your simple guide to home baked sourdough

SOURDOUGH. Who knew something so simple could bring so much joy, presence, grounding, and nourishment?

Did you know sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread and was used as far back as ancient Egypt? No wonder I feel so connected and grounded when I bake. I love that every recipe you’ll find will be a little bit different. Just like stories shift and change when passed down from generation to generation, so to do our sourdough techniques. I think of this much less as a recipe and much  more as a guide to help you tell your own story through sourdough. One thing is for certain, though: all sourdough begins with a starter, a mixture of flour, water, and what feels like a pinch of magic. Sitting at room temperature, wild yeasts in the air and on the flour settle into the starter mixture. The fermentation that occurs after a few days gives the starter its sour smell and magic powers. Our starter is named Willow, and I plan on sharing her with loved ones and passing her down to Evie and hopefully many generations to come.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why I can enjoy sourdough when I have gluten intolerance. Well, it comes down, once again, to the magic of the starter and fermentation she brings. The fermentation process that gives the bread its delicious sour taste also makes it much more gut-friendly than your standard bread, especially when you stick to organic and sprouted grains, and even more ideally, ancient einkorn. The sourdough’s bacteria breaks down the flour in a way that mimics our microbiome. In fact, the microbes that are in your sourdough starter are the same microbes that are in the soil and in our guts. How wild is that? We’re more connected to the earth than we often realize. What happens is that the wild yeast and bacteria in a sourdough starter break down some of the carbohydrates and proteins found in flour that can be tough on our guts, making for a much more easily digestible  and nutritionally beneficial real food. The fermentation also increases the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the sourdough. As your dough ferments, it produces enzymes that break down phytic acid, which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

So, not only does sourdough taste outstanding, it’s also nutrient dense and a great vessel for other nourishing foods like grass fed butter, avocado, smoked salmon, chili, soup, and more. The options are endless.

First, let’s talk about your STARTER.

Ours is named Willow, she is loved by my whole family. Willow started from dehydrated starter gifted to me by my dear friend Ashley. I slowly rehydrated it over the course of three days and have been feeding Willow daily ever since, aside from a few travel stints where she waited patiently for me to return in the fridge. Usually, I like storing her in an airtight glass container, on my counter.

Step 1: adopt or borrow some organic, well loved starter from someone you trust. This could be a friend, like my dear friend and workshop cohost Ashley of Sunshine and Sage, a relative (older the better), a local sourdough bakery, or a wonderful small family farm like my friends at iii Rivers Farm. I am also a big fan of Cultures for Health for all things fermented, and they have great starters for a variety of flours (use that link and get 20% off your order). I am not here to tell you how to start one from scratch because I think one of the most beautiful thing about sourdough is how cool it is to start a whole new starter and sourdough practice after inheriting sourdough that’s been loved on by someone else.

Step 2: Rehydrating and feeding are pretty much the same. Add 1/3 cup organic unbleached flour of your choice (I’ve maintained mine with only organic unbleached white flour and have found great success) and 1/3 cup room temp or slightly lukewarm water. Stir and repeat morning and evening every day until you have a robust starter of your own. Once your starter is nice and bubbly, take it down to once a day (I like morning). At this point, you’ll need to discard a bit. Take about 1/4 cup of starter out before you add your flour and water. I love using this for Evie’s sourdough pancakes and all of the recipes in my Sourdough Sisterhood Ebook!

Note: I have found the best success and most active happy floating starter from feeding about 3-4 hours before beginning a loaf, but this process is forgiving, and sometimes, I will start a loaf with a starter fed even 12 hours before!

And now, friends, it’s time to bake.

