Poor Leavening



I've got what I think is a decent starter. I ordered it from Oregon a year or two ago. Ignored it once or twice for too long but it seemed to bounce back ok. If I feed it and leave it over night it will double in size and get very spongey / frothey. No bad smell - its quite mild actually.


Now when I make my loaf I get pretty poor leavening (see photo). The air holes are quite small and the bread has no elasticity. It also does not rize at all when it hits the warm oven; just remains a constant height. Tastes resonable.


It might be a bit too wet when I shape the loaf. Its still a bit tackey and after re-reading a page from Classic Sourdough it seems as though it should be much drier. For example it should not pick up flour from the board any more. Mine can at time still get stuck to my hands or the counter.


Any tips would be apreciated. Thx.

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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 March 7

Hello anonymous,

Without more details of your recipe and method it is a bit hard to be specific.  I highly recommend that you read through the Beginners Pages by SourDom on this site that are accessed from the right hand panel on the Home Page.  The recipe for Pane francesa that he gives is also a very good basic recipe to hone your technique.

And, by and large, it is technique as much as anything that determines how the bread turns out.  How the dough is developed to get a strong gluten structure, how the developed dough is shaped to make the loaf and proving the dough to the correct degree to get good oven spring and slashing well to get a nicely shaped loaf.

There is also a subtle distinction between 'wetness' and 'stickiness'.  A properly developed high hydration (wet) dough does not need to be sticky.  A 'dry' dough, while 'easier' to handle does not necessarily make good bread.  A fairly safe hydration for white bread flour is of the order of 70% which will stick to your hands a bit in the early stages of development but it will leave your hands clean once the dough is adequately developed.  You should be cautious about adding flour to a mixed dough because it takes some time for the starches to hydrate (absorb water) and it is very easy to add too much and you also run the risk of having flour at differeng stages of development in your finished dough which can affect the structure of the crumb and so forth.

One reason for lack of oven spring can be that the dough has been proved too long.  There is a sort of inverse relationship between proving time and oven-spring.  Too short and the spring can be so great that the loaf will burst.  Too great (just short of over-proving) and there will be very little and ultimately, over-proved, the loaf will collapse because of the weakened gluten structure and the exhausted yeasts and bacteria.

Let us know how you go and good luck with your projects.


Staff 2016 March 13

Hello to all in Vancouver,

The texture of this loaf looks more like cake. What type of flour is being used? Check to see if the flour has a high protein level suitable for bread making.




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