Dough didn't rise?

Hi, I have a trouble shooting question about my dough not rising during the bulk fermentation, and then producing little to no oven-spring. My sourdough starter is healthy and rises and falls each day, and I believe my leaven rose too. During the turns the dough appeared to get larger. During the bulk fermentation (which I let happen for 4 hours) I worried maybe the salt harmed the yeast and perhaps too much was added, although the final loaf doesn't taste salty. The dough during the dividing/shaping period was extremely sticky and got stretched more than I would have liked. I baked same day for one dough (other dough is still in the fridge, not rising). No oven-spring, 20 minutes covered 425, and then 40 minutes uncovered 375 before the loaf began to turn golden brown. Surprisingly the crust has a great texture, and I think the flavor is characteristic of a tasty sourdough, but the crumb is so dense from no rise. This was my first attempt at making a sourdough, and if you have any novice mistakes in mind, or the picture alerts you to an error in the process, I would love some advice. Not totally sure where to go from here...but I do want to try again!

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audreyobscura9 months ago

Huh, your dough looks like it may have over-proofed. But I find it hard to believe that it over-proofed in 4-8 hours. Salt could have something to do with it, perhaps try adding the salt during your first turn instead of during your bulk ferment.

What is the ambient temperature where you are proofing your loaves?

etaagen (author)  audreyobscura9 months ago
Thanks for the quick reply! It was warm in the kitchen, bulk ferment took place by the heater where it is approximately 78 degrees, sometimes warmer. I'm in a temperate, moist climate.
I made 2 starters at the beginning of this project, and maybe I'll try the other for the next round (although they look and act the same).
Quick question- do you use filtered water for every step? Or just when making the initial starter? I've been using tap water for the leaven and bulk mix.
78 degrees is perhaps too warm.

I used filtered water for everything, we even put a filter in our shower, but that's because I live in a metropolitan area with notoriously gross drinking water.

Lately, I have been using coconut milk and almond milk in my starter.
etaagen (author)  audreyobscura9 months ago

Hmm, the temperature might be my issue. Is it possible to resurrect a dough mid-proof that has gotten too warm? Say, 2 hours into the proof you move it to a cooler zone?

You can try rapid-cooling in the fridge for 30 minutes, sometimes that can slow things down before moving. I recommend trying extended proofs in the fridge versus out on your countertop to see how it goes.

terrableu1 month ago
How much time are you kneading?
Remember that kneading is fundamental to form gluten.
Getting a well kneading dough means a well formed gluten so that it will be able to hold enough gases [CO2, water vapor and alcohol] resulting from the fermentation process.
This way your dough will get more bubbles and a better and lighter crumb texture.
jallman19 months ago

Hm, these look like my early sourdough loaves. For what it's worth, I got better results when using starter at its peak (max expansion) instead of tired/unfed starter. It seems this makes a big difference in the starting "dose" of yeast in the leaven.

Also, I realized that my dough was very wet (slick/slimy) while the tutorial videos looked drier, so now I add flour to match the consistency in Audrey's demo. Here's my latest, with a much nicer rise.


Hmm, your dough looks wetter? What kind of bread flour are you using? I feel like this is the most predictable bread I make, and the dough always looks the same so maybe it comes down to flour choice. I use Central Milling Artisan Bread Flour+

etaagen (author)  audreyobscura9 months ago

I use King Arthur for both the white bread flour and 100% whole wheat flour as well. This is a photo of my second attempt- I got some rise! And good flavor! But I think if I adjust to a lower temperature during the proof, and maybe try a different mill's flower I can get more rise! Thank you for all the trouble shooting Audrey, it has helped a lot!


Yay! Your crust looks divine too! Full of perfect little air pockets I normally would let it get a little crispier but I guess that just comes down to preference.

Look at all those bubbles in your crumb as well! This was one active loaf :D

etaagen (author)  audreyobscura8 months ago

Thank you :) I also would like a crispier / more browned crust but the internal temperature was about 212 degrees and I was worried I would over-cook. It is actually quite moist and could probably have stayed in the oven another 5-10 minutes. I use a regular metal pot to cook my bread and I wonder if the tall sides of the pot limit the browning of the crust, compared to a shallow dutch oven.

Interesting! I've been using King Arthur for both white bread and whole wheat flours. My starter is at 100% hydration, and (esp. this time) the leaven and bulk mix were done according to this lesson. Hm, what else? I've used both the stretch-and-turn method and (this time) the looong proof in the fridge instead, and in each case the dough was kind of wet/slimy until very late in the game.