Here are the steps to baking your own simple loaf. I’ve included the times I like to start and bake for reference. Another beautiful thing about sourdough is that you can make the process work into your own unique life. I plan to continue to expand and add to this post as my knowledge and experience grows too. That’s the beauty of sourdough baking, we get to ebb, flow, and grow along with our starters and our loaves.

real deal sourdough

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

EQUIPMENT

INGREDIENTS:

  • 425 grams of room temp water
  • 200 grams sourdough starter
  • 650 grams of organic your flour choice (I recommend Einkorn for flavor, crumb, and nutrition)
  • 15-20 grams of sea salt, depending on taste (I prefer a little extra salt)
  • sprinkling of gluten free flour (I use Otto’s Cassava Flour)

WHAT YOU DO:

About 5pm: Add water and starter to your mixing bowl, and stir with hand or bowl until just combined. Then, add flour and mix with hands or scraper until you have a shaggy ball, let sit to leaven for 30 minutes uncovered.

About 5:35pm: After 30 minutes, sprinkle salt over dough, and pinch it into the dough with your fingers until combined, and then use scraper to scrape off sides of your bowl and set in the mixer on the lowest setting for 20 minutes. Note: if you do not have a standing mixer, you can alternatively “stretch and fold” every hour, 4 times total. This means you’ll pull each side of the dough, one side at a time, and fold all the away across.

About 6pm: Transfer to large bowl and cover with lid, cling wrap, or Bee’s Wrap and set in a consistent temp, dark spot to proof for 12 hours (there is wiggle room here; Ive done as few as 6 hours and as many at 14). This will all depend on the temp in your home. If it’s warm, make sure to check and/or put in the fridge after about 6-8 hours. In cooler temps, I’ve gotten away with a 15-hour countertop ferment.

About 6am: Dust a big cutting board or clean kitchen surface with gluten free flour, and scrape your proofed, now much larger, dough onto flour for shaping. Stretch and fold each side (one at a time) all the way across the surface of the dough, and then tuck all of the creases underneath the dough ball. Sprinkle your bread basket (or your scraped clean glass bowl) with more gluten free flour and set your shaped ball of dough upside down inside, then cover with towel or bread basket cover. I have also had success here with wetting my hands and the working surface instead of flouring it. See what works best for you! (I’d love to read in comments)

Let proof for another 60-90 min, depending on the temp in your house. One hour before baking heat your oven to 450F and put your dutch oven with the lid on in your oven to heat up. To test to know it’s ready, gently poke with your finger. The indent should slowly rise, but not bounce back immediately. You’ve over-proofed if it just deflates and doesn’t slowly rise back.

About 8am: When it’s bake time, flip your bread (creases down) onto a piece of parchment that’s larger than your loaf. Score 4 lines about 1/4 inch deep from outside to middle (not connecting in the middle though). Then, to get a nice chewy crust, pour about 1/8 cup water in your hot dutch oven, and then gently lower the loaf into your pot using the sides of the parchment paper, which will bake with the loaf creating a barrier between the bread and water (careful not to splash hot water on yourself or get it on your bread). Bake at 450F with the lid on for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake at 450F for another 10-15. Remove from oven, tap bottom and if it’s a hollow sound, you’re spot on!

About 8:45am: LET COOL FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR. I MEAN IT. Slice, feel proud, and ENJOY!

I’ll store my loaves in a bees wax loaf wrapper at room temp, but they rarely last more than two days because we eat them up. If you have more than you can eat before it goes stale, slice and store in a ziplock in the freezer. Toast a slice up and it tastes like it’s fresh!

A Note on half loaves I’ve been baking:

  • I use THIS 2.25 qt Le Cruset pot
  • half all ingredients
  • same prep times
  • same proof times
  • 1st bake: 25 minutes
  • 2nd bake: 5-7 minutes

ENJOY!!

Stay tuned for a full video guide, along with special sourdough recipes coming soon (search “sourdough” on this site for everything I’ve shared so far)! I’d love to hear from you. Who’s baking? I’d love to hear your sourdough stories, experiences, wins, and lessons learned. Let’s connect in comments!

