Over proving

Can you hear the quiet?

This is the special bit between handing in a big piece and waiting to hear if you have to make huge changes with less than three hours until it has to go to press.  Or, if the whole thing will pass smoothly by, slipping into production with just a few waves of tweaking by me.

And as such, there is very little I can do right now but wait, and listen to the birdsong in my garden and wonder when the sun will appear from behind the thick kapok of cloud.

This part of writing is like the period between O and A’levels, such as they were in my day. I’d done my O’levels, I was waiting for my results, but my A’levels hadn’t started yet so there wasn’t anything else I should be doing but lie, tummy down, on the big window sill at home and stare up the road dreaming of what my future would look like.

So I’m going to do a gentle post today, whilst I sit and wait. And it’s about over proving.

Here are two pictures of the same loaf. I left it out of the fridge, by accident, so it had a 14hr prove at about 20degrees. I note in Paul Hollywood’s book How to Bake, he tells you to leave the sourdough out for what sounds like too long – something like 22hrs – at a warm room temperature, with the dough wrapped in plastic. But his method is all different to the Dan Lepard one I use anyway (has anyone used the Hollywood method for making sourdough? Be keen to hear how it went, I just can’t fathom how the bread wouldn’t over prove, being out for so long).

IMG_1793 IMG_1794

The first picture was the first slice. I feared the loaf had been over proved, but it looked okay at first. Great even (the taste was good), and I thought I’d caught it all in time. But look further into the loaf, at the second picture and you’ll see that great cave of air at the top, which is a sign of a sourdough that has been over proved.

Because I had divided up the loaf into two loaves, I had put the other one in the fridge. Four days at 4C, later I cooked it and this is what it looked like:


See the difference? It had good airholes, but nothing like the ones in the first picture.

I’ve discovered the really perfect way, for me, to make sourdough is to put it in the fridge for a period of time, so the flavour can develop without the dough exhausting itself, and then taking it out for a good few hours so the crumb can develop large air holes. But it takes planning and time.

ps: I didn’t need to make any changes at all. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Over proving

  1. Catherine Morris

    I have to admit that both batches look delicious and would disappear within minutes with a good glug of very virgin olive oil and balsamic

  2. Emily

    I agree, using the fridge does make very tasty bread with great texture, especially when it is warm out. I find I tend to get a great rise when I bake straight from the fridge – do you do that or do you let it come to room temp first?

  3. Annalisa Barbieri Post author

    Hello Emily. I nearly always cook straight from the fridge. But. I find that if I do it in the fridge then leave it a few hours at room temperature, you get the best of both worlds. I haven’t tried t’other way round yet and I might, ie room temperature then fridge.

    I must reply to your lovely email about ice cream!

  4. DebW

    I tried the Hollywood method and the loaves massively over proved. I put themin the oven anyway and they were fine but not great – tasted excellent but structure and texture nothing like as good as the Lepard way.

  5. Annalisa Barbieri Post author

    Deb, just as I imagined…thanks for letting me know. I thought I’d use the Hollywood book for recipe ideas but just use Dan’s method.

    1. DebW

      His green olive breadsticks are wonderful and I follow the recipe exactly apart from reducing the quantity of olives slightly – I can’t make the dough hold quite the number he specifies.

  6. Pingback: Back to retarded proving with sourdough | Pane Amore e Cha Cha Cha

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