After you’ve baked with sourdough for some time you will learn all sorts of little tricks for creating different results and making sourdough work for you. Below are a few tips from our staff for baking sourdough bread:
SOURDOUGH BAKING TIPS
- Use simple recipes until you gain experience, or if you are beginning with a new variety of starter. You really only need sourdough starter, water, flour, and some salt for flavor. Try our Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe to get started.
- Sourdough is not necessarily sour in flavor. In fact, making sour bread takes some effort. For a more developed sour taste, adjust your starter and proofing techniques as described in our article on manipulating the sourness of sourdough bread.
- If you don’t have an 8- to 24-hour lead time to let bread rise, add just a pinch of instant yeast. You will still get the complex flavor of sourdough but a much faster rise time.
- Slashing loaves with a very sharp knife or razor blade isn’t just for show. When dough is placed in a hot oven, the yeasts work extra hard right before they go dormant, due to the high temperature. This heavy work produces something called oven spring, in which bread rises a bit more in the oven, giving bread a nice, light texture. Slashing the loaf gives dough a direction to spring so that the final shape of the loaf is controlled.
- Bake sourdough bread on a baking stone whenever possible. Heat the stone in the oven for up to an hour.
Always test your loaf for doneness. There are a couple of ways of testing whether a loaf is finished baking:
The Thump Test
Turn the hot loaf over and flick it with your finger. If it sounds hollow, it is done.