Sourdough has a bad reputation for being too time-consuming to bake at home – but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! In this article you’ll learn some important tips that I’ve accrued over years of experience. These tips will make sourdough baking easier and simpler, reduce your stress level, and give you more confidence to finally tackle baking sourdough yourself.
There are endless ways to make sourdough fit into your hectic schedule. I hear all the time that sourdough is “too much” and “takes too long” to become a consistent routine at home.
And I just think that isn’t true!
Yes, sourdough does require a starter that needs feeding. Yes, sourdough takes longer than yeasted breads. But is it impossible? No!
I have three young kids. I understand busy better than the average person. Some weeks I’m not able to bake at all, and that’s okay! That’s why I love sourdough. It’s extremely flexible and can work around your schedule.
Below are a few tips I’ve learned along the way, and these tips have dramatically reduced my stress level when it comes to baking sourdough. Plus, a helpful sourdough schedule template that you can download for FREE. I hope these also help you to ease your nerves if you’re having doubts!
This technique, by and large, is my favorite to use to help fit sourdough into my life. A cold proof is when you put your dough into the refrigerator for the final rise. After the folding and shaping is done, the dough is refrigerated overnight (and basically forgotten about)!
Traditionally, the final rise is done at room temperature. It happens faster at room temperature, but makes your baking day much much longer. If you have that kind of flexibility, great! But if you’d like to streamline your process, work sourdough into your schedule, and make it less stressful, cold proofing is for you.
Cold proofing reduces the total time from 7-8 hours to about 4-5 hours. And remember, that is not 4-5 hours of work – that’s popping into the kitchen for one minute at a time for a quick fold, then letting your dough rest for 30 minutes, and repeat.
Another great way to help fit sourdough into your life is to take notes with every bake. One day you’ll pull out a perfect loaf from the oven, and you’re going to want to replicate that!
If you take notes along the way, including baking temp, time, ingredients used, steps taken, and descriptive qualities of the dough, you’ll be able to do that exact same thing again and bake another perfect loaf.
Like the sourdough schedule template below, taking notes helps you hone your skills and shave down unnecessary steps along the way, saving you time and making sourdough much more achievable.
Make a sourdough schedule
When first starting out, the best way to wrap your head around the process is to write it all out. Start with the day you’ll make your leaven, and write down what time that will be. Then, working forwards, you can extrapolate when you will start mixing your dough the next day, and when it will be done and ready for cold-proofing. You can even write down the times you want to bake on the third day! Sourdough schedules are the best.
I’ve helped countless people work through their busy schedules. One busy, working mom reached out to me saying she couldn’t figure out when to bake during the week, as her weekends are so busy. We made a plan: build leaven at 6am, mix dough at 2pm, cold-proof at 7pm. Boom! The following morning, she baked. And she was thrilled!
I’ve created two types of printable schedules for you to work with. The first is based on my Simple Sourdough recipe, and the second is completely blank and customizable to your own recipe.
Sourdough is flexible
One final thing to note is that every sourdough recipe can be adjusted. For example, I usually promote building leaven late at night so you can mix your dough first thing in the morning. However, that concept simply didn’t work for the mom whose story I mentioned above, so we improvised. She built her leaven first thing in the morning and mixed her dough in the afternoon.
All this to say: Make adjustments wherever necessary. Sourdough is very flexible and very forgiving – and very worth it. Jump in a give it a try!