The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Damp doughy crumb

Britvic55's picture

Damp doughy crumb

          I’ve been trying my hand at bread making recently and considered the no knead method that was demonstrated in the New York times (and on countless YouTube videos) to be the sort of bread I was looking for, an artisan crispy crust with open crumb texture. Easy I thought....


            The problem I seem to be encountering is the bread seems doughy,damp almost crumpet like in texture, even though the crisp crust exists.

I have tried cast iron pots and Pyrex dishes, higher temps, lower temps and longer bake times but seem to get the same result whatever.


I follow the basic, now classic recipe every time, 3 cups strong flour, ¼ teaspoon instant yeast, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 ½ cups of water and I have even weighed out the flour to ensure accuracy but still spongy doughy inside.


I am beginning to wonder if it’s the yeast, I notice that the dough has risen really well after 12 hours but is somewhat deflated by 20% or so after 18 hours and doesn’t seem to second rise very well.

Could I be using the wrong yeast...?

It seems impossible to find ‘instant yeast’ in the UK, there’s ‘easy bake’ and ‘quick acting’ and so forth but not any of the US stuff that seems to be mentioned on the US recipes that produce this perfectly baked bread.


At the moment I’m using Allinson easy bake yeast which is not hydrated in warm water, the tiny granules are just put into the dry mix.

I follow the recipe religiously and have even brought home calibrated temperature probes from work to ensure my oven temp and the temp within the Dutch oven, i.e. Pyrex dish or cast iron casserole pot are correct (235 degrees c) the dough is proven on the kitchen work top in a covered dish and the ambient temp is around 18 – 20 degrees c as a rule.


I can’t really let a loaf of bread beat me and I’m not the sort of person who gives up very often but I’m running out of variables here so any help or advice anyone can give me would be very much appreciated.

JIP's picture

One thing you need to remember is that baking times in recipes are sugestions at best.  The best way to know if your bread is done is to use a thermometer.  About 200F is good for a white loaf and if memory serves me correctly 180 is good for wheat loaves these numbers could be wrong but they are close.   

LindyD's picture

The original Sullivan Street Bakery recipe suggests a baking temp of  450-500F.

Are you preheating the dutch oven to about 260C?  Removing the lid after the first 30 minutes of baking time?  It almost sounds as if the bread is underbaked.

I ditto JIP's suggestion about using a thermometer to check the temperature of the dough - but I'd go to 205F (96C).

Britvic55's picture

Thanks for the replies,

                                 I have preheated the oven with the cast iron pot in to 260c for an hour and then baked the bread for about 20mins lid on 20mins lid off, then let it cool slowly on the oven rack out of the pot (turned off but still hot) for a while. The bread looks cooked, darkish crispy crust no burnt or black areas though, but damp crumb.

I don't have a probe type thermometer and I'm finding it difficult to get hold of one that will go to 200c plus.

I'll try another batch tomorrow but really push the baking time out, 30 mins lid on and as long as I can with the lid off until the bread just about starts to burn. I guess this should tell me if the problem is underbaking and if so tweak the temp/time to improve it.

Britvic55's picture


          Done all that and the same result............  I'm confused.

Black and burnt on the outside after an hour. still wettish and crumpet like on the inside......... 30 min with lid on, 40 with lid off at 260 c and still damp crumb............. What is happenning..............

I'm losing the will to carry on............   I'm sure my oven temp is correct....

Can anyonne help me Pleaseeeeeeeeeeee......!!!!!

Eli's picture

What type of flour are you using? Any additives?


Britvic55's picture

Hi, I'm using regular bread flour, also called strong flour here in the UK, no additives. I could try using AP flour, I think we call it plain flour here but from what I've read bread flour should be fine..... I've got the same results with different brands as well.

I'm tempted to try lower temperature for much longer or even trying to bake it in a friends oven or baking it without the pot but then I'd probably end up with something as flat as a cookie.....

I suppose another variable could be the water, our local tap water is considered very good and is quite soft, but bottled mineral water may make a difference....? I'm amazed other people don't have this problem and I consistently do, it's almost like something is fundamentaly wrong and I'm overlooking it.....