Is your sourdough bread gummy? The severity can make a gummy crumb an inedible disaster or a slight annoyance.
Either way, gummy sourdough bread is not perfection, and you want to be proud of your bread, right?!
So, to stop your sourdough bread being gummy, here are the ten reasons bread is gummy.
With each fault, you’ll also find out how to fix the issue. So you can bake perfect loaves going forward.
Does that sound good? If so, let’s get started!
Bread is gummy when too much moisture remains after baking. Causes of this include an overly wet dough, not baking for long enough or a proof issue. A fully active starter is essential to avoiding a gummy crumb when making sourdough bread.
#1 The Starter Was Not Ripe Enough
A weak starter is the most common cause of sourdough bread problems!
If there are not enough healthy wild yeast and bacteria to raise the dough, the dough takes a long time to rise.
Faults this problem leads to include:
The gluten structure deteriorates
Starch continues to be broken dough into sugars
The excess sugars are unused and retain water (osmosis)
Gas produced (via respiration and fermentation) escapes
A dense and gummy crumb remains after baking
How to tell if your starter is ripe
A ripe sourdough starter should double in size. It should contain bubbles in various sizes and smell beautifully fragranced.
Do I need to add rye flour to my starter?
Any simple starter recipe will form a culture of wild yeasts and bacteria. Many bakers insist on using rye flour to “boost” the properties of the starter.
While it is scientifically proven that rye flour makes a more powerful and robust starter, it’s not essential.
You can achieve an excellent starter using just white flour and water.
How to fix an immature starter
If your starter is not fully ripe, store it in a warm place and refresh it when it reaches its peak rise. Repeat 3-4 times over 2-3 days.
If there is no improvement, see my sourdough starter troubleshooting guide.
#2 You Are Not Baking Your Bread For Long Enough
One of the most popular solutions I’ve heard to fix gummy sourdough is turning the oven off and leaving the bread inside to cool.
But it’s not the perfect solution!
This method has some merits but can be detrimental in many cases.
When bread cools in the oven, high pressure and a lack of cool air flowing around it prevent moisture from escaping.
The result is gummier bread!
The most common way to fix gummy bread is to bake your bread for longer.
If you notice midway through your baking duration that your crust is already well-coloured, drop your baking temperature around 20 degrees.
How to tell when bread has finished baking
To check crusty bread is baked thoroughly, remove it from the oven and tap the base. If it sounds hollow, it’s ready. If not, return it to the range.
Salt is vital in bread dough. It absorbs water, strengthens the gluten structure, creates tension in the crust, regulates yeast activity, adds flavour and more.
It’s best to weigh the salt in your recipe. You’ll need a set of accurate scales, just like the KD8000 from MyWeigh.
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Another method is with a water bath, a deep-lipped tray of water sitting in the bottom of the oven. The bath continuously vents water vapour.
Why is too much steam a problem?
Adding too much water or spritzing directly on the crust surface weakens the rise and causes a discoloured, soft, thick crust.
Another issue is (you’ve guessed it!) a dense and gummy sourdough bread.
How to use a Dutch oven to bake sourdough
Instead of a loaf pan, many home sourdough bakers find a Dutch oven is the perfect vessel for baking bread. The lid creates a well-sealed mini-oven inside the range.
You can see my recommended Dutch oven, The Challenger:
Challenger Bread Pan®
A revolutionary cast iron bread pan designed by bakers for bakers. The shallow base makes loading dough easy. Its shape fits a variety of shapes and sizes of bread, and the sealed environment retains the perfect amount of steam.
Made in the USA, the Challenger is the easiest way to make beautiful bread at home. It’s pretty simple: You won’t regret getting one of these if you aim to bake regularly.
I am wendy from Malaysia. My weather here was summer whole year range above 33’C
I did not change my flour or anything i did a BF of 6-7 hours from the time i add in my starter ( mostly consist of 2 set of S&F, 3 sets of CF ) then i CR for 12 hours in the fridge. I baked at 250 (last 2 rack of my oven for 25min then 30 min at 230’C (lid off) .. i cut my bread after 3 hours most of the time. So m i over-proofing or under proofing my dough?
Hard to tell without seeing your dough. I’d say 6-7 hours of bulk fermentation at 33C is a bit long, but depends on how much starter you used in your recipe. How much rise did you get before shaping? I aim for around 50%. It might need some time to rise at room temperature once it comes out of the fridge so it’s fully proofed.
Wow! I love your disposition to answer everyone. I can tell you are passionate of baking! ❤️. I’m also new to sourdough baking and have been at the fringe of giving up because of the gummy issues. I wonder how when back when people made bread without all these tips. I’m in the states and I think like you said… Flour here is give or take. Thank you!
Thanks for writing! My last sourdough loaves at work were gummy, so we all have these issues from time to time! Yes, I believe that bakers should treat flour like a winemaker treats grapes. There can be a big difference between packets, even if the protein content is the same. Let me know if you would like any further help with your gummy sourdough.