By | 2020-07-06T10:07:28-08:00 January 14th, 2020|Health, Recipes, Rice, Biscuits, Tortillas, and Mash|39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Colleen Forestieri January 16, 2020 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura!
    I normally make a different sourdough recipe (tartine’s) so I am excited to try your version. The overnight raise (proof) does not need to happen in the refrigerator? Is a 68 degree room ok for the 12 hours?

    Thank you!
    Colleen

    • Laura Bruner January 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Hi! Thank you so much. Can’t wait to hear what you think. That should be just fine. Mine sits for 12 hours probably just a little cooler than that (I’m guessing 63-65). I’m curious to see how it does in the warmer months!

  2. Cindy January 25, 2020 at 2:39 am - Reply

    At 6pm when you transferred to the glass bowl, what happened to the stretching? (Stretch and “boom” in the video.) Did the 20 minutes in the mixer take the place of that? And do you have any advice if I do not have a mixer strong enough to handle the dough?
    Love these explicit directions and looking forward to the full video guide!
    Cindy

    • Laura Bruner January 26, 2020 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Cindy! Thanks so much for your comment and for the questions. It’s helped me to make some updates to the guide. Yes, the mixer takes the place of the stretch and fold. I’ve tried both and they each work, but the mixer is simpler and less time intensive. I do think it also makes for a better crumb. I’ve included street and fold steps as well. Enjoy!

  3. Cindy (2CranesFarm) January 26, 2020 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the prompt reply. Maybe someday I will invest in a good mixer, but until then I will be stretching and folding. I am definitely a sourdough beginner but am enjoying your spirit and enthusiasm.

  4. Cindy February 5, 2020 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Loving your guidance! So . . . Without a stand mixer, I am stretching and folding hourly four times. Is this in addition to the 6-14 hour proof – or part of it? Doing it first would add 3 hours to the process? Yikes! I don’t know if I’m that dedicated!

    • Laura Bruner February 5, 2020 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Cindy! The folds would be before the ferment starts, but fortunately, the dough is still fermenting during that time. It just needs at least 6 hours to proof. If you go on the shorter end, pop it in the oven (off) with the light off. That will be a warm space for it to proof faster. I promise as you do this, it will get so much simpler and will work with your life.

  5. Barbara February 24, 2020 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Hey Laura! You’ve inspired me to make some sourdough! I finally have all the supplies and am so excited. My house is celiac and I was wondering if you’ve ever made a loaf solely with ottos cassava flour? If not, would any gluten free flour work? Thank you!

    • Laura Bruner February 24, 2020 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for your comment. Cassava Flour will not work the same as wheat flour, nor will a gluten free flour. I don’t have experience with a wholly gluten free sourdough but I know there are resources out there. Gluten free flours require a different process and will have a unique final product. Sending a hug!

  6. Cathryn April 7, 2020 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    hey Laura.
    I got my hands on some starter so have been made my first loaf – which was a bit dense. Loaf number 2 is in the middle of its 12 hr rise right now. Reading the recipe again I am a bit confused by this comment, which I didn’t even notice the first time around.

    it says to lower the dough into the dutch oven that you have just put !/8 of water in and to be careful not to get water on your bread… how am I supposed to keen the bread out of the water?

    “Then, to get a nice chewy crust, pour about 1/8 cup water in your hot dutch oven, and then gently lower into your pot (careful not to splash hot water on yourself or get it on your bread”

    • Laura Bruner April 8, 2020 at 7:06 am - Reply

      Hi Cathryn! Thank you for your question. This additional step only works if you use the parchment paper, which acts as a barrier between the loaf and the water. Let me know if you have any further questions. Maybe joining our next sourdough sisterhood workshop would be a great next step too. Happy baking!

  7. Crystal Oneal April 14, 2020 at 2:36 am - Reply

    Hi there! So excited to bake my first loaf!! Thanks so much for putting this together. The link to the dutch oven leads to a 5.5 quart dutch oven but I believe you reference a 3.5 quart one in your recipe. Will this work in a 5.5 quart dutch oven to? Or will it be too big?

