The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Help! Bread falls flat after international move

Jeanne's picture

Help! Bread falls flat after international move



Thank you for taking the time to read my cry for help. I will try to be as concise as possible.

I started my sourdough journey back in February following a simple recipe found on My starter took about a month and a half to be fully active but I've been very lucky with my loaves as only the first couple ones didn't fully rise.

I've baked beautiful loaves ever since and have always had great oven spring results.

However, two weeks ago, I moved from Canada to France and I took my starter with me. I fed it right away and the starter itself is as bubbly as it was in Vancouver. My dough though, that has a 75% hydration, came out super liquidy after the first proofing. It has been almost impossible to handle and I feel like I took all the air out, trying to shape it properly, so of course, I didn't get any rise in the oven.

I've tried again, this time bringing it to 60% hydration instead but the dough just keeps spreading and falling flat. 


I don't understand what I'm doing wrong? Back in Canada, I was working with the 75% hydration pretty easily and everything was going smoothly with great results. Here my loaves are all flat and runny when my starter is doing great.


Some factors to take into account: 

- In my new apartment, my oven has a 40°C (100°F) option, which I use to let my starter and dough rise, as opposed to leaving them on the counter for a longer amount of time back in Canada.

- The flour here is definitely different but it looks like my starter likes it enough to rise properly.

- I always leave my dough in the fridge for a good hour while my oven preheats, and it does not seam to help with the "spreading" of the dough, even though it helps with the scoring.


Would appreciate any advice you may have, thank you in advance for your help! :)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Welcome to Europe!  

There could be several things going on.  What's your recipe? And which flour are you using?  That will help us help you.  It sounds like the dough is fermenting too fast  and you may have to shorten bulk times or reduce the amount of starter in the recipe as well.  First the recipe.  :)

Jeanne's picture

Hey! Thank you for your fast answer. :)

I follow the recipe from this website: No-Knead Sourdough Bread | Feasting At Home which calls for 520g of flour, 12g of salt, 385g of water and 90g of starter (though I usually tend to use 115g of starter, 1:1:1 ratio).

Since I started using my oven for proofing as opposed to leaving it on the counter overnight, I have shortened the bulk time. I typically use all purpose flour in Canada, here in France, it is a standard white organic flour.

I guess the tap water plays a role too since it's different from Canada. 

I was hoping to try to make another loaf tonight, sticking to the 75% hydration but proofing it in the fridge overnight instead of using the oven on 100°F. I really hope I get back to my beautiful loaves soon.


My parisian apartment is a little warmer than my apartment in Vancouver but it's raining a lot these days and all the heaters have been turned off so I don't know if it really plays a role in the fermentation.

phaz's picture

First thing that comes to mind is the difference in flour. As in the present flour is weaker than what your used to. In which case you'll have to get used to how it reacts. The fundamentals are the same, so compensate for weaker flour. Enjoy! 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

brings me to 346g water.  I might bump up the starter instead of using the 40° C proofer to speed things up.  Perhaps 150g starter?  

idaveindy's picture

There was a thread earlier this year about using North Amercan recipes with French flour.

Canadian, and long-time TFL participant "Mariana" left some good comments on that post at:


Mini Oven and Mariana are two of the "bread goddesses" of TFL. So you're in good hands with them covering both sides of the Atlantic for you.

Jeanne's picture

Wow, thank you so much for all this information. I will make sure to read everything thoroughly. I think the flour is definitely the reason for my flat loaf since it also has similar cracks to what the other person mentioned in the post you’re referring to.

I might switch to a French recipe in terms of ratio and I will patiently analyse what works and what doesn’t. It’s a journey but it’s definitely worth it!

Thank you so much again!

yozzause's picture

I think 100F is outside the comfort zone for bulk fermenting for both the yeasts and the Lab. The flour is also much weaker than you will be accustomed to using so hydration will need to be re calculated. You will also find that perhaps the method may need to be reassessed and the No Knead  may be less suitable  to getting the best performance from the local flour.

Either way exciting times and lots of fun with new flours to explore.

Good luck and kind regards Derek 

clazar123's picture

It might be interesting to have a continuous-read thermometer probe in the oven for a few hours. If the oven controls on your oven are anything like the controls on mine, you might find that the 40C/100F temp is an AVERAGE with a 40 degree range. It could be ranging from 90-130F, if the controller is in specs or even higher if it is not. Modern controllers do not fine-tune the temp inside the oven.When the temp falls below the setting,the burners come on full, the sensor shuts the flame /burner off at temp but the residual heat swings the temp inside the oven past the mark. If you are baking, you now exposed the bottom of your items to a full-on burner.I often ended up with very overbaked or even burned bottoms and raw /underbaked tops. Double panning and oven stone helped but no wonder my oven stone kept cracking. I learned this from personal experience not so recently. Oven controllers in the last years have been victims of cost reducing designs and baking suffers. My advice-do not trust the oven temp for proofing/starters.

All that being said-it also sounds like the flour is fermenting a lot faster than usual and some adjustments need to be made. Prior responses have great advice.


Brotaniker's picture

Each flour is different and needs a different hydration. I used some French GMP brand flours and they often written the proper hydration in the instructions.

T55 (or equivalent) from Canada is certainly not the same than French T55 (although protein content can give a hint).

If the dough is too soft, use less water next time. Do not switch flours all the time. Keep a log.