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Sourdough Dictionary


Bloom: The phenomenon of the crust opening or 'blooming' where the slashes have been placed, creating crisp flaps or 'ears' of dough on the top crust where the gas and steam of the bread escapes during baking.
Crumb: The many ways of describing the interior texture of a loaf of bread. For example if bread is full of large irregular bubbles it is called open crumb. If it is dense, such as in whole grain varieties it is a tight or small crumb. Coarse crumb describes a biscuit texture whereas soft crumb is like a moist, smooth cake.
Domesticated yeast: Also known as ‘commercial‘ or ‘baker’s yeast’. This is a single strain of yeast that is used most commonly in modern baking, or to add to the rising power of a traditional sourdough bread if desired (which is often called ‘spiking’ the dough).
Expand: Used to describe the feeding that is done prior to baking, where you are aiming to build up the amount of starter from a small quantity to a larger quantity for a recipe. To avoid too much acidity, its recommended to atleast triple your starter’s original size before baking with it.
Flying Crust: When a loaf ‘blows its top’ or has random bursts in the crust while baking due to built up pressure of fermenting gases and steam. Usually due to inproper slashing before putting in the oven.
Hooch: The liquid that rises to the top of a starter after it has exhausted its food supply (contains some alcohol). This happens because the yeast and bacteria are aging (like wine).
Proofing: Allowing the starter or the bread dough to rise until doubled.
Ratio: The amount in percent of starter compared to flour and water. For example, 1 TBS starter with 1/4 cup water and 1/3 cup flour would be 1:4:6. Professional bakers often measure this by weight with scales for a more accurate ratio.
Refresh: Feeding your starter to get it active again (if you’re not feeding it daily). This term is usually used as the feeding term when preparing a starter for baking.
Retard: To retard the dough is to slow its proofing time (fermenting) by putting it in a cooler environment (such as a fridge) to allow flavor to develop for a longer time without over-proofing (yeast and bacteria eating too quickly and running out of food).
Scoring: Also known as ‘slashing’ or ‘docking’. The process of slicing shallow cuts in the top of the bread with a razor just before baking to allow steam to escape and the loaf to ‘bloom’ correctly. Starter: The sourdough culture. Also loosely referred to as mother, barm, levain, poolish, sponge, inoculant, chef, or biga. Each have slightly different consistencies and ways of being built (for example a sponge is usually more liquid in texture).

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