A Comprehensive Guide to Making Sourdough Bread, from Feeding the Starting to Preparing the Dough
Bread making, especially sourdough bread making, can seem mysterious. We're here to help by showing you what you're looking for when begining to work with a sourdough starter to make levain and autolyze, then proof the dough. Enlist this basic process for when you're making our Sourdough Boules, Sourdough Croissants, or Sourdough Focaccia.
Feed the Starter
Most bakers keep their starter in the fridge where the cool temperature slows down yeast and bacteria growth. When you're ready to bake, adding flour and water "wakes it up" and makes the yeast and bacteria in it grow and multiply. Once it's lively, bubbly, and fed, it's ready for baking.
Make the Levain
Adding a certain amount of flour and water to a measured amount of starter, then letting it sit out to ferment (usually overnight), deepens the end flavor.
This is your autolyze/sponge step. Add more flour and liquid and let it rest briefly; this fully hydrates the flour and helps the gluten develop.
Forget what you might have heard, making bread is not necessarily all about the kneading. In sourdough baking, time in contact with water and folding build the gluten, so several rounds of gentle folding will suffice.
This is the final rise before baking. You know dough is properly proofed when you poke a finger into it and the indentation holds or reflattens very slowly.
Now you're ready to form croissants or shape the dough for boules.