The Fresh Loaf

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100% WW Bread

Vinlo's picture

100% WW Bread

Hello everyone, been reading for sometime now.. and now have a question.

I have been making 100% WW Sandwich Bread from BBA since I got the book in March, with varying success. I usually have the same problems each time I make it and cannot figure out what my problem is.

I make the recipe as described in BBA (I use kosher salt - but by weight). Soaker and Poolish the night before, mix the next day. I mix in a stand mixer (I have tried anywhere from 7minutes to 15 minutes), let the dough double in size (generally 1.5 to 2 hours), cut, shape and proof.

The problem I have is I get absolutely NO OVEN SPRING. If I let the loaves proof until they are nice and large (tthe size I would like them to be when finished), they just deflate in the oven (at 350 degrees per BBA). If I proof them until they are just above the lip of the loaf pan - as described in BBA.. that is where they stay. I really enjoy the flavour of the bread but it makes for a really lame sandwich when the loaf is only 3.5" in height.

I have tried regular WW and 'best for bread' WW (all that is available around here - it's a higher protein flour from Robin Hood), didn't seem to make much of a difference.

Can anyone shed any light on this for me? I am thinking of just adding more yeast, but that doesn't seem like the right solution.

I make 2 loaves every week, and would like to get it right at some point in time.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

pmccool's picture


There isn't anything in your description that jumps out as a major error, so let's look for some simple things. 

First, it's fairly typical that bread baked in pans won't experience quite so dramatic an oven spring as breads baked on a stone.  There will be some, yes, but usually less remarkable.  Second, in my experience, whole grain breads seem to be a little less "bouncy" than white breads.  Third, a 350F oven just isn't going to drive as much spring as one heated to 400F or more.

From your description, it sounds as though your dough is adequately proofed at the point that its crest just clears the top of the pan.  If it were slightly underproofed, you would probably see more oven spring than you have.  The fact that it collapses in the oven when the dough has risen to the size that you want for the finished loaf suggests that it is probably over-proofed by that point.

What to do, then?  I don't think more yeast is the answer, either.

One possibility is to bake the bread in the next-smaller size pan.  If you have been using 9x5 inch pans, try baking the next batch in 8x4 inch pans.  The smaller pan volume ought to make the bread stand up nice and tall before it gets to the over-proofed stage.

Another possibility is to check your shaping technique.  If you aren't getting adequate surface tension on the loaves, they will be more apt to collapse as they get close to fully proofed.

Yet another possibility is that the dough thinks it's being set down in the oven more forcefully than you think it is.  When handling dough that is fully proofed or verging on over-proofed, you want to be v-e-r-r-r-y gentle with it.

I don't have a foolproof method (but it hasn't stopped me yet) for gauging how far along the proofing process is.  Most of the time I employ the poke test: gently press a finger tip into the dough up to the first knuckle, then remove.  If the depression fills quickly, it is probably not fully proofed.  If it rebounds slowly, get it into the oven, because it is fully proofed.  If it doesn't rebound at all (or, worse yet, collapses), it is over-proofed.  The further along the dough is in the proofing stage, the less oven spring it will exhibit while baking.  Other folks report success with gently squeezing the dough and judging how much or how little it is proofed.  Can't speak to that technique, myself.

I hope that something here is useful to you.  Good luck with your future attempts.


Vinlo's picture

Paul, thanks for all the comments.

I never really thought of the way I am shaping it could be the problem (I am using 8x4 pans already.. hehe).  I've tried to do it like BBA suggests, I'll look to see if there are any videos of someone shaping a sandwich load - I seem to recall seeing one at some point.  Maybe next time I will try one loaf one way, the other a differeent technique. 

The best part is I get to eat all the not so good loaves too!!

Will definately try a hotter oven - I tried it hotter and setting it lower, it helped one time, but failed to do anything the next.  So many variables.. 

Sure is a lot of fun trying though!

fancypantalons's picture

"First, it's fairly typical that bread baked in pans won't experience quite so dramatic an oven spring as breads baked on a stone.  There will be some, yes, but usually less remarkable. "

Just as a comment, I strongly disagree with this.  Here is a shot of a loaf I made:

Amish Bread Spring

As you can see, I got considerable oven spring, so much so that the loaf tore.  Note, the scoring is vital to get really great spring, as it releases the surface tension and gives the loaf room to grow.

Incidentally, I let my loaves bulk ferment to double, then shape, then proof until they're maybe 1/2" past the top of my 9x5" bread pans (this is for an ~700g loaf).  The shaping is fairly traditional (shape into a batard, then roll into the final shape, as per a video I spotted on YouTube that was linked from here, whose URL I can't recall :).  As for the bake, I start my loaves at 400F (and after I put them in, I turn the oven to 405F, just to get the elements heating up again), then drop to 350F for the main bake, using steam in the first few minutes, as per the BBA.

KosherBaker's picture

Hi Vinlo.

Some more questions that will help the gurus with troubleshooting.

