Discover the secrets to foolproof white sourdough bread with this beginner-friendly, detailed recipe. With just flour, water, salt, and about 40 minutes of hands-on work, you can create classic white sourdough loaves your family will adore! Plus, it’s the perfect base recipe for all kinds of fun inclusions like cinnamon raisin, jalapeño cheddar, and my favorite: sundried tomato and goat cheese.

white sourdough bread recipe result

I started my sourdough journey in mid-2023 when I borrowed some starter from a local baker. I was desperate to make my first loaf of bread, but I had no clue where to begin.

Binging TikTok sourdough bread recipe videos became my new hobby, and I did my best to internalize and follow along. But every video had different measurements and steps.

I also got totally lost in the glossary of terms unique to the sourdough world. Bulk fermentation, discard, pre-shaping, cold retard – what the heck does all of it mean?

Needless to say, my first loaf was awful, and the whole thing stressed me out a bit. Here’s a look at my first hockey puck:

my first loaf of sourdough bread
My first loaf of sourdough bread

I am so glad I persevered and embraced the challenge, but I don’t want anyone else to go through that total lack of understanding and confusion.

Here’s your super detailed guide to making the perfect loaf of white sourdough bread.

A quick reading tip: if you want literally every detail of how to make white sourdough bread, follow the steps outlined in the How to Make White Sourdough Bread section. If you're somewhat familiar with the sourdough bread making process already, you can skip ahead to the recipe card at the end, but please note it's not nearly as detailed.

You Can Master Sourdough Bread!

You can make sourdough bread. Anyone can. I promise you.

Once you make a few successful loaves, you will never use or refer to a recipe again.

The ingredients and process are that simple.

cutting sourdough bread

It’s just understanding the process and being able to read the dough – that’s the art of sourdough that takes a little practice and patience. And that’s what I’m going to teach you here.

Let’s do this!

Sourdough Bread Ingredients

White sourdough bread only contains flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter.

sourdough ingredients mixed together
Mixing sourdough ingredients together

Flour

For classic white bread, I recommend King Arthur unbleached bread flour. I buy a 50-pound bag from my local restaurant supply store for less than 50 cents per pound of flour.

@thatsourdoughgal

Save a tonnnn of $ by buying bread flour in bulk from your local restaurant supply. It costs me $13 a month now to bake literally every day #sourdoughtipsandtricks #sourdoughtok

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

Do not use bleached flour, as it may kill your starter.

I recommend against using all-purpose flour. AP flour lacks the structure and chewiness that you want in a good loaf of bread.

You can experiment with other types of flours, such as whole wheat, rye, or Einkorn (an ancient grain).

Water

You’ll want lukewarm water – not cold and definitely not hot. Water over 120°F may kill your sourdough starter. Cold water will prevent your dough from rising at a normal pace.

Also, I use water straight from my faucet. I live in the country and have well water; I’ve never had any issues.

However, I’ve seen others recommend using filtered water. You can buy filtered water from the store or you can boil your own water and let it cool before using it in any recipes.

Salt

I use coarse Kosher salt. Do not forget to add the salt to your dough or it will turn super wonky!

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is the star of the show here. It’s a simple mixture of flour, water, wild yeasts, and bacteria. The wild yeasts and bacteria are natural (found in nature).

me with sourdough starter

There are no commercial yeast packets when it comes to sourdough baking – we’re cultivating the little microbes around us that the good Lord gave us!

You can make your own sourdough starter with flour, water, and lots of time, but I strongly suggest just borrowing some from a friend or buying some from a local baker.

bubbly active sourdough starter

You can also request some for free from Carl Griffith.

I got some from a local baker and made my first loaf of bread right away. If you make your own starter—and you’re successful—it’ll realistically take a few weeks before you can start baking with it.

Tools You’ll Need + Basic Kitchen Equipment Swaps

You can make sourdough bread with no special tools. As long as you have basic kitchen equipment, there are workarounds for every sourdough tool out there.

However, some things are definitely nice to have and will make your experience a lot easier and smoother.

Here’s a list of what I use to make sourdough along with substitutions for items you probably already have.

