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Gummy and heavy sourdough bread

Ambarservadac's picture

Gummy and heavy sourdough bread


My crumb comes out too gummy and my bread heavy in weight. It’s not underbaked, I took it’s internal temp, it was 205F. 

The recipe for 750g Dough

391g Sir Galahad flour (11.7% protein)

20% levain, 78g

70% water, 273g

2% salt, 8g

I mixed everything but the salt, let it rest 30m. Add salt, rest 30m. Laminate, rest 30 m. Fold, rest 30 m. 1 Coil fold, rest 30m, 2 coil fold. I let it bulk ferment until a sample dough I took grew 50% (I’ve tried 100%, with the same results, but that one was a bit less heavy).

Bench rest 10m, shape, rest 30m, retarded 16h in fridge.

Baked it in a dutch oven, preaheated oven 450F, lid on 20m, lid off at 400F 25 m.

My kitchen is around 84-87 F, so I can’t rely on recipes designed for cooler environments, that’s why I take a sample of dough and measure it’s growth in a marked jar. I took it at the time I added the levain. My started was strong, it doubles in sizes in 2 to 2:30 hrs.

I’ve tried to autolyze, and a 75% hydration with the same results.

I don’t know if I should bulk fermented less, or proof the shaped bread more (I also tried to retard it right away after shaping with the same results). I don’t know if it’s the oven temperature (too cool, or too warm). My bread doesn’t develop an ear either. It grows in the oven, and it doesn’t look that bad, but the gummy texture I don’t like.


WatertownNewbie's picture

Nothing jumps out at me from your description of the process through the bake.  How long do you let the loaf cool on the rack before slicing?  A loaf will be gummy if not allowed to cool sufficiently.


Ambarservadac's picture

Hi Ted, I let it cool on a rack 1 - to 2 hrs

naturaleigh's picture

Greetings!  I'm no expert, but your formula and processes seem sound.  The only things I can think of would be to cut back on fermentation and see if that helps open up the crumb with some more oven spring.  Also, cutting back on hydration a bit might help.  I think the score and ear are pointing to possible over-fermentation or too much water.  Whenever I get a flat ear like that, it's because I've over fermented the dough or the dough was too wet.

Also, I think you could let the loaf cool a little longer, like at least 4 hours.  Another trick is at the end of the bake time, turn the oven off, crack the door open a bit, but leave the loaf in the oven for another 10 minutes.  This will steam out any lingering moisture.

Ambarservadac's picture

Thanks for the tips, I’ll try again tomorrow with your suggestions

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

Hi, Ambarservadac. Your bread looks really tasty, so I'm sure you are disappointed by the moist crumb. I had a similar problem once so I wanted to weigh in. I'm in agreement with @naturaleigh that all of the water might not have baked off. Leigh suggested a final curing period where you leave the bread in the turned-off oven and I strongly second that idea. It could fix the problem for you. One more thing I'd recommend is using an oven thermometer to verify your oven temperature. If your oven runs cool, your baking temps could be too low. Your dry bake temp, in particular, seems a little low to me and if your oven runs cool on top of that, you might need to adjust the heat. It's worth checking out if you can. Good luck!

Ambarservadac's picture

Thanks for the ideas,, I’ll try again tomorrow with your suggestions

dtdayan's picture

Underbake? how about 450F lid off instead of 400. In using a dutch oven, there is no noticeable ear, maybe underproofed. better it you can show picture of dough after proofing.

Ambarservadac's picture

Dough total weight 500g

King Arthur AP flour 11.7% protein

70% water
2% salt
20% 1:1:1 Levain

30C ambient temp /  65% humidity

My starter double and a bit more (like in 2:30hrs)

Mix flour, levain, water. Rest 30m.
Add salt. Rest 30 m
Lamination. Rest 30m
3 folds, at 30 m intervals.
Bulk ferment until a sample dough reach 30% growth (since I added the levain it took 3 hrs and 10 m).
Form into a ball. Rest 5m
Form a boule, retard in fridge like 12hr.
Spayed water on surface.
Preheat oven with dutch oven 10" diameter (26cm) at 450F (232C), lid on 35m, 30 lid off. Let it 45m in off oven with the door a bit open. Then pun in a rack to fully cool, 2hs

I got an ear for the first time in that one but the crumb is still gummy and the bread weight is heavy. The flavor is good, not too sour, just a hint.

I baked 2 more breads in the same batch, the same weight, and baking process.
b) I did the same, 30% growth, but let it proof outside for 50m (I was aiming for my sample dough to reach 75% growth), then to the fridge.
c)The other one I let it bulk ferment until it was 80% growth, let it proof 15m, then retard.  
Neither one has an ear. All have gummy crumb. C weights a little less heavy.

I'm not sure what to test next, maybe reduce the hydration? bake at lower temperature? maybe the crust is setting too fast. 

Any help would be appreciated.

Dave Cee's picture
Dave Cee

Bake loaf:

15 minutes covered at 450°F.

15 minutes uncovered at 425°F.

15 minutes on oven rack at 400°F.


Check for internal temp around 200 ~ 205°F.


Cool on rack 2 hours minimum.


I wonder if you are being too self-critical. Your loaves look great.

Ambarservadac's picture

Thanks Dave, I’ll try that next week.

They look great but the crumb is gummy, but at least I made progress on how it looks 

clevins's picture

I actually just let my loaves cool overnight. And are they gummy or a little soft and slightly moist?


I'd consider taking them to 210F or so,  dropping the temp when you remove the cover from 450 to maybe 400.

Ambarservadac's picture

Hi, this baked until they reached 215F internally. I let them rest 3 hrs before cutting, their internal temp was my ambient temp 88F. 
To me they feel gummy/ rubbery not like any other bread texture I’ve baked with commercial yeast, but I don’t know if sourdough bread is supposed to have that texture? I haven’t had any sourdough bread to compare it.

clevins's picture

You can end up with soft crumb but no, it shouldn't be gummy feeling. 

Looking at Trevor Wilson's Open Crumb Mastery book, a few things pop out... 

He identifies a kind of crumb that looks fine but is actually gummy (He call's it Fool's Crumb, a take off on Fool's Gold... ) and identifies the cause as underfermentation during bulk. He defines it as:

A heavy loaf, but with a few surprisingly large holes here and there. Maybe a tunnel under the top crust. But all surrounded by clumps of tight, dense and often gummy crumb

Question - you mention your kitchen is in the 80s. Are you in a humid, tropical or semi-tropical environment?

On baking time and temp, here's what he writes: 

I typically bake these breads at 500F/260C to 550F/288C for the first 20 minutes or so, then reduce the heat to 450F/232C for the remainder of the bake – maybe another 20-30 minutes. Oftentimes, I’ll also leave the oven door cracked open for another 5 minutes or so after baking is complete, just to encourage extra crispiness in the crust and ensure the crumb is baked through.

 I'm still working my way through his book but it's quite good so far. If you're interested in it, the product page is at
Ambarservadac's picture

Thanks Clevins

I lived in the Dominican Republic and the temperature here is around 88F with 63-65% humidity.

I don’t think it’s underproof, if anything maybe overproof. Those I baked and let them in the turned off oven for 30m. 

I’ll try a hotter oven next time.