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Stan 11-16-2009 04:19 AM

Oven spring management
Hello everyone,

So I baked my very first batch of WFO this past weekend. I used my standard sourdough recipe with a VERY active starter. It's around 60% hydration and a combination of white and rye flours. After bulk fermentation I shaped it into boules and let it proof while the oven was coming down. I slashed a standard cross in the top. 2kg of bread went into the 530 degree (steam filled) oven. So far so good.

Then, the bread completely exploded. The oven spring was like a primal force of nature, and the bread almost turned inside out. I ended up with 4 delicious loaves, but they look...exploded! I won't be baking again until the weekend, but to anyone with more WFO experience: how the heck do I control the spring? Do you find yourselves slashing deeper than you normally would? I've made this bread hundreds of times in my conventional oven, and it's never sprung like that. I'm not complaining about the spring, just the fact that the loaf almost tore itself apart!


CanuckJim 11-16-2009 05:13 AM

Re: Oven spring management

Yes, the oven spring in a WFO at the right temp is spectacular. Couple questions: how long did you leave the steam in the oven? Commonly, I vent halfway through the bake. Was your masonry temp 530? Usually, we bake 1kg boule at 550 for 22 minutes. How deep was the docking? We always recommend half an inch. What was the total hydration of the dough? WFO loaves will tolerate higher levels because of the nature of the heat. How close to double were the loaves when loaded? It's usually best to look for almost double, not double, and let the oven do the rest.


Stan 11-16-2009 06:54 AM

Re: Oven spring management
Hi CJ,

1. Steamed for 10 minutes. I heated a cast iron box in the oven landing, then poured water in it after I loaded the loaves. I unsealed the door and vented the steam after the initial 10. Bake time to 205 degrees internal temp was around 25 minutes.

2. The masonry temp was 530 floor 550 dome.

3. I definitely didn't dock a half inch. In my conventional oven, I always dock my boules with more shallow cuts than a batard. I was planning on docking more deeply this time, and perhaps in a square pattern to help contain the spring.

4. The dough was 62%1%.

5. The loaves were loaded when fully proofed. Slightly less than double, with the classic tight skin and slow return.


james 11-16-2009 08:54 AM

Re: Oven spring management
Too much oven spring is a good problem to have!

It's like having too much topspin on your forehand -- you can have fun putting it to good use. :-)

Dutchoven 11-17-2009 08:15 PM

Re: Oven spring management
It's kind of tought to put a finger on. Although I think steaming the oven about 5 minutes before loading and then again when you load the bread is a good idea. Our opinion is that a garden type mister sprayer is the way to go. Stick the wand in as deep as you can and then draw it out as you spray. I think that doing it this way reduces the initial blast of heat the loaves are exposed to in that first few minutes of baking when you want a nice expansion of the loaf. Then the surface temperatures recover and then you vent the steam and get a good roast of the flour and nice coloration. That method seems to work good for us although you will still get the frankenstein loaf every now and again.
Hope this helps!

Stan 11-18-2009 06:58 AM

Re: Oven spring management
I'm thinking that my docking slashes were neither deep enough or long enough to compensate for the increased spring in a WFO. I ended up making bread volcanoes!
Will try again soon and post results.


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