Lack of oven spring in my sourdough bread

i am a relative new starter to sourdough bread. I have tried 3 stage and single stage sourdough with a rye starter. However almost ever time i bake with steam, whilst there is a volume increase, i cant get that ‘burst’ oven spring i have seen pictures off.

Am i proving for too long? Should I be using a steam oven?

any advice would be appreciated


I’m a long time baker and nearly 4 years sourdough, but I am not familiar with “3 stage”, “single stage” terminology.

BUT regards oven spring, big ear … I think those are a bit overrated. For me, the thing is the crumb and taste.

However, to your question, I get the most oven spring after a long, refrigerated bulk ferment and then a refrigerated rise after shaping … bake straight from frig to hot baker.

Something else just occurred to me as I was putting a spelt loaf in the oven and I think it applies to rye as well … the really wet doughs that are not of a texture to allow easy shaping, are also easier to score when cold. And although a loaf might “burst” on its own, good scores allow for more of a burst I think. This particular loaf was at room temp yesterday, in the frig overnight, shaped cold this morning and back in the frig for 8 hours. I am baking in a preheated clay baker, direct from the frig. The shaped loaf had risen nicely, scored well and I am fairly confident of good spring and crumb based on look and feel of the dough.

And to your question, are you proving too long. You didn’t give any info, but if the dough is overproofed, it does have no where to go and you won’t get oven spring.

Are you baking sourdough rye?

Dennis, I just baked a sourdough rye today with rather disappointing results even though my starter was good and vigorous. I believe my dough overproved during its second rise in the basket. I think I let it rise about 15-20 minutes too long and all the oomph went out of my faithful sourdough, Cyril. I didn’t get an oven spring and ended up with what I’m sure will be a tasty, but rather flat rye “pancake.” Oh well!


Leah I am still learning myself so I have my share of goof ups. I don’t have a lot of starter on hand so I have to basically refresh and build up to what I need. My second last Einkorn starter had the "hooch on top and grey film) so I mixed it in and after 2 days I thought was ok but wasn’t in the bake. Last time I scooped it out added a bit of pineapple juice and flour it took off and worked really well.

I do though absolutely love sourdough rye and found that Eric’s recipe is wonderful. In order to work with the dough I changed his recipe to a 68% hydration (and other minor additions) and still get excellent texture and flavor. Rye though just does not raise like other “rustic” breads (I guess you would call it that) and the more rye % the harder it is to work with as it gets real sticky the more rye is in it. My last I baked on the grill in a dutch oven and it spread out a bit rather than up but was about 2 1/2" high, I actually need to make a larger loaf for the 5 qt DO. Was reading Reinhard today and his pictures weren’t any different than my last in height, so it wasn’t that bad.

This is my take: My best rye results have been in a loaf pan or in a clay baker (especially with the high hydration rate), the 2 that I made on the stone spread out a bit. Since changing the hydration rate and paying attention to the dough as I am kneading it (I knead until I get strength to the dough) I am getting the dough to pretty much hold its shape. The last loaf I made instead of adding a lot of flour to manipulate the dough I used a oil on the work surface and I may not have kneaded it enough as it was a little more difficult to tell if was right, going back to flour. Practice, practice maybe I’ll get it right someday.

As I cracked my round clay baker and am baking on the grill now (so not to heat the house up) I am going to try the next time around to ferment, shape and proof the rye dough in the cooler then place the cold dough on the baking stone on the grill all by its lonesome.

I used to over-proof almost every time I made bread. Never had the problem in the store but here at home I was always trying to get the proof to max and I’d wind up over-proofing.
I pretty much make every thing whole grain so that seems to add some issues I am not used to. Proof time, time of year, humidity and the grain you are using all seem to contribute to the variables. At least that is what I am seeing.You really have to get a feel for it but I would rather under-proof than over-proof. An underproof will have spring.

