The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Dense bread?

Capt Jack's picture
Capt Jack

Dense bread?

Hi all, hoping for some advice on my sourdough. I am pretty much a beginner, I started my starter about 6 months ago using whole meal flour. At first no success, then after reading a few blogs discovered that the 5 day starter wasn’t really achievable I persevered for 3 weeks. This gave me a healthy starter, which I split into 2 just in case one failed! Months later now my starters are strong enough to live in the fridge for 2 weeks and still give a good rise once warmed to room temp and fed, bubbles are usually still evident when the starters are in the fridge. However! When I do make bread with these starters I get a good rise, but never the bubbly bread pictured in the recipes. I often have a flop when I cut the dough before baking. I think this might be over proofing, and will work on that today! The bread is very tasty and edible, not as light as shop bought bit not doughy at all. The lack of crisp crust and bubbly inside is driving me nuts, I have tried numerous recipes- no luck. I even took some of the whole meal starter and used it to create another with white flour, strong bread flour. Same story, lots of rise but no bubbly bread. Any advice on this? My starters seem OK, maybe they have a slight elastic property? Watching tv programmes about artisan breads and sourdoughs I am not sure if I have the same quality of starter, the ones on tv seem to flow easily, very liquid.

Any help with this will be greatly appreciated, this is such a great way to get through lockdown, I just want some bubbles in my bread!

ahbramey's picture

I too am a beginner so I'm not sure how qualified I am to help, but I'm sure the other bakers would ask these same questions - what is the recipe you're using to make the dough (what kinds of flours, proportion of flour(s) to water, etc.) Can you share more about your technique (how long you ferment/proof, shaping, how you bake, etc.)? That will help people troubleshoot. 

SuziL's picture

Hi Capt Jack!
I am a relative novice (been at this a little over a year now). My bread was dense for a good six months and I tweaked just about everything I could. My nephew graduated from culinary school last year and is working at a bread bakery, so I had him check out my process and consult with some master bakers.

For me, two things really helped. First, my starter was too wet, which resulted in a very wet loaf even after maximizing baking time. I now do a starter with a 110/120/130 g ratio of water/starter/flour. The consistency is almost a shaggy dough whereas before it was runny. This has reduced hydration but also allowed for a better fermentation. I have no clue why it is so wet when following normal 1:1 ratios (I even measure my humidity levels in my kitchen now). Once the starter ferments, it is firm but not shaggy any longer.

The second thing I did to help was to move my baking into a dutch oven. Even with the "dryer" starter, I do not need to add water to the process at all. I bake for ~30-35 minutes covered and 5-8 minutes uncovered at 490* F.

My loaves now are consistently (6 months) high rising (double what they were) and have a well-developed crumb.

I hope you find a solution!!

RainingTacco's picture

You could add photos for a start, to show the problematic bread.