Everything to Know About Sourdough Ears

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In this article we’ll explain everything that you need to know about sourdough ears. When done right, a loaf of sourdough bread has a perfect rise in the oven, which creates these.

But how are these sourdough ears formed? And why is this important? Here we will explain everything step by step.

What are Sourdough Ears?

Sourdough ears or also called ”bread ears” and are the extra crunchy flap of crust that forms on your bread while baking. You’ve probably seen it before, but haven’t really paid attention to the term ”sourdough ear”.Usually a perfectly made bread will have a crust that opens along cuts (which were made during scoring). These cuts usually peel back and away from the main loaf. This will create something that looks like an ”ear” when the bread is rising in your Dutch oven.

How A Sourdough Ear is Formed

You need to make a sourdough ear yourself. It’s not something that just happens in the oven. It is created through effectively scoring your sourdough before it goes into the oven. 

While your dough is baking in the oven, a flap of dough will be pushed upwards and peel back. The rising process is the final step of having a sourdough bread with the perfect ear.

Why Do You Want a Bread Ear?

But, why would you want something like that with your bread?

The first reason could be because you’re creating an esthetically pleasing sourdough. Another more important reason is because it indicates a loaf that is fermented to the right degree. This is why many bakers think it’s important that their sourdough bread has an ear.

Not to mention, they also show the baker’s skill in imparting sufficient dough strength, shaping and proofing , and the ability to score effectively. All in all, it is a great way to show your friends and family that you certainly know what you’re doing when it comes to baking bread.

That said, it’s not absolutely essential. You can have a great tasting sourdough without it. However, many things you do to create a sourdough ear can result in a better textured sourdough and better flavor.

How Do I Get The Perfect Sourdough Ear

There are some important things you can do to encourage your sourdough to have the best possible ear. In the below paragraphs we will discuss 4 ways to give your bread the best chance of forming the perfect sourdough ear. 

1. Learn To Score Correctly

A lot of beginner bakers make the mistake of scoring incorrectly. This isn’t a huge deal, but you won’t get the perfect sourdough ear.You need to score in a way that you create a flap of dough which is pushed upwards and peels back. The best way to do this is to use a very sharp razor. A normal knife won’t be sharp enough.The way you need to score your bread is off center and from end to end. It’s created with just one single slash across the entire bread surface.

2. Make Sure Your Dough Has Spring

We can’t emphasize enough how important oven spring is to create the perfect sourdough ear. Because of the oven spring the flap of dough that you’ve scored will be pushed back.Oven spring is important to creating the perfect sourdough ear. It’s the oven spring that pushes upwards and forces the flap of dough that you’ve scored to be pushed back.Another thing that is important, is to not over-ferment your dough. You need to bake it at the right time so it can really puff up in the oven.

Interesting Facts

Here are some other interesting facts that we think are useful.

  • A sourdough ear is sometimes referred to as a ”bread bunny”. It gets this name because it looks like a bunny when the loaf is cut.
  • Steam is important to sourdough because it keeps the dough soft while baking.
  • A sourdough ear is not an easy thing to master. It’s important not to over-ferment your dough.
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Macy Wilson is a published author and bread baking expert. She is also known as the bread lady, and writes quality content for Make The Bread. When she's not writing, you will find her in the kitchen or playing with her cat.