There are two main elements that draw consumers to sourdough bread: the crispy exterior and the soft, slightly sour interior. So when you bite into a slice of sourdough and find that it’s gummy, needless to say, you’re put off. But what happened? Why did the sourdough bread turn out gummy?
There are multiple reasons why sourdough bread might come out gummy. The main culprit is too much moisture. However, using an immature sourdough starter or not allowing the bread dough to proof long enough can also cause gummy sourdough loaves.
Hello! My name’s Michelle, and I am an avid bread-baking enthusiast with over ten years of baking experience. I have learned a lot about sourdough throughout my baking shenanigans, and one thing that holds true is this – baking sourdough can be somewhat challenging.
If you end up with gummy sourdough bread, don’t panic – just keep reading to find out why and how to fix it!
- Why is my Sourdough Bread Gummy (5 Five Causes)
- Gummy Sourdough Bread (5 Fixes)
- Say Goodbye to Gummy Sourdough Loaves!
Why is my Sourdough Bread Gummy (5 Five Causes)
Nobody wants gummy sourdough bread. Unfortunately, though, this is a common problem among sourdough bakers. There are multiple causes and accompanying solutions. First, let’s find out why your sourdough bread turned out gummy in the first place.
1. Too much moisture in the dough
Overly wet dough is never a good thing. Not only will it be almost impossible to knead correctly, but it will create a dense loaf that has a sub-par flavor – and, of course, it may turn out unappealingly gummy.
What’s the deal? Well, too much water will adversely affect the dough’s gluten. It will make it harder to stretch and retain essential gasses for rising. The result? A gummy loaf that is anything but appetizing.
2. Unripe or immature sourdough starter
If you’re baking sourdough bread, you will need a key ingredient known as a sourdough starter. Essentially, it is a jar of bacteria and yeast that will be used to ferment – or proof – the bread, creating a delicious flavor and lovely texture.
Sourdough starters need to be taken care of to function properly. It must be fed at least every 12 hours. It can take up to two weeks before the starter is matured enough to take on a loaf of sourdough.
If you try to use an unripe or immature sourdough starter, you will have problems. That’s because the bread will take far too long to rise (if it rises at all). By the time it’s “ready,” the gluten structure will have deteriorated so much that you’re left with a gummy consistency.
3. Dough was overproofed
If you’re reading this article, this likely isn’t your first rodeo with sourdough baking. Therefore, you know that proofing sourdough can take quite a long time – up to 24 hours in the refrigerator for the best results.
However, while proofing sourdough for an extended period is essential for a picture-perfect loaf, overproofing can and will cause problems. And one of those problems? Gumminess, of course.
When your loaf of sourdough is overproof, it retains too much moisture. So much so that it is impossible for the moisture to escape during the baking process. Therefore, you end up with a loaf of overly dense and gummy sourdough bread. Yuck.
4. Wrong oven temperature
Using a too-cool oven is a definite no-no when it comes to baking bread of any kind, including sourdough. While you should always follow your recipe to a tee, the oven temperature should likely hover around 400F for sourdough.
Anything less than that is going to cause issues. You see, when the oven temperature is too low, the exterior bakes before the interior. Once the exterior is crisp and thick, the moisture from the interior cannot escape – resulting in unparalleled gumminess.
5. Not cooled long enough
I know, you just made a loaf of homemade sourdough bread, and you’re an eager beaver to dive right in. But did you know that cutting into that fresh sourdough loaf can lead to gumminess?
It all has to do with the starches found inside the loaf. When sourdough is baked, the starches swell with water. As it cools, the water leaves the starches, absorbed by the crust. This results in the firm sourdough crust we all know and love.
If the process is halted by premature cutting, the water in the starches will cause them to remain gelatinized – meaning your sourdough turns out with an unpleasant gummy texture.
Gummy Sourdough Bread (5 Fixes)
Okay, so obviously, there are many things that can cause a gummy loaf of sourdough bread. The good news is that there are some great fixes to stop this problem from happening in the future. (Don’t worry – they’re all super simple remedies!)
1. Reduce the water Content
While I always recommend following the recipe you’re using, if you find that you continuously end up with an overly wet dough and gummy loaf, the best option is to lower the water content.
To do this, simply cut back the water content by ¼ cup. You can always add it later if needed, but it’s best to start with too little instead of too much. There’s really no going back from that!
2. Feed your sourdough starter
Is there an issue with your sourdough starter? Then you need to do two things:
- Make sure you feed your sourdough starter every 12 hours. A ratio of 1:1:1 is ideal for most sourdough starters.
- Don’t use the sourdough starter until it’s been fed for two weeks. While some bakers say it’s OK to use a starter after the first week, allowing a full two weeks before use will render the best results.
Also, ensure the sourdough starter isn’t dead. While an active, ready-to-use sourdough starter will be fragrant, double in size, and produce tiny bubbles, a dead sourdough starter will be unresponsive to feedings, emit an odd odor, and may even grow mold.
3. Proof of the right amount of time
Again, follow your recipe! Your recipe will state how long to proof your sourdough. However, a general rule of thumb is that sourdough needs at least four hours in the fridge, but up to 24 hours is fine.
Check for signs that your sourdough is done proofing. It will have doubled in size, and when performing the poke test, it will not spring back quickly and will leave a slight indent. When you notice these indicators of doneness, your sourdough is ready to go.
4. Use the correct oven temperature
I know I sound like a broken record here, but that’s just because it’s essential – follow your recipe’s guidelines for oven temperatures. If your recipe doesn’t display a temperature, for one reason or another, you can safely use 400F for sourdough.
5. Let it cool
Always, always, always let your sourdough (and other types of bread!) cool before digging in. I know, sometimes it’s difficult to wait, but it’s absolutely essential to the outcome of your bread. I recommend waiting at least 45 minutes before slicing into it.
Gummy sourdough bread isn’t great, but now you know why it happens and how to prevent it in the future. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot already, but I went ahead and added these interesting, frequently asked questions to help you learn more.
What does Overproofed sourdough look like?
Overproof sourdough looks much like any other kind of overproofed loaf of bread. Rather than being double in size – which is what it is supposed to be – it will be more than doubled and hanging over the sides of the bowl or pan you’re using.
Is gummy bread safe to eat?
If the bread has been thoroughly cooked, it may be safe to eat. However, if the gumminess is caused by an oven that wasn’t hot enough, so the bread is cooked on the exterior but not the interior, it may not be safe to consume. And who wants to eat gummy bread anyway? Start from scratch!
Why does my sourdough not hold its shape?
Is your sourdough too runny to shape? It’s likely due to the fact that you over or under-kneaded the dough. There may also be an issue of far too much moisture.
Say Goodbye to Gummy Sourdough Loaves!
Now that you know why sourdough loaves turn out gummy and how to fix them, you can finally kiss your gummy nightmares goodbye. The critical takeaway is to avoid using too much water and ensure you use an active and mature sourdough starter!
Have you ever baked sourdough that turned out gummy? What did you determine was the problem? Share stories with us!About Michelle