Homemade Sourdough Bread, Step by Step
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If you love fresh sourdough bread with a golden, crisp crust and a light, airy crumb, this recipe is for you. It’s one of the simplest homemade sourdough bread recipes, and one of the best, too. It requires only 25 minutes of hands-on work and no autolyse or preferment. Below you will find guidance for every step of the way. 🍞🍞🍞
“Absolutely the best sourdough recipe EVER! I have been baking bread for years (sourdough included,) and things were many times hit or miss. Not with your recipe. You have nailed it. I thank you!” — Rosemary Patterson
This post will show you how to make the simplest of simple sourdough breads. There is no autolyse or preferment, which means the dough itself comes together in less than five minutes.
For those intimidated by sourdough bread baking, this recipe, as well as this sourdough focaccia recipe, are the recipes I suggest making first, both for their simplicity and flavor. Another great beginner’s bread recipe to try is this overnight, refrigerator focaccia or my mother’s simple peasant bread recipe, both of which require minimal effort but yield spectacular results.
This post is divided into 13 sections:
- What is Sourdough Bread?
- What is a Sourdough Starter?
- How to Feed a Sourdough Starter
- When is My Starter Ready to Be Used?
- How to Make Sourdough Bread: A 5-Step Overview
- How this Sourdough Bread Recipe Differs From Others
- Simple Sourdough Bread: A Step-by-Step Guide
- #1 Sourdough Bread Baking Tip
- Troubleshooting: Where Sourdough Goes Wrong
- Sourdough Baking Resources
- Other Sourdough Bread Recipes to Make
- Sourdough Bread Baking Schedule
What is Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is bread that has been leavened naturally, meaning it has been leavened by a sourdough starter as opposed to by commercial yeast or a chemical leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda.
What is a Sourdough Starter?
A sourdough starter is a fermented mix of flour and water containing wild yeast and bacteria (lactobacilli). Provided it is healthy and active, a sourdough starter is what make will make your bread rise.
You absolutely can build a sourdough starter from scratch, but I am a huge proponent of purchasing one for a few reasons, namely: when you purchase a starter, you are guaranteed to have a strong, vigorous starter from the start. In other words, you can start baking with confidence right away.
Here are three online sources for reasonably priced sourdough starters:
How to Feed a Sourdough Starter
In order to keep your starter alive, you have to feed it — it’s not unlike having a pet, but know this: caring for a sourdough starter is akin to caring for a very low maintenance pet, one that requires feeding only once every two to three weeks to stay alive, but one that requires feeding much more regularly if you like to bake frequently.
When I am not baking regularly, I store my starter in the fridge in the above-pictured vessel with its lid on. As noted above it can hang out there for 2-3 weeks (if not longer) without being touched. To wake it up or activate it, I like to feed it twice before using it. Often I’ll remove it from the fridge after dinner and feed it: this involves discarding most of it and replenishing it with equal parts by weight flour and water. (Please read this post, which explains in detail how to activate, feed, and maintain a starter.)
I will repeat this process in the morning — discard most of it; then replenish it with equal parts by weight flour and water. By midday, or when my starter has doubled in volume, it is ready to be used.
To store your starter, you should feed it, let it rise till it nearly doubles; then cover it and stash it in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks until you are ready to use it again.
How Do I Know if My Starter is Ready to be Used?
If your starter doubles (or triples!) in volume within 4 to 8 hours after a feeding, it is ready to go. And ideally, you want to use your starter 4 to 8 hours after you feed it or when it has doubled. Every time I feed my starter, I place a rubber band around the vessel it is in to mark its height. This helps me see when it has doubled in volume and is, therefore, ready to be used.
If your starter is not doubling within 4 to 8 hours of feeding it, you should spend a few days strengthening it. This will involve discarding most of it — truly, don’t be afraid to be aggressive with how much you are discarding — and replenishing it with equal parts by weight flour and water. If you do this twice a day for several days, your starter will be in great shape.
What Equipment Do I Need?
