Are you on a breadventure to master the art of baking sourdough bread? If you’ve ever found yourself in a sticky situation with your sourdough bread, we’re here to help you knead these problems away! From dough that loses its shape to loaves that split open like crusty tectonic plates, many issues can arise when you’re attempting to bake your own loaf. But fret not, these are common sourdough bread woes that can be resolved. So, roll up your sleeves and let’s dive dough-first into learning how to troubleshoot your sourdough.
Learn More: Most Important Ingredients You Need To Make Sourdough
1. Dough Loses Shape When Removed from Bread Basket
Have you ever lovingly shaped your sourdough, popped it into a bread basket for its final rise, only for it to go on its own shape-shifting adventure when you take it out of the basket? This can occur when your dough doesn’t have a proper structure due to the lack of folding, or if there’s too much hydration.
But worry not, for there are remedies to make your dough shine in all its loafy glory again.
- Give your dough some serious tender loving care during the folding and shaping process. Fold, tuck, and roll your dough till you create a firm dough structure and a tight, strong surface tension. Just remember to tread lightly, because too much folding can tear and split your dough.
- Patience is the key to success here. Allow your dough to autolyse and rise, giving it the time it needs to develop into a gluten-packed wonder. The strong gluten foundation will make your dough structure more sturdy.
- Use a more supportive vessel for the final rise to keep your dough from spreading out like a rumour, ensuring it maintains its intended shape.
- For an extra touch, perform a cold retard. Pop that dough into the refrigerator for a solid 12 to 18 hours, and let it chill to slow down fermentation and firm up the dough. This step will make it a breeze to transfer your dough without sacrificing its beautifully crafted shape. Plus, it brings your bread’s flavour to another level.
2. Dough Splits in Places You Didn’t Score
Scoring the surface of your dough creates signature cuts that allow for graceful expansion during baking. But, what if you open up the oven door to see cracks and crevices in places your scoring blade didn’t land?
This happens if the pressure within the dough isn’t given enough escape routes through scoring. During fermentation, wild yeast causes an increase in carbon dioxide, which increases pressure levels in the dough. If there isn’t sufficient scoring, your dough will end up splitting in places you didn’t score.
If you want to crack down on this splitting issue, here’s what you can dough:
Make confident, doughliberate cuts that are deep enough, creating a clear path for the dough to rise and expand.
- Ensure that your dough is hydrated, but not excessively. Doughs that are too hydrated can have gluten structures that are ready to crumble anytime, making them more prone to splitting.
Over-proofing can be a roll-ly big mistake, leading to excessive gas buildup and spontaneous splits. Keep a close eye on your dough during fermentation to ensure that it’s not rising above its optimal point. Gently poke the dough—if it springs back slowly, it is ready to enter the oven.
- Pay attention to the temperature during proofing. Sourdough required meticulousness and a balance of warmth and coolness. Excessively warm environments during proofing can cause rapid fermentation and lead to uncontrolled splitting.
- Introduce steam to create a moist environment in the oven when your sourdough bread is baking. This helps the dough expand evenly, preventing premature crust formation, which can restrict expansion and cause unsightly splits.
3. Dense, Uneven Crumb
The agony of a disappointing bake is real when a sourdough bread you painstakingly made for hours comes out the oven with a dense and uneven crumb. Sourdough breads are loved for their pillowy and soft interiors, and if you’re not getting that signature cross-section, there’s something wrong. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you’ll not make the same mistake again:
- Finding the right balance is key when it comes to hydrating your dough. If it’s as dry as a crusty desert, your dough won’t be able to properly expand and form those delightful air pockets. But if it’s too wet, it can become excessively slack, resulting in a dense, pancake-like disaster.
- Sourdough is a living organism thanks to the wild yeasts and healthy bacteria present in starters. Allow your dough enough time to ferment and develop those desirable air bubbles, otherwise, you’ll be left with a disappointingly dense interior.
- Gluten is responsible for providing structure and elasticity to your dough, as well as trapping the gases that give you the hole-y cross-section. If you’re not giving it enough love and attention through proper kneading, stretching, and folding, it’s not going to give you the precious airy interior you crave. The result? A crumb that resembles a sad, deflated balloon.
In the realm of baking, every dough kneads some love and attention, and a whole lot of patience to allow it to reach its full potential. Embrace the art and science of making sourdough bread and your final masterpiece will be sure to leave you loaf-struck!
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