  • Weck tulip jar (for your starter)
    • Substitution: a mason jar
  • Large bowl
  • Digital scale (the most important tool IMO!)
    • Substitution: measuring cups, but they aren’t as accurate as measuring in grams
  • Dough whisk (I like this one because it’s all stainless steel and can go in the dishwasher)
    • Substitution: your hands
  • Bowl scraper
    • Substitution: nothing – you’ll just have bits stuck to the sides of the bowl that makes clean-up a little more time-consuming, but it’s not essential
  • Bench scraper (dough scraper)
    • Substitution: Knife, but a knife won’t help you with the shaping process. I really like using the bench scraper to assist with the candy cane motion that helps tighten up the dough.
  • Shower cap bowl covers
    • Substitution: Plastic wrap or a damp towel
  • Bread lame (this is the one I have and I love it, but some people prefer the ones with a handle)
    • Substitution: razor blade or sharp knife
  • Bannetons
  • Sourdough baking mats
    • Substitution: parchment paper
  • Dutch oven
    • Substitution: Roasting pan or consider the open baking method (I’ve never done that because I have a Dutch oven, but it can be done!)
    • I happened to have a Le Creuset Dutch oven that now I use for my sourdough baking. I know they’re expensive.
    • The Challenger bread pan is highly reviewed and I’m definitely drooling over it. The same goes for the Le Creuset bread oven, which is something of a cult favorite.
    • Krustic has a bread oven that looks pretty good and is much more affordable – I’ve never used it but it seems to have good reviews.
  • Bulk flour storage container (I like buying my flour in 50# bags as it saves me a lot of money)
    • Substitution: buy 5# bags from the local grocery store
@thatsourdoughgal

One of my TOP sourdough tips! Don’t waste your money on a bunch of small bags of flour when you can buy a 50 bag for a fraction of the price. Let me know if you buy flour in bulk and from where! #sourdough #sourdoughclub #sourdoughtips

♬ UNSTOPPABLE EVENING – finetune
  • Dusting wand for rice flour
    • Substitution: Sprinkle it with your fingers
  • Rice flour for dusting the loaves
    • Substitution: Bread flour, but be careful as too much can alter the outcome of your bread
  • Bread bags for sharing with friends and family
    • Substitution: Ziploc bag

👉 How to Make White Sourdough Bread: Detailed, Step-by-Step Guide

Here are all of the steps to making a delicious loaf of sourdough bread. These steps are very detailed to help you avoid any pitfalls.

I know the physical size of these instructions on the page looks daunting, but making bread is simple, I promise. Just stick with me!

Step 1: Feed Your Starter

The first step to making sourdough bread is feeding your starter and waiting for it to peak. When it peaks and is ready to use in a recipe, it’s often called a “ripe” starter.

This will become second nature once you do it a few times.

I take the lazy girl approach by not measuring anything. Here’s how I feed my starter:

  • Pour out most of the starter in the jar. This is called discard, also referred to as unfed or inactive starter. It should be totally deflated, possibly a bit watery, and it’ll likely smell like acetone. You can store that discard in the fridge and use it in sourdough discard recipes. You can also bring it back out and feed it anytime to make it active again.
  • Add approximately a half cup of flour to the jar (I don’t measure – I just add a few spoonfuls) and just enough lukewarm water for the consistency to become like a thick pancake batter.

You can watch me feed my starter here:

@thatsourdoughgal

Here are some details I couldn’t fit into the minute and a half! Warm Water Make sure your water is warm but not hot. If you’re worried about it, you can temp your water. You want something around 90-100 degrees or so. Type of Water I live in the country and have well water. I use the water right from my tap to feed my starter and bake bread and have never had a problem. However, some people teach to use filtered water, either bought from the store, or you can boil your own water and let it cool prior to using. Feel free to experiment and see what works for you. Baker’s Schedule If your goal is to bake bread or another sourdough goodie (that requires active starter), I recommend feeding your starter right before bed or right when you wake up. This will ensure you have enough time to make your bread during the day, either first thing in the morning and finished by early afternoon or mid-day and finished by bedtime. No one wants to do stretch and folds while they’re tryin to sleep! Active Starter vs Discard Active starter is what we’re going for here when we feed it. It’s when your starter is at its peak – it’s strong and ready to make bread! When the starter starts deflating and takes on somewhat of an acetone/nail polish smell, it’s hungry and needs to be fed. That is called discard, or inactive starter. You can store that in your fridge and use it in sourdough discard recipes. Please ask any questions in the comments – this was so confusing to me before I finally comprehended how sourdough works at a fundamental level. I’m happy to help! #sourdough #sourdoughstarter

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

If you’re worried about messing it up, you can measure your feeding. I recommend a 1:5:5 feeding ratio in most cases:

  • 15g starter
  • 75g water
  • 75g unbleached bread flour

That’ll give you a tiny bit more than you’ll need for the bread recipe.

