Why am I getting this gap between crumb & bottom crust?

Fiona Chandler

Hi bakers, 

I've just joined this forum hoping that someone might be able to advise what I'm doing wrong with my sourdough process of late.

I've been baking sourdough for about a year now (with same starter), and have to say they were mostly pretty great bakes. However, in the last few months, without knowingly/deliberately changing my process my bread is not rising as much, and inside I get a huge gap between the crumb and the crust, with the underside close to burnt. The crumb itself is also fairly dense in parts. It still tastes ok but it's very frustrating and I can't pinpoint what I'm doing wrong.

I use a dutch oven, and thought maybe I'd been placing it too low in main oven but putting it up a shelf or two hasn't helped. I'm happy to detail my full process if need be, but wanted to share some photos of my bake this morning to see if anyone has a straight up answer? 

Thanks in advance! 


152 users have voted.


FlourStories 2021 May 19

Hi Fiona,

Firstly welcome to the forum!
Hope you will find all the answers you are searching for.

I feel your frustration, so let's see if i could help you with this.
From the picture i can see that the loaf is pretty dense so im guessing that either your starter is not as active as it used to be or you have cut back on the proofing time. The first proofing stage is especially important.The big holes in the middle are formed from trapped air when shaping, so they are not a result of rising from the starter.

Could you write down your steps and also a timeline? Also for the starter.
Does the starter rise double its size and if yes in how many hours?

I apologise if my english isn't perfect, im Greek.:)


Fiona Chandler 2021 May 19

Hi Konstantinos, 

Thank you so much for your reply :-) 

Since I posted last week, I've spent some time discarding and building my starter back up and am pleased to say I baked my first proper loaf in ages this very morning! I realised I had gotten lazy with feeding my starter with just small top-ups but hadn't been discarding enough of it along the way, so the activity levels had really dropped off - just like you mentioned above. 

It's not perfect, but I got a really good rise and the crumb is much less dense (and easier on my teeth to eat!) 

It was great to get some extra guidance around my starter, thank you so much for responding to my query. 



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