    • Laura Bruner April 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm - Reply

      Hello Crystal! Definitely best to use the 3.5 qt dutch oven. I appreciate you letting me know. I’ll go edit that now. If you use a larger one, the loaf will be a little flatter. But still delicious!

  8. Ashley Easton April 16, 2020 at 5:52 am - Reply

    Ive made 5 loaves using your recipe and timing. (I made one using another sites and it was SO BAD compared to yours!) The only thing i can’t figure out if why all of my loaves don’t rise as well as your photos. They all seem a little flat. I tried less proofing and that didn’t change anything. Im wondering if my starter is not bubbly enough? What exact measurements do you use to feed yours and how frequently do you do that?

    • Laura Bruner May 20, 2020 at 6:30 am - Reply

      Hi Ashley! I do 1/3 cup flour with just a little less than 1/3 cup water. I don’t weight these and often go by feel. If my starter is seeming a little watery, I do less water. I feed 1-2 times a day depending on how often I use it. I also inherited mine from a friend, so she’s very mature which helps. Thanks for baking and for the feedback!

  9. Ashley Easton April 16, 2020 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Hey Laura! This is the most amazing guide ever! Ive made 5 loaves using your recipe and timing. (I made one using another sites and it was SO BAD compared to yours!) The only thing i can’t figure out if why all of my loaves don’t rise as well as your photos. They all seem a little flat. I tried less proofing and that didn’t change anything. Im wondering if my starter is not bubbly enough? What exact measurements do you use to feed yours and how frequently do you do that?

    • Laura Bruner April 16, 2020 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Ashley! What size pot are you using? If it’s too big the loaves can sort of melt down without the feedback from the sides of the pot to keep them risen. Also, is your starter floating when you add to the water? I feed 1-2 x a day after discarding 1/4-1/2 cup. I feed 1/3 cup organic white flour and a little less than that water.

  10. Dianne Krajacic April 18, 2020 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    I’m working on a starter from Cultures For Health. I’m so excited to start! How do you get the cool swirly design on the top of the bread?
    I don’t have a Dutch oven but I do have a glass pot with a lid. I’m hoping that works!

    • Laura Bruner May 20, 2020 at 6:29 am - Reply

      Hello! The swirly design on the top is from the bread basket I use for the second proof. It’s linked in the guide!

  11. Dianne Krajacic April 18, 2020 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    I’m working on a starter from Cultures For Health. I’m so excited to start! How do you get the cool swirly design on the top of the bread?
    I don’t have a Dutch oven but I do have a glass pot with a lid. I’m hoping that works!
    Do you have a source for bulk flour? Seems like I’ll be going through lots!

    • Laura Bruner April 19, 2020 at 8:15 am - Reply

      Hi Dianne! The circles on the loaf come from the bread basket I link to in my guide! I haven’t tried a glass pot. Please check to make sure it can take high heat! And I buy my organic white flour from Costco. They have a great small family farm kind there. I get my einkorn from Jovial!

  12. Danielle Eaton April 19, 2020 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Do you let your loaf cool in the ditch oven? Or on a cooling rack? Also I’m a new baker and don’t understand the fold and creases step. Any chance you have a video of that step?

    • Laura Bruner April 19, 2020 at 8:13 am - Reply

      Hi! Thanks so much for asking. Pull the loaf from the pot right when you take it out of the oven. I cool on an upside down colander. I’ll be offering more tutorials soon, but for now the Sourdough Sisterhood workshop is a great place for more teaching. We also offer access to a facebook group where we answer all of your questions!

  13. Ty April 19, 2020 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura!! I was just gifted a Country Loaf style start (tartine’s recipe) – can this start be used to make sourdough? Can I somehow morph that start into a sourdough starter?? Thank you!! Xo

    • Laura Bruner April 20, 2020 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Ty! Hope you are well! I am going to send you a message on IG so I can see a photo of your start. I think you can, but just want to be sure! Thanks for being here.

