Techniques for Baking Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is made with yeast that remains living in unbaked bread dough, which is saved and fed, often for years. This starter grows the yeast and it results in the distinctive sourdough taste. The longer you maintain your starter by feeding it and baking with it, the better tasting your bread will become.

Keep Metal Away

Never allow any type of metal to touch your sourdough starter. The metal wi ll cause a chemical reaction that results in a black or pink liquid to form on the starter. If this happens, the starter must be thrown away. Glass or ceramic containers and lids are best for storing sourdough starter. If a mason jar is used, it is very important that the lid and ring never touch the actual starter. The jar should be sealed lightly, as the fermenting process could cause a tightly sealed jar to explode.

Use a Wooden Dough Bowl

Use a wooden dough bowl for making your sourdough bread. Continue to use the same bowl for years and it will become seasoned with the yeast spores that remain in the wood adding to the flavor of your bread made in your bread machine. This is a similar process to seasoning cast iron griddles. Use a scraper and damp cloth to clean your bowl between uses and never use soap or allow the bowl to soak.

Keep the Dough Sticky

Sourdough bread down should be sticky during the kneading process. If it isn’t, the bread will be dry after it is baked. Wet your hands and use a dough scraper to help manage the sticky dough while kneading it. Sourdough bread dough should be kneaded by hand, not with a mixer. The hand mixer will heat the dough and kill the yeast spores in the starter.

Feed Your Starter

Sourdough starter is a living thing that should be fed regularly to keep the yeast alive. Remove the starter from the refrigerator twelve hours prior to when you want to use it for baking. Take one cup of the starter out and either discard or give it to a friend. You can also use it to start a second batch of starter for yourself. Stir a half cup of lukewarm water and one cup of all-purpose flour into the remaining starter until smooth. Let it sit until bubbly, four to twelve hours. It is now ready to use in your recipe.

Keep Your Starter Clean

Whatever glass or ceramic container you choose to hold your starter, you must keep it scrupulously clean to protect the yeast. Allowing starter to build up and dry around the top of the container may ruin the entire batch. Clean your container at least once per month. Transfer the starter to a clean container that you have sterilized in boiling water. Wash your starter container with soap and water. Rinse and dry well, then replace the starter. Feed, use or refrigerate it as needed.

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