At a minimum, you’ll need:
- a sourdough starter (see above)
- flour, bread flour if possible, my preference is King Arthur Flour
Ideally, you’ll also have:
- digital scale
- straight-sided vessel for monitoring the bulk fementation
- bench scraper
- flour sack towels
- parchment paper
- banneton, such as this one or this one
- razor blade
- heavy lidded vessel, such as this one or this one
How to Make Sourdough Bread: A 5-Step Overview
There are essentially 5 steps to making sourdough bread. Each of these steps is explained in more detail below.
- Mix the Dough: This is simply a matter of combining water, sourdough starter, salt and flour in bowl, and stirring to form a sticky dough ball.
- Bulk Fermentation: This is just a fancy name for the first rise. During the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, you’ll perform a series of stretches and folds, which will give the dough strength and elasticity.
- Shape + Bench Rest: This step ends the bulk fermentation. You’ll shape the dough, let it rest, then shape it once more.
- Proofing the Dough: In this recipe, you’ll cold proof the dough in the fridge, ideally for 24 to 48 hours, though you can get away with a shorter proof.
- Scoring + Baking the Dough: After the dough has proofed, you’ll turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper, score it; then transfer it to a preheated baking vessel.
How This Sourdough Bread Recipe Differs From Others
This recipe differs from others in three main ways:
- No Autolyse. Why? I’ve never found employing an autolyse makes a big difference in the final texture of the bread, and I find the process of doing an autoylse frankly to be kind of a pain. What is an autolyse? Autolyse is a technique that calls for mixing flour and water together and allowing them to sit for several hours before adding the salt and sourdough starter. This process allows gluten to develop in dough prior to mixing. It also makes the dough more extensible. This is due to the hydrating effects of soaking the flour, as well as — and this is getting a bit scientific — from the enzymatic activity of protease, which breaks down some of the gluten that forms as the dough hydrates. This process weakens the dough’s elasticity, in turn increasing its extensibility. If you are after a super open crumb, autolyse is something to consider.
- 50% (roughly) Increase in Volume. If you come from the yeast-leavened bread world, you are accustomed to letting your dough double in volume during the first rise. When I first got into sourdough, I was applying this same method, and while I had success, I realized I was often letting my dough overferment — I was pushing the bulk fermentation too far. As soon as I stopped the bulk fermentation when the dough increased by 50-75% in volume, I got a much better oven spring.
- Long Cold Proof. After the bulk fermentation, you’ll shape the dough, and store it in the fridge ideally for 24 hours but it can hang out there for 48 hours or even a bit longer. This long, cold proof will make for a much lighter, open, airy crumb. (Note: If you were to leave the dough in the fridge for 12 hours or less, which you can do, the crumb will be tighter and denser.) After you remove the dough from the fridge, you score it, and transfer it immediately to the oven — there is no need to do a room temperature proof first.
Simple Sourdough Bread: A Step-by-Step Guide
Mix the dough.
To start, pour 375 grams of water into a bowl:
Add 50 to 100 grams of sourdough starter.
Stir to combine; then add 11 grams of salt:
Finally, add 500 grams of bread flour:
Stir to combine:
Let it Rise. (Bulk Fermentation)
Transfer the dough to a straight-sided vessel. Cover it, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Perform a set of stretches and folds:
If time permits, perform four total sets of stretches and folds every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours. You should notice the dough getting stronger and more elastic with every set of stretches and folds. This is the 4th set:
After the 4th set of stretches and folds, cover the vessel — I love these Dot and Army cloth bowl covers for this — and set it aside until it increases in volume by 50% or so.
How long should the bulk fermentation take?
The time will vary depending primarily on the strength of your starter and the temperature of your kitchen. Rather than rely on a time period, however, you should rely on visual cues.
This video shows the dough nearly doubling (increasing by 100%) in volume, but the more I bake sourdough, the more I realize I have better success when I stop the bulk fermentation when the dough increases by 50%. It may take some trial and error to know what works best for you. You may find a 75% increase in volume is best or you may find that to be too long. Sourdough is all about experimenting and adapting based on your experiences.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface:
Shape the dough gently into a round and let it rest for 20-40 minutes. This is called the bench rest.
