Is this the result of underproving?


I've been having this bottom blow out problem for the last several loaves.  This is a sourdough recipe.  The actual loaf is airy, excellent crust crack and excellent flavor.

After forming the loaf it was proved at 72°F for 2 hours.  Then it was placed on a cooking stone, sliced (with a single edge razor blade) and placed into a cold convection oven set at 375° and baked for 50 minutes.  It was spritzed with water prior to placing it in the oven and then 2 more times at 15 minute intervals.

Is this blow out the result of underproving?

If so how do I tell when the loaf is properly proved and ready to bake?

Also is the faceting of the crust the result of to rapid cooling?

Thank you again for your help and expertise.



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farinam's picture
farinam 2016 June 12

Hello vet_ca,

You certainly have a good lot of oven spring there.  I'd say there is a fair chance that you loaf has been a bit under-proved.  Your proving time does seem to be a bit short so my first move would be to prove for longer and see how it goes.  I have found that there is a bit of a trade-off between proving time and oven spring.  Shorter time, more oven spring but greater risk of bursts.  Longer time a bit less spring but lessened chance of bursts.  Then, in the extreme case, the dough just collapses and you get a 'pancake'.

Another possibility is that, despite your spritzing, there has been some drying of the crust before the rise gets going.  The loaf will 'burst' as it rises at the weakest point and I see that yours has not done a great deal of that at your slashes which tends to reinforce that possibility.  The slashes are supposed to be the first/only source of bursting and by the type and direction of the slashes you can exercise control over this and the final shape of the loaf.  So, in this case, I think your options could include putting the loaf into a heated oven so that the rising gets under way quicker and so there is less chance for drying and/or that you arrange for either continuous steam production in the early stages or spray the inside of the oven more frequently.  The problem with the latter is the amount of heat loss each time the oven is opened.  An oven tray/piedish with some boiling water would be one option with your cold oven strategy or if you go for pre-heating then throwing a handful of ice-cubes into the container just before the loaf goes in is one way to do the trick.

Observation and trial and error is one way of getting a feel for what a proven loaf looks like .  There is also what is known as the 'poke' test.  If you poke the dough with your finger and the indent springs right back out then you need more time.  If it springs back but not quite fully (a shallow dent remains) then the dough is ready.  If it doesn't spring back ( a deep dent remains or even collapses further), then it has gone too far and it should be baked without delay to save as much as you can of what life is left.  This also requires a bit of practice and trial and error to get right.

Good luck with your projects.


vet_ca 2016 June 13

Hello Farinam,

Thank you so much for the great information you have provided.  I will definitely experiment with the various suggestions you have made.  Actually I wondered about using a convection oven and the drying effect it would have with heated air constantly blowing over my loaf.  Unfortunately I can't really use the "regular" oven feature because my oven heats a lot with the top element and there's no way to turn that off.  My first experiments will be a longer prove, using a pre-heated oven and increasing the humidity in the oven.

Again, thank you so very much for all your assistance.

Best wishes,


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