My first bakes


I baked my first sourdough loaves this weekend, with mixed results. I used Bill's 750g Rye Loaf recipe with the minimal kneading technique. Bulk fermentation (6-8 hours) and proving (~2 hours) were performed at 25C (loaf 1) and 30C (loaf 2). I used long bulk ferment times as the dough didn't rise very much, very fast. I question the speed of my starter. The starter was full of bubbles but it didn't have the prolific nature of some of Dom's examples.

Loaf 1. Was rather heavy with the consistency of bread machine bread.

Cracked bottom syndrome. Possibly due to poor pinching technique or overproofed, weak dough

Loaf 2. A little lighter, however very 'bready', heavy and cracked, undercooked bottom. With this one, I started the preferment ~15hours prior to mixing. It rose a bit more and had a bit more oven spring.

The dough flattened out in the bowl during bulk ferment. It also slumped out of shape as soon as I put it in the oven. Should a shaped dough be able to hold its shape?

Here's my baking stone (two ceramic pizza stones).
Where could I buy a thicker one?
The bottoms of the loaves didn't cook very well. Should I heat the oven up more beforehand? (I heated just until the thermostat clicked off the heat)

What's the diagnosis?

Edit: Finally, the images are working. I learn't that one the hard way. You can call me 'Mr manic gloss-over-the-important-information with preconceptions about beaming images..guy'

178 users have voted.


Maedi's picture
Maedi 2006 August 13

Hey Lightning.

[url=]This tutorial[/url] might help you on "Beaming" an image.

Maedi's picture
Maedi 2006 August 13

Lightning. You have to go one step further and right-click on the image, and select an option such as "Copy Image Location". That is the images real address.

Maedi's picture
Maedi 2006 August 13

I wish. Thank phpbb for highlighting those little icons on the home page.

You got it working Lightning!

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 14

Lightning, this rye recipe is only 64% hydration and needs to be kneaded, not the quick knead stretch and fold method.
Your oven needs to be heated for an hour to ensure everything is hot enough, looks like your oven was way too cool in the early stages.
You also proofed way too long in the first proof, the recipe says 3 1/2 hours, this is a rye loaf, don't expect it to rise like a white loaf during proofing.

SourDom 2006 August 14

Lightning bolt,

welcome to the sourdough world!
You are definitely on your way.
(If it was easy to get a perfect loaf on 1st try then there would perhaps be far more sourdough bakers out there...)

Couple of things.
1. Starter activity
The signs of a starter that is ready and raring to be used for baking are that after refreshment it has
doubled in volume (NB if left while you are at work or overnight you may miss this, so especially early on it might be handy to have a look at its behaviour over say a weekend when you are around)
has lots of tiny bubbles below the surface
has a thick layer of froth on the top
If it hasn't got to this stage yet, continue to refresh it daily, discarding almost all and refreshing with at least 100g flour/water

2. Cutting the loaf
Your first photo looks like the dough was not quite set when you cut it. It will stick to the bread knife and give that 'ragged' appearance. Make sure that you wait until it has cooled down (hard I know, and I have succumbed many times and usually regret it!)

3. Cracks on the bottom
have a look at

4. Cooking the bottom
the thermostat on the oven will only tell you the temperature of the air, and certainly not the temperature of your stone. That will take probably twice as long to warm up. So turn the oven on at least 3/4-1 hour before you want to bake

5. Proving times
It will take a little while to work out what is right for your starter and your ambient temperature. 6-8 hours for bulk at 25 or 30 degrees sounds a bit long, but you are right to be guided by what the dough is doing. If it is slow to rise it is OK to wait longer.

got to get ready to cycle to work
hope this helps

lightningbolt 2006 August 14

Much thanks!

I will put all those points into practise for next weekend's try. I don't think my starters quite ready yet. It rises, and has a network of bubbles, but instead of being frothy on the top, it has a dry layer with maybe a couple of holes (like in a pancake). Should I tighten the lid a bit on my starter jar? Would adding a couple of organic sultanas at this stage be a good idea. I think its time I split up the starter and tested a few ideas.

Thanks for the Rye tip Bill.
I'll give one of your part-yeast loaves a go Dom

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 14

Leave the sultanas out!
Did you do a matching starter for the rye recipe?
Here's what your rye crumb should look like.

SourDom 2006 August 14


sounds like you are on the right track
I wouldn't add sultanas at this stage. You have a live starter, it just might need a little more time to get to full activity. Refresh every day. Be patient - it will get there.
What does it smell like?

What the starter looks like depends on how liquidy it is. If you have a lot of rye flour in the mix if will tend to be dryer - after refreshment the starter will have big holes under the surface, and a drier top
If it is all white it will tend to be more liquidy, and have more froth.


lightningbolt 2006 August 14

The starter was matched for the recipe (1/3rye, 2/3 white (Wallaby). I was wondering why the crumb in my loaves was darker.


Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 14

The starter was matched for the recipe (1/3rye, 2/3 white (Wallaby). I was wondering why the crumb in my loaves was darker.

David, there are many different rye flours around and this would account for the different colour. I use a fine ground sifted rye. I have at times used an organic rye from the healthfood shop which gives a darker loaf. The healfood shop stuff is too dear at arounf $7.00/Kg. Kazakhan put me on to the flour I'm using and it only costs $1.90/kg.

Bill44's picture
Bill44 2006 August 16

I get it from a place called Bibina at Warners Bay NSW. It's a wholesale supplier open to the public. I think that there is at least three forum members that deal there.

Post Reply

Already a member? Login