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Dough collapsing after scoring (overnight fridge method)

Brotaniker's picture

Dough collapsing after scoring (overnight fridge method)

My dough collapses after scoring it. I probably overproof it, my question goes more like like - what timing you suggest?

Here my key data:

Sourdough, wholewheat, about 70% hydration, no yeast.


  • Predough - 12h
  • Rough mixing - 30 Minutes autolyse
  • Add salt and knead 7 Minutes or so (in a Bosch dough kneader)
  • Stretch n fold - 1h
  • Basket time - 1h
  • Fridge time - ~8h
  • From the fridge in the hot dutch oven

Last time it came over the basket, collapsed a bit with the transfer to the dutch oven, and more while scoring. I didn't broke along the score line at all (and I scored deep), but it had some oven spring and became round again.

I need to add, it's warm here, like 28°C/83°F. My sourdough starter seem to be quite active too.

I feels like the 2 x 1h SnF and basket time is a bit long. How important is Stretch n fold anyway? Maybe reduce both to 30 Minutes, or do the 1h Stretch n fold and but the basket then straight to the fridge?

I like to add, the overnight fridge method suits my schedule perfectly.



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the Predough and rough mixing.  

And Is any fresh flour added during the mixing?

Thank you,

Brotaniker's picture

This is how I start:


300g, 100g each of the starter, whole-wheat, water

That rests for 10-12 hours, then I add 270g whole-wheat and 180g bread flour, then autolyse 30 minutes.


Looks I need to shorten all the times


jey13's picture

I think your predough (levain? Poolish?)  time could be cut in half. If it’s really warm there, then the super-starter (sic) is going to be rising very quickly; meaning after 12 hours, it’s super hungry as it probably should have been fed six hours ago. 

It seems very odd to me that you’re over-fermented if you only S&F for an hour and basket proof for only an hour. Most bread, even if it’s warm, still needs a minimum of 2 hours. But as said, perhaps the fault is with the refrigerator? If it’s not cold enough, then your dough may be fermenting for a good 8 hours and that would put it over the top. 

HansB's picture

Sounds like it's over fermented. Is your predough a poolish? With your high ambient temp and 7 minute mix I'd use cold water and skip the S&F. What is your fridge temp?

DanAyo's picture
  1. Considering a 12 hr autolyse in a warm kitchen, do you think it might be over mixed in the Bosch?
  2. is the dough rising in the fridge? If so, the fridge may be too warm.
jey13's picture

The autolyse seems to be only 30 minutes. It’s the levain/poolish that’s allowed to ferment for 12 hours. 

OldLoaf's picture

Please post your entire recipe, or a link to where you got it from.  It will help us better understand.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it is a Poolish if only the starter would be reduced.  

Try this

Reduce the amount of starter to 20g and raise the flour and water amounts by adding 40g to each.  That way you maintain your total weight.  That will change it to 20,140,140  or (1;7;7) and should be able to to peak in 8 to 12 hours easily.  If it ripens too fast for your temps, reduce the water, say to 90g and add the rest 50g water into the dough when mixing.  That should slow it down a little bit (even when it rises more)  to peak later.  This should give you a super yeasty starter that will need some watching to figure out the new rise times. 

Then give it only one hour from the time you mix up the dough, no matter what you do to it, also use cold water from the fridge to mix up the dough.  After that hour, pop it into the fridge to cool down between folds.  After folding, If you are getting a lot of rise, shape and skip the retard going straight into the final proofing to bake.  If the dough is behaving itself or seems slow, shape and retard as you described and bake later.  

It all has to do with the flour in the dough, a low protein and low ash flour may fall apart during the retard if the preferment is too mature.  Consider the amount of prefermented dough in the final dough mix.  The fresh flour part adds up to 1.5 times the preferment and that translates into fast fermenting dough.  Great in a cool kitchen but you've got the tropics in there to deal with.  So pull up a chair and a cold drink after chilling some water for the dough. 

Fermenting can be slowed down with lowering temperature, hydration and/ or amount of yeast.  I offered two of these when reducing the amount of yeast in the preferment and lowering the dough temperature when and soon after the mixing.  There are many different ways to slow down the fermentation to fit into your schedule and you can do it many different ways.  Yeast population will steadily increase during the whole operation and that needs to be considered.  Small changes at the beginning (and that includes temperature) have big impacts later on as the dough continues to ferment.  Mixing dough in a machine can also warm up dough considerably so measuring some crushed ice or a cube or two into the recipe water might also help reduce dough temp while mixing.


Brotaniker's picture

I will work on the less and shorter idea. Next try is today with a bake tomorrow morning. 

Sometimes the dough got a bit raise during the SnF waiting time. So I reduced that already from 2 to 1 hour. I will cut that even more. SnF + basket rest one hour total. 

My fridge has 7°C or 44.6°F, maybe a bit less overnight when the peckish people sleep.

I need to add that last bake I ran out of 'my' flour and had to use an untested other wholewheat flour. That seemed to be a bit less water absorbing, but in the end the loaf worked out fine. 

