Sharing Bread part 1: Planning

So you want to bring sourdough bread to a friend who just had a baby or make sourdough bread to go with dinner… but you’re not sure how to time it to have your bread finished in time….

Aside from getting better acquainted with natural fermentation and caring for a live sourdough starter, the time planning for sourdough baking takes consistent and repetitive practice.

Getting this rhythm of sourdough timing down turns into instinct the more that you bake, however, with some intentional planning you have the tools you need to grow in this area. And growth in your ability to time your bakes well will allow you to feel more confident sharing bread with people and making commitments to make sourdough for a friend or gathering.

How to plan your bread:

  • Make sure you have all necessary ingredients on hand.
  • Start with the target finish time then work backwards.
  • Take into account every timing step: cooling, baking, proofing, shaping, bench rest, preshape, bulk fermentation, mixing, starter preparation.
  • And estimate your timing window with the current season in mind, in summer your steps will be closer together due to the warmer temperatures and in winter you will have to be more patient and be sure to give the dough an adequate amount of time to ferment and rise.
  • On a sheet of paper or notebook, write your target finish time at the bottom of the page, then above that, write every single stage of the bread making process in order in a list from preparing the starter at the top to serving the bread at the bottom with target finish time under that. Review the recipe and work backwards and write down the time (and day) you will start each step.
  • Commit to making the bread! Put it on the calendar, tell your friend you are bringing it so you have accountability.

An example:

Preparing an enriched sourdough bread for a Saturday morning

  1. Prepare starter at: Thursday at 10pm (6-12 hours before mixing dough)
  2. Mix dough at: Friday at 9am
  3. Bulk fermentation begins approximately at: Friday at 9:30am (5-7 hours before shaping at room temp)
  4. Begin shaping dough at: Friday at 3pm
  5. Proofing begins at: Friday 3:45/4pm into fridge **Put in fridge to proof cold overnight. Take out at 7:30am to come to room temp.**
  6. Preheat oven: Saturday at 7:45am
  7. Bake at: Saturday at 8:30am See recipe for timing
  8. Cools 30-60 minutes
  9. Ready to serve by: Saturday at 9:30am
  10. Target finish time: Saturday at 10am for brunch

Don’t shrink back from sharing your bakes! And keep on baking, the more you bake, the more confidence you will have to share with others.

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