Struggling Newbie!


Hi Everyone

This is my first post.  I've been following the starter recipe here and it has been lots of fun.

I seem to be falling down at the baking or provign stage, not sure which one or why.

A couple of things: 1. My oven is fan forced, but on the bake setting, the results weren't much better the second time around. 2. I have had the best colour baking in a pre-heated le creuset pot. 3. The sourdouh looks good enough, but the crumb is not particularly open/light and the crust is a bit on the heavy side.


What I did do: I retarded overnight in the fridge.  I have now proved 3 different batches in the morning, out of the fridge from betwenn 1 hour and 8 hours to see if the loaf rose much.  It didn't in any of those tests. 


I seem to be lacking a decent "spring" when the loaf is put in the oven.


The answers are definitely on here somewhere and I will keep reading and practicing but if anyone knows of something I should be doing better, I welcome your feedback.  Also I hould say my starter is 1.5 weeks old, but very frothy and doubling quickly.


Thank you


368 users have voted.


farinam's picture
farinam 2013 August 27

Hello Jatz13,

I would recommend that you stick with it.  I find that the best approach is to stick with making the same recipe and as you go along your technique will improve and you will come to understand the look, feel and smell of the dough.  Invariably, without changing anything, the quality of the bread that you produce will improve and you will wonder what all the angst was about.  I'll bet the loaves were still edible though.

Stick with SourDom's blogs for guidance and his Pane francesa recipe is a good standard to stick to.  As an additional resource you might have a look at this blog of mine.

Not sure what you mean by the bake setting on your oven but you should be using at least 220C at least for the first half of the bake.

If you can manage it, give making a loaf without the retardation stage and monitor what goes on closely.  You have to remember that activity does not stop in the fridge, it just slows down.  Leaving a loaf for as long as eight hours after retardation quite possibly has been seriously over-proved.

Let us know how you go.  Good luck with your projects.


jatz13 2013 August 27

hahaha Crackers is the nick name my cricket team gives me, glad you picked that up!

Thanks for taking the time to reply, very kinf of you :)

I will have a good ead of both of those posts and keep going.

The bake setting on my oven if the top and bottom element on, with the fan off.  But I have had a much better chewy crust (as opposed to a hard crucnchy crust) in the le creuset

Thanks again for the reply, its a hell of a lot of fun and I have made some great toast ;)



davo 2013 August 28

I agree with the advice to stick with the recipe and tinker at the edges - but it seems you tried a test (varying proof times out of fridge) and didn't get any clues!

It might help if you give a quick run-down of your whole bread process - how much starter, what hydration, one or two stages to bread dough, qtys of flour and water and salt added, times, kitchen temps, kneading  method, bulk ferment method, shaping, proof if any before retard, etc. All of these things can affect how the bread springs or doesn't - not just the final post-retard proof and bake... Nothing is exactly "right" or "wrong", but someone might be able to have a glance and infer likely problems...

jatz13 2013 August 28

Hi Davo

Thanks for the reply! I had a much better go of it today.

The big difference was kneading today.  For the last few days I had kneaded the dough for quite a while producing a pretty even crumb.  This time I kneaded using the stretch and fold method (I think thats what its called) handling the dough a lot less and I watched a youtube video on shaping, which showed me I knew nothing :)

The loaf isnt perfect but it feels less dense and looks a whole lot better.  Thanks again for taking the time to write, hopefully my mistakes help some other struggler like myself!


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