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A halved loaf of sourdough bread.

Homemade Sourdough Bread, Step by Step

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5 from 1005 reviews


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. 
  • straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled. 


  • 50100 g (1⁄41/2 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 (1.52.5 teaspoons) fine sea salt, see notes above


  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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%.)
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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. If you choose to proof the dough in the fridge for an extended period of time, you may want to tuck it into a loosely tied bag — produce bags from the grocery store are great for this purpose — to ensure the dough does not dry out. The original recipe calls for a 1-hour rise, and if you have had success doing that, by all means, keep doing it.) 
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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