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Jan 20, 2009 01:54 PM

Help with Sourdough Bread Interior Texture

Hi Chowhounds,

I've been trying unsuccessfully to recreate a sourdough bread that has both a chewy crust and an airy moist interior characterized by lots of holes. (My favorite example is Trader Joe's San Francisco Sourdough.) I have a sourdough starter that I've been feeding regularly and have tried several different recipes with no luck. They all have a great exterior and taste like sourdough, but lack the airy interior texture I'm looking for. Do you have any thoughts on what I can change to achieve an airy interior?

Thanks for the help!


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  1. what temp are you cooking at? Are you adding steam or water to your oven? How long are you letting it proof? What size/shape are you baking?

    1. Try experimenting with lower and/or higher protein content flour ex) cake flour, AP flour, and bread flour.

      1. Usually a wetter dough gives me bigger holes in my crumb.

        1. I've been allowing the oven to pre-heat for an hour at 425 with a pizza stone on the lower third of the oven. Just below the pizza stone I have a drip tray, to which I add about 2 cups of water immediately after placing the bread on the stone and then shut the oven door to create steam (this has resulted in a great crackly and chewy crust). Baking time has been about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the loaf.

          The bread is shaped like a boule, and is free standing on the stone.

          I've tried both a two stage proof (about 2 hours - punch down and shape, then another 1 hour until doubled), and a cold proof (5 hours in fridge - punch down and shape, then about 1 hour out on the counter until doubled).

          I've also tried a very wet dough from the Artisan Bread in 5 mintues a Day book. I'm using King Arthur all purpose unbleached white flour, and a new package of SAF yeast. Thanks for the thought on experimenting with flours - maybe a higher protien content is what I need? I'm kind of at a loss for where to go from here.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Phoo_d

            Unless you have a different sourdough than I have ever used, your ferments are much too short. I never ferment less than 12 hours and often go 24 and even 36 hours via a cold rise for the best flavor and texture.

            I do agree with the different flours and a wetter dough if you want a open texture. How long are you kneading the dough because insufficient knead wont develop the gluten strength necessary for a airy texture.

            Your baking sounds correct, but I am wondering if you are tapping the bottom to determine doness or do you check the internal temperature of the boule? I like a internal temp of 205°-210°F, but a few degrees hotter will give a chewier crumb and more flavor because of the extra browning. .

            1. re: Kelli2006

              Thanks for your response. I will try a longer ferment. I assume that you mix and knead, and then place in the fridge covered for the 12-36 hour rise? After that do you let it sit out at room temp until doubled?

              I've been kneading the bread for about 10 minutes - until the outer texture noticeably changes to a smooth and stretchy consistency. I also have been baking to an internal temp of about 210 and a nice golden crust.

              What mix of flours would you use? Thank you for all the help. It is one of my personal goals this year to figure out how to make my favorite sourdough!


          2. TJ's bread is made with bleached flour if I remember which tends to give a higher rise. My current go to recipe is this
            For a SF style sourdough the recipe by Peter Reinhart in his book Crust and Crumb is probably closer to what you're looking for.
   is an excellent resource for bakers if you have further questions