Frustrated with lack of oven spring


I know this is a worn-out topic, but I am baffled as to why I cannot get my dough to spring in the oven.

I am following some of the best recpes exactly. My starter is very vigorous, I have a 3-4 hour bulk fermentationm plenty of folds, letting it proof over night in teh fridge, have tried going directly to teh oven or leaving it at room temp for 1-2 hours -- nothing works. I use a dutch oven and even lightly spray the loaf and inside of the dutch oven with water to keep up humidity. 

After first 20 minutes or so, no spring at all. 





372 users have voted.


Staff 2018 January 15

Hi Wiggins,

It would be good to have a step by step break down of your process - recipe, mixing, kneading, proofing and the temperature at the various times up to the final stage. 


The dough may be overproofing and the hydration level of your dough may be another consideration.

Also, what flour are you using?

Paul Heagen 2018 February 3

Thanks for your reply. 

I'll give you my process, but need to mention at the outset that I have used a range of hydration, rpoff times, etc, so hard to say just increase or decrease one element or the other when I probably have done that. 

1. The starter is vigorous -- teeeming with little farting bateria. I feed it for two days ahead of time and try to put it to use just before it reaches peak. 


2. I use mostly bread flour (typically King Arthur) with some whole wheat white flour and sometimes small amoints of rye. Aso have done it with straight bread flour.

3. Hydration has varied from as low as 65% up to 85%.  I do a long autolyse, usually 2-3 hours. Sometimes I add the starter right away, others times after autolyse. 

4. I add salt after the wet fliru and starter have had a chance to get to know one another. Usually 1.2 grams / 100 grams of flour. Have used as much as 2 grams, not usually less. 

5. I fold and slap/fold several times over the course of an hour or two. The dough teture is GREAT -- taut, nice windowpane when stretched. 

6. I usualy proof in the fridge. Have tried it at the bulk fermantation stage and other times after shaping. Dough temp is 78-80 degreesF during all the counter work and resting/shaping/proofing, except when in the fridge 

7. Dough shaping is good. I have a nice taut surface tension. 

8. The dough rises well enough at each stage, but when I take it out to ready for the oven, it seems to start sagging. I have put it in the oven stragth from the fridge, other times letting it come to room temp on the counter. I do score it deeply. The oven is usually at 450F for first 20 minutes or so, lowered to 400 after that. I've used dutch oven and also the bread just on a stone open, with some hot water in a metla pan below to aid steaming. 

9. It just doesn;t spring. Crust and crumb are good. Sometimes the bread has a bit more of a vinegar taste than I like, but not all the time. 


Sorry to have so many variables, but that is evidence of how I felt I have tried just about everyhting. If you spot anything, I'll all ears. Thanks! 


(Please note that the picture appears to show a well-risen loaf. It is not. I cut it severely on a bias to have some depth. )





Sheryl McIntyre 2020 May 13



I noticed your post was a couple of years ago, but I'm experiencing the identical problem, and tried all those you have mentioned.   Have you finally mastered the "spring"?  If so, what was the magic trick, I'm getting very frustrated.



Wiggins 2018 February 9

Sorry, to be late in replying. I had written a reply, but it did not post for some reason.

My answer may be a bit perplexing because I have tried a RANGE of options. 


1. My starter is vigorous. I feed it for two days prior to making the dough. It floats in water. I use it just before it peaks. 

2. I use bread flour from King Arthur, sometimes with some whole wheat or rye mixed in, not much, maybe ten percent. 

3. I have used hydration levels anywhere from 65% up to 85%. I keep all ingredients at about 78 degrees. Autolyse for 2-3 hours, sometimes with just the flour and water, other times adding the starter. I tend to use starter at about 25% of total dough weight, sometimes less. 

4. I use about 1 - 1.5 grams of salt per 1200 grams of flour.

5. I fold or slap-and-fold over a period of about two hours. The dough is perfect windowpane tension and smooth. I  have tired bulk fermentation two ways -- out on teh counter for a few hours or covered in the fridge. 

6. Final dough shaping - I get a nice, tight ball, plenty of surface tension. I usually put this in the fridge overnight. In the morning, it seems to have decent springback, but when I turn it out of the bowl into the dutch oven or onto the oven stone, it just seems to sag. It tends to be very hard to score the bread, by the way; the razor blade tends to snag. Most videos show then slicing through it briskly and cleanly. 

7. I am aware of oven humidity. I either use the dutch oven with the inside lightly sprayed with water, or put a metal pan in the oven and fill it with water to create steam. Oven temperature is usually 450 to start, lowered to 400 after a few minutes. 

There you go. Hard to imagine all this detail is crucial given that sourdough bread has been made for millennia without recipes or the Internet!


Thanks for any help. 

Thomas Cappiello 2018 February 13

I'm curious why so little salt. Maybe try adding what is typical ~1.8-2%, which would be 22-24 g for 1200 g.

Carlos 2018 February 14

Hi. Been reading people’s comments for a while now and thought I would chime in as a newbie who is starting to see the light of day. I started baking sourdough a few months ago and oven spring, or lack of, was a constant frustration. I chose a recipe I liked, and stayed with it til results were to my liking. The recipe I use is King Arthur’s Extra Tangy Sourdough - I make one large boule instead of dividing in two. I started with,  and like, KA flour but changed when I found Wheat Montana premium AP flour at Walmart. Price is great, comes in 10lb bags, and it has 5g protein. After watching a score of videos, I distilled everything to a relatively easy KISS routine.