Meanwhile, prepare a bowl or banneton with a flour sack towel and rice flour.
Shape the round again; then place in prepared bowl for proofing. Transfer to fridge for 12 to 48 hours.
Remove bowl from fridge, and turn it out onto a sheet of parchment paper.
Transfer to preheated Dutch oven. Bake covered at 450ºF for 30 minutes; uncover, lower the temperature to 400ºF, and bake for 15 minutes more:
Remove from oven and let cool one hour before slicing.
You’ll need a sharp knife (like this one or this one) when it’s time to slice:
#1 Sourdough Bread Baking Tip
The refrigerator is your friend. Use it.
The most common mistake I see people make when making sourdough bread is letting the bulk fermentation go too long. They mix the dough at night; then wake up to dough that has tripled in volume and is a sticky mess.
To prevent over fermenting your dough, use your refrigerator as needed. After you complete the 4 sets of stretches and folds, you can put your dough in the fridge at any time. If you are tired and need to go to bed, transfer the dough to the refrigerator; then pick up where you left off in the morning: remove the dough from the fridge and let it continue to rise until it increases in volume by roughly 50%.
To accurately gauge when your dough has risen to roughly 50% in volume, I highly recommend investing in a straight-sided vessel such as this 4-qt Cambro (or this one, which is BPA-free!). When dough rises in a bowl, judging when it has risen sufficiently is tricky. There’s no question with a straight-sided vessel.
Troubleshooting: Where Sourdough Goes Wrong?
If you have ever had trouble baking sourdough bread, your issues likely stem from one of four places:
- Using a weak starter or not using starter at its peak.
- Using too much water relative to the flour.
- Over fermentation: letting the bulk fermentation (first rise) go too long.
- Using too much whole wheat flour, rye flour, or freshly milled flour.
I address each of these issues in this post: Why is my sourdough so sticky? 4 Common Mistakes, so please give it a read if you’ve had trouble with sourdough bread baking.
- Sourdough Troubleshooting: This post addresses 4 common mistakes people make when baking sourdough bread and answers many FAQ’s as well.
- The Nutritional Benefits of Sourdough Bread + 6 Healthy Toast Topping Ideas
- Feeding Your Sourdough Starter
- Essential Equipment For Sourdough Bread Baking
- A tip for getting a more open crumb? Shape a batard as opposed to a round:
Other Sourdough Bread Recipes to Make
- Simple Sourdough Focaccia
- Sourdough Bread, Whole Wheat-ish
- Simple Sourdough Pizza
- Sourdough Detroit-Style Pizza
- Simple Sourdough Sandwich (or Toasting) Bread
- Sourdough Ciabatta
- Two Sourdough Discard Recipes: Sourdough Flour Tortillas & Irish Soda Bread
Sourdough Bread Baking Schedule
If you are new to sourdough bread baking, the timing of it all may feel overwhelming — you may find yourself asking: How can I do this without baking at midnight?
It’s a very good question! As noted above, your biggest friend when it comes to sourdough bread baking is your refrigerator. If after you’ve performed your stretches and folds, you don’t have time to stay up for the dough to complete the bulk fermentation, stick the vessel in the fridge and pick up where you left off the next day or the day after that.
Here is a rough schedule I like to follow. Adapt it to work for you:
Wednesday Evening: Remove starter from fridge. Feed it by discarding most of it and replenishing it with equal parts by weight flour and water.
Thursday Morning: Feed starter by discarding most of it and replenishing it with equal parts by weight flour and water.
Thursday Afternoon: Mix dough, let it rise. On Thursday evening, when the dough has completed the bulk fermentation, I’ll shape it and stick it in the fridge to proof. (As noted: If the dough hasn’t completed the bulk fermentation, I’ll stick the vessel in the fridge, and pick up where I left off the following day.)
Friday Evening or Saturday Morning: Score and Bake it. There is no need to let the dough come to room temperature before baking it. Simply remove it from the fridge, turn it out, score it, and bake it!
Stumped by Sourdough?
Master sourdough bread baking in my free ecourse!
