BeerDude Homebrewing

FlatSourdough.jpgSOURDOUGH BREAD

The Big Lie

Perhaps you have tried to make a beautiful loaf of naturally leavened sourdough bread, only to have it come out flat. I certainly have, and flat loafs are a common problem. And this is despite the fact that we follow with great effort the recipes found on countless on-line pages that claim wonderful success. Well, I've finally found out why we fail: It's because they lie.

Lie #1, "Making sourdough bread is easy."

Not, it's not. It's hard. Proper sourdough handling techniques are hard to master, so mortals like me have to rely on tricks such as those described below.

Lie #2, "Put your dough (or starter) in a warm place..."

What does "warm" mean. It turns out "warm" means 80-85 degrees (F), at least in regards to natural sourdough yeast. If it's much cooler than that, things don't work.
But no one told you that, did they?

Lie #3, "You can make sourdough starter in 5 days."

No, you can't. Well maybe if you're lucky. But chances are it will take 10-15 days.

The Tricks

For some reason, sourdough is more fragile than normal bread dough, and is more likely to collapse and become flat. This is especially true of recipes that call for "wet" doughs (high hydration). Successful bakers have the skills to prevent collapsed loaves, but I don't. So, I use tricks I stole from some other cheaters.

Trick #1, Chill the dough before baking.

This firms up the dough so it's less likely to collapse. The basic idea is to let the dough rise in a bowl lined with a well-floured towel, then chill it for 2 hours or longer.

Trick #2, Use parchment paper to lower the dough into the oven.

This also helps the dough keep its shape. Right before baking, carefully turn the chilled dough onto parchment paper and then lower it into the oven.

Finding Your Warm Spot

This is probably the most important task in making sourdough bread. Find a spot where the temperature is about 80 degrees (F) or a bit higher. If you like gadgets, get this:    

Other solutions:
It's OK if the temperature varies a bit. In my "warm spot" the temperature is 75 degrees on a cool morning and 85 degrees on a hot day. But the overall average is about 80 degrees, which is what natural sourdough yeast seems to need.

Armed with your "warm spot" and by adding the tricks mentioned earlier, you could probably tackle any sourdough recipe out there with success.
Or you can follow the recipes that worked for me ...

Sourdough Starter Recipe

 ... coming soon ...

Sourdough Bread Recipe #1

 ... coming soon ...

Sourdough Bread Recipe #2

 ... coming soon ...

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