The Fresh Loaf

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Problem resting/proofing shaped loaves

HeroOfThePeople's picture

Problem resting/proofing shaped loaves

I've been baking for a couple of years but got serious about it and switched to sourdough a few months ago so far things are great but I'm trying to identify what might be an issue with my process that's effecting my results.

Everything I've read from Peter Reinheart, Josey Baker, Chad Robertson, Ken Forkish, etc calls for either a short 10-20 min rest, or more commonly a second proofing after shaping loaves, usually until it passes the poke test.  When I do this I get a relatively flat loaf with a denser crumb, no big holes or tunnels and not a lot of oven spring.  Conversely when I shape my loaves, slash them, and put them straight into the oven I get much better results, more oven spring, more open crumb, taller loaves.  What's the story here, why are my results counter to what all the experts are telling me to do?

I'm doing a fairly basic 1-2-3 sourdough, 1 part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour by mass, +0.5-2% of the flour weight in salt depending.  My starter is kept room temp at 80% hydration and fed bread flour twice a day at this point (Started with rye transitioned to bread flour over the course of a week when the starter was a month old).  I use tap water from the municipal well, the water is slightly hard, but not overly so.  For flour it varies but usually either 100% bread flour or 80/20 bread flour & either spelt or rye.  Prep the levan first thing in the morning, about 4 hrs later mix the dough in my stand mixer (speed 1 for 2 min, speed 2 for 4-8 min until the dough is smooth, coming away from the bowl, and windowpanes.  Proof until doubled, sometimes in the fridge sometimes on the counter.  Shape into loaves either batards or boules.  Then either rest/second proof, or not followed by baking.  Boules get baked in a dutch oven, batards on a baking steel with water added to a hot sheet pan underneath for steam.

Any thoughts?

AndyPanda's picture

I'm pretty new to sourdough and my first several attempts were as you describe - flat and dense with no oven spring.

Lately I've been doing room temp stretch and folds and usually by the third or fourth set of stretch and folds the dough is starting to hold its shape.  I have been going directly to shaping and then cool proofing (my particular starter doesn't like cold so I have to cool proof at about 50F for 10-12 hours) --- and then into the oven while the proofed loaf is still cool.  I'm getting a lot of oven spring now.  Not sure why but I suspect it's the cool temp holding more co2 waiting to poof up when it gets hot.

souzaalextfl's picture

I'm pretty new to baking at all, but I've had a similar problem. I followed instructions but always ended up with flat loaves. I started a thread and some fellows suggested it was too much time for the room temperature where I live:

Room temperature is usually 84 °F and I was allowing the shaped loaf to proof for one hour. Some suggested trying 25 minutes and I achieved much better results with shorter proofing time.

What's the room temperature and how much time do you usually proof the shaped loaves?