If you've ever wanted to make your own sourdough bread, but weren't sure where to start, this guide is for you:
When it comes to flour, you'll want to use bread flour that has a high protein content. This will help your dough to rise properly and give you a nice, chewy texture in the end. Avoid using self-rising flour, as this can make your bread too dense.
When it comes to kneading and fermentation times, the most important thing to remember is to read the dough, not the clock. Every flour behaves differently, so it's crucial to pay attention to how your dough looks and feels rather than adhering strictly to a recipe.
If your dough is too sticky, add more flour a little at a time until it's easy to handle. On the other hand, if it's too dry and crumbly, add more water a few drops at a time until it comes together. The ideal dough should be soft, smooth, and slightly tacky to the touch.
Do remember: temperature affects fermentation timings so if you live in a warmer climate, the recipe timings from a colder climate may not apply to you. If your fridge is set colder or warmer than a recipe given, again that will affect how the dough ferments. Again, it's important to check the dough rather than the clock.
As far as fermentation goes, you'll know your dough is ready to bake when it's doubled in size and passes the "finger test." To do this, simply press your finger into the dough – if the indentation remains, it's ready to go. If not, give it more time.
When in doubt, trust your instincts and bake the bread when it looks and feels ready. Ultimately, practice makes perfect and with enough experience, you'll be baking delicious sourdough loaves that are sure to impress your friends and family.
Now that you know how to make a perfect sourdough loaf, it's time to get baking! Experiment with different flour-to-water ratios, fermentation times and baking temperatures to find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun! There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of biting into a warm, freshly baked slice of sourdough bread.