The Last-Chance Method For Saving Over-Proofed Sourdough

Sourdough bread is a favorite for bread lovers everywhere, with a wonderful, unmistakable yeasty smell and a perfect crust. It is the ultimate breakfast bread with eggs and ham or jam and butter and is also an excellent component of a perfect sandwich like the BLT. It is the oldest leavened (or risen) bread in the world, dating back to ancient Egypt when wild yeast somehow made its way into a dough and was left to ferment for a while (via NPR). This resulted in fluffy, light bake. Sourdough is always made using a starter made of flour, water, and sugar that creates its own yeast culture, which, if tended to, can stay alive and active for decades.

According to The Sourdough School, all bread, before the invention of commercial yeast came into play, was made using a starter, but now the method is more specific to bakes like sourdough. But with great leavening potential comes great proofing responsibility, and sometimes sourdough can go a bit overboard.

The proof is in the sourdough

You may not be familiar with the proofing process, but you've definitely tasted its results. Bob's Red Mill describes proofing as the fermentation that occurs within the dough when it is left at room temperature, and which causes it to rise. Proofing activates the yeast in bread and allows it to expand, which gives the bake a light, porously textured crumb. However, you must not forget about your proofing dough! A dough can — and will — overproof. This happens when the carbon dioxide being released builds too much pressure, and the dough tears and deflates (via Modernist Cuisine). No one wants their sourdough to become weak and collapse, after all.

So, what do you do if you make this mistake with your sourdough? Sometimes you need a hands-on approach to fixing baking problems. MasterClass suggests scoring your dough before popping it in the oven. Try gently marking the top of your bread to give the carbon dioxide a way to escape without tearing through the crust and forcing it to collapse. You can even score your sourdough in an attractive design to turn a baking mistake into something artistic. So, if you've found you've over-proofed your dough, take a deep breath and pull out a sharp knife and get to work!