Homemade Sourdough Bread, Step by Step
- Total Time: 18 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf
Inspired by The Clever Carrot
If you are new to sourdough, watch the step-by-step video here: Simple Sourdough Bread or in the post above.
Troubleshooting: If you have issues with your dough being too sticky, please read this post: Why is my sourdough so sticky? The 4 common mistakes.
- You need an active sourdough starter. I have had success activating starters from:
- As always, I highly recommend investing in a digital scale before beginning any bread baking adventure.
- This is the Dutch Oven I use for sourdough bread. I used this Dutch oven for years, and it’s a great one, too.
- Flour sack towels are a great investment because they ensure your dough will not stick while it is proofing.
- I love using rice flour for dusting (as opposed to ap or bread flour) because it doesn’t burn. When you use a flour sack towel, however, you don’t need to use any flour.
- Find all of my sourdough essentials here: Essential Equipment For Sourdough Bread Baking
- I love a high-hydration dough, and I have great success using 380 grams of water in this recipe, so feel free to play around and push the hydration here.
- Salt: I have had success using both kosher salt and fine sea salt here. When I use kosher salt, I use the Diamond Crystal brand. When I use sea salt, I use the Baleine Fine brand. Regardless of the brand, I use 12 grams.
- Shaping: If you’re looking to get a more open crumb, try shaping a batard (as opposed to a round). Watch this video for guidance. Also: The recipe below follows the traditional shape once, rest, then shape again method. I often skip the preshape now and simply shape the dough once. I still get a nice open crumb.
How much Sourdough Starter to Use?
- Because my kitchen is cold for much of the year, I like using 100 g (1/2 cup) of starter as opposed to 50 g (1/4 cup). When determining how much starter to use, consider a few things: If you live in a warm, humid environment, 50 g should suffice. If you plan on doing an overnight rise, 50 g also should suffice. If you want to speed things up or if you live in a cold environment, consider using 100 g starter. Note: If you use 100 g of starter, your dough may rise more quickly, so keep an eye on it. As always, rely on the visual cues (increasing in volume by 50%) when determining when the bulk fermentation is done.
- A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled.
- 50 – 100 g (1⁄4 – 1/2 cup) bubbly, active starter — I always use 100 grams, see notes above
- 375 g (1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp) warm water, or more, see notes above
- 500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
- 9 to 12 g (1.5 – 2.5 teaspoons) fine sea salt, see notes above
- Make the dough: Whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork or spatula. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine, finishing by hand if necessary to form a rough dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Stretch and fold: After 30 minutes, grab a corner of the dough and pull it up and into the center. Repeat until you’ve performed this series of folds 4 to 5 times with the dough. Let dough rest for another 30 minutes and repeat the stretching and folding action. If you have the time: do this twice more for a total of 4 times in 2 hours. Note: Even if you can only perform one series of stretches and folds, your dough will benefit. So don’t worry if you have to run off shortly after you mix the dough.
- Bulk Fermentation (first rise): Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C) or even less if you live in a warm environment. The dough is ready when it has increased by 50% in volume, has a few bubbles on the surface, and jiggles when you move the bowl from side to side. (UPDATE: In the past I have recommended letting the dough rise until it doubles in volume. If you’ve had success with this, continue to let the dough double. Recently, I have been stopping the bulk fermentation when the dough increases by 50% in volume, and I feel I am actually getting better oven spring in the end.) (Note regarding timing: If you are using 100 g of starter, the bulk fermentation may take less than 8 to 10 hours. If you live in a warm, humid environment, the bulk fermentation may take even less time. In the late spring/early summer, for example, my kitchen is 78ºF and the bulk fermentation takes 6 hours. It is best to rely on visual cues (increase in volume by roughly 50%) as opposed to time to determine when the bulk fermentation is done. A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly increased in volume by 50%.)
- Shape (See notes above): Coax the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently shape it into a round: fold the top down to the center, turn the dough, fold the top down to the center, turn the dough; repeat until you’ve come full circle. If you have a bench scraper, use it to push and pull the dough to create tension.
