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Flat loaf, big air pockets, bread not breaking through score

libbybakes's picture

Flat loaf, big air pockets, bread not breaking through score

Hi bread friends!

I've been baking sourdough with mixed (ok, mostly low) success for a couple months now. I wasn't satisfied with my results, and decided my starter might be the issue, so I created a new one, and now I feel confident I have a strong starter. But STILL my most recent loaf failed to get good oven spring, and I've got those big air pockets that suggest it's underproofed (I think?)



Here was process:

7:30 am: mix levain -- 40 g 100% hydration starter + 40 g KA AP + 20 g rye + 20 g whole wheat + 80 g spring water

12:15 pm: mix 350 g KA bread flour + 50 g Janie's Mill bread flour (11.5% protein, has a wheat look) + 50 g whole wheat + 50 g KA AP with 380 g water at 80 degrees

1:30: added 106 g levain, 12 g salt, 20 g water at 80 degrees; mix/slap and folds for 5 mins

2-4:30: stretch and folds every 30 mins

4:30-6: bulk

6: preshape

6:30: shape/put in fridge

6:30 am next day: preheat combo cooker for 1 hour at 500

7:30 am: bake with top on for 20 mins at 475; top off for 25 mins at 450.

A couple notes:

- it was VERY hot in my house -- about 83 (a/c not working!) so I really thought 4.5 hour bulk would be more than enough (maybe too much?? but yet bread looks under?)

- I know this is a very high hydration dough, maybe too advanced for me!

- I didn't check dough temp as it was bulking

- when I was moving dough off board and into combo cooker on its parchment, it did drag and tear a bit on one side.

Any advice welcome! Thank you!

mourner's picture

How much did the dough increase in volume? Maybe the starter is still not active enough? It's still young, probably needs more time on regular feeding. Maybe try doing exactly the same recipe (preferably with the same temperature conditions) but significantly increase the bulk (e.g. by 2 hours) and see how it changes.

libbybakes's picture

Starter is reliably doubling+ in 6-7 hours but yes, still young.

The dough honestly didn't increase a lot in volume, I just had a hard time believing it could need more in that heat, but will try again!

mourner's picture

In his book, Trevor Wilson says that truly active 100% hydration starters need to ideally triple in volume in 6–8 hours with a 1:2:2 feeding at normal room temp, but if the latter is much higher, it should be faster. So maybe it's active but could be even more active at that temp?

Anyway, there are so many variables here that you can only experiment and see what works. Some people take a small amount of dough and put it in a glass alongside the main container to see how much exactly the dough rose. It should be at least a 30-50% volume increase.

zachyahoo's picture

Correct on the diagnosis: underfermentation!

Your starter probably could be more active. And your bulk could definitely be longer. Keep in mind that most of the visible expansion happens at the end of bulk.. really important not to cut it short!

I would challenge yourself to overferment your bread and then dial it back! You’ll probably arrive at the proper fermentation amount faster than if you underferment and push it slightly every time. 

As for it being too wet.. there is NO shame at lowering the hydration! 

MTloaf's picture

I could be wrong but I don't see it as under proofed. The parts without the large holes are not dense but look as they should. In warm weather it will ferment faster. Perhaps it's a shaping issue. If you see large bubbles when shaping try to gently pat them out. Perhaps the gluten didn't develop because of the wetter dough takes more to folds to strengthen. I would also check the temperature of your fridge. It takes a long while to cool down after it goes into the fridge.

libbybakes's picture

Building a new loaf today and, per comments, I'm focusing on gluten development through stretch and folds and I'm also doing a longer bulk to see if I maybe didn't let it go long enough last time.

I'm doing a mostly AP recipe this time (plus 50 g ww) because I'm running low on bread flour, so I know that will also change things, but I'll still report back!