4 Signs Your Sourdough has Finished Proofing

How long should you leave sourdough to rise before baking? When sourdough is left to rise, its characteristics change as it ferments.

The dough’s volume has increased The dough is no longer dense Large bubbles can be seen at the top of the dough or sides of the bowl

How Long Should you Proof Sourdough for? When you first learn to bake sourdough, it is handy to use certain time guidelines to help understand how long to proof sourdough for, but you may find that your bread results are different every time.

As a very basic time frame, the very minimum that sourdough should ferment/proof for is 4 hours. Less than 4 hours simply won’t be enough time to develop enough of a gluten structure or flavor.

Signs of Change During Bulk Fermentation of Sourdough The dough will change considerably during the bulk fermentation period (by bulk fermentation, we mean the first rise or proofing time), and knowing what to look for will help you determine if it is ready for shaping or not.

Sign #1: The Dough’s Density will Change When the dough is at the initial stages, it will be dense. During the bulk fermentation, the gluten structure will begin to develop, which helps to trap air into the dough.

Sign #2: The Dough will ‘Feel’ Different When you handle the dough after its bulk fermentation, it will feel quite different to when you first handled it. The dough will now be very light and have a ‘bouncy’ kind of a feel to it.

Sign #3: The Dough will Behave Differently A dough that has been proofed properly will still have ‘strength’ to it when handled. It will feel alive by being a little stubborn in the shape it wants to be. You will find that it has developed stretchiness and elasticity.

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