My latest loaf


For my latest loaf

160g 50% hydration starter; 500g flour (450 baker/50 rye); 230g water; 12g salt


I mixed it roughly and left for an hour, then salted and worked the salt in. It was very stiff at this point. I left it on the counter under glad wrap for about 1.5 hours, kneading briefly 4 times. It was still very stiff by the end, the folds were kind of piling up and not incorporating.

Then I rounded and put the dough into a floured tea towel in a colander and inside a plastic bag for about 4 hours.

When I turned it out, the dough had doubled and was much softer and more elastic. On the board it spread a little so I rerounded then into the oven onto the terracotta tile. Oven on full for 10 mins, then down to 230 for 35m. Wasn't done at this point, so gave it another 15m, still wasn't done so gave it a further 15m upside down.

The result was mishapen but good size (got good oven spring), the crust was very thick and tough. The crumb was dense with no holes. Flavour was okay.


Does that sound under or over proved?

I am struggling with baking too, I can't seem to get it cooked through without over-doing the crust.



103 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 December 29

Hello redrich,

Not sure whether you have a typo, but if you are making the Pane Francesa (or similar) recipe it calls for 180g of 100% starter and 320g of water.  With the figures that you have given the hydration of the dough is only 47% so it is probably not surprising that the dough was stiff and separating at the folds.  This probably contributed to the dense crumb.

How were you determining that the loaf was not 'done'?  In my experience a loaf of that mass should be done in 40 minutes and at 230 would have given an almost burnt crust.  I wonder whether you might be advised to check your oven temperature.  Your extra thirty minutes would have given you the thick hard crust.

In terms of your timing and the information that you have given previously, it is possible that you were a little over-proved.  That could explain the 'spread' when you turned the loaf out.  That spread is of itself not necessarily a bad thing because with good oven lift the spread will correct itself and the reworking that you gave it would not have helped with the final texture of the loaf either.

Keep on bakin'



redrich2000 2011 December 30

I have over-corrected because of the wet dough I was getting that's why it was so dry.

In terms of when its done, i was tapping the bottom and getting a thud. I have the stone on an oven shelf towards the bottom of the oven. Should it be more towards the middle?

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 December 30

Good mornig redrich,

The bottom shelf is fine in my experience.  If you go too far up you could run out of room.

I would try baking to the time and see what the loaf is like when it is cut.  I know the hollow sounding tap is a recommended method of testing for doneness but perhaps the density of your loaf was masking the effect.

Keep at it.  You will get there in the end and probably sooner than you think.


Laurae2u 2011 December 30

Have you ever used a thermometer to find out when your bread is done? I like to test it at the recipe's given time  with my instant read thermometer. 200F plus or minus a few. At least that way I have something to guage things with.


redrich2000 2011 December 30

I have just bought an oven thermometer from ebay (and a meat themometer can't afford one of the electronic ones).

Farinam, what temp are you using for 40mins? And do you just start it at that temp or higher then turn it down?

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 December 30

Hello redrich,

With a bit of fiddling I managed to get the video to work.  I would find it hard to fault the ladies technique.  Certainly produced lovely bread.

I usually preheat the oven to 250, then turn it down to 220/230 when the bread goes in.  I then progressively reduce it in stages of about 10 minutes over the next 30 minutes to 190.  At 40 minutes I turn the oven off and leave the door ajar for 5 minutes before removing the loaf.  This is to simulate the falling oven that you would get from a woodfired oven after the coals have been raked out.

Let us know how you go.


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