The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Using a sourdough starter in a bread machine

drjesullivan's picture

Using a sourdough starter in a bread machine

I have a biga and a rye sourdough starter, and the results as of late have been extremely disappointing.  I'm following the book, "Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine," and early on, the authors state that a sourdough starter (one cup, as they described) can be added to any of the recipes.  When I try that, the dough turns out overly wet and generally unusable.  Do I need to adjust the water in a recipe once I introduce a starter like the authors suggested?  Thanks.

SourdoLady's picture

I have made a lot of sourdoughs in my bread machine. I never bake my breads in the machine--I just use it to mix the dough. I also don't let it rise in the machine because it is too warm. You will get better flavored bread with a longer, cooler rise.

I have found that sourdoughs tend to get over-developed in a bread machine mixing cycle. This causes the gluten structure to begin to break down  and the dough weakens in strength. It loses its elasticity and becomes shiny and sticky as the dough's water, which was first absorbed during mixing, is released. The dough will appear very slack and shiny and will not hold its shape well.

I prefer to avoid this problem by cutting the bread machine's kneading time by 10 minutes. I then develop my dough by doing a bulk ferment with two or three evenly spaced dough-foldings done during the ferment. I never use commercial yeast in combination with my sourdough. If you do, the dough may react differently than I have described here.