~~ Your Live Sourdough Starter must be fully active before baking with it.
~~ Your measurements will be more accurate and you'll have more consistent results if you use a scale rather than measuring cups.
~~ Keep your hands wet and use a dough scraper to knead the bread. The dough should be sticky when you start the kneading; if it's not sticky, you have too much flour and will have dry bread.
~~ Knead your dough by hand for 15-20 minutes. If that's a long time for you, it's all right to split the time into two sessions. Knead for 5-10 minutes at a time, take a 15 minute break and then knead again.
~~ Try not to use a mixer for kneading because it heats up the dough too much and home mixers don't activating the gluten in the flour very well. If you must use a mixer, knead the last five minutes by hand.
~~ To determine if you've kneaded enough, take a small piece of dough and keep stretching it until you can see light through it. If the dough breaks before being stretched that thin, knead the dough some more.
~~ When you finish kneading, shape your loaf, cover it and let it sit for at least 4 hours but perhaps even as long as 24 hours (it depends on your specific sourdough starter and temperature around the loaf). Wild yeast in sourdough doesn't rise as quickly as commercial yeast. The rise time affects the sour taste of your bread. A longer rise time produces a more sour bread.
~~ Place the sourdough bread on a baking stone if you have one and heat it in the oven for up to an hour before baking.
~~ Use a cooking thermometer to determine when the bread has an internal bread temperature of 195-210F. The bread will also have a hollow sound when thumped.
~~ Let the bread cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing
Photo from flickr creative commons.