The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Ripping cold start?

JMonkey's picture

Ripping cold start?

Just curious. I'm a green, crunchy kind of guy, and I really like the idea of a cold start. But it seems every time I try a cold start, my loaves rip down the side no matter how well I slash them. It looks like the outside of the bread, including the slashed area (which expands quite a bit) completely crusts over, even though internally, the dough continues to expand. Anyone else having this issue?

I also seem to get better volume and color from a hot oven on a hot stone -- again, anyone else experiencing this?

KipperCat's picture

Is this true for sandwich loaves (in a pan) and artisan/hearth breads?

Do you still use steam with the cold start?

I don't have enough experience baking the same recipe both ways to know if I would get better results with the hot oven.  I wonder if some ovens come to baking temperature faster than others, and if this would make a difference.

JMonkey's picture

Actually, that's a good point. It's only for freestanding loaves. Pan bread (i.e. sandwich bread) does GREAT in a cold start oven. I can't tell any difference, in fact.

I do put a bowl of boiling water in the oven, jjust before turning it on, but I'm not sure if that helps at all.

ehanner's picture

I don't have that kind of ripping issue but I'm pretty sure your breads are mostly whole grains with less structure than I usually bake. For me the cold start method proved that I didn't need a stone and the hour that it takes to get it up to temperature. I have come to turning the oven on and letting it start to warm up and I'll put the pan in anytime the temp is above 300 F. So it's not really a "cold" start but for me there is only a 3-4 minute differance and at that point I can steam normally and the crust gets that gelatinous sheen before it sets.

Hope that helps.


staff of life's picture
staff of life

It sounds like your oven might be heating a bit unevenly, causing the rip.


JMonkey's picture

Could be, though it's a convection oven, which I think is supposed to make heating more even.

Mike, I remember you once saying that you hated convection ovens for bread baking. Am I remembering right? And if so, why?

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate convection ovens, just that I don't like them for bread.


They are very good for pastries, cakes, pies, and AMAZING for roasts and poultry.


However, I don't care for them for bread. I mostly don't like the crust, it doesn't get drisp enough, and there is no effective way to steam the oven. Despite the manufacturer's claims they heat evenly, I find they don't. I have to rotate the bread about 1/2 way through the bread. Top to bottom and left to right. It's a nuuisance.


However, there is a matter of what we are comparing to. They probably aren't any worse than most home ovens. However, what I used that I liked was a revolving oven with hearth stones in it. And what I wanted was a deck oven.


Still, I wouldn't willingly spend money on another convection oven.



Ramona's picture

Last week, I made Harry's Rye and did not slash the boule shape and it turned out great.  This week, I slashed the a boule and two batards.  The boule did the ripping thing that you are talking about, as well as, the slash grew immense.  The batards came through almost ideal.  I also use a cold start.  So, next time, for me, I won't be slashing the boule.  The slash really ruined it for making sandwiches. 

pjkobulnicky's picture

In a hot oven, one slashes because one wants a loaf to expand where one wants it to expand because otherwise it will blow out at a weak spot and, even when one slashes,  the rapidly forming hard crust will hold all but the slash together just fine.  However, in a cold start, the crust stays plyable longer and just expands all over. If you slash it in a cold start, it will not have a solid crust to hold it together and just continue to rip along the slash.


Confused by what I just wrote ... me too but I think that my analysis is accurate even though my articulation may not be :-) 


Paul Kobulnicky

Baking in Ohio

JMonkey's picture

That makes sense, though I'm not having a problem with a cold start ripping into the slashes. The slashes open up just fine, actually, but later in the bake, big cracks also open up in the sides of the freestanding loaves.

TRK's picture

I haven't tried hearth bread from a cold start, but use it with loaf pans sometimes when it fits my timing.  If others are having no problem with the ripping you describe, I wonder if the convection fan is drying the crust prematurely.  Can you turn off the fan?  You might try leaving it off until the oven comes up to temperature.

crumb bum's picture
crumb bum

Hey JMon

I have had some ripping issues with my cold starts and hot starts as well.  With mine though it is no mystery as to why.  Underproofing (otherwise known as lack of patience and or time) is my No. 1 problem that gives me a rip.  I also get rips on freestanding loaves that I bake too close together on the sides that are nearest each other.  I  also occasionally get rips because I don't get the seam on the bottom of the loaf sealed well.  I get too much flour in there, and it looks like its sealed but the weakness is exposed in the oven.  I have also had the bottom seam end up on the side of the loaf during handling and had an issue.  I don't do the super high percentage of whole grains like you so I'm not sure if the above applies to you?

As for crust I get nice dark crusts with cold start.  What I do notice though is that breads baked hot seem to get a glossier sheen on them.  I think that the shape of the bread near the bottom is slightly different as well.  Hope this helps.

Da Crumb Bum


JMonkey's picture

Crumb Bum,

You know, I think this might be it. My house is pretty darned cold and I bet that even 3 hours isn't a full proof. In the hot oven with a stone, there's probably enough heat to get full expansion before the loaves form a hard crust, but an underproofed loaf in a cold start probably doesn't have that advantage.