The Fresh Loaf

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Bread suddenly not having any oven spring

MattMacF's picture

Bread suddenly not having any oven spring

I've been using the Tartine Country recipe to make some really nice loaves. Then I went to the in-laws for a week over Thanksgiving and left my starter there....I made a new one over a month ago and it has seemed perfectly healthy for several weeks now, but I've never had a good oven spring with it. Everything seems right with the dough, but I can't get the loaf to spring up in those first 20 minutes.

I didn't change anything with my technique - here's some details on my recipe/methods (stock Tartine sourdough if you're familiar):

100g whole wheat flour
900g white flour
750g water
20g salt
200g leaven

Mix leaven, leave for ~6-8 hours
Mix leaven, flour, 700g water
Wait 20 minutes
Mix salt, 50g water
Wet folds every 30 minutes for ~3-4 hours
Initial shaping - split in half, form two balls
20 minute bench rest
Final shaping - flip over, 4 folds, flip and pull towards you repeatedly
Into the baskets overnight
Preheat 500 degrees F (260 C) with dutch oven inside
Dough into dutch oven, slice slits, drop heat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C)
20 minutes later remove lid
Cook until brown

Things I've tried:
1. Less bulk rise time (2.5 hours)
2. More bulk rise time (5 hours)
3. Different flours (though this one worked for me in the past)
4. Adding water to the dutch oven for more steam (helped a bit, but not much)
5. Checking oven temperature

Thanks for any tips,

PS, please see attached the finished (disappointing) product

DanAyo's picture

Matt, are you scoring the dough differently? The placement of the 3 scores appear to be allowing the sides to spread out.


MattMacF's picture

I wasn't - I've tried different scores as well (4 in a square, a cross in the middle, etc). 

idaveindy's picture

If the only thing that changed was the starter, give it a few more weeks to mature and balance out between the LAB and the wild yeast. Especially if you started "from scratch" and didn't just create new starter from a dried backup of your old starter.

Although it "worked" after a week or two, it may take up to 8 or 12 weeks before it really "performs."

If nothing else changed, except going from a long time mature starter, to one only 3 to 5 weeks old, then that is most likely the cause.

Other possibilities are the change in season... temp and humidity.  But my bets are on the maturity, or lack thereof, of the starter.

RichLee44's picture

I agree with everyone's comments the loaf does seem to have gone sideways, I have had this problem in the past and it was caused by overworking and over-handling the dough during the bulk fermentation and again during the pre-shape and final shape. I learned this from Trevor J Wilson who talks extensively about how you are touching the dough and when you do, try to be soft and quick.

BTW I have tried the tartine method may times but have not had the same success as when I follow Trevor J Wilson processes and more recently, Kristen of fullproofbaking. 

MattMacF's picture

Thanks all. I think I'm starting to have better results with the following:

1. More turns early in bulk rise, being more gentle near the end

2. Longer bulk rise

3. Adding some water to the dutch oven to counteract dry environment from heater


Still not back to what I had before, so maybe the starter just needs some extra time to mature. Thanks for all your suggestions!