Tips to Make Your Sourdough Journey Easier
Baking sourdough bread is a great way to experiment with the wonders of fermentation while also making something delicious in the process. However, learning to create the perfect loaf takes time and lots of practice which is why most people are too intimidated to take a stab at the sourdough process. We are here to give you five tips that will help you on your newfound sourdough journey.
Get Your Starter Ready
Before you start baking sourdough bread, you’ll need to have a sourdough starter that’s active and healthy. Make it a point to get to know your starter! How long does it take to rise and fall at room temperature? You’ll want to grab some starter when it’s peaking. Not sure if it’s ready?
Try the floating test! Take a small amount of your starter and drop it into a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s ready to use. If it sinks, give it another feeding and try again. You can always add a yeast packet if you don’t like the waiting game.
Use High-Quality Flour
While it’s not completely necessary, the quality of your flour can have a big impact on the final flavor and texture of your sourdough bread. Look for high-quality, organic flours that are freshly milled or find a local mill to buy from. You can experiment with different types of flour, such as rye or whole-wheat, to give your bread a unique flavor and texture.
Patience is Key
Sourdough bread takes time to ferment, and it’s important not to rush the process. Give your dough enough time to rise and develop flavor during both the bulk fermentation and second rise. A longer fermentation process can also make your bread more digestible – especially for gluten-sensitive folks.
Use a Dutch Oven for Baking
Not everyone has access to a state-of-the-art bread oven – and that’s okay! Another great way to get a great crust on your sourdough bread is to bake it in a dutch oven. The Dutch oven traps steam inside, which helps create a crispy crust. You can even preheat your Dutch oven in the oven before adding your dough. (Don’t forget to use oven mitts when handling the hot pot!!)
Once you get more familiar with the sourdough process, it’s exciting to experiment with new techniques and flavors. The way you shape your sourdough bread can have a big impact on the final product. Try experimenting with different shaping techniques, such as round or oblong, to see which one works best for you. You can also add different ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, or seeds to give your bread a unique flavor.
Extra Tip: dough sticking to your hands while you’re shaping or mixing? Dip your hands in water (and don’t dry them) for a stick-free experience.
Baking sourdough bread can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it does require a bit of patience and practice. Use these tips, get to know the process, and start experimenting with your dough. You’ll be well on your way to baking delicious, homemade sourdough bread. And remember, rarely does a first loaf (or first five) turn out perfect! Sourdough baking is a journey, and there’s always new techniques to learn and different ingredient combinations to try out.