Sourdough expert Vanessa Kimbell solves some common baking problems.
MY SOURDOUGH IS NOT RISING ENOUGH
Ensure that your starter is lively and bubbly when you mix the dough. If it is not at its peak, there won’t be enough microbial activity to allow your dough to rise. If it is not at its peak, there won’t be enough microbial activity to allow your dough to rise. If your starter is active but your dough is still not rising, try increasing the temperature of the water slightly (by 1-2 ̊C) or placing the dough in a warmer environment to prove. The other possible reason is that the flour you are using needs more water — this might be because it contains a lot of fibre or protein.
MY LOAF IS STICKING TO THE TIN
Be generous with the fat, and dust the tin with plenty of flour, seeds or rolled oats. A quicker and more reliable method is to line with baking parchment.
MY BAKE IS OVERBAKED OR UNDERBAKED
Every oven is slightly different, so I recommend using baking times as a guide. Check your bake 5-10 minutes before the end of the baking, but be prepared to bake for longer if needed.
Extract from 10-Minute Sourdough, Breadmaking for Real Life by Vanessa Kimbell
The experts at Denby share four warning signs to look out for to ensure that you’re buying the real deal.
SWEETENER IS USED
Sugar and sweeteners are important ingredients for many other types of bread. As well as giving the crust that nice golden colour and helping the bread retain moisture, these ingredients also act as a food for the yeast. The yeast converts the sugar and sweeteners into carbon dioxide, which therefore helps the bread rise quicker. However, genuine sourdough has a natural fermentation process, so yeast, and therefore sugar, is not required for it to rise.
A LONG EXPIRY DATE
Sugar and sweeteners also act as a preservative, so without it, the bread will have a shorter shelf life. If you see a sourdough with an expiry date that’s weeks away, this will almost certainly be a sourfaux.
YEAST IS IN THE INGREDIENTS LIST
While yeast is a key ingredient for most other forms of bread, it’s not necessary for sourdough loafs. This is because fermented flour is used, which allows bacteria and
yeast to grow naturally when left for enough time (Spoon University). Instead of yeast,
a genuine sourdough will have one of
the following listed: “sourdough starter”, “mother culture”, “starter culture”, or “starter”.
IT CONTAINS VINEGAR
Sourdough gets its distinctive tart flavour from the acids which are produced in
the fermentation process. While this is a difficult taste to replicate, this doesn’t stop some from trying. A sourfaux will often use vinegar to imitate this tangy flavour, so keep an eye out for it in the ingredients list.
Advice by Denby Pottery