I was watching a video the other day where this one dude was claiming that there was one secret to great oven spring. And while I won’t call the video out specifically just to play nice, I felt that his video was a bit misguided. In it, he claimed that the one secret thing that will give you great oven spring is proper fermentation; specifically, not fermenting too long. He then went on to say that once you mix, you don’t have to do anything like kneading and folding because the fermentation process will develop the gluten.
I will say this: He is not totally wrong. I’ve done 93% hydration whole wheat loaves that required zero folding because the dough was so wet, but did need a long, almost 2-day ferment in the fridge to properly develop the gluten. But the problem I had with what that dude was instructing was that he made it seem as if it was the ONLY thing that’s important in proper oven spring. It’s not. There are several factors that contribute to it in addition to proper fermentation.
To be fair, he did go on to say shaping and steam are also big factors in good oven spring, but the focus of his video was mainly on proper fermentation. Proper fermentation is absolutely critical to good oven spring. But any experienced baker will tell you that there are lots of different factors that contribute to great oven spring beyond proper fermentation such as dough structure development (folding and shaping) and baking environment (steam and a super-hot oven) to name a few. Sure, it starts at proper fermentation, but it’s everything after that will ensure you get good oven spring.