If you own a bread machine and want to use it to make sourdough bread, then you might be a little stumped. That is because most bread machines are designed to work with breads leavened with commercial yeast, and therefore only work with a very short rising period.
The thing about sourdough starter is that it is a very unique culture, whether you have created one from scratch yourself or used a pre-established one. This means that the rise time for each culture is going to be very different and hard to predict. You may find that even after you’ve baked with it several times the rise time is different enough for every batch that you wouldn’t want to trust a bread machine to know when it is time to bake.
All that said, there are a few options for of using a bread machine to work with sourdough:
- If you are planning to buy a bread machine, find one that will allow you to program a longer rise period and change the programming in the middle of a cycle so you can determine the best time to bake. This should allow you to use the bread machine to mix the ingredients, knead the bread, allow it to rise, and bake it as long as you can determine when the rising time is up.
- If your bread machine does not have a longer rise period option or the ability to change programming in the middle of a cycle, then you will have to be selective in how you use your bread machine. You can add your ingredients to the machine, allow it to mix the dough, allow it to knead the dough, and then transfer to oven-safe baking pans for the rise. Then you can determine how long a rise period it will need and bake at the best time for your bread.
- You can also, by trial and error, manipulate your bread machine to achieve a particular result. So, you might add your ingredients (starter, flour, water, salt, etc.), allow the machine to mix and knead, then turn it off. Then you could stop the machine and restart it on a new cycle with a 12-hour time delay. This would have to be tried and tweaked to fit your starter’s rise time and your bread machine’s settings.
If you are considering purchasing a bread machine you might want to instead consider purchasing a mixer that will do the mixing and kneading of the dough and will allow you to determine the rise time necessary before baking.