1. How long is your final proofing?

2. What is the final weight of your loaf?

3. Are you steaming your oven?

4. What kind of yeast are you using instant or active dry?

5. If Active Dry are you proofing and dissolving your yeast?

A personal note. When I bake bread that calls for lower temperature, I tend to start them off in as hot an oven as my stone and the flour will allow for the first 5 to 7 minutes of baking and then I turn it down to the temperature called for. Thsi ensures that I get the maximum oven spring while preventing my bread from burning up.


edh's picture

Hi Vinlo,

Most of what I bake is free form, so I too have had troubles with pan bread. On the other hand, free form can be awkward for sandwiches, so I've been trying to get the hang of the other as well.

I've found JMonkey's video to be incredibly helpful. Here's the link;

 Hope I did that right...


preacher1120's picture

I have been having the very same problem with my loaves, and it is incredibly frustrating.  I am having a bit more success, I think, although not as much as want (particularly when I see some of the pics on this site!)  I bake sandwich bread in loaf pans and not free form.  I use instant yeast.

First, I have started setting the oven thermostat at 450, steaming, and reducing after 5 minutes.  This seems to have had the greatest effect.  I don't particularly care for a really hard crust for sandwich bread, so I baste with a bit of butter upon removing from the oven to soften the crust.

Second, I have had some success by switching from 9X5 pans to 8.5X4.5 (though I understand that this is not your issue).  It really helps my loaves stand up taller.   I have also increased the loaf weight and baked in larger pans which also seems to help.

Third, I typically baked loaves that weighed about 900 grams, but I have been bumping that up to 1000-1100 grams and using 9X5 pans.

Fourth, the referenced video about shaping from JMonkey has beem SO helpful.  I get pretty good surface tension.  However, with whole grains there is a limit to the amount of tension that you can really stretch without breaking.

However, even after these adjustments, I am only getting a tad more oven spring than in the beginning.  I can only assume that there must be something about my electric oven.

Any other thoughts would be appreciated!


Vinlo's picture

Thanks for the great responses.


1. Around 90 minutes or so, sometime shorter, sometimes slightly longer.

2. I get two loafs around 18oz. each, after baking I think they are around 15-16oz (in reading Sam's reply seems his are about double that size - that would certainly make a HUGE difference - my loaf too small/light??)

3. No steam - per BBA.

4 & 5. Unsure what type of yeast I grabbed last time. I want to say dry active, but am not even 50% sure. I will check and adjust prep accordingly.

As Sam & Rudy both suggested I will keep turning the oven up to 450 and then down (or leave it) and adjust the cooking times.

Thanks for the link to the shaping, I had seen it before many moons ago.. will shape in that fashion and see if that makes a difference.


*edit* Does the type of oil make a difference?  Vegetable vs olive or something else? 

shakleford's picture

Lots of good tips above, but here are a couple of other things that I've noticed lead to better oven spring in my whole wheat breads:

 -A little extra kneading.  I usually follow the process in Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, so I'm not sure if this exactly applies to your situation, but he generally recommends around five minutes of kneading.  I seem to have slightly better performance with 7-8 minutes.

-Other ingredients.  This may be unacceptable to you, but I have found that whole wheat breads with eggs or cottage cheese tend to be less dense, both from a greater rise during proofing and a greater oven spring.  Oil is reputed to have a similar effect, but most of the loaves I make have a tablespoon of oil, so I don't have much of a basis for comparison.

Sam, I think that it's unlikely that your oven is the problem unless your thermostat is way off (or you're leaving the oven open for five minutes when putting your bread in).  You could check that by purchasing a seperate oven thermometer if you were so inclined.

Hope this helps!

Marni's picture

I agree with the helpful advice above and would just add an additional idea. 

I don't know how acceptable this will be, but I find starting my loaves in a warm oven gives my whole wheat (and other loaves) a greater lift.  My personal theory (which of course has only my own crazy science behind it)  is that the yeast gets very active as the temperature rises and so the loaf rises with it.  Then when it hits the temp. that kills the yeast, the loaf is in place in the oven and sets itself at that height.

Many of my friends have tried this, I've been doing it for years and we find it works, especially for those troublesome loaves that won't budge.

Hope this helps.


preacher1120's picture

You know, this really makes an incredible amount of sense to me.  I wouldn't want to do this with every sort of loaf.  But for a sandwich loaf in a pan, this really seems logical.  I'd like to know if anyone else does this or has some scientific insight behind Marni's revelation. 

Thanks, Marni!  I have loaves to bake tomorrow and will be using this technique!


Sam in Alabam

Vinlo's picture

So I took everything into account, proofed the yeast (had dry active yeast), investigated the pan size - I guess the measurement comes from the top of the pan, not the bottom.. as suggested my pans were too large, added an egg, shapped per JMonkey's vid and baked at higher than suggested temp for the first 6-7 minutes.  The result.. great surface tension.. nice oven spring (I think I could have let them proof just a bit more and would have got REALLY nice loaves).  The crust what not too hard, but not too soft.. nice crumb - not dense at all, nice and airy for a WW sandwich.  Certainly a bread I can get behind.

I would post pics, but did not take a photo and am unsure how to.

Thanks for all the help, cannot wait until it gets a cool out again so i can make even more breads.