The core temperature of sourdough before baking


Hi. Could anybody tell me what the core temperature of the sourdough should be just before baking?


We retard sourdough overnight after shaping, then bake off in the morning. The retarder stays at 4 degree Celsius until a few hours before baking. A few hours before baking, the prover kicks off, and the temperature of the retarder-prover gradually goes up. It's set to be 28 degrees just before baking. 


When I stick a thermometer into the sourdough just before baking, I realise that the internal temperature of the sourdough is sitting anywhere between 10 degrees and 14 degrees. I'm thinking that this is too cold, and hence we've been having problems with large blow out holes on the bottom of loaves.


I could be wrong, but we've done so many different experiments to identify the cause of the holes, to no avail. 


If anybody could kindly tell me what the core temperature of the sourdough after retarding but before baking, that'd be great. Also, if you could suggest any different ways of retarding sourdoughs, I'd appreciate that too. 


Thank you. 

161 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 August 5

Hi Naomi,

Sorry to hear you are still having problems.

I'm only a home baker and only know what I know and have read about.  There are reports of people going straight from the fridge to the oven and also leaving the loaf at room temperature for several hours after retarding before baking with what seems to be equal success.

I don't know whether your bakery schedule would allow it, but why don't you try some loaves that haven't been retarded and thus must be at full temperature and also a sequence of loaves that have been given progressively more time after retarding to see if the quality is different.

I realise that you run into the potential problem of overproving with the latter approach because the chemistry does not stop during retardation, just slows down.  But, for the sake of a trial, a few loaves are worth the sacrifice.

Good luck with your projects and let us know how you go.


davo 2013 August 8

I'm with Farinam. I have personally baked at all temps between straight out of fridge (~4 C) and room temp - eitehr warmed after retard or not retarded at all, and temp variations never seem to - for me - precipitate this kind of result.

As I posted in the other thread, The only times I have had anything approaching this effect is when I have had the top of the loaf separate from the body in an otherwise similar looking way - and that I have correlated with occasions when the loaf has stuck badly in the banetton, and I have had to "hang" the loaf and cajole it out - causing a shearing under the top skin. That's why I wondered (in that other thread) whether there was any possibility of a similar force/action on the bottom of the proofed loaves - in that process of transferring to peel or even in the pulling away of the peel to get the loaf in the oven? (Are they shoved in roughly, or do they stick a bit to the peel?) Of course this may have nothing to do with what is happening... Alternatively does that top surface of the proving loaf  (that presumably becomes the bottom crust,  in the oven) dry out such that the expanding loaf might suffer a shear force between the loaf body which is expanding and the locally drier/harder skin which can't expand as much (eg imagine two balloons one inside the other, with  tape stuck over part of the outer balloon - when you blow up the inside balloon, the two don't move relative to each other, except where the tape is - the inner balloon expands but the outer one can't)? Probably way off course, but just a thought.

Or what about this - how is that heat applied as the loaves are finally proved - 28 C seems high to me! I like them to warm slowly at around 20 deg C. I wonder if there is differential heat coming mainly onto that top skin (that becomes the bottom crust when it's turned over on the peel???). Could you be promoting a whole lot more expansion action just under that skin (much more than through the rest of the loaf)- as you say it's 10-14 in the middle, and presumably 28 C (ish) on that skin. Then those local large bubbles hit the stone, there's a whole lot of differential expansion - lots just inside the skin where the loaf is well warm, and way less in the body of the loaf which is relatively much cooler. Frankly I doubt this because I have baked partly warmed loaves that are probably 6C in the middle and 15 C on the skin, and had no problem! But it's a thought.

Could you set the prover to kick in much earlier for a slower rise to say 20 or 22C? And does the heat get applied all around the loaves - or through the top (which will be bottom crust) only???

Electricboots 2013 August 9

Hi Naomi,

I had the problem of blow out holes at the bottom of my loaves during the experimental stage of learning sourdough after only doing yeasted bread in the past. It was very clear what was causing my problem- I was cooking 2 uncovered loaves side by side (but not touching) and the moisture sitting between the loaves was causing weak spots in the crust that persisted after the slashes in the tops had hardened a bit so that is where the oven-spring went- not via slashes as hoped but between the loaves. I now bake single loaves covered to retain moisture until rising is completed and have not had the problem ever under this current system.

That is why I am wondering if it is an air circulation problem ie the tops are setting or drying out before the sides while the bread is still rising in the oven.



Post Reply

Already a member? Login