Sourdough Success: How To Tell When It’s Done Proofing

You’ll learn how to recognize when your sourdough is ready to be baked and avoid baking before the rise process is done.

How Do You Know When Sourdough Is Done Proofing?

The sourdough is done proofing when you notice the shaped dough has increased in volume and also by passing the poke test. This is done by pressing into the dough and if it slowly regains its shape after being pressed in, it means it’s ready to bake. If it regains its shape too quickly it means that you still need to give it some time. 

If you are a beginner don’t be afraid to poke your dough a few times to ensure that it is fully proofed. it’s a great way to get familiar with your dough and get very comfortable with it so you know when it’s ready to bake. 

If you are delicate when shaping your dough and make sure to not deflate all the bubbles that were developed in your dough the proofing stage will be a little bit easier because the volume would be still there so the process won’t take as long.

There are other important things that you need to know about sourdough in order to have the best bread possible such as if your dough should be sticky even after kneading and what to do if that happens. We will also talk a little bit more about if you actually need to knead your dough and what the perfect starter looks like.

Should Sourdough Be Sticky After Kneading?

Sourdough is usually a high-hydration type of dough so it’s very common for the dough to be sticky at first. With experience, once you start to knead or stretch and fold the dough as the gluten forms the outside of the dough will start to become more smooth and more easy to handle.

If your dough is still sticky, even after you kneaded your dough or the stretch and fold method. It usually means the dough is over-hydrated and it’s more than the recommended 65% to 70% hydration level. This just means that it’s harder to handle and if you don’t have as much experience with handling hydrated dough it’ll be very hard to get the dough to cooperate. It’s very much possible to handle dough up to 100% hydration but that requires more experience with handling very sticky dough.

Also, the type of flour that you use plays a huge factor in your dough and how it handles the water. So if your flour has a very low protein percentage the gluten doesn’t tend to form easily and it will be more breakable which means that the dough would be more stickier. 

Having flour that can handle water really well while having a good high percentage of protein usually around 12% to 15% will help you have a good gluten development once you start kneading the dough. 

But keep in mind that even though you may knead the dough correctly and becomes easier to handle, the dough will still have a form of stickiness. Leaving the dough after being kneaded for about 15 to 20 minutes on the counter covered in a container will help the dough be less sticky while the gluten develops at the same time.

What Happens If You Don’t Knead Sourdough?

There is an option to not knead the dough but you will notice there are some differences with your sourdough. Such as the dough being a little bit more dense compared to if you kneaded your dough. You’ll notice the crumb and texture would be different usually it would be a smaller crumb versus if you kneaded it you’d get more of a bigger crumb.

The dough also wouldn’t have the same elasticity compared to a kneaded dough. But the gluten will still form from resting the dough in a container. The good thing is the flavor will still be there and the crust is usually still just as nice. 

Most people prefer to knead their sourdough because it allows them to have more control over their dough and be able to manipulate the texture and crumb they desire. So it really comes down to preference and the type of bread they prefer. 

You can read more about no-kneaded sourdough in this article.

What Consistency Should Sourdough Be Before Baking?

There is no perfect consistency you should go for when it comes to your sourdough starter. The general rule is if you want a stronger flavor you would keep your starter more liquidy. If you want more of a rise – a better oven spring you would have your sourdough starter be more on the doughy side. 

Most sourdough starters that you see when you do research is the 100% hydration starter where you would put equal amounts of water and flour together which is a more liquid consistency. 

The good thing about a starter is it’s very easy to change the consistency so you can always go from a stiffer starter to a more liquid starter depending on what your preferences are for that day. Having the starter more doughy allows you not to have to feed it as much. To maintain it with this type of consistency you would add the same weight of the starter in flour and half of the weight of the starter in water. 

Why Didn’t My Sourdough Rise In The Fridge Overnight?

When sourdough is in the fridge overnight there shouldn’t be a huge expectation for the dough to rise exponentially as when the yeast gets too cold it starts to slow down. this means that the dough is not going to rise in volume at an exponential speed.

Most put the dough in the fridge for the main purpose of helping the bread to have a better flavor it wouldn’t have had if not put in the fridge. The rise does still happen but at a way slower rate and usually it would take longer for the rise to happen.

As a beginner baker, it’s not uncommon to add more starter to speed up the rising process of your dough. But the reason why most people like to slow down the fermentation process is to allow there to be better flavor in the dough. Some leave the dough to rise for a day or two and refuse to bake it the same day in order to have the best bread possible once it’s baked.

Check out this article with tips on baking the best sourdough ever!

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