Brotaniker's picture

I don't wanted to change too many process parameters. So what I (not) modified:

Same 300g starter 100/100/100g

Starter time: 4 hours (was quite developed then)

30min autolyse (with the starter in it)

30min SnF

30min basket rest



It still blew up in the fridge, and collapsed while scoring. It didn't open at all in the dutch oven. I am sure it will taste just fine.

Future plans:

Next time it will go right in the fridge after SnF.  

At this point I worry a bit about changing anything with the starter. It collapses, but the taste is great. I could maybe reduce the starter head time from 4 to 2 hours.

BTW, I do not worry too much about failures as long as they are still yummy.


Right after SnF

30 Minutes later


Awaken from the fridge




Scoring, ouch!


The End

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Now...(tough love)...Where is your bulk rise?  

I think you need one.  The dough in the banneton after the retard looks like the end of a bulk rise to me.  Maybe you should try not bulking in the banneton.   :)  

Keep everything the same on the next loaf (and use ice water) but after the snf, put the dough into the fridge flattened out so it cools fast and into a lidded container to retard overnight. Remove from the container in the morning, degas evenly but gently to shape for the banneton and wait for a short final rise.  In the warm room temps it will go fast.  So keep a watchful eye on it.

If that isn't satisfactory, back up and reduce the amount of levain you're tossing into the final dough.  That would be the best way to reduce the yeast amount and slow down the fermentation.


Brotaniker's picture

My problem here is the schedule. I don't have much time in the morning, basically bake and go to work. How could I do the fridge to oven method?

As far as I understand you want me too fit in something like:

After SnF let it rest warm (1-3h I guess) to get good puff, then push it down, shape, and then into the basket for the overnight part.

Yes? That I can certainly do.

This I can do, specially with the shorter other times. 

From the pix you saw I have already a little puff after 30 Minutes, I think like 2 hours would do. 


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Then work on reducing the starter if it fails. 

The basket showing the dough after the retardation is definitely overproofed.  Too much so to bake without a reshape.  

Maverick's picture

Just to add to this, if you didn't reshape it then it is still too delicate to score. Sometimes the dough is fully proofed and should not be scored. Usually you don't want it 100% proofed but you can still bake it without scoring or reshaping if it is at that edge. I agree that this dough went beyond that and is overproofed. You are in good hands, so I will wait on giving more advice.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

schedules.  The other thing I can think of would be to get the fridge cooler, more like 4 or 5°C. Or using a thinner basket, one that would cool faster instead of the thicker basket which might be insulating the dough against the fridge temperatures.  Or Putting an icebag directly on the dough to retard might help.  

Brotaniker's picture

I tried again. Basically the same, so I just write the key points:

300g Starter 

30min SnF

2h Bulk ferment in the bowl (it about doubled in size)

Then Basket -> 9 hour fridge (it did raise maybe 20%, way less than last time)


I think I still have an overproofing issue. It collapsed again when scoring, This time it did open up a little.

Next trial will be in a few days (my folks do not share my concerns and eat it like mad).

So what are my options now?

I did not reduce the 300g (100/100/100) starter, but I did shorten the the time a lot, before like 10h, this time about 4 hours. A worry a bit that reducing it will effect the taste.

My sourdough seems really active, I could do the 2h bulk ferment in the fridge right away, the dough needs quite some time to cool down anyway. The 2h outside where too long, I guess 60-90min are enough. So 2 hours in the fridge may be not bad, It give the dough also some chance to cool down while fermenting.


 After 2 hours bulk proof and shaping:

After 2 hours bulk fermentation

Collapsing again after scoring:-(

It bounced back a bit:It came back

Still eatable: 

The first slice...



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Would like a better crumb shot!  ( I'm soooo perverted!)

Now what is it you want to change about this last loaf?  I'm asking about the finished baked product.

Brotaniker's picture

I give up! Not because of total failure, more like yeah, I can survive with that.


Last bake was interesting. I usually do the in-the-morning-bake but yesterday I wanted to get out very early and did an evening bake after return. So the basket stayed in the fridge for 20+ hours. It even did raise quite a bit from the morning (after 8 hours in the fridge) till evening. 

There was again a bit collapsing after scoring, but it popped up nicely and even broken open this time. Also have to admit, that evening bake suits my timetable even better and a longer fridgetime should be no issue anyway.

I will still finetune my timing (and add more water, this was 73.3% but I believe I can put more in)



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you tried flipping out the dough onto a baking sheet or sliding the loaf into the oven without the loaf pan?

Brotaniker's picture

Just finished another try. This time I hid the ceiling (aka lid).

What did happen...

This time I just used 50g starter for the 300g pre-dough. It just riped for 2-3 hours and volume increased only a little.

I am now at 75% hydration and feel there is room for more water.

Autolyse > a short strechNfold (~30min) then 30 min rest (increased very little) back to the bowl and overnight in fridge.

Next morning it increased again a little. Shaping > basket > fridge

12 hours later again just a small increase - this was my smallest dough so far!

Easy to score, well, dough felt rather solid/dense. But this time it had a massive oven spring and hid the lid.

I think I got my method now:

First proof in the fridge overnight > next morning shaping & basket > evening baking.

It suits my schedule very well too.


Not too bad