Bread Boss Bread Education Recipes

Sourdough Baking Lexicon Confused

We recently received some feedback from a Bread Boss user who expressed dismay at the plethora of sourdough terms used all around the English speaking world. This included books, videos and websites. It’s all very confusing and makes it hard to understand. Bread Boss seemed like just another one to add to the pile of mishmash. It occurred to us this may be a timely post and others may also find this interesting and informative.

The author of the email kindly allowed me to reproduce the relevant part as the basis of this post. Here’s an excerpt from the email.

“In all the books and in all the serious online websites there is a complete range of names used for the various stages of bread baking. Some are reasonably consistent like ferment and proof but in sourdough there are a full range of names for the same thing. For instance Peter Rienhart calls his starter a mother and uses some of it to create a “stiff dough”. Dan Leader calls it a liquid Levain, to make a stiff dough. You guys call it a starter to make a “sourdough”. I know we can’t change the world but maybe recognising these wide variations of terminology in your app might help other beginning bakers. As for me the whole sourdough nomenclature was confusing.”

My reply isn’t meant to be an exhaustive recount but a brief outline of the history of the problemĀ and why Bread Boss and this site uses the sourdough terms it does.