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Sourdough still too dense, crumb too crumbly?

samthesourdough's picture

Sourdough still too dense, crumb too crumbly?

Hi everyone,

I've been baking sourdough for a few years now but have not yet achieved the ideal crumb. They have mostly been too dense :( 

Can anyone help me troubleshoot my dense crumb? When my partner and I eat the sourdough, the crumb is not as "stretchy" as other sourdough we have had. My one is always a little bit gummy and breaks easily rather than stretches. Any help would be much appreciated!!

I recently baked a fig leaf sourdough which had a fairly open crumb around the edges but was more dense in the centre (top cross section is the centre of the loaf, middle and bottom cross section are the edges). 


Weather: 25 degrees Celsius, quite humid

Recipe: 75% hydration, 24% wholewheat flour, 76% white bakers flour, 2% salt. 

My method:

LEAVEN: Leaven mixed and left for 9 hrs overnight (this was a bit long and it has slightly collapsed). 

MIXING: Mix water, flour and leaven and autolyse for 45 minutes, after which I mixed in the salt and the small amount of remaining water.

FOLDING: 5 folds, either 15 min or 30 minutes apart. 

BULK FERMENTATION: Total bulk fermentation time was 4.5 hrs until it had doubled in size. When I poured the dough out onto the surface of the benchtop to shape, I need to use my hand / scraper to get the dough out to prevent ripping the gluten / dough. It doesn't come away from the side of the container cleanly. 

SHAPING: Rough 1st shaping into a round ball, 2nd shaping into a boule

COLD FERMENT: Fridge ferment for 22 hours.

BAKING: Preheat dutch oven to 250C for 30 minutes, drop to 230C and bake bread for 20 minutes, drop to 200C remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes. 




Ming's picture

It seems like I am seeing a lot of crumb evaluation requests lately, surprisingly, our crumb experts have not chimed in on this one :). I would be pleased if I got a crumb like that with my baguettes. Very nice!

Abe's picture

If one gets a crumb they're after then it's a good crumb. If one doesn't then it's simply an undesired crumb. I see plenty of questions about crumb but often the photo I see seems perfectly ok to me. If a bread is over proofed or under proofed that's another story (which can affect the crumb and structure). Otherwise the rest is personal preference. Not sure how to answer questions when I don't see anything wrong. 

I agree with you Ming. Very nice! 

samthesourdough's picture

Haha thank you Ming!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Agree with above, the crumb looks great to me. Regarding more open crumb on the outside and tighter in the middle - that's a frequent observation... I think it might be related to cold proofing. Then the outside and inside will get different amount of fermentation (due to slow cooling down from outside in). But I don't know if that's true, just an idea.

Benito's picture

What is this white baker’s flour?  Do you know the protein %, is it considered a strong flour, is it bleached?  You mention that your crumb is less chewy than what you’ve eaten so it makes me think that perhaps your flour has a bit too low protein.  Higher protein flours will give your bread a chewier crumb.

There is typically more open crumb on the ends of a batard generally speaking than the center because there is less weight of dough there and less resistance to expansion, nothing unusual about that.



samthesourdough's picture

Hi Benito, yes it is white bakers flour at 13%. It has a creamy colour and the product description does not say that it's bleached. Would you recommend going higher in protein? Thanks!

Benito's picture

13% protein for low extraction wheat is quite strong for bread and should be fine.  You do not need to go higher.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Take 5% of the total flour combine with 5x that weight in recipe water, cooked until it gels (do not boil) cool and add to dough. 

samthesourdough's picture

Not a bad idea! Will try it out thanks :)