The Top 9 Reasons You Messed Up Your Sourdough Bread During Quarantine

Three slices of fresh sourdough bread on a marble counterWritten by: Michelle Sadorsky

Photo by Debbie Widjaja on Unsplash

With so much time on everyone’s hands and a family to impress, what better way to knock off a few hours of your day with some fresh, artisanal bread that will engulf your house with unearthly, ethereal flavors? To those who mastered the bougie sourdough bread on their first go, congrats! This article isn’t for you. To those who royally messed up, I'm here to provide some insight so you may try again with effortless ease. You're welcome.

For those still too scared of sourdough, do not fret! I have also included some tips on banana bread, so you don't feel too left out.

1. Wrong Ingredients:

No, bread flour is not the same as all-purpose flour. It's obvious by just looking at it; the bread flour molecules are 10.55x bigger than the all-purpose ones. Even a bread amateur can tell you that much.

2. Poor Quality Proofer:

You didn't purchase the overly expensive kind. If you want that optimal levain (to all you bread noobs, this is just a fancy word for sourdough starter), you're going to need that baby to proof for 5-6 hours at a consistent temperature of 78.57685943⁰F. I'm sorry, but where in "sourdough" do you see the word "easy"?

3. Neglected the Use of Room Temperature Water:

The water is crucial when developing your dough. Not only must it be ROOM TEMPERATURE, but it's best to find some water from the natural springs of Neverland for optimal bread proofing. Ask King Oberon if you're unclear.

4. Overmixing:

Just don't. Unless you're into dense bread, in which case overmix to your heart's desire.

5. You Didn't Slap it Enough:

You need to be aggressive with your dough when it's been hydrated with your levain. Break out those dumbbells if you need to and slap and fold that sucker till your arms give way. Remember, you're trying to impress the family here.

6. Lazy Fermenting:

Admit it. You cut corners. Instead of going the extra mile and letting the bread bulk ferment for 4.5 hours, and rest for another 16 ½ years in the fridge, you just tossed it into the oven. How dare you feign surprise when your bread comes out astronomically dull.

7. Your Pan Wasn't Screaming:

When you're preheating those cast irons in the oven, you better crank that heat up to 900⁰F. Oh, your oven doesn't go that high? Then get a new oven. Your neighbor is redecorating their entire office space in the meantime, so why can't you pick up something from Ikea?

8. Overcooked:

What, were you too busy arguing with your family over which new oven to buy that you left the bread unattended? Know that I'm very cross with you right now.

9. Distraction:

You were simply too caught up watching movies, playing old board games and debating over toilet paper with your family, that you put aside your bread-making duties. Good for you.



And, as promised, here are some banana bread tips for the total noobs out there (no judging, I swear)...

1. Good Bananas: 

Store-bought won’t do here. I’m sorry to say this, but you need to grow your own bananas. Fortunately, it’s not that hard; just move to a tropical location with fertile soil and start planting within 30 degrees of the equator. The rest is all waiting—approximately 9-12 months—which I can assure you will pass in a flash. You can thank me later.

2. Fold-in your Wet and Dry Ingredients: 

The optimal mixing technique. Just take any utensil and... fold. You get it, right?

3. Don't Overmix:

Did you already forget my warning in Step 4 of sourdough-making? Amateur.

4. Let it Cool:

Don’t just toss the bread out of the pan the moment it’s done baking. I get you’re greedy, but just give your bread time to rest.

As a final note, I’d like to address how jumbling, confusing and sudden these last few months have been for a lot of people. Which is why it’s even more important that you follow my advice; without it, you waste the family-bonding and sense of accomplishment from making your very own bread. Let’s continue bringing in those little bouts of positivity, even if it means hoarding all the flour. 

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