Master Sourdough Recipe

makes 2 loaves

Sourdough Ingredients:
• 140g whole wheat flour
• 510g bread flour
• 506g filtered water
• 130g levain*
• 15g sea salt

*Levain Ingredients: 
• 30g ripe starter/levain
• 60g warm filtered water
• 60g bread flour
- Combine all ingredients & let it sit preferably overnight or minimum 5 hours


DAY 1:
1. The night before, assemble your levain by combining: 30g of ripe starter (ripe meaning that you didn't just feed it, that it has been sitting at least 6-8 hrs beforehand), 60g of warm filtered water, and 60g of bread flour. Mix in a bowl until flour is combined completely, cover and place in a warm, draft-free area. I like to use my oven, and if it's cold, I leave my oven light on. 

DAY 2:
2. When you wake up you will first assemble the autolyse. Autolyse is a technique that gives you a dough that is easier to work with and shape, it also improves it's texture, rise and flavor. Autolyse is simply combining both flours & water and letting it sit for 2-4 hours.
Combine 140g whole wheat flour, 510g bread flour, & 506g filtered water. I first mix it with a spoon and at the end wet my hand and finish combining with my hand. You want to combine it thoroughly and do not want to see any dry ingredients. Cover and let it sit minimum for 2 hrs, preferably 4 hrs.

3. After waiting the appropriate time for your autolyse, you will add in the levain. I wet my hand with water, and hand mix for 5 minutes until it is completely combined. After this I add in 15g of sea salt and hand mix for another 4 minutes. You do not want to feel any grains of salt, and as you're mixing, stretch the dough up and down to start the gluten building. Once everything is combined, cover for 30 minutes and place aside in a warm, draft-free area, again I use my oven as a place to proof.

4. Fold: After 30 minutes of sitting, you will fold your dough. Mist a clean countertop with water and place your dough onto the counter.  Visualize your dough as a square, take each side pulling up away from the counter and back down into the middle of the dough.  You want to get as much stretch up towards the ceiling as you can. Continue to do this for the remaining 3 sides. Gently flip over to the smooth side, place it back into the bowl, cover, place back into a warm area and let it sit for an additional 30 minutes.

5. Lamination: Mist clean countertop with water and gently transfer dough to your countertop. Using your scraper, gently pull and stretch the dough out into a large rectangle. Stretch as far as you can without ripping the dough, to about 3/4 inch - 1 inch thick. Gently pop any visible bubbles. At this point, you can add in any extra flavor you'd like ie: seeds, dried fruits, chocolate etc. Fold your dough lengthwise in thirds and then roll up tightly. Roll dough having the smooth side up and place back into your bowl. Cover and place in warm area for 45 minutes.

As a rule, a warmer environment will proof your dough faster than in a colder environment. I'm in New England and it's cooler here, the hottest it has gotten here so far is 60ºF, so my proofing will change as it gets warm and humid here in the summer.  You don't want to rush bulk fermentation because that's what produces the good depth of flavor. 76ºF is a perfect temperature to aim for, obviously plus or minus degrees won't hurt, just keep an eye on it.

6. Bulk Fermentation: So onto the most important part, this is where you will be building gluten strength, which gives you the height and oven spring everyone aims for. Also what you do during this process will determine the crumb. So after the lamination phase and 45 minutes of waiting, you will do your first stretch & fold known as S&F #1. There are many ways of doing this but I like to do the coil fold technique, it's easier for me to get a good stretch and it keeps the dough looking pretty on the top. :)
During this next process, gently pop any visible bubbles. 
S&F #1: Coil FoldGet hands slightly damp, and take both hands and slide them under each side, gently pulling up towards the ceiling and coil one side under itself. Rotate the bowl 180º and coil fold the other side. Rotate 90º and repeat the same process for the other 2 sides. You want to stretch and pull up the dough to build and strengthen the gluten. Cover and place in a warm area for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You will determine how long depending if you live in a cooler or warmer climate.
S&F #2: After waiting the 45min-1hr after the S&F #1, repeat the coil fold on each side. Cover and set in a warm area and wait another 45min.-1hr.
S&F #3: After waiting the 45min-1hr after the S&F #2, repeat the coil fold on each side. After this point do not pop any bubbles. Cover and set in a warm area and at this point you will let it continue to proof untouched for 2 hours. During this time it should double in size. You will know it is appropriately proofed if you gently press your finger into the dough and it slowly springs back. Again, you will have to be the one to determine how long, if it's really hot in your kitchen you may only proof for an hour. Be careful not to overproof, as this will de-gass your dough and bake a flat loaf, you will know it's over proofed if you gently push into with your finger and it stays indented.