- Rest: Let the dough rest seam side up rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or proofing basket with a towel (flour sack towels are ideal) and dust with flour (preferably rice flour, which doesn’t burn the way all-purpose flour does). Using a bench scraper or your hands, shape it again as described in step 4. Place the round into your lined bowl, seam side up.
- Proof (second rise): Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or for as long as 48 hours. (Note: I prefer to let this dough proof for at least 24 hours prior to baking. See video for the difference in the crumb of a loaf that has proofed for 6 hours vs one that has proofed for 24 hours. The original recipe calls for a 1-hour rise, and if you have had success doing that, by all means, keep doing it.)
- Place a Dutch oven in your oven, and preheat your oven to 550°F (290°C). Cut a piece of parchment to fit the size of your baking pot.
- Score: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the dough however you wish — a simple “X” is nice. Use the parchment to carefully transfer the dough into the preheated baking pot.
- Bake: Lower the oven to temperature to 450ºF (230ºC). Carefully cover the pot. Bake the dough for 30 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, lower the temperature to 400ºF (200ºC) and continue to bake for 10 – 15 minutes more. If necessary, lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.
- This loaf will stay fresh up to 3 days stored at room temperature in an airtight plastic bag or container. It freezes beautifully, too.
- This recipe has been adapted from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. Changes I have made to the original recipe include:
- Using 11 g salt as opposed to 9 g.
- Performing 4 stretch and folds during the first 2 hours of the bulk fermentation, which build strength in the dough.
- Doing a cold proof for at least 24 hours before baking, which produces a lighter airier crumb. In the video, you can see the difference between the crumb of a loaf that has proofed for only 6 hours vs a loaf that has proofed for 24 hours.
- Finally, I like preheating my Dutch oven, which makes a crisper crust.
- Prep Time: 18 hours
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: sourdough starter, bread flour, Dutch oven, sourdough, bread
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
2,054 Comments on “Homemade Sourdough Bread, Step by Step”
Hi! I am in the making of this loaf! And I have a question. So yesterday I mixed everything together, and did the 4 sets of stretches and folds over 2 hours. Then I put it straight into the fridge to ferment for 24 hours! Was I supposed to let it rise all the way before putting it in the fridge?
Hi! There is no “right” way to do it, but yes, typically, if I have the time, I let the dough complete the bulk fermentation after the 4 sets of stretches and folds. Where are you in the process? Did you shape the loaf and get it into the proofing pan?
Next time, you can remove the dough from the fridge — it likely didn’t change much in the fridge — and let the dough rise at room temp until it nearly doubles in volume; then shape and return to the fridge to proof.
I’ve been working on my sourdough for a year, and my old recipe was always hit or miss. This recipe and your thorough instructions have given me my best loaf yet 🙌🏼
So great to hear this, Emma! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
Using other recipes I was instructed to put the dough and proofing basket in a plastic bag before I put it in to the fridge for proofing. I did this the first time I made this recipe and the dough was very wet on the top when it came out of the bag. Should I or should I not be putting the proof in a plastic bag?
Great recipe for a beginner.
Hi Jimmy! I recommend the plastic bag for people who have found that their dough has developed a dry crust after 24-48 hours in the fridge. I tend to use the bag as well bc I often do a 48-hour cold proof. The water is not a big deal, so don’t let that deter you from using it. Next time you can try without the bag and compare how your bread turns out. But if your bread turned out just fine, and you are doing a long cold proof, I think the bag is a good idea.
Hi – I have tried this recipe twice now and when I follow the flour to water ratio the ball comes out so dry and stiff. I have tried to get to be like yours, which still looks a little sticky, but does not stick to your hands, and is pliable. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Amy! Are you using a scale to measure? Do you live in a dry environment?
Step 6. “Proof (second rise): Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour…”
Cover the dough in what? Can I clingfilm wrap or no? 🙏🏼
Hi! I wrap the dough in the tea towel. You can definitely use clingfilm. I also often stick the whole bundle into a plastic produce bag. Note: I do recommend doing a 24-48 hour cold proof if time permits.