  14. Kim April 21, 2020 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Laura, I hope you are doing well! I made my own starter and after 9 days, it’s beautiful and floating, and ready to go. I’ve been making pizza dough and pancakes wth the discard, and loving it. I’m curious to know if you have more information/thoughts on bulking up your starter. Your recipe, which I am excited to try, calls for 200g of starter but as I began mine with 50g APF and 50g water (and have been discarding and feeding it as such), 200g is more than my entire starter right now. I’m a bit unclear as to how to go about getting enough starter to amass 200g (and still have base starter left over). Thanks so much! I am looking forward to joining a workshop soon – I have wanted to, but didn’t realize until I tried to sign up that you needed a starter that was ready to go. So I’m almost there once I bulk it up, and looking forward to joining soon. Thanks!

    • Laura Bruner April 21, 2020 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Kim! I recommend skipping discard for a few feedings to add some bulk. I only discard enough for pancakes, pizza, loaves, etc. and then feed 1/3 cup flour + just under 1/3 water. It keep her happy and fed and ready for more. Hope this helps! It’s so great to hear from you, friend! Love that you’re baking.

      • Kim April 21, 2020 at 3:11 pm - Reply

        That is so helpful, thank you friend!! I’ve been searching the internet and finding it hard to parse through one last question – as I bulk it up, do I stick with my feedings of 50g water and 50g APF (just what I have been using?) OR are you supposed to increase the flour and water based on the weight of the starter when I do the morning feed (so as the starter bulks, the amount of both flour and water increase as the base of starter increases by weight)? Thank you…..I’m sorry if this should be straightforward. I swear I’ve read a dozen pages and can’t quite find a clear answer. Looking forward to having enough for an upcoming workshop. You’re the best!

  15. Madison April 28, 2020 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Hey Laura! Thank you so much for sharing this. I seem to be having trouble figuring out the timing of feeding the starter before using it in the recipe. How long do you typically wait after feeding to use the starter in your bread recipe?

    • Laura Bruner April 28, 2020 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Madison! I typically feed in the morning around 8/9am and then start the loaf process around 5pm. But feeding closer to 5 hours ahead will make for an even more active starter! Let me know if you have more questions.

  16. Janelle April 29, 2020 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I love to make multiple
    Loaves and give them away to friends. How would I easily double this? Thanks!

    • Laura Bruner April 30, 2020 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Hi Janelle! I love that you’re baking multiples. You can just double the ingredients. When you go to shape after the first ferment, split in two and shape each into a loaf, then bake back to back. Hope this helps!

      • Janelle April 30, 2020 at 9:15 am - Reply

        Thanks! So even double the starter?

      • Amy June 28, 2020 at 6:13 am - Reply

        Hi Laura! I was gifted starter and am on my 4th attempt. I’m so close I can just feel it! BUT, when the second proof finishes, finger poke test perfect, I flip on to parchment and splat! Completely looses its shape, no nice ball if shaped dough for me! Ant advice?

        • Laura Bruner June 28, 2020 at 9:18 am - Reply

          Hi Amy! It sounds like it’s over-proofed. I’d recommend a shorter first ferment, or putting in the fridge to ferment after 3 hours at room temp.

  17. Kelsey May 8, 2020 at 6:02 am - Reply

    Hi Laura,

    What time do you normally feed your starter to then start the bread at 5 pm? Should it be to the point where it has doubled in size?

    Thanks!

    • Laura Bruner May 8, 2020 at 7:54 am - Reply

      Hi! Anywhere between 9am-2pm. I typically feed when I use it only, and that’s most often for Evie’s sourdough pancakes in the morning! It’s usually most active though about 4 hours after feeding.

      • Susan May 9, 2020 at 6:44 am - Reply

        How many days can you go without feeding if you keep your starter out?

        • Laura Bruner May 9, 2020 at 7:43 am - Reply

          Hi Susan! I try to feed at least every other day if it’s out at room temp. If I leave town or can’t feed for a few days, it goes in the fridge!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.