These are 23 Tips to Make a Perfect Sourdough Bread
In this post 23 Tips to Make a Perfect Sourdough Bread. Pay attention to each step in the end you will be get great sourdough bread. I would love to discuss the knowledge I have learnt from my Sourdough bread baking which is going for almost a decade. In the beginning I did not get much success, and slowly bit by bit I was able to crack it. Still when I try some completely new bread I fail at times. Here is the list of my views that you can help your successful finish a perfect sourdough bread. So here is the 23 Tips to Make a Perfect Sourdough Bread
What is perfect sourdough bread?
Even a prefect sourdough bread will vary according to your preference and taste. Sometimes it will be a beautifully scored bread, sometimes with big hole crumb and thick crackly crust, and some with uniformly distributed crumb. Also crumb and crust may vary from flours, type of bread, for example sandwich bread and 100% whole grain bread always has dense crumb,
while ciabatta has a holey crumb. Again, there are other factors which determines which is perfect sourdough bread.
This picture is from my facebook friend Kerry Tan. Whom I call crumb queen.
To make a perfect sourdough bread you need strong active starter.strong active starter. If you do not have a starter you can check here to make one here.
- You can make starter with, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour-whole wheat flour mixture or with rye flour. Whole grains flour is good for starting starter. You do not need to add any extra boosters to make starter, just flour and water and love it, it is going to be your pet.
- You can make either liquid starter (100% hydrations, means 50 g flour with 50g water) or stiff starter. Stiff starter is good for rich brioche type breads, especially panettone.
- If you made a sourdough starter then comes maintenance, you could do an everyday feeding and keep them at room temperature which I am doing. Or you can keep it in the refrigerator and take it out and do 2-3 feeding before baking the bread.
- Always check the activity of starter before you add them to flour. I don’t believe in float test, if you want you can do that.
- If you want less sour bread you should use young starter or leavain. There other factors like amount of time you use for proofing also affects and so does where you do proofing.
- Depending upon the temperature of your kitchen and part of the world you live, timing of doubling will change. If it doubles within 4 hours means that is your time. Do not follow the recipe which says you need to keep the leavain or starter out for 6 hours. Even if starter is rise and fallen you can use that to make bread.
- If you are using just starter then use small amount around 50 – 75g for 500g flour. If you are using levain then make fresh one according to your recipe. Levain differ from starter in that it may or may not differ in flour formula. For example, you can make leavain with various flours also you can some time add milk instead of water etc.
- Then comes Autolyse of flours, which is basically hydrating the flours. This will enhance the enzyme activity of the flours. The proteaseenzyme starts to break down the proteins in the flour. This is what helps the dough become more stretchy/extensible.
- The amylase enzyme helps to convert the flour’s starches into sugars. These sugars are your sourdough starter feed on once it is added to your dough. So essentially you are preparing the food source for your sourdough starter, which once added, can get to work faster and easier.
- Time of autolyse may vary according to flour, for whole wheat flour you need at least 3-4 hours while white flour requires only 30 minutes to 1 hours. Rye flour on the other hand does not require any autolyse.
- However, when you add starter along water, flour, and salt with autolyse it become Fermentolyse.
- Next adding salt to the dough, I always add salt after 30 minutes of mixing everything. Rarely add salt in the beginning. You can do that too. If you are doing after 30 minutes you need to mix in with water as it will difficult to combine nicely.
If your forgot to add salt in your bread that too is okay as Italian bread recipes(Tuscany) does not have any salt in the dough. You can use a salted butter or olive with salt to eat the bread.
- Next gluten development. Rubaud method for initial gluten development. It is extensive mixing/kneading/stretching after mixing in the levain and before the bulk rise. Basically, it is keeping hand as a hook to stretch in a circular method for maybe 10 minutes with a rest in between. It mimics a more professional type of stand mixer. Then do a lamination @ 1.52 after one hour of mixing of your starter. I also found that lamination add better distribution of add on’s like cheddar cheese, fruits etc.
- Once you done lamination, do one or two coil fold before doing a pre-shape.
- When the dough almost feels smooth and little jiggly not too much you are done with bulk fermentation ready to shape. It will about 5 hours after you mix the starter or levain into the dough.
16 You need to do a pre-shape and set aside for 10 -15 minutes bench rest. Preshaping also gives us an extra chance to add strength to our dough. This simple step can add much-needed strength and structure to a dough that might otherwise prove tricky to shape.
17.Then shape the dough and put in banneton. The purpose of scoring the shaped dough is to control and guide the direction that the loaf expands during the baking process. While it can be a very decorative feature, it also serves a purpose of giving the gases a place to go as the breadbakes. Shaping mishap can result in tunneling as air pocket will be formed. In between especially in the top. This may be because air is trapped in between pre or final shaping. Simply you can correct it by de-gassing aka pressing a little air out of the dough as you shape and shaping a little more tightly. Shape twice with 20 minutes gap in between if you are not happy with the first shape.