Using the Extra Tangy recipe, I make my overnight sponge using 300g AP and 62g whole wheat flour, in addition to specified quantity of starter and water. Then I give it a good stir and let it sit out for 4 or 5 hours, then refrigerate over night. One note regarding the starter. I have both KA’s and a Finland starter and use them interchangeably. I keep them in the fridge except when I give them their weekly feed. And, heresy of heresies, I have started using it unfed, feeding it after I make my sponge.  I can’t see any difference and it may make the bread a tad more sour.

the next morning, I add the remaining flour, and 3 teaspoons salt. I use my old metal measuring spoons. I like a tad more salt than the recipe calls for. Then, I knead it for 8 minutes with my KitchenAid and let it sit for an hour and then fold it. Again, I wait an hour and fold, twice more, then let it proof for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours - I expect to see visible bubbles and if you press with your finger, the dimple will rise back a tiny bit.  My folding process is gentle, I don’t degass the dough. I lift it by one one side and shake gently to stretch it, then fold. Repeat other side, shape into ball and drop fold down in bowl.

About an hour after my third fold, while bread is proofing, I put my Dutch oven, in my oven, pre-heat at 475. When it hits temp, I take out the Dutch oven, put my dough in, cut the top, give a spritz of water, cover and return to the oven for about 23 minutes. Note - After the bread has been in the oven 10 minutes I cut my temp to 430F. After the first 23 minutes, I remove the Dutch oven lid and leave about another 23 minutes. 

I have found if you want a tight crumb, like sandwich bread, you stretch on the table and degass your dough when you fold it. If you want an open “holey” crumb, gentle stretching and folding is the order of the day. This has worked with doughs in a wide hydration range, including a boule I made today where I increased the starter an extra 60g and adjusted nothing else. It had a very open crumb.  I have also started using a thin smear of butter or Crisco on the blade my lame (utility blade, chopstick and two O-rings) so that it cuts a bit more cleanly.

SlackerJohn 2018 April 1

1) As far as I know, oven spring is only supposed to occur in the first 20 mins anyway?.

2)  You may be over-proving.  Do a Bulk Ferment for 2 hrs, then prove on counter for 2 hrs, then bake.


Sheila Grace 2018 March 4
I found your website on enquiring about reflux after eating sourdough once at breakfast and another slice at lunch. I think from what I have read I need to be more precise with my refreshing the starter. Obviously it has got too sour. I have only been baking SD for a few weeks after many attempts years ago. Still learning and reading. I live in Western Australia. Thankyou everyone.
yozzause 2018 April 15

Hi Sheila  where abouts in Perth are you im down Freo way and we have a few bakers down this way doing some good things

Manuele 2018 March 12

Hi Wiggins,

I have just joined this group and this will be my first reply to a post. I was a baker for many years but now just bake at home

Regarding your dough, normally when you put dough in the fridge you're retarding the dough. In essence slowing down the process.

When I'm making sourdough bread, I don't put any dough in the fridge. I make it in two stages.

1st stage: Just the sourdough starter (25% of the flour weight), water (75% of the flour weight) & 2% honey. Incidently, the amount of flour at this stage is roughly about a third of the total flour weight. Also, my sourdough starter is a liquid starter. Let it rest for 8-10 hours.

Water temp. calculations that I use is: 45 minus the ambient room temperature.

2nd stage: The rest of the flour, salt (2%), water (60%), fat (1% total flour weight), oil (1% total flour weight), honey (1%).

Water temp. calculations for the 2nd dough that I use is: 39 minus room temperature

I'm using a mixer so, after 2 min slow & 2 min fast, I join the first dough with the second dough and mix for 2min slow, 5 min fast. Let rest for 4-6 hours.

At this stage, you can shape your dough into loaves, but try not to handle it too much. Rest for another 1/2 hr and then bake.

Bear in mind that I'm using celcius....

This process I have used for years when I was working in an Italian bakery and now have adopted it at home. Bread works out consistently the same every time. Its just a lengthy process

Wiggins 2018 March 12


Thank you. Even though the protocol of refrigerating the dough overnight is practically an accepted norm, I have always been suspect in that sourdough has been made for millennia and most of in cultures or eras when there was no refrigeration. 

I am a little confused on two things:

1. You mention at various points calculating portions of sourdough starter or water as a percentage of flour weight, but I'm not clear if you mean total weight or weight of the flour being worked at the moment.   

2. You say liquid starter. I'm not sure at what point it is called "liquid." I currently feed my starter to 100% hydration. Do you mean more than that?


Manuele 2018 March 13


In response to your questions...

1. the calculated portion of sourdough starter is for the flour worked on at that point. This goes with the water and all the other percentages except the fat/oil...

2. My starter, I only keep about 200grams of the starter (which is manageable as I don't have the capacity to make more volume at home). With that, I feed it with 60% water & 50% flour. Normally I feed it weekly, but in the past I've left it occasionally for over 2 weeks and it is still strong enough to almost triple in size after refreshing. (obviously there is an amount of 'hooch' which I just drain)

I created this starter easily over 5 years ago now, and I don't need to use any bakers yeast for the bread I make

Wiggins 2018 April 2

Thanks, Manuele.

Just about perfect. Double spring in the oven. Chewy crumb, light, crackling crust. 

Carlos, I'll do yours next. 

Moriah Granados 2021 April 12
I have read Manuele's instructions and I am so confused! How much of each percentage did you use?
Percentages of flour 2019 October 31

Hi Manuele

Sorry to be late coming to this, and that I might be reading your method  completely wrong!

I want to try your method but I am a little confused about how much flour you add, when.  In stage one, other than the flour in the 25% of sourdough (assuming sourdough is 100% that would be 12.5%) there is no flour added. You mention that 'incidentally, the amount of flour at this stage is roughly about one third of the total flour weight'. Does that mean adding 20.5% of flour weight to bring it up to the third - 12.5% from sourdoug + 20.5%?

Therefore at stage two, 67% of flour is added?

many thanks and I really appreciate your contribution especially as 


In stage two 

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