The Fresh Loaf

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Sideways Bursting Loafs (First Post!)

nodapic's picture

Sideways Bursting Loafs (First Post!)

First off - great website. I learned more from you guys than from an entire semester in school. Thank you!

I've been baking bread for years in a bread maker but just recently got serious enough to investigate what actually happens during the entire process. Over the last four weekends I've made eight batches first following the lessons on this website and then starting to experiment. However, I've noticed a pattern with my loaves:

As you can see, they bust out the side and my scores at the top pretty flat and don't really generate an ear/burst open which is what I'm trying to achieve. Here's another view:

So the loaves do burst but just not in the location that I want them to...

I have two theories:

1. The heat in my oven could be too high. Looking at the gradient of color on the side, it might the possible that the crust on the top dries out too quickly and that the scores as a result just harden up. The only soft spot then is the side, thus a side-bust.

2. My loaf is under-proofed. Again, the crust becomes hard but there is still much life left in the loaf...

Here is the recipe I created:

- Overnight sponge from this recipe:

- 1hr Autolyse of 1/5 cups WW flour, 2 cups AP flour, 2 cups of water (overall hydration is about ~60% if my math is right)

- Mix autolyse and sponge and add 3 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of dry yeast and 1Tbsp of honey, 1/4 cup flax and 1/2 cup of quinoa. Mix for ~3min. Let double in size, stretch and fold. Repeat once. Shape into batard, let rest 15-30min, until not quite doubled in size. 

- Start oven at 500deg F, steam from pan as well as spray bottle every 3 minutes for first 10 min. After 10min, reduce to 425deg. 

dosal's picture

it seems to me that you may need to score deaper.

suave's picture

I see several possible issues here. 

First, do no spray from the bottle, you probably lose more steam than you create in the process.  Use just pan.   I assume your oven is electric here, with gas a cover might be your only viable option. 

Second, don't score the loaves straight down, keep the blades at an angle.

Third, perhaps they could stand longer proof times, although that's not I would start with.

And fourth, I imagine the side that burst was turned towards the back wall?  That's tempereture gradient for you.  Again, not opening the door during the initial stages of baking may just take care of it, but may be not - that's where you need to increase fermentation/proof times.

adri's picture

The obvious "reason" is: Your crust got solid before the oven spring was over ;)

If it is underproofed I cannot say with those cup measurements. I'm pretty sure your 60% hydration is not right, as water weights more than flour. Your recipe sais, 1 cup of water is 8oz and 1 cup of flour = 4oz. Therefore 2x8oz / 2.2x4oz = 16/8.8 = 1.81 = 181%.

I'd had to touch the dough... but after 2 doubles in bulk fermentation, 30 minutes should be enough to not be underproofed.


Not enough steam can be a reason.

Not enough heat from below can be the reason.

A bit of spray bottle didn't make it for me. And you always have to open the door which makes the steam go away. A tray also often doesn't produce much steam and what you gain is usually taken away by stealing heat from below. What worked for me is preheat the pan filled with lavastones, or anything made of stainless steel like nails, nuts, ... and then pour boiling water over it. This will produce instant steam of 250ml to 300ml of water.

Good heat from below is important to have. This will make the ovenspring to happen from inside below first and before the crust gets solid. Preheating the baking tray I was putting the dough on didn't help me. What I needed was a stone that I have to preheat for 45 minutes.

Maybe also scoring more or a different way might help as it creates predetermined breaking points. But I'm personally not a fan of too much scoring and like the crust to be on the same level everywhere.

Finally: Your loafs look amazing: I wouldn't worry too much about it. :)

rossnroller's picture

Bursting like that is a classic sign of underproofing. That's almost certainly your problem. Try extending your proof times and compare results.

nodapic's picture

These tips will be helpful - I'll report once I try again this weekend!

dabrownman's picture

is to put a rolled up towel in the pan that is half full of water and loaded on the bottom rack of the oven. It's called Sylvia's Steam and she is a Fresh Lofiian.  Don't worry the towel won't catch fire. I put it in the oven when the oven beeps that it is at preheat temperature.  By the time the water is boiling in the pan the baking stone is also at the proper temperature.  Just put the bread on the stone and shut the door - 12 to 15 minutes later you can take the pan out.  Works great and I actually use two of them!

You loaves look like they could be scored deeper and are very likely under proofed.  No worries, you will sort it out.

Happy baking

nodapic's picture

Alright, incorporating all the advice I received above resulted in the following loaves:

Overall, much better! Here's what I did differently:

- I ensured that the proofing time was 30 mins (hindsight makes me think that I was too eager to put the loaves in the oven and never actually made it to 30 mins...) 

- Did not use the spray bottle but only put in boiling water at the beginning (this may also have affected the temperature gradient as 'suave' mentions in his (her?) comment. There is still some uneven coloring on the sides but no bursting.)

- Scored the loaves extra deep (~0.5-0.75in) and at about a 35deg angle

Although the curst is crunchy, it appears to be very thin. I was also surprised that there are no real "ears" - which is what I'm trying to learn (like here or here). 

I have a theory but I'm not sure its defendable: I'm using a cookie sheet for the loaves to sit on when I bake them. As a result, oven spring does occur but at a slower rate than what it would be with a baking stone providing good heat from below. As a result, the oven spring occurs slow enough for the loaf not to burst along the scores. (There's also the water pan below the loaves, probably shielding some of the heat from the bottom.) Is this plausible?

Nonetheless, I'm very happy with the results - Thank you for all the pointers!

nodapic's picture

After a whole bunch of tinkering I figured out what was wrong - and it's kind of embarrassing. First, the result:

It turns out that if you accidentally write down "2 cups of water" instead of "1 cup of water" your dough ends up closer to 110% hydration, which prevents it from keeping its shape after you slash it. The cuts open up and just harden that way, resulting in the looks of the original loaves. When you take out the unnecessary cup of water, the dough holds it's shape and can create the ear as it should.

pmccool's picture

And all on your own, too!  Good work!

That's a mighty pretty loaf.