This picture is from Catarina Lewis
This picture is from Matthew James From sourodugh baking group
What are different shapes of Sourdough bread?
Batard- Like a baguette, but shorter and thicker.
Boule – A round loaf. Boule is the French term
Baguette- Long, thin, tubular shaped, (most difficult one to get perfect shape according to me)
Focaccia- An Italian flatbread that is thick and has characteristic dimples on the surface.
Baton- A short baguette.
Ficelle- Similar to baguette but even thinner.
Plait – A braided loaf.
Plait bread – A round braided loaf.
18.Proofing: Once you shaped the dough then let sit for proofing / fermenting in refrigerator or room temperature. If you are keeping at room temperature it should be less time than the refrigerator. May be around 2-4 hours. If it is in refrigerator you can do overnight proof or up to 14 hours if you go more than that then there is chance of over proofing.
You can do a poke test once the dough has had some time to ferment. Poke your finger into the dough about a half inch deep.
The dough pops back out quickly – means its under- proofed. If you baked this dough, then you will see big holes in the top that too not uniformly but dense towards inside and bottom.
This picture in the left is from underproofed dough. This picture is from right under proofed one. than the left one.This is from Christine Barry facebook group Sourdough bread baking.
- The dough stays where it is –means its over-proofed. If you baked this over proofed dough it will not expand much in the oven and will result in a dense and deflated bread. As the gluten network weakens and large amounts of gas are produced, and the dough collapses. You will get small uniform crumbs in the final bread which indicates that wild yeast has ran out of steam.
- The above is picture of overproofed loaves from Yuko Martens from sourodugh bread baking group . This phenomenon is called “flying crust. When the gluten structure deteriorated and detached the crust from the crumb. How it s differs from underproofing (which also has dense crumb on bottom and holes on top) because of the gluten breakdown here (notice the tears in the gluten strands). That is the indicating sign of overproofing. The bottom crumb is also a “collapsed crumb” they are also dense rather than a gummy underdeveloped crumb found in underproofing. In a collapsed crumb you can see all of the cells that actually were well formed and separated but then they collapsed on each other (notice the horizontality if the holes) as the loaf deflated.
- The dough pops back out slowly and leaves only a slight indentation – Perfect, your dough is ready! You will have uniformly distributed crumbs.
Over proofed dough mostly make flatbread rather than a boule. If you some time for scoring (As scoring) it will make the bread more flatter and flatter.
19. Scoring. You can do simple scoring like a deep cut around 35-40 ° angle to get good ear and oven spring while baking. Or you can do a decorative scoring, this will leave the dough to decide where to crack open while baking. I like to do an easy scoring for baking the bread. If you find your dough is difficult to score, freeze the dough for 15 minutes then try to score. It will not affect baking of the sourdough. If it is too jiggly then do not even try to go for decorative scoring, just make simple deep cut score and bake immediately.
20. Baking sourdough dough: You can bake the bread in Dutch oven or directly in a pizza stone with steam. I also find that pre-heating oven to 475°F – 500°F is enough to get good oven spring. You can use both pre-heated Dutch oven and cold Dutch oven. I did not find any significant difference. Second ones help you to avoid burning your fingers and hand. You can use either lava rocks or ice cubes to in a loaf pan near the bread baking is fine to create the steam. I have not tried any other method.
If you pre-heated your oven to 500°F, then reduce the temperature to 475° F immediately after putting the bread in, and bake for 15 minutes. Then again reduce the temperature 450°F and continue to bake for another 15 minutes with lid on Dutch oven. Then remove the lid and bake for another 15minutes. Looks for dark brown color.
You can also take the internal temperature of your bread to double check that it is done. For sourdough, it should read about 205-210°F.
On the other hand, if you are getting a pale color loaf means it can be because of over proofed dough, Baking temperature too low, Lack of salt, Excessive steam in oven, Insufficient starter.
21. After baking, If you want to make thick crackling crust you need to leave the bread in the oven and let the door ajar once it is baked and oven switched off for about 10-15 minutes. Then remove it from the oven. Otherwise, remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. Do not cut too soon or else the inside will have a gummy texture!
22. How to store the sourdough bread. Since you baked beautiful bread, wait for a reasonable time around 2 – 4 hours or more and then cut the loaf directly down the middle creating two halves. If you are not going to immediately using it, store it in a bread box. It will remain good at room temperature for two days. Also, you can reusable warp like Bee’s wrap, plastic bags, paper bags and kitchen towels. For long time use slice and freeze it. They can remain in the freezer for about 3 to 6 months. Slice it into induvial pieces and freeze it that way, it is easy to take it out and thaw them.
23. Finally you have a wonderful baked bread, and after enjoying your bread you have some stale bread. Do not worry they make excellent croutons, if you have stale rye bread then make use to make fresh new bread with it.
These are useful and most important 23 tips to make perfect Sourdough bread.
Happy baking. If you have any questions, please comment here in the blog post. I will try to answer it.61
This is Swathi ( Ambujom Saraswathy) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.