7. Shape: I will be describing how to shape for a batard, the oval bread shape not circle. 
Lightly dust your clean countertop with all purpose flour. Gently transfer your dough onto the floured surface. Using your scraper cut the dough in half, and roll half of it to the side while you shape the other half.  Shaping is best to watch a tutorial on it but I'll try to describe it on here. Move your dough to be a square shape, starting on the left side, gently pull out and up, shaking it and quickly place back in the middle Repeat this on the bottom side, lifting out and up shaking it and quickly placing it back on itself in the middle. Repeat again on the right side, and finish with the top side doing the same thing. Now starting at the top you will begin to stitch fold, place your hands on each side starting at the top, you will pick up each side and cross it over to the other side, as if creating a zig zag with the dough. As you place it down make sure it's keeping it's seal. Continue this down the dough and when you get to the bottom, you will begin rolling it up, back to the top. I like to grab the bottom and gently shake it to give it more length to roll and roll tightly, but do not push down too hard, this will de-gas it, be gently and quick. Once it is formed seal the sides, ever so slightly pinch the sides to seal it, this isn't a necessity but it's what I do. Then take your scraper on each side and make sure it isn't sticking. During this time you can prepare your proofing basket, banneton*, or bowl. If you are using a tea towel to line your basket or bowl, lightly flour the towel and then place it in your bowl, use your scraper to lift the dough gently from the counter and in a quick action, flip it over into your floured towel. Cover it with the remaining towel and let it proof at room temp for 10-20 minutes, then place in your refrigerator for 12-18 hours overnight- this is called cold proofing, the flavor will enhance during this time but it will not proof because it's in the cold.

*If you are using your banneton with no lining, you can prep it the day before with a mist of water and then liberally covering it with rice flour, dump out the remaining flour and that should help it not stick. Before transferring your dough into the banneton, still dust it with your choice of flour, I use all-purpose. Then cover it with suran wrap or you can use a clean shower cap from the dollar store as a reusable option, place in your refrigerator for 12-18 hours overnight.

DAY 3:
8. Scoring & Baking: 
Before taking your proofed dough out of the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 500ºF. When it is preheated, fill up a 3" deep pan, I use an old metal 9"x13" pan and fill it with water, place this on the bottom rack on the side of the oven, under the rack where your dutch oven will be. Right before you take out your proofed dough, place the dutch oven with the lid on in the oven to preheat, you do not want to place it in too early because it will burn the bottom of your bread. 

Scoring: This is the funnest part in my opinion. Prepare your parchment paper, I like to create handles on the side so I don't burn my hand... that has happened way too many times. I have videos on my Instagram of this. For the best oven spring, you want to score your dough directly out of the refrigerator and get it in the oven as soon as possible. By taking it out of the cold and putting it right in the hot oven it makes it rise up that much more.  Dust the top of your dough with all-purpose flour, score your bread, open your oven, take out the Dutch oven, place your parchment paper with dough on it into the Dutch oven, close the oven, and say a little prayer. :)

Everyone's oven is different, so here's times and temperatures to go by, but keep an eye on your bread. Once you bake a couple of times you'll know what's best for you.

For a regular oven:
• 500ºF for 15-20 minutes, covered with the lid on
• 450ºF for 15-20 minutes, covered with the lid on
• 450ºF for 10-15 minutes, uncovered

For confection oven: (this is what I use)
• 500ºF for 10-12 minutes, covered with the lid on
• 450ºF for 10-12 minutes, covered with the lid on
• 450ºF for 8-10 minutes, uncovered

Take the bread out and place on a cooling rack. Wait until it is cool enough to handle, take an awesome picture of it, tag @sour__flour, take an awesome video of you cutting it open, tag @sour__flour, take a slice, slather with butter, top with honey and ENJOY!!


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this perfect step by step instructions! I am in the beginning stages of making my first sourdough bread and have been quite confused on many things. This helped clarify many questions I have had. I feel I now can attempt this soon and feel more clear on my steps! Thanks to your blog, so blessed that I found you...your bread is art and beautiful and I am sure delicious too!!😊

  2. I'm confused as to why your adding water to a pan in the oven when you are encasing the dough inside a dutch oven. I baked for DECADES without a dutch oven, baking stone, etc and just used boiling water in a heated pan on bottom of oven. It worked..but I was baking basic farm breads and alaskan type sourdoughs or ryes and not going for the crunch but rather just help with the rise. Now I have a stone, many types of enclosed baking containers so I can get the crusty "artisan" type breads...but do not add boiling water if baking inside a vessel. I was baking before there was an "artisan" movement and very limited types of flour for home use and got accused of torturing my family with peasant bread from any grains I might find. LOL!'s so popular folks do it as a well as sell bread I used to not be able to give away because it wasn't white and soft. My sons grew up eating such "peasant" "hippy" breads...but almost everyone else just prefers white soft breads, which sucks cause I don't and I'm the one making it.


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