Baking sourdough bread: these are the most common mistakes (and how to fix them!)

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Few things are as satisfying as a perfect homemade sourdough bun. But the reverse also applies: nothing more disappointing than finding a flat, unleavened bread after a labour-intensive baking process. To prevent that, we would like to point out the most common mistakes made when baking sourdough bread.

Mistakes when baking sourdough bread

1. Your starter has not risen enough

Rule number 1: without a good starter you will never bake a good loaf of bread. There are a number of indicators to determine if your starter is ‘ready’ (ie: sufficiently fermented) to get started. Please note the following features:

  • Your starter should have visibly increased in volume. The rule of thumb here is that the volume should be at least 2 times the original volume of the starter. You can mark this with a rubber band at the height of your starter, just after feeding.
  • You should clearly see larger and smaller air bubbles on the surface of your starter .
  • The texture should be spongy and soft , like the inside of a marshmallow.
  • The smell of your starter is sweet and reminiscent of overripe fruit. This is different from a freshly fed starter, which has a slightly chemical, sour smell.

Do you see that your starter has risen to a point where it meets these factors? Then act quickly and get started with it as soon as possible. After some time, your starter will also decrease in volume, making it no longer suitable for use for your dough. By the way, if your starter has dropped to its original volume, it’s time to feed it again.

2. You’re not letting your dough rise long enough…

Have you ever made a dough? Time for the first rising and fermentation process. During this process, a gluten network develops, which provides a nice structure in your bread.

You need a lot of patience for this. If you don’t give your dough the chance to rise sufficiently, you’re left with a compact, flat bread. How long should you let your bread rise? That depends on your recipe, but also on factors such as ambient temperature and the temperature of the water that goes into your dough.

In any case, remember that bread needs to rise for less time in warmer conditions and vice versa. The longer you bake, the more feeling you will get.

Fortunately, there are also a number of indicators that you can look for to decide whether your dough has risen sufficiently:

  • The dough has doubled in volume .
  • The dough no longer looks compact, but like a soft pillow .
  • On the surface of the dough you can see a clear air bubble here and there .
  • There are many air bubbles in the dough itself .

3. …or you let your dough rise too long

From the above you might conclude that the longer you let your dough rise, the better. However, that is not entirely true. A rising process that is too long (in English this is called overproofing ) reduces the quality of your gluten network, so that your bread comes out of the oven less nicely.

So it’s an art to let your dough rise just long enough. What else can you pay attention to? If you shake your bowl horizontally, you want a dough that wiggles happily back and forth. When you prick the dough with your finger, you want the dough to rise very slowly back to the top and that you can clearly see where you pricked the dough. Dough that does not rise has risen too long, dough that rises too quickly has not risen long enough.

4. You bake your bread without a lid

Sourdough bread is best baked in an oven-safe pan with a lid . This is an easy method to create steam in the area you are baking the bread in.

Steam is essential for good bread. Without steam, a crust will form too quickly, resulting in heavy loaves. In short: it pays to invest in a good oven-proof pan with a lid of about 26 cm and a capacity of 5 liters. A cast iron casserole from Le Creuset is of course the crème de la crème, but cheaper variants in enamel also work just fine.

And now: experiment! Take a good recipe with it, keep our tips in mind and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work the first time. Baking sourdough bread is a trial and error process, but we can assure you: nothing compares to a perfectly homemade bread roll.

Source: Culy by
*The article has been translated based on the content of Culy by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process it as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author.

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