Sticking to time-tested formulas and Old World processes never go out of style. Take authentic sourdough bread, which has distinctive crusts, textures, aromas and taste. But what do the experts say about what makes a great loaf of sourdough?

“The first thing you notice is the crust,” John Friend, president of Farm to Market Bread Co., noted in the September trends report by Michelle Smith, features editor at Baking & Snack. “A lot of people don’t realize a lot of the flavor comes from the caramelization of the crust. Most of the time, I don’t even have to taste it to tell if something went wrong. But having a good chewy crust on a San Francisco sourdough is key.”

Creating the right crumb is critical as well.

“If your crumb is off, your mouthfeel and texture is going to be off,” said Jon Davis, head of culinary innovation at Aspire Bakeries. “Or if your hydration is off then your crumb, your texture and your flavor is going to be off. And that’s personal as well, I think. It’s time, it’s flavor and then once you get that right, everything else falls into place.”

A longer fermentation creates a better loaf by fully hydrating flour to create a satisfying cell structure, said Josh Allen, founder and owner of Companion Baking.

“It brings a super moist and tender crumb and also creates a crisp crust and helps with shelf life,” he said. “It does a lot of things that quickly made bread will never have.”

Sticking to tradition will lead to success in the long run.