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Seven tips for baking Sourdough Bread

Lessons learnt from doing what everyone seemed to be during the past two years of lockdowns.

Seven tips for baking Sourdough Bread

Oct 14, 2022 Food

Focus on flavour

Making bread the perfect shape is hard. To get the requisite rise you need to nail the water/flour balance, the shaping, the timing, the temperature. Merely delicious bread requires much less skill. With the right amount of salt, the right darkening of the crust and good flour, your bread will probably be delicious. Will it be more delicious if it has risen properly and has that airy, Instagram-ready crumb? Sure! But better to have delicious bread that’s a little flat than bland bread with the perfect rise.


All you need is butter

While learning to make bread, try eating some of every loaf both plain and then just with butter to better taste the bread rather than what you’re putting on it.


Use good flour

You get out what you put in, etc.


Burn it (just a little bit)

A dark crust is a great source of flavour — don’t be scared to leave that loaf in the oven a little longer than you think you should.


Heat it up

Turn your oven up as high as it will go well in advance
of putting your loaves in. You can’t trust most oven thermometers (assuming you’ve got a standard domestic oven) so better just to make it as hot as possible to give your loaf the immediate kick of heat, which will help immensely with both rise and flavour. I’ve never been able to get an oven so hot it burned the crust before it cooked the inside. But, if you do…


Accentuate the positive

When you make a loaf of bread and it doesn’t come out as hoped — a little flat or a little dense, maybe — act like a Top Chef contestant and act like you meant it to be like that. If your loaf has pancaked a little, make yourself feel better by eating it with things that are unsuited to light, fluffy, holey loafs like melting butter and runny honey.


Don’t get dogmatic about it

Puritanism is boring. Not everything needs to be fermented for 18 hours and there are lots of great breads to make that use dry yeast. Work with what you have (in terms of both time and ingredients) and if you’re not enjoying it, go buy a loaf and forget about baking for a while. Baking is like growing vegetables — if it’s not a source of enjoyment or satisfaction, it’s usually best left to the professionals.

The Tasting (aka, the quest to find the best bread in Auckland)
What is bread?
Rēwena is unique to Aotearoa — so why don’t we eat more of it?
You and I eat bread differently
Seven Tips for baking Sourdough Bread
We ask Auckland’s biggest providers of bread what happens to the leftovers.
This feature was published in Metro 435
Available here in pdf format.


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