How to Make Sourdough Bread
Learn to make delicious sourdough bread your whole family will enjoy. Our simple recipe and step-by-step video make it easy to make traditional sourdough bread at home.
This recipe can be used to make a basic loaf of sandwich bread or artisan-style bread.
Three Critical Steps for a Light and Fluffy Loaf
Very Active Fresh Sourdough Starter
Very active yeast and bacteria are critical for proper leavening of bread dough. If your sourdough starter has been stored in the refrigerator, it has been living in a dormant state. Plan to remove the starter from the refrigerator 1 to 2 days in advance and feed it at least three times prior to baking. Each feeding should use the following ratios:
Feedings should be 4 to 12 hours apart to allow the starter to become bubbly and rise between each feeding. The exact length of time will depend on room temperature as well as the nature of the individual sourdough culture. The sourdough starter is ready for baking once it's been fed at least three times and is reliably bubbly and generally doubling in size within 4 to 12 hours of being fed.
Adequate Kneading to Activate the Gluten
It is very important to allow the gluten to fully develop, so thoroughly kneading the dough is a critical step. If you are kneading by hand, plan for a minimum of 20 minutes. Or you can take breaks, such as kneading for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. If you are using a mixer to knead, check the dough often to ensure it's not overheating (which can damage the yeast). Stop the process once the gluten is well developed. While there isn't any danger of over-kneading when kneading by hand, mixers can abuse the dough if not watched. To determine if the gluten is adequately developed, perform the "window pane test": take a piece of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If the gluten is sufficiently developed, the dough should stretch thin — so you can see light through it — without the dough breaking. If it breaks before it can be stretched thin, keep kneading.
Plan for a Long Proofing (rise) Period
As a natural yeast, sourdough tends to take significantly longer to rise than dough made with commercial yeast. Timing is dependent on the specific starter and conditions in your home, so until you have determined the best rise period for your particular starter, plan for a 4- to 12-hour rise period. If you desire more sour bread, plan for 12 to 24 hours (see below).
Tips and Tricks for Making Sourdough Bread
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