I don’t have a basket to proof after shaping. Can you recommend an alternative? Maybe just a regular bowl? Thanks!
A regular bowl is fine! Apologies for the delay here.
I apologize if you addressed this and I missed it but can you recommend changes I’d need to make if using AP flour? Or would it not be advised? I make sourdough often so I have a huge supply of AP flour but I’d like to give your recipe a try and would prefer not to have to go buy bread flour.
It should be just fine with ap flour. Do you live in a humid environment? If so, you might consider reducing the water slightly — by 25 grams or so to start; then adjust with more or less the next time around based on your results.
I’m trying this recipe for the 1st time
After cold proofing in the fridge for 24/48 hrs
Do I bake it right away or bench proof again before baking
Bake it right away! No need to bring it to room temperature. Slash it, of course, before transferring it to the preheated vessel.
Love this recipe. With shaping only once, do you let it bench rest or immediately move it to the fridge?
Great to hear 🙂 No bench rest! I shape, get it into the banneton, then transfer to the fridge.
I love this recipe, I’ve made it a few times now for my family and it’s such a great loaf for a beginner. Thanks for sharing ❤️
Currently trying your focaccia recipe!
Great to hear, Alexandra! Hope the focaccia turned out well, too 🙂 🙂 🙂
I just made it and it’s amazing!!!!! I’ve been using another recipe but after trying your pizza crust recipe (which is fab) I thought I would try your sourdough bread and compare it to the recipe I’ve been making. Let’s just say I’m not going back. The crust is flakier and the bread more moist and springy;) I was a little worried because I made two small loaves instead of one (due to my pan size and that’s what I did with my other recipe) (and enjoy keeping one and sharing the other) but they came out perfect and I used the same timing. No need to try any other recipes. Thank you!
So great to hear this, Brenda! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes about the small loaves — people ask about that all the time. So glad the small size worked out well. Great to hear about the pizza, too 🙂 🙂 🙂
I used this recipe to make my first ever sourdough loaf and it came out great! I do just wonder why my dough seems so sticky compared to yours? When I’m trying to do the stretch and folds, as well as the shaping before it goes in the fridge, I’m getting the dough stuck to me A LOT. Could I be doing something wrong to cause this to happen?
On my second attempt (its currently in the fridge) I also found my dough was smelling quite strong of vinegar after the bulk rise, should I be worried?
Questions: are you using a scale to measure? do you live in a humid environment?
If your dough is completely without strength and structure, it’s possible your dough is over fermenting, in which case you need to shorten the bulk fermentation.
Read this post: Why is my sourdough so sticky? 4 Common Sourdough Mistakes + Answers to FAQ’s
Thanks for getting back to me – I had forgotten about that link!
I am using a digital scale for all ingredients, and I don’t THINK I live in a very humid environment….but maybe I’ve misjudged that. It’s winter here and we live in an apartment which we mainly heat/cool using an air con unit.
I have been following your recommendation in the recipe to let it only rise by 50% and it’s not completely without structure. I was able to get it into a ball, it was just very sticky. Perhaps I will hold back 50g of water next time and see if that changes anything for me.
My oven is currently heating up to bake the loaf, so I’ll soon know if I’ve totally messed it up or not 🙂
Thanks again for replying.
OK, great! Yeah, consider holding back some of the water next time around — it might make the process easier for you 🙂
I live in the Arizona desert and find many of my recipies don’t come out as they used to. I want to succeed with this delicious bread. What changes would you suggest I make to your original recipe?
Only 2/5 stars b/c I have not made it yet. Great presentation of clear instructions.
Hi Rose! I wouldn’t make any changes to start. Try it once as written, then adjust as needed. It’s a pretty high hydration dough, so you should be OK.
Looooove this recipe! If I double the recipe does it require longer in the oven? Thankyouuuu.
Hi Charlie! Are you going to make one giant loaf? Or two loaves at the same time in the same Dutch oven?
First time here and it came out more perfect than I expected!!
