Feeling deflated about oven spring


I've been making sourdough for several years, mixed resiults of course but that is the nature of learning. 

What I feel I have never improved consistently is oven spring. Sometimes I get a 60% rise, other times barely any. As well -- if this is relaterd -- I never get a sharp, crisp scoring. My razor blade always snags. 

While I am always makikng adjustments, here is my basic process:

1. 50/50 whole wheat/bread flour (King Arthur) levain, 100% hydration. Wait until it is foamty and active, usually double in size. 

2. Autolyse for at least an hour. 15% whole wheat.

3. 2% salt. 

4. Stretch and fold several times over first 30 minutes, again every 15 minutes or so over next hour. More later until i get a good window pane. 

5.  Bulk ferment at ambient temp until 50-75% rise and gas bubbles appear. 

6. Traditiomnal folding and bench rolling to get good surface tension. Place in banneton and into fridge overnight. 

7. Oven pre-heated to 500 degrees. (I currently use a Lodge combo cooker, but have also used a dutch oven, with no apparent difference other than Lodge gives better color when top is removed). I usuaklly spritz the inside top of the Lodge to increase steam. Cook covered for 20 minutes or so, another 25 minutes at lower temp.

You can see from the picture that there is not much oven spring. As well, the scoring marks are not very deep (I envy some pics from others where it looks like the dough practically exploded out of the scoring areas!). If the issue is the depth of the scoring, I'm at a loss. I have done the scoring fast and sllow, with a dry blade, floured blade, watered blade, even oiled blade. 

What am I missng?






251 users have voted.


Aussie Chef Geoff 2021 January 10

Hi Wiggins,

I wondered if you've considered proofing the dough in the basket on the bench in ambient temperature and bakingdirectly,  instaed of slow proofing it in the fridge overnight. If you start it early enough in the morning it's possible to bake the loaf by mid afternoon.

I began my sourdough journey last May after not being able to returm to regular chef work due to Covid and constant lockdowns in my local town. I started with a single loaf and used a similar method as you outlined. i experiemented one day with proofing the dough on the kitchen bench for 1-2 hours and baking straight away istead of proofing overnight. My experience was that when i scored the top it started springing open slowly. I also found that when i baked staright from proofing at ambient temp that the bread had at least 50% more oven spring than when i proofed in the fridge. 

I dont habe access to photos on my laptop hover ill try and upload some over the next week or so.

Be encouraged :)


Kind regards,


Aussie Chef Geoff

Wiggins 2021 January 10


Thank you for replying. 

First, I'm sorry you have not been able to chef during all this COVID. I hope you are able to get back to that soon. 

I will try your approach. Just to be clear: Regular bulk fermentation, shaping, but then proof in the banneton at ambient temp for 1-2 hours. That may not devleopp quite as much flavor, but I have never been a fan of particularly "sour" sourdough anyway. I do know that I get a nice, firm, round dough in my shaping, but it flattens to some degree in cold proofing. Perhaps in your method we're still catching the dough when it has more of that initial dough strength. .

I'll report back on how it goes.  


Wiggins 2021 January 12


Well, I must not have been paying attention in science class in high school because I violated the rules of scientific method by changing more than one variable in testing out your theory. 

I used a new starter, I proofed one dough on the counter at ambient temp, but put another into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 

The results shown in my photos:
The loaf that I left to proof at ambient temp for about 1.5-2 hours came out like a doorstop. Terrible oven spring. That might be partyly because of scoring, but it was hard to score the dough with it being relatively soft and warmer. 
The one that I refrigerated for a couple of hours had decent oven spring. Not the explosive roundness I am seeking, but not bad.

Alas, the journey continues. 






raph 2021 January 14

Good evening


I have the same problem in read several posts what I learned is if the starter is to acidic it will eat up the gluten. I leave my starter on the counter top in the kitchen, I feed the starter 6 hours before baking i use whole wheat floors, after the 6 hours it double in volume it float in water and there is a lot of bubbles, the hydration is big problem i think. Up to now I make a dough that is 80% hydration according to the bakers’ formula. I am using the caputo 00 flour 12.5 protein, maybe the 80% hydration is too much for the caputo 00.

I bulk ferment for 4 hours during the first 2 hours i do 4 folds after which (4 hours) I divide the dough into 700 g loaf i pre shape and let it rest on the counter top for 30 minutes. I shape and proof in a proofing basket for 2 hours on the counter top of my kitchen. I bake in a Dutch oven with covered and I have a tray at the bottom of my stove full of water to create moisture. I am not getting the oven spring that I see all over the internet with the ear.

The difference in these two loafs the one on the right as 1 hour more of proofing on the counter top, the dough is identical in preapration.

Any suggestion

Jules 2021 January 18


Here are my suggestions.

Starter- my self made starter looked the part but didn't perform as well as one that I bought off ebay. I saw a dramatic improvement with the new one.

My proofing times are longer than yours, though I'm in Sydney which may be a bit cooler than Perth at the moment (that's where you are?). Bulk for 6h, and 18h proof in the fridge. Baking from cold from the fridge gives more spring than from room temperature.

Finally the handling and shaping techniques are important. Not too rough with the dough during stretch and fold. Shaping to create a nice tight boule with good surface tension. There are some good YouTube tutorials.

80% hydration sounds fine, it is what I use with either wallaby or defiance brand bakers flour. 10% rye seems to help my rise too.


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