‘Oven spring’ refers to the growth of the bread during its initial baking phase where the loaf is growing before the crust hardens. A ‘good oven spring’ is when the loaf expands to its full potential both by volume and shape to produce an airy crumb texture and an open balanced shape.
Different breads are going to have different rates of ‘spring’ during the bake, so it’s important to understand how to judge the success of your oven spring. For example, a 100% whole wheat sourdough bread is not going to expand as much as one made from strong white bread flour. It’s just not possible. So having realistic expectations is a must when it comes to understanding your bake.
– Good gluten development – This will help hold up the structure of your bread. – Strong natural yeast presence in the dough – Both lactobacillus AND yeasts are needed for sourdough bread, but it’s the yeast that will contribute more in helping the bread rise. – Sufficient strength in the dough – A ‘strong’ dough will hold up its structure far better. – Enough energy left in the dough before baking – the dough still needs some remaining sugar and starch from the flour to give it enough rising power once it hits the oven. – Sturdy shape with even, balanced fermentation – this will help provide better shape as it expands during baking.