Why You Need To Be Gentle When Working With Your Sourdough

As rough as your day might have been, you don't want to take it out on the sourdough bread you're trying to bake to perfection. Sourdough bread can admittedly be a tricky recipe to navigate, and the list of tips to master when working with sourdough can be long. If you're already on your way to putting the finishing touches on dough that is ready to be placed into a warm oven, don't get hasty. Though you may have seen food influencers and culinary personalities enthusiastically smash closed fists into doughy mounds on floured surfaces, sourdough calls for a softer approach. After all, you want to avoid any potential sourdough failure after putting in so much effort already.

For optimal baking results, you'll need to slowly shape sourdough so that the gas you've worked hard to encourage to develop isn't completely removed from your soon-to-be freshly baked sourdough loaves. Yes, bakers often refer to a step in the process as punching dough, but this isn't meant to be a literal instruction. We're talking more of a gentle press rather than a full-weight left-hook.

Perfecting sourdough recipes from start to finish

The sourdough you mold shouldn't feel limp or overly sticky, and once baked, the crumb of the inside of your bread should have a cohesive hole-dappled look throughout each slice. So ensure this holey texture happens, as you stretch and fold the dough and strive to get the right texture prior to baking, remember that you're strengthening the dough and also preserving some of that trapped air necessary for a perfect bake. 

Whether you're making a regular sourdough recipe or hot honey sourdough, resist the urge to get too aggressive with your dough. Instead of a rough abrasive shaping, think of the molding process as a gentle pressing and firmer folding as you form the dough mass that will become part of tomorrow's breakfast. This gentler approach will yield a loaf of bread that offers a satisfyingly springy center and a crunchy crust that will have you planning your next bake. Be good to your sourdough, and it will be good to you in return.