The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough no oven spring or “ear”

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Sourdough no oven spring or “ear”

Hi everyone, 

I have been baking sourdough now for about 3 months - one good thing to come from all these lockdowns! I live in the tropics so very humid. I tried a few sourdough recipes and have found the one that works for me in this environment - easy to work with, great tasting, lovely crust, lots of bubbles in the bread. 
One thing I’m struggling with is getting that “burst” in the oven - the elusive ear! I read a post which said it could be that the dough is under or over proofed. I’m still very new to this and wondered if someone could help me out? I’ve attached a pic of the bread - does it look under or over proofed? The bread tastes amazing and is a lovely texture. There is by the way some spring in the oven. It doesn’t have this height when I take it from the banneton but it isn’t as wide either, which makes me think there is some spreading out during baking. Maybe I just need to improve my shaping technique? 
Any tips to ensure great oven spring and that lovely ear?  

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Welcome to TFL! 

Have you read this post and watched the linked videos?

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/61181/tip-have-faith-oven-spring
texas_loafer's picture
texas_loafer

Possibly overproofed. I have had that same problem when I fall asleep during the bulk ferment and let it run waaaay longer than intended. 

More details of your process would be useful

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Thanks for your comment. I did watch a video that suggested that you should stop proofing a little earlier than what you think you should maybe I’ll try that out. 

Ok so my process... I make the dough (I have a very active starter which doubles in size and passes the float test after just 2 hours. As I said my environment is very humid and 2 hours is great for my schedule. Anything more than this and I don’t get a rise). I perform stretch and folds every 30 minutes and do this 4 or 5 times until I get the “window pane”. I then leave to bulk for 2 - 2.5 hours. I perform the first shape, let sit in a bowl with damp cloth for 20-30 mins, do another shape, into the banneton and in the fridge to retard overnight, usually about 12 hours. I pop it onto a tray, score with my lame (need a lot more practice on this) and then in the oven covered for 20 mins on high temp, take the cover off and then bake on a slightly lower temp for about 25-30 mins.

Do you think I should do less stretch and folds? Or reduce the bulk ferment? Or maybe reduce the retard time? I’ve attached a pic of the whole loaf 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

What is your inoculation, i.e. how much starter do you add relative to the flour?

With such a quick starter I would guess you are overfermenting with this time scale, I would try reducing bulk time.

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Hi, I use a ratio of 1:1:1 when feeding my starter and then I use 110g starter for about 500g of flour when making my dough, with about 320g water - a 65% hydration. I like that my starter is ready after 2 hours, it works well for my schedule. 
I will try reducing the fermentation next time - would you recommend reducing by 30 mins? Or 1 hour? 

Benito's picture
Benito

It would be helpful to understand your process fully, however, based on the photo and the fact that there isn’t a ton of oven spring and no ear suggests that it is slightly overproofed.  In underproofed bread we will often see good oven spring, but then a very gummy very very dense crumb.  You need to look at the crumb, is it really dense, then more likely to be underproofed.  If the crumb, ignoring any huge holes is decent then unlikely to be underproofed very much.

Benny

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Hi Benny, thanks for your help. I’ve provided the details of my process in the reply above - too lazy to type twice 🙈

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

Kirstie 

Benito's picture
Benito

I still suspect that it is somewhat overproofed.  You can do several things to improve the over spring when overproofed, reduce the amount of levain used, reduce the bulk temperature and reduce the bulk fermentation time.  Also, you should check the temperature of your fridge, it is possible that your fridge is warmer than you think and the dough may have overproofed during cold retard.  Put a glass of water on the shelf that you leave your dough on.  After several hours or more, check the temperature of the water, if it is 5ºC or more your dough is still actively fermenting while in the fridge and could overproof.  I like to cold retard pretty cold 2-3ºC to avoid this.

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Yes, seems to be the consensus that I am over proofing. I think I will first try to reduce the bulk fermentation and see how we go from there. I hadn’t thought about the fridge not being cold enough though - thanks for that tip! I don’t think changing the temp of the fridge will be an option, I use the fridge at work (I work in a hotel) and it doesn’t have an accessible dial to change the temp. In which case I guess I don’t retard for quite so long? Maybe try 10 hours? Any tips for knowing when the dough is at its peak for baking? Thanks so much for your help. I’m still very much a newbie... 

Kirstie

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't see anything that suggest either over-or under-proofing. Seeing the whole boule for color and bloom might give us more information. In the meantime, this might give you some help: Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

The section on ears is towards the end of the tutorial.

Happy baking!

David

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Hi David, please see the photo above. As you can see no ear! But like I said, there is some oven spring as the loaf was not this size when I put it in the oven. My thumb is in the pic for scale 😂

thanks, Kirstie 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Your photo looks like you didn't score your loaf! An ear is the result of scoring is a certain way, among other variables. Please read the tutorial I referred to in my previous reply.

David

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

I did score it. It’s on the other side but honestly there was no burst from the seam... it all just spread out. Here’s a pic from the other side with the score. I do need to improve my scoring skills though, so thanks for sharing the tutorial. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Look for one that is taller with steeper sides.  You could also try lining the banneton you have with a thick donut shaped towel.  Try twisting a towel into a ring and placing it into the banneton.  

The other thing you could try is more dough in the banneton if the oven can handle a bigger loaf.

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

Thanks Mini oven! 
I don’t think a smaller banneton would work for my recipe because at the moment, after the overnight retard, my dough is almost at the top of the banneton already! I worry a smaller banneton and it would make a very big mess of my fridge! 🙈

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

first lays in the banneton?   And when it comes out of the fridge?  :)

Kirky17's picture
Kirky17

No Mini Oven I don’t. Next time I make a sourdough I’ll be sure to take one. Today I’m making soft dinner rolls - they’re my housemate’s favourite!