Great to hear, Meredith! Thanks for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times and it comes out perfectly. I usually use a clay loaf pan with a lid you soak in water for 15 minutes to make steam for a nice crusty loaf instead of my cast iron dutch oven. I put it in a cold oven and when it reaches 450° I time it for 30 minutes, then removed the cover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Love this idea so much! I have a clay roasting pan I should try. Thanks for writing and sharing this!
Hi Ali! First I must tell you that I started making sourdough bread during the pandemic. Initially I had pretty good luck using part wheat and part bread flours. Something happened (couldn’t figure out what!!) and my breads kept turning out flat; they tasted ok but were too dense to thoroughly enjoy. So I started looking through the hundreds of sourdough websites for advice, and committed to yours. I invested in the tall cylinder, changed to exclusively bread flour, and followed the time schedule. My success is getting better and better!! So happy that I am back on track and proud of my bread!! I’ve been processing fresh produce like mad recently, and yesterday I realized that I refrigerated the dough for 24 hours in the cylinder without shaping it! I removed it from the cylinder, immediately performed 2 shapings with 20 minute rest in between, refrigerated for 14 hours, and baked a magnificently tall beautiful bread! Thank you for your information and videos!! 5+ stars!! Now, I just need to figure out how to manage stiff parchment paper that makes dents in the sides of my beautiful bread…
Hi Diane! Thanks so much for writing and sharing all of this. Isn’t it funny how we learn? How we think we’ve made a mistake — i.e. leaving the dough in the fridge unshaped for 24 hours — and then we bake the best loaf ever? I love this about bread baking in general. There are so many ways to get from a bag of flour to a finished loaf, and there is no right way to do it. I do think refrigerating dough works wonders. Regarding the parchment paper, I have been taking those pre-cut sheets, folding them in half lengthwise, and cutting them with my knife, so I have two long, narrow strips. Each strip is just wide enough to hold the shaped loaf but long enough that I can grab the ends and use them as handles. Maybe using a smaller piece of parchment will reduce the chances of it denting your dough?
My first time making sourdough and I followed this recipe and it is PERFECT! Recipe was great for beginners and videos made it easy to get the technique down!
Great to hear this, Ava! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂
I’m about to try your recipe and have a question. After you refrigerate the shaped loaf, do you let it sit out for an hour before baking? Or did you score and bake right out of the refrigerator?
Score right out of the refrigerator! No need to let sit at room temperature.
Alexandra I love your recipes. Your instructions are great. Your approach really resonates.
I have a challenge that has to be pretty common. For 3 months I live in rv, we snowbird, and there is no room in my fridge. I still want my sourdough!
Can I do my second ferment on the counter? Do you have suggestions?
Thank you so muc
THank you so much, Patricia 🙂 🙂 🙂 Means a lot to read this.
Yes, you definitely can do a room temperature proof. I would imagine 4 to 6 hours after shaping, depending on the temperature of your RV, should do it. How fun?! I would love to do this (meaning RV living, not room temperature proofing :)) one day, too.
Wow! This turned out to be the best recipe for sourdough bread I have tried! My dough was a bit loose and sticky but still became a great loaf. I might add some extra flour next time to see if it helps and go with how the dough feels rather than the scale numbers. Thank tou for the very helpful guide!
Blessings from Sweden
Wonderful to hear this, Fridah! Thanks so much for writing. Definitely trust your instincts and use more flour if the dough feels stickier than it should.
I love this recipe and use it all the time, as it’s so easy to follow. I’ve been wanting to play around with some inclusions, and am curious when you might add some roasted garlic and herbs. Would you do it during one of the final stretch and folds, or after the bulk ferment during the shaping? Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Great to hear, Gilliann! I would do it after the second set of stretches and folds. Be sure to do at least 2 more sets of stretches and folds following the addition of whatever you add. I’ve been meaning to do a video on this. Good luck!
Have made several loaves successfully with your recipe. I have a fan forced oven, should I lower the temperature from the recipe ?
Hi George! Possibly… is fan forced the same as convection?
