BREAD MACHINE SOURDOUGH TIPS

If you’re taking the sourdough plunge, you will soon find there are as many sourdough starter, sourdough bread recipes and ways to use sourdough discard as there are cooks!

That being said, be aware that some recipes and methods found in online posts and videos may not be as tried and true as they appear.

The first sourdough recipe I tried had far too much water. Of course, by the time I added enough flour to even things out, I didn’t have enough starter in the mix and my bread was a flop. I’ve learned that, in general, the bread baking flour to water ratio is 5:3, five parts flour to three parts water. Each batch of bread dough – sourdough or not – will vary somewhat in the amount of flour required. However, using equal amounts of flour and water/starter in a bread recipe will result in a very unsatisfactory dough.

If you’re attempting to modify a bread recipe you like, begin by mixing small amounts of flour into the recipe liquid. My sourdough bread recipe calls for 3 2/3 to 3 ¾ cup flour along with 1 cup water and 1 ½ cups sourdough starter. I begin by mixing flour into the water, into the starter, then mixing the two. You’ll get a moister, lighter bread if you don’t overdo the flour. Sourdough bread dough can be somewhat stickier than bread made with commercial yeast.

If your sourdough goals include producing whole-grain bread, you may want to develop a whole-grain starter, but you don’t have to. (Find this starter recipe at www.bakeyourbestever.com)

You’ll find that, generally, sourdough bread is baked at temperatures of 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) or higher. These high temps assist the rise of your bread. To further aid the dough’s rise, preheat a pan along with your oven. At the same time, you put the dough in the oven, add a cup of hot water to the hot pan. The resulting steam will help slow the browning of the crust and give the loaf optimum time to rise before the crust shapes up.

Whether you’re baking your bread in a regular pan or shaping it in rounds, you’ll want to slash the top of the dough, creating an “ear” on the top of the dough. Why?

The intense baking temperature used for sourdough bread causes a rapid rise of the loaf. Slashes in the dough will allow the rising energy to push up and out through the slash. Without a slash, the energy will erupt at some other point in the loaf (ask me how I know!), distorting its shape. It may also hamper the full rise of the dough.

While the taste of the bread – and it’s very healthy benefits – is more important than how it looks, it’s still a good practice to make the slashes. You can purchase a baker’s lame or use a sharp knife to make the slashes.
If you’re taking the sourdough plunge, you will soon find there are as many sourdough starters, sourdough bread recipes and ways to use sourdough discard as there are cooks!

That being said, be aware that some recipes and methods found in online posts and videos may not be as tried and true as they appear.

The first sourdough recipe I tried had far too much water. Of course, by the time I added enough flour to even things out, I didn’t have enough starter in the mix and my bread was a flop. I’ve learned that, in general, the bread baking flour to water ratio is 5:3, five parts flour to three parts water. Each batch of bread dough – sourdough or not – will vary somewhat in the amount of flour required. However, using equal amounts of flour and water/starter in a bread recipe will result in a very unsatisfactory dough.

If you’re attempting to modify a bread recipe you like, begin by mixing small amounts of flour into the recipe liquid. My sourdough bread recipe calls for 3 2/3 to 3 ¾ cup flour along with 1 cup water and 1 ½ cups sourdough starter. I begin by mixing flour into the water, into the starter, then mixing the two. You’ll get a moister, lighter bread if you don’t overdo the flour. Sourdough bread dough can be somewhat stickier than bread made with commercial yeast.

If your sourdough goals include producing whole-grain bread, you may want to develop a whole-grain starter, but you don’t have to. (Find this starter recipe at www.bakeyourbestever.com)

You’ll find that, generally, sourdough bread is baked at temperatures of 400 degrees (Fahrenheit) or higher. These high temps assist the rise of your bread. To further aid the dough’s rise, preheat a pan along with your oven. At the same time, you put the dough in the oven, add a cup of hot water to the hot pan. The resulting steam will help slow the browning of the crust and give the loaf optimum time to rise before the crust shapes up.

Whether you’re baking your bread in a regular pan or shaping it in rounds, you’ll want to slash the top of the dough, creating an “ear” on the top of the dough. Why?

The intense baking temperature used for sourdough bread causes a rapid rise of the loaf. Slashes in the dough will allow the rising energy to push up and out through the slash. Without a slash, the energy will erupt at some other point in the loaf (ask me how I know!), distorting its shape. It may also hamper the full rise of the dough.

While the taste of the bread – and it’s very healthy benefits – is more important than how it looks, it’s still a good practice to make the slashes. You can purchase a baker’s lame or use a sharp knife to make the slashes.

From start to finish, my sourdough recipe takes right at four hours. Once the temperatures are warmer and we have more humidity in the air, the rise time may be somewhat shorter. You can use an overnight rise for sourdough. I’ll share more on that as I make more bread that way.

There’s certainly a learning curve when you work with sourdough bread. However, I’m finding that all the health benefits and the delicious taste of the bread make it all worthwhile!

 

 

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