No obvious rise during proving.


I am very new to sourdough baking, having only made a handful of loaves.This is my most recent attempt at a white sourdough, following Dan Lepard's recipe. Following shaping, a proving time of approximately 4.5 hours is recommended, "or until the dough has approximately doubled in size / height". I realise proving is an inexact science and am doing my best to gauge when the dough is proved sufficiently by look and feel. For the loaf shown above time constraints required me to put the dough in the fridge overnight in a teatowel - lined pyrex dish. Total fridge time was 7 hours, I got up next morning and took the dough out where it rested on the kitchen worktop for about 75 mins while I preheated the oven. I should say everything looked exactly the same as when I put it in the fridge the night before When it came time to bake - when the oven was hot - there was a decent spring and I was happy with how it baked. On cutting however, there was a bit of "flying crust" - large holes in the centre with a more dense crumb top and bottom which was a bit disappointing as I expected it to be my best to date.

What is more interesting is that I kept aside a smaller piece of dough the night before and left that to prove on the kitchen bench covered in a dusted banneton. I baked that before my main loaf and there again was a decent spring but there were none of the large holes inside. Again it didn't look to have risen much at all overnight.

My question: Is it possible that the conditions of my kitchen (ambient temp overnight 16C - 18C) are allowing for a prove of that length? When I poked the dough that had been left out overnight there was minimal spring back. 

Thank you in advance for your help.



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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 April 6

Hello Denis,

There are a couple of problems with judging the rise of a loaf, particularly over an extended period such as for a retarded sourdough. 

The first is that we are relying on our memory for what the  loaf looked like initially and the longer the time, the less reliable that mental image is.  I read one article that suggested taking pictures to give an unarguable record of the starting state.

The second is that any expansion occurs in three dimensions and, depending on the shape of the container and the original shape of the boule (or other loaf shape) a lot of that can be lateral expansion and not so much in the 'vertical' direction.

There is, of course, another question as to what 'doubling' actually means.  If it is double the volume, then the dimensional change is not so great.  If it is a doubling in dimensions, then the volume change is large.  That is why a physical test, such as the poke test is probably a preferable way to go if you feel you cannot rely on your eye to tell you.

As for the flying crust and/or large holes that is most likely down to some fault in the dough produced during the shaping of the loaf where folds have trapped large bubbles of air or excess flour or dry surfaces have prevented reattachment of the dough.  The air in these faults expands during baking and creates the cavities/tears in the fabric of the crumb.  In extreme cases they can cause bursting through the slashes or even in the sides of the loaf if there are weaknesses in the crust that is forming.

I think that the secret really is practice and paying attention to detail of how the dough develops with time and your techniques for dough handling and preparation.  It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

Also, have a read of SourDom's Beginners Blogs that you can access from the Home Page in the right hand panel.  There is a lot of excellent advice and tips contained therein as well as a good simple recipe (Pane francesa) to cut your teeth on.

Good luck with your projects.


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