The Fresh Loaf

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Dense bottom of the bread.

Lilpastrysplashy's picture

Dense bottom of the bread.


I have been making multiple boules lately and they all have been pretty successfull except for the bottom of the loaves.  Everytime I take them out of the oven, the whole loaf of bread seems to be light and have great crumb, but the bottom of the loaf to about half an inch above, it seems to be really dense, why exactly is this happening.

P.S.- I slide the dough into the oven onto a preheated stone and use steam in the oven, yet nothing seems to help.

wally's picture

It could be underproofing, but I'm more inclined to suspect that your baking stone isn't sufficiently loaded with thermal masss.  I usually pre-heat mine for at least one hour and often and hour and a half before loading bread onto it.  If the stone isn't hot enough, you're not going to get the oven spring from the bottom of the loaf that you should be.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Do you (a) shape them, (b) proof them in a banneton or brotform (basket), (c) then invert (flip upside down) the loaf onto a peel, etc. and (d) score/bake them?

Or do you (a) shape them, (b) proof them on parchment, etc. and (c) then score/bake them (without inverting)?

I find that the latter process (uninverted) results in dense(r) bottoms–perhaps it has something to do with the weight of the loaf not allowing the lower part of the bread to fully proof?

Uninverted ciabatta, for example, are notorious for this.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is colder than the surrounding air so that by the time the top is ready to bake, the bottom of the loaf isn't.  

vtsteve's picture

It sounds a little *overproofed* -- the bottom of the loaf collapses due to the weakened structure and the weight of the dough above. Try the finger-poke test: if you poke the dough with your (wet or floured) fingertip and it instantly springs back, it's underproofed. If it doesn't spring back (or only slightly rebounds), it's overproofed. When you poke it and it slowly springs back most of the way, it's ready to load and bake.

Grenage's picture

I used to suffer from the same problem, and it was usually down to the dough not being inverted prior to baking.  A roasting-hot baking stone also helps.

Wild-Yeast's picture

I think it is overproofed.

Every baker should overproof a loaf or two just to know what it looks like. Usually the loaves spread out and any oven spring only spreads the bread in the horizontal direction. When sliced the bread crumb will have some bubbles in the top but will have only very small bubbles in the bottom. 

One thing that seems to plague all beginning bakers is "when is the dough doubled in bulk"? The plain truth is that this decision is never easily answered except through the repetition of successful bakes. The finger test seems to be about as accurate as any method though to the hopeful it will still indicate that they've still got a ways to go. I have found that when the dough has enlarged "even" approximately by twice it's time to bake - this has proved true under all sorts of baking conditions.


ananda's picture


My thought is that if the poster is achieving "great crumb" in the rest of the loaf, except the bottom portion, then "overproofing" is unlikely to be the cause of this problem.   The collapse correctly referred to also negatively effects the quality of the rest of the crumb; it has to.

Yes, the stone may need more pre-heating; check this with an oven thermometer, and heed Larry's words about the time factors involved.

I agree that using a banneton and thus, inverting the loaf to load to the oven will produce a more even crumb; this is of significance.

Bulk proof is key to making sure the fermentation is even, and that the dough has matured sufficiently to gain the strength it needs.

I wonder also if the dough may be a little tight.   But what seems to be going on is that there is insufficient fermentation to achieve really good oven spring.

I hope these comments help you solve your problem

Best wishes


All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... it being your baking stone isn't hot enough. I had the same problem regularly occuring especially with very high hydration doughs that required proofing in a banneton. When inverted onto the stone, or in to a dutch oven, the bottom (that had been the top when proofing) would smoosh down to a denser crumb than the rest of it - only about 1/4" - 1/3" affected, but not ideal. I thought it might just be the sheer weight of water in the dough compressing the bottom layers.

But since allowing extra time for my baking stone to thoroughly heat up, the problem - even with very high hydration dough - has disappeared. However, if I try baking in a DO that I haven't first heated up, back comes the problem.

All at Sea



davina's picture

I have the same thing, a dense bottom.  How do i know the dough has matured sufficiently?

ghazi's picture


I have been facing the same problem, with a dense bottom. When slicing the bread it gets very hard to cut through when i reach the bottom, although i did not know this was a problem until recent. Just though that this was how homeade bread was. Could it be the preheated baking tray is not hot enough, i still get oven spring though?


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I found my bread had better bottoms on dark colored baking trays or sheets.  Too light and the heat is being reflected away from the loaf giving light colored crusts.  Good to get a good amount of heat under the center of the loaf for a good rise.

ghazi's picture

yes it is refelctive and light, silver in color. I will try with a darker colored one and let you know.

thank you veyr much for this advice


ghazi's picture


I have tried the bread on a darker baking tray, actually once made for cookies. Worked out great,  it seems the flat surface is always better due to the steam projection. I am waiting to get a large baking stone which will work out the best .

Thank you for this and wow what a diffrence these small things can make, goes to show how scientific bread making is.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


HappyInFL's picture

I had this problem too. My fix was to let my bread have more time in the final proof and do the poke test. The proof was taken from 20-25 now to 35-40. Problem was solved! Just be sure you have good gluten development so the gases are retained.