My last Naturally Leavened Sourdough Einkorn baked up perfectly but did not rise during the ferment or rise in the pan the way Melissa’s do. I have though been able to repeat the bake several times so at least here I must be doing something right, even if it did not work the way she wrote.

One of the things I did do once (following what Peter Reinhard does) is add a teaspoon of instant yeast to my Sourdough Rye and it came out really good, it did help with the spring. Even saved an Einkorn that did not rise during the ferment with the instant yeast, again just a teaspoon.

When you post and think you have a problem include a picture, you may not be as bad as you think. Here is one I made a month or so ago.

Sorry for the long winded post! Happy baking!! :smiley:

@DennisM, I usually do post a picture. Today I simply didn’t take one, LOL! I live in the desert southwest so the ambient temperature inside my house hovers between 78-80 degrees (WITH air conditioning, LOL). I end up modifying dough rising times for all the recipes I use during the majority of the time here. For the rye bread, which is a modified version of Eric’s recipe here on Breadtopia (my husband wanted more of a traditional NY rye), I put the dough out on the counter for only a 7-8 hour initial rise. The mistake I made today was letting my dough rise in the basket for its second rise for an hour. I had a brain-fart and forgot to shorten the rise-time to about 40 minutes instead. Seriously, that additional 15-20 minute second rise depleted Cyril’s oomph. His get-up-and-go got-up-and-went! I adore using sourdough! I only began this bread journey the beginning of 2018 so I still consider myself to be a novice baker.


thank you for all your input. My initial journey was very confused - however I finally got there and I think i make tasty bread depsite often not seeing an oven spring + ears like i have seen in a lot of photos. :frowning:

After reading Dennis and Leah, It is possible I may be over-proving - it can be difficult to determine when the 2nd proof is just below its peak. I have also noticed that if there is an oven spring, there is also some contraction as the bake continues. By the way, i dont use a cloche or dutch oven - i empty the proofed dough onto a pizza shovel and slip it onto a baking stone. I also add some water into a tray at the bottom of the tray.

with regards to 3 stage/ single stage, the former would involve building up a dough in 3 stages from a fresh starter.

For e.g. making a 400g Flour dough, 1st stage would be 30g starter, 51g whole grain flour, 68g water and leave to prove at RT for 6 -8 hrs depending on ambient temp. The second stage I would take 123 g from the 1st stage, add 105 g flour + 140g water and leave to prove for 4-6 hrs. The final stage would use 327g of 2nd stage + 261g flour and anywhere from 52g to 92g water depending on how much hydration you want i.e. 60 to 70%. Incidentally, I refresh my starter twice (particularly if its been left starving for more than a week in the fridge!) before using it to make bread to ensure it is at its peak activity.

A single stage process would be adding a small about of fresh active starter to flour and mixing to a dough and leaving to prove until double and then shaping for final prove similar to Erics 50/50 rye sourdough - although i would only use flour and caraway seeds.

Finally, for easummers, i would be interested in trying your recipe where you prove in the refrigerator - i have never done any retarded doughs,

The refrigerated proofing is not a recipe as much as a technique and it is not unique to me. When I started making sourdough, some of my loaves were heavy and dense although taste was great. What improved things, for my preferences, was slowing down the process by refrigerating the dough. Typically I’ll mix things up, let it sit for an hour or so, light knead or stretch&fold at intervals. When the dough starts to rise, I’ll put it in the refrigerator for 8-12 plus hours. Before shaping, I let it warm up. I might put it back in the refrigerator after shaping and then bake from cold in 4-8 hours: preheat oven and baking vessel, put cold dough into hot vessel and bake. I use a covered clay baker or cast iron dutch oven except for Ciabatta which I bake on a stone.

I think whole grains benefit from a long or even longer than above refrigeration. I have “stored” dough for 3-4 days as well. Shaping when a bit cool makes some very wet doughs easier to handle. Scoring a cold dough is easier as well and I think you get some additional oven spring partially based on the cold to hot. (40F refrigerator vs 62-72F room temp). BUT, this is my experience and you will have to experiment in your own conditions.