The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Expert advice needed please! Over or underfermented?

Ang's picture

Expert advice needed please! Over or underfermented?

Hello everyone!

I am so pleased to find this site, and am really enjoying reading your posts, and trying to be a better bread baker.  It is addicting as you know, and I am just always trying improve my skills and get to that ultimate open crumb.  I finally have some OK pictures to share in hopes that someone can give me some advice.

This is my recipe, tweeked a bit because I ran out of All Purpose Flour and substituted Bread Flour for a portion of it. 

  • 740g All Purpose Flour
  • 180g Bread Flour
  • 656g Water
  • 184g Starter
  • 20g Salt

I autolyse for three to four hours.  I use the same time as it takes once feeding my starter for it to ripen.

I follow this format:

  • Once starter is added, bulk starts
  • Wait 30 mins, add salt
  • S&F  then wait 30 mins
  • Lamenation, wait 30 mins
  • S&F #2 wait 45 mins
  • S&F #3 Wait 45 mins
  • S&F #4 

I have been pushing the bulk to 6 hours exactly with dough temp pretty constant between 74 and 75 degrees.

I Shape and retard in the refrigerator for 14 hours.

Bake in oven on a pizza stone at 485 degrees with steam added for 30 to 35 minutes. 

I would love to hear from you bread experts out there!  


gavinc's picture

You have a good rise on this loaf, so I don't think it's over-proofed. I suggest deflating the dough a bit more when pre-shaping to eliminate any large pockets in the dough. Otherwise, the shaping looks good also.

What type of crumb were you aiming for?



Ang's picture

Cheers Gavin,

Thanks for the tips, and thanks for being an inspiration. I will try this on my next loaves, and let you know my results.

Happy Baking!

Benito's picture

Ang, very nice loaf you’ve baked, well done.  I agree with Gavin, I think some of those larger holes are air trapped during folds and just a bit more patting down of the dough during shaping might help redistribute those and reduce them.  

I do wonder what the utility of such a long autolyse is on an all white flour dough.  I don’t think you need to do anymore than 30-60 mins of autolyse on such a dough.  That is typically enough time to fully hydrate the flour and give the amylase some time to start working.  Typically most bakers here would do that long an autolyse or still even shorter for doughs with high percentages of whole grain.


Ang's picture

Hello Benny,

Thank you for your input.  I will try the pat down method on my next bake.  However, I would like to see a more open crumb, hence, the larger holes.  That is what I am striving for.  Do you think this requires a longer proof? 

There is nothing I have read that would lend me to do any autolyse for that long, except I was really just being lazy, and wanting to do two things at once.  I usually feed my starter the morning I want to bake.  While doing that I go ahead and mix up my dough.  Could this be affecting the outcome?

Thank you for your kind compliments.  I will keep baking to achieve that Perfect loaf!

Benito's picture

I think for more open crumb strive for full gluten development early in bulk if possible before the folds.  For wilder crumb, complete the folds by the middle of bulk and leave the dough undisturbed for the rest of bulk.  Shape carefully and don’t degas as much as possible.  You can then also add a bit more bench proofing after shaping to try to regain some of the gas lost during shaping.  The risk with all of this as I have found out is overproofing, we have to find the limits of bulk and proofing to get super open crumb if that is your goal.  My goal is a lacy crumb.

Ang's picture

Hi Benny,

The lacy crumb is my goal as well.  I will try doing all folds within a three hour window(instead of 4), and let sit for 3 hours undisturbed. Then shape and bench proof for maybe 20-30 minutes?  The earlier suggestion was to pat the dough during shaping to even out the air pockets. Is this still your suggestion?

Is this 30 minute timeframe enough to regain some of the gas lost during shaping?

Thank you for all your help.  I am starting three loaves today, so will see the outcome tomorrow.  :)  Happy Baking


Benito's picture

Those large alveoli/holes aren’t fermentation bubbles they are from trapped gases during folds and those are the ones I like to reduce by gently patting down the dough during final shaping.  Also I try to pop those during lamination and folds when I see them.  Those aren’t the alveoli that I want in my crumb.

How long you do a bench rest after shaping will greatly be affected by the temperature and the degree of fermentation achieved during bulk.  You will need to experiment to find what is ideal, my saying that I usually go for about one hour isn’t relevant unless you know what the rise was during bulk and temperature of the bench rest.