Timing: Feed your starter right before bed or when you wake up in the morning. It will likely take at least 4 hours for your starter to reach its peak. You’ll want to start making your bread before your starter starts deflating.

Timing Example: My window of opportunity is typically from around 4-10 hours. If I feed my starter before bed at 10 pm, I can start making bread at 8 am with no issues. The other option is feeding my starter in the morning, say 7 am, and mixing the bread dough around lunchtime. Both options will ensure I'm not messing with stretch and folds and shaping in the middle of the night.

You can have precise control over when your starter peaks by using feeding ratios. Reference the following chart for guidance!
sourdough feeding ratios
If I want my starter to peak in 10 hours, I’d opt for a 1:10:10 feeding ratio, or, say, 10g starter, 100g flour, and 100g water. If I want my starter to peak in 4-6 hours, I’d opt for a 1:1:1 ratio, or, say, 50g starter, 50g flour, 50g water.

Step 2: Mix Your Dough

When your starter peaks, it’s time to mix your bread ingredients.

Here’s what to look for to know your starter is ready to use:

@thatsourdoughgal

For the most consistent baking results, it’s best to start making your dough when your starter has peaked and is flat. If it’s domed, it’s still rising and needs a little bit more time to reach its full strength. #sourdoughstarter

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

You can watch the dough mixing process here:

@thatsourdoughgal

How to make sourdough bread! This is my sourdough bread recipe after many, many months of trial and error. When I first started, I used rye and whole wheat flour in all of my loaves but ended up transitioning over completely to bread flour as my family preferred it. The loaves are less dense and have less flavor, but it’s certainly more family-friendly. The only step here that I didn’t show is feeding my starter. I did that around 8am. I have videos on my account showing how to do that, but you basically pour out most of your starter into a discard jar that you keep in the fridge. Add maybe 1/2 cup of bread flour and just enough warm water to get to a thick pancake batter consistency. Within about 4 hours, your starter should be doubled in size and ready to bake. This is Part 1 of probably 3. Let me know if you have any questions! #sourdough #sourdougbread #sourdoughbreadrecipe #sourdoughtok

♬ Intergalactic Janet – Ley Soul

I always make two loaves at a time. There’s just no point in putting in all of this effort for a single loaf of bread. Freeze or gift that second loaf if you won’t eat it in time.

Here’s my recipe for two loaves of sourdough bread:

  • 975g unbleached bread flour
  • 25g whole wheat flour (optional, but it makes the starter happy; you can omit and do 25g more of unbleached bread flour)
  • 660g warm water
  • 150g active sourdough starter
  • 20g salt
mixed sourdough ingredients

That’s literally it.

Mix these ingredients together until it forms a shaggy dough. You can use a dough whisk to keep your hands clean, or you can wet your hands and get down and dirty!

Note on autolyse: Some people like to do what's called an autolyse. This means mixing the flour and water and letting it rest before adding the salt and starter. You can do this the night before and let it sit overnight, or you can even do it just 30 minutes before adding the salt and starter.

If I think of it and have extra time, I will do this step, but I have found it doesn't make much of a difference for white sourdough bread. If you're adding in whole wheat flour or rye flour, the autolyse does noticeably help, but it's not essential.

Step 3: Stretch and Folds

After mixing your ingredients, let your dough rest for 30 minutes. Then, it’s time for stretch and folds!

Ideally, you would do four sets of stretch and folds, each round 30 minutes apart, but you can get away with three. Some people skip them altogether and come out with good bread, but this step helps develop gluten. I wouldn’t skip it.

Tip: if you want to add any inclusions (other than brown sugar, honey, or anything else sugar-y and/or liquidy), do it during the second round of stretch and folds. My personal favorite is sun-dried tomato with goat cheese, but the most popular is probably jalapeño cheddar. Get 40+ inclusion ideas here.

Here is the process for one set of stretch and folds:

  • Wash your hands but don’t dry them off – I find using wet hands to do stretch and folds is best.
  • Pull the edge of the dough up, stretching but not tearing it, and lay it back down on top of the rest