my oven. The fan doesn't seem to be going like it usually does and I noticed some condensation on the door, which doesn't normally happen.

JMonkey's picture

If you didn't heat your stone for about an hour, that might be the cause of the uncooked underside of the loaf. How long did you let it heat up?

scott lynch's picture
scott lynch

I would have to go through my whole library to find the full list, but I know that the KAF Baker's Companion has a section in the bread chaper called something like, "Help, my bread is. . . " which has common symptoms and remedies.  but it is somewhat oriented toward more inexperienced bakers, so it may not help much.
Regarding your undercooked bottom, maybe try moving down in the oven so the top doesn't cook so quickly.  I am also suspicous of the convection--I've heard people say that convection is like cooking in a hotter oven, and I like a longer, lower heat for ciabatta--if you cook it too fast it will not dry out all the way because the dough is so wet.  I like to bake ciabatta at 500 turned down immediately to 425--you still get nice spring so the crumb opens up, but you can cook it a long tiime without getting it too brown.
Overproofing: yes, it will definitely affect flavor.  You can get a beery flavor or an alcohol flavor, and typically you would see poor spring in an over-proofed bread.

Squid's picture

JMonkey, I preheated the oven for 1 hour, which I normally do.

Scott, I have to admit that the bread wasn't as gummy as it normally is. It's normally not really gummy, but enough that I can tell that it was a wet dough. I guess it was drier b/c it cooked so long trying to get the bottom to cook. That's a good suggestion.

It felt to me like the oven was cooking at a lower temp than what it was set at. I'll have to test the oven out today with a probe and see what I get.

longlivegoku's picture

 How much are you steaming when you put the bread in?  I've had mishaps in the past with over steaming and caused what I would call a gummy bread.



Squid's picture

I'll keep an eye out, Ed. I usually put 1 cup in a pan, then spray the oven a few times.

Squid's picture

The problem is my oven. For some reason, it's not heating up properly.

I just bought this Kitchen Aid oven in Sept and it's broken. I hope the artisan breads didn't cause this. I confirmed with Kitchen Aid's forum that it was okay to put steam in the oven.