Crumb Help!


Hi everyone!

I've finally fixed the gummy dough issue-- the crust was hardening too fast in the oven, which was preventing the inside of the dough from cooking all the way. Now,I spray the loaf with a lot of water before putting it into the oven, and I add ice cubes in a hot cast iron pan for steam.


The bread is pretty good, and now I want to make it perfect. One thing I'd really like to change is the crumb structure. I get a lot of big holes, but the dough in between the holes is still a bit dense.

You can especially see it in the last picture. I want to create a crumb that's pretty open throughout the dough, with a good network of holes. 

Here are the ingredients:

  • 25g sourdough starter

  • 250g bread flour

  • 175g warm, filtered water

  • 5g salt


I mix the starter, flour, and water together, let it autolyze for 30-45 minutes, then knead in the salt for about 10 minutes. I let it rise for about 11 hours overnight. Our room temperature is probably about 72F. I then shape the bread, let it rise for about an hour or two, then put it in the fridge for another two hours. I preheat the oven to 500F with the baking stone and cast iron pan for an hour, then reduce to 400, slash the bread, and put it in the oven with the ice cubes for about 45 minutes, and let it cool for 2-3 hours before cutting into it.

How can I get a more open crumb structure in between the big holes?

Thanks for all of your help!


332 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2014 December 24

Hello Mariana,

I would be inclined to use less time for the preferment/first rise.  Maybe cut that back to four hours.

Then for your proving, I would look at doing that in the fridge overnight (if the overnighting is a necessary part of the schedule).  Put it out on the bench while your oven heats and then bake.  Or, just give it four hours on the bench (or as required until properly risen - visual/poke test) and then bake.  I don't see the point of your two hours in the fridge as about all that would achieve would be to chill the dough and little more but could affect the bake a bit.

Your crumb seems to have plenty of nascent structure, it just needs the opportunity to accumulate more gas and to expand further in the baking.

Good luck with your projects.


mertme36 2014 December 26


This time, I tried shortening the first rising time to 4 hours with stretches and folds every hour, then shaped and let it rise for 4 more hours. It definitely came out better this time, but still not the best. I'm going to mess around with rising times to see if I can improve it more.

shasta's picture
shasta 2014 December 25

The two issues I see are:

1st, the amount of starter you are using is only about 10% the total flour in the recipe. That would explain the longer proofing time needed. 

The recipes I have had the most success with have a much higher percentage of starter involved, say 30% or three times as much. That would allow you to have a shorter proofing time as suggested above.

2nd, In my limeted experience I have had much better results in the crumb when I form the loaf after a shorter proof the night before. By forming the loaf before storing the loaf overnight in the fridge, the loaf only needs to warm and final proof before baking. When I have tried forming loaves after overnight proofing, I have had results simular to what you are getting. I dont think the dough has enough time to re-gas and make a lighter crumb.

mertme36 2014 December 26

That makes a lot of sense. I will try doing a shorter initial rise, and then I will shape and proof in the fridge overnight to see if I can get better rise and oven spring. Thank you for your input!

Croc 2015 January 15

also get yourself some sort of baking stone for your oven.

you should see some posstive changes just by using one, even if it is just cheap 10mm pizza stone, just remember to preheat it in oven for good 30min minium as it lags behind oven temperature, when oven hits 230C stone might be good 50C behind (or more if you get a thick one)


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