Lots of issues with my sourdough bread :(

I'm not really new to baking, but I've been struggling with my sourdough bread. I have an Italian sourdough starter and I've been using the Cooks Illustrated method for refreshing the starter and mixing the bread. I have achieved some very successful loaves this way, but it's not very consistant. 

My two main problems are first, the dough rises out way more than up, which could be a factor of just not putting in enough flour or making a taut enough loaf, I'm open to any an all suggestions.

My other bigger problem is that the bread frequently burns on top, but not on bottom. If it's not burned on top, the bottom is undercooked.

Any insight would be welcome.

Thanks!

Kate

3 comments

Hello Kate.

For the first issue you have to include the method and the ingredients.

For this:
"My other bigger problem is that the bread frequently burns on top, but not on bottom. If it's not burned on top, the bottom is undercooked."

You can use a lid or something else to cover the top in order to emulate a lid for about half or less the baking time.
Or you can try to use the lowest cooking shelf on the stove.
You can even combine them.
Also try to use the same amount of dough.

Good luck

I bake most of my sourdoughs using a Lodge 5-qt. Dutch Oven. The technique produces a near-perfect loaf every time. I've described the process (Lahey method) here in detail: http://www.squidoo.com/organic-red-fife-sourdough - basically, the Dutch Oven is heated to 475, the dough goes in, and bakes for 30 min. with the lid on. This traps moisture inside the Lodge, which produces a thick, chewy crust. Removing the lid for the last 15 monutes allows the crust to brown.

Try it - you'll be glad you did!

On the burning question - this may be your oven. I used to have this kind of problem. I'm no physicist but I concluded it was the direct radiant heat from the element that was the culprit. So, assuming you've tried placing the loaf on as low a rack as possible, try this: take another oven rack, cover it in foil, and slot it in on the highest rack position, thus shileding the top of the loaf. Placing a baking sheet on the top rack would probably also work.

On the other question, highsky is right. Can you provide more info? Are you proving the dough in bannetons? For how long? How wet is the dough?