I am new to sourdough bread and I am so frustrated with this issue. I have baked 5 loaves with every single one being so gummy that I’ve had to throw them away. I used the Tartine recipe for the first 4 and they all but the first one had great oven spring, great ears and internal temp was 212, I reduced water to 65% and still gummy. The last one was Elaine Boddy white bread and the same happened. My starter was active (it is a month and half old. Rises within 4 hours) I use King Arthur Bread flour, (I bought a fresh bag thinking that might be it) I use a cast iron dutch oven and preheat it tell it is 500° then add bread, 20 mins. With lid on 25 with lid off. I just want to make a sourdough bread that is not gummy, please help.
I think we can fix this. There are two possible routes:
1) Reduce the initial temp to 475, then drop it to 430 once you load the bread and bake a little longer to draw out more moisture.
2) The flour you are using could be an issue. Hard wheat with high protein content from North America notoriously contains a lot of damaged starch which means there is more enzymatic activity. As your particular flour contains added malt flour or amylase, starch breaks down into sugar very rapidly. This makes the flour ideal for quickly risen bread, but not for a long rise (despite what the marketing might say) as the extra sugars soak up water, leaving the bread crumb gummy. Many bakers have success making sourdough with King Arthur bread flour, though. Try more stretch and folds and reduce the bulk fermentation time to a maximum of 4 hours, and then proof at room temperature for another 3-4 hours. Increase the amount of starter used in the recipe for a faster rise if these timings don’t seem achievable. Alternatively, try a 11-12% protein flour.
I did as you said on the previous message. I shaped right after shape and fold, and put already in the fridge for cold retard, in the morning i took from the fridge and let the breads outside for 1h30 and baked. Much better result. Way better. I could see much clear the fermentation and it was slower, considering the temperature i have here. Thank you so much for the advice!
Ah fantastic Fernanda! Great to hear that it’s not collapsing and gummy any more. By shortening the rise we’ve avoided the gluten from becoming tired from the extended stress of supporting the structure, which was making the dough collapse (and ruining your oven spring). You’ll be able to tweak the routine slightly with longer/shorter rises and more or less stretch and folds to suit your taste, but don’t push it as long as you were doing. Happy to help 🙂
Thank you so much for the reply, no worries 🙂
I made some progress, i realized the flour was too humid, and i was overdeveloping like you said.
I will do this way your saying this week and see.
Last week i did almost this way but i still did one more stretch and fold 3x. I’m also realizing i need to add more steam during baking.
Thank you so much for those tips and this week will do exactly like your saying and come back for the results!
No worries, this should prevent it from collapsing. Yes, steam will help your oven spring which is something that has likely worsened since moving away from using a Dutch oven. You can then push fermentation & gluten development in subsequent attempts to achieve your perfect loaf. Let me know how it goes!
Thank you so much for the reply 🙂
The structure is not okay, is collapsing, some breads get good oven spring (not amazing but get) but also from the same batch others don’t get oven spring. I live in Brazil and where i live is not that easy to find good organic flour, so the one i’m using is now the best we have for long fermented breads. Before when i was using the dutch oven i feel it was better compared the new oven i got. Here now is summer so room temperature is around 29°C, but this could manage to lower the temperature of the dough. Its was everything okay until the last two weeks where nothing much changed, or that i’m aware. So i’m a bit confused what it can be. Although from everything you said i’ll look today on those elements and write to keep track.
One thing you said is that i may be overdeveloping the gluten, i’ve been feeling the dough different so maybe can be this. Today i lower the hydration to start observe what is different. I’ll keep track and see what is causing this. Thank you so much for your help!
Hi, sorry I’m so long to reply! Have you made any progress? I would do this:
Mix the dough with a stand mixer for 2 minutes, or until just combined.
Stretch and fold twice every 45 minutes.
Once risen 50% and the gluten is stretchy ( see windowpane test), shape and proof overnight in the fridge. This should take 3-5 hours
Take out the fridge for 2-3 hours in the morning, and allow it to rise until fully proofed.
Bake at 220 – 230°C, adding steam to enhance the oven spring and let it cool
Hi! My bread lately is been super gummy, not quite sure what is the problem. The starter is fine, been feeding everyday, my hydration is 63% for a 310w flour, i mix the dough with a stand mixer for 4 minutes, then stretch and fold for 3h 3x every 45 minutes. Then 2 hours of bulk fermentation. Shape and proof for min 12h in the fridge. Bake with a temperature around 210°C and let it cool in a hack for at least one hour before cut or pack. From his process not sure where i’m making a mistake 🙁
I would appreciate some light on the process. Thank you so much
Hiya, your method seems good. The best thing to consider is “what has changed?” Have you used a new bag of flour? Is it warmer/cooler in your kitchen than previous?
I’m thinking you could be overdeveloping the gluten a little and/or the flour you are using is not suitable for longer fermented doughs. It could also be a baking issue. Can tell me, if the structure of the crumb is ok, or is it collapsing? Are you getting a good oven spring?
I just returned to my sourdough after 10 hour rise and it feels sticky and gummy. The starter seemed fine. It rose well over doubling size after several (8?) hours and just as it began falling I made the mixture following directions exactly. I did my stretch and folds. 2 x. Now I expected a firmer dough ready to bake. Any thoughts? Amy I making a mistake letting it rise in stainless vs. glass bowl?