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33 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Baking With Sourdough

With so many people starting to bake with sourdough, I thought it would be helpful to share all the things I wished I’d known BEFORE I started baking. Here are 33 helpful tips to get your started.

Fresh loaf of sourdough bread coming out of a cast iron dutch oven.

Once a sourdough baker, always a sourdough baker. You may take some time off, but it’s like riding a bike. You just need to make a new sourdough starter and get back to it.

We hope these tips will help encourage you in your endeavor to perfecting the art of sourdough.

If you’re not signed up for the 2021 Sourdough Challenge (happening in January), be sure to save your seat now!

Did you know that commercially prepared sourdough isn’t usually real sourdough? It is worth learning to make your own real sourdough at home.

33 Sourdough Baking Tips

  1. There are rarely failures in sourdough baking – even the ugly loaves taste amazing! 
  2. There are literally a hundred ways to make sourdough bread…there’s no right way, but there are a few wrong ways. 
  3. Get to know a fellow baker, watch them in action, and talk bread. It’s amazing the things you’ll learn!
  4. Your starter is a million times more resilient than you think.
  5. A new starter won’t act the same as an established starter.
  6. If you don’t want to babysit a new starter, get some from a local bakery (it’ll already be established and ready to bake with).
  7. Don’t expect perfection. Practice, then adjust. Practice, then adjust some more… a very small percentage actually get it right the first time. (Even then, it’s normally luck!)
  8. Not all starters are created equal! Different flour = different results. Experiment! 
  9. If your starter isn’t doubling in size (after feeding), neither will your dough.
  10. How your starter performs is the best predictor for your dough. 
  11. You WILL get the hang of the sourdough terminology! Until then, use Google! 
  12. Patience, patience, patience! Don’t hurry your loaf. With time and a little guidance, bread practically makes itself.
  13. Only knead if you WANT to, it’s not actually necessary!
  14. Wet hands make a HUGE difference – HUGE!
  15. Between stiff and nicely hydrated, you get “sticky”.
  16. Get fancy with your scoring, but know that a straight score tastes just as good as a beautiful work of art. 
  17. You learn so much through experimentation, especially when they fail.
  18. Don’t get hung up on hydration…at least not yet!
  19. The refrigerator can be used to hit “pause” on your dough when needed.
  20. There are tons of fancy tools out there, very few are needed, but some are like toys!
  21. Shaping bread is really important. It’ll get easier with time…until then, just do your best.
  22. Between a gentle touch and deflation lies confident hands.
  23. Your dough took a lot of time to develop those gas bubbles, try not to deflate them.
  24. Use rice flour in your proofing bowls. Try it once, you’ll never go back!
  25. Steam is an incredible tool. Make it and trap it…ice cubes in the bottom of your oven can be a loaf’s best friend! 
  26. Use temperature to your advantage…don’t be afraid to get things SUPER hot!
  27. If you think sourdough from white flour tastes amazing…start experimenting with whole grains and gluten-free flours in sourdough!
  28. Finer flour = a larger loaf. A sifter is helpful when using whole grains (the sharp edges of the bran can cut through gluten). 
  29. Preheated Dutch Ovens are HOT! Using oven mitts and parchment paper makes a huge difference.
  30. Big holes in your bread are overrated…there’s a happy medium between a well-risen loaf and bread that’s impossible to spread jelly on! 
  31. Sourdough baking can be addictive…but no one seems interested in having you stop! 
  32. Share! Share your journey, share your bread, share your gift…sharing is always appreciated. 
  33. Enjoy the journey…and the bread! 
A man and wife smiling.

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Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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