I think this recipe has great potential! My goal has been to create a light and fluffy all white sourdough bread that doesn’t weigh you down after eating a slice. I didn’t let it cold proof as long as you recommended but will next time. It’s still very tasty! I’m a fan of the Clever Carrot recipe but not so much the whole wheat addition, and it’s not super light. Can’t wait to try this again, only more closely follow your directions.
Hi Laura! I think you will be amazed by what a longer cold proof will do. I never really get an open crumb when I follow the original recipe. You can also try increasing the hydration slightly. Shaping as a batard (video guidance in post above), too, always gives me a more open crumb as well.
Thanks for the reply. I always shape for a batard, and will try your method of shaping it next time around. I can tell it’s a really nice bread even if I did only let it CR for 8 hours. I like the flavor from the increased salt as well. It seems like this bread would bode well for additions, too, like maybe some jalapeños & cheddar.
Definitely! I’ve been meaning to do a video on how to incorporate additions into sourdough dough. Soon I hope 🙂
That would be really great! I made the bread again, and because of time constraints was only able to CR for 12 hours, but even that much more made a huge difference! Next time I’ll aim for the full 24.
Great to hear, Laura!
Hi again! Is it normal for this dough to be fairly loose compared to a dough that has a little whole wheat flour in it? I’m comparing to the original Clever Carrot light whole wheat which has all the same amounts of everything that this one does, but minus the wheat. My dough seems quite delicate and very soft after the stretches & 50% rise. Even after the long cold proof, it’s pretty soft. I am not complaining as this is a wonderful bread, but wonder if I should be upping the flour content or lessening the water a tad. I’m using King Arthurs bread flour which is 11.7% protein.
Hi Laura! It’s possible that the whole wheat recipe you are using is a little denser due to the whole wheat flour? I’m not exactly sure as I’ve never made the recipe you are referring to and all whole wheat flours (all flours actually) absorb water differently, but this dough definitely is on the wet side. If this time around you find the dough to be too wet/unmanageable to handle, and as a result, the final crumb of the dough to be too moist as well, you can definitely reduce the amount of water next around. I find reducing the water to be easier than adding more flour, but you, of course, can add more flour as well. Hope that helps!
Actually, this bread is perfect. I just thought I was doing something wrong because I’ve never worked with a higher hydration bread, not used to the feel. Yes, even a little whole wheat creates an entirely different result. I love the white creamy interior of this bread. Thank you!
So nice to hear this, Laura 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks for reporting back.
After the 45 minutes of covered/uncovered baking, it still isn’t done. Ans the crust is pale. Did I do something wrong?
It’s possible the dough overfermented. What type of flour are you using?
I love your recipe – it has worked out every time. Quick question – during the winter do you warm the water when you are making bread? Thanks for all your great recipes.
Hi Jo Ann! I actually don’t but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, and warming the water certainly won’t hurt. From what I’ve read, dough very quickly adapts to the ambient temperature of the room, so I don’t find it worth the effort to warm the water first. Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Question! I’ve heard before stainless steel is bad for sourdough, however I only have a stainless steel bowl big enough to mix everything in? Is this okay or do I need a different bowl?
It should be just fine! Go for it.
I made this and my log ended up being gummy. My starter is mature and bubbles nicely on the top. Any suggestions? Was very disappointed this didn’t work after waiting 48 hours.
During the bulk fermentation, how much did the dough grow in volume? When you shaped the dough into a boule or batard, did the dough have strength and elasticity?
I love this recipe. It’s easy to follow and works perfectly! I’ve struggled with sourdough for a while and this made the process simple and enjoyable.
Great to hear, Cristina 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing.
This recipe just didn’t work for me.
The flour grams vs the cups was quite different for me (500g was less than 4cups).
The time in the oven wasn’t enough, it came out uncooked in the middle (will adjust that next time).
Not sure what happened. I guess I will have to try again. I’m good at following recipes so not sure where I went wrong.
Have you successfully made other sourdough breads or is this your first go? Are you using a scale to measure or did you go with the cups? Scale is best. Is your starter strong and active? Meaning, does it double or triple in volume within 6 to 8 hours of a feeding? This troubleshooting page might help you pinpoint where things went wrong.