Why no oven spring?


I need help understanding why my whole grain bread almost never has oven spring. I think I do everything right, and the dough grows, but not once it's in the oven. What's up - or should I say what's down? The bread tastes just fine, but it is dense. Thanks for your thoughts.

badge posted by: joena on March 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm in Baking, yeast
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reply by: ddoug on March 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hi, joena, what recipe are you using? How long do you let it rise the second time? What oven temp do you use? Posting the recipe would help figure out what's going on. Deanna

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm
Mike Nolan

Whole wheat doughs seem to rise better (both before and after going in the oven) when they're a bit more moist, maybe your recipe could benefit from a little more moisture? (It would help to know what recipe you're using.)

reply by: joena on March 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

HI Deanna & Mike - alas, this happens in a number of recipes. Yesterday's was Clayton's Pain Seigle. A dense rye, this tastes great - it just doesn't spring. And I find rising times are very slow. I've tried the oven (at 80 degrees), the KAF bucket, wrapped in a towel in a sunny spot (certainly not this for the second rise), and various other methods. Thanks _ JoeNa

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Mike Nolan

Most whole wheat doughs seem to take up to twice as long to rise as recipes made with just AP or bread flour. And they generally won't rise quite as much anyway, the usual explanation is that the sharp pieces of bran in the flour cut the gluten strands.

When I make my honey wheat bread (50% whole wheat flour, the recipe is posted in my recipes), the first rise usually takes 2 1/2 hours and the final rise between 1 1/2 and 2 hours.

But I do have to watch the final rise carefully, I let it go 30-45 minutes longer than I should have recently, because I got side-tracked, and the loaves collapsed to about 1 1/2 inches tall in the oven, so they were almost more like a flat bread than a freeform loaf. I should probably have re-shaped them and let them rise again, but it was getting late (11PM) and I didn't feel like staying up that late.

One exception to this is Peter Reinhart's Broom Bread recipe in his whole grains book, a recipe that uses no white flour, just whole wheat. But it is a rather moist dough and uses an overnight pre-ferment as well as quite a bit of yeast (relative to total weight) in the final dough. \

I think the final rise on it usually takes about 45 minutes. Not a lot of oven spring, but it does have some.

I've been experimenting with an all-rye-flour bread recipe that I found online (because my daughter-in-law can't tolerate wheat though she can apparently handle rye), so far it's been REALLY dense, though flavorful.

reply by: joena on March 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

Thanks, Mike - I've been wondering about the balance between too much/too little time in the second rise. I guess I haven't pushed it too far since the loaves have not collapsed. I do think that the dough might need more water - it does seem dense.

I also decided to break down and buy a stand mixer - I have to think that KA motor will do better on this dense bread than my arms, although I will save some kneading for the pure experience of it all.

Where did you find the all-rye flour recipe, Mike?

reply by: Mike Nolan on March 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Mike Nolan

I found the all rye flour recipe over on allrecipes.com:


reply by: joena on March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

This looks neat, Mike. I'll check more. And I'll keep my eye out for all-rye, too.

reply by: laelliott11 on April 02, 2011 at 9:17 am

you might want to try adding a bit more water (2 T. to start) as well as perhaps some bakers dry milk.
One recipe that I get pretty great results with, and is whole wheat, is this one:

reply by: KIDPIZZA on April 02, 2011 at 12:13 pm


Good morning. I am curious Joena, has your yeasted lean bread
improved in oven spring????

If not, consider posting the recipe you are employing. Sometimes small little changes can be meaningful.

Good luck in your bread baking & enjoy the weekend.


reply by: joena on April 03, 2011 at 10:11 am

And good morning kidpizza - today is bread day! I'm going to try Laurel's Potato Rye Bread, my brand new KA, and all your suggestions. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks a bunch for asking - JoeNa

reply by: joena on April 04, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Spring has sprung - and so has my bread! I am delighted to announce that today's batch of whole wheat bread rose to a lovely degree and continued to spring in the oven. I used my new KA, but also the comments you helpfully provided. I added just a bit more water as i was kneading (what an amazing difference in texture! and let it rise a bit longer each time. When I added the extra water, I shuddered when the dough seemed to become pasty. Oh, no, I overkneaded! Then I breathed and watched it come together. Whew!

It's cooling on racks as I type. I thank you all a big bunch.

I would give you a slice, but since that's not possible here's the recipe =-
Clayton's War Bread (New Complete Book of Breads)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp salt
3 cups boiling water

1 Tbsp butter shortening
1/2 cup molasses
1 package of yeast.

5 to 6 cups of bread flour

Mix the dry ingredients. Add water and cool to 120 to 130 degrees. Stir in the next 3. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time till the dough cleans the bowl. Knead till done
Bake at 350 for an hour

reply by: joena on April 04, 2011 at 3:52 pm

HI Again Kidpizza - I know I said it was rye bread yesterday, but I ran out of rye flour and so did the store (can you imagine!). Today I moved to whole wheat - you'll see my post - what fun! When I go back to my rye, I will certainly post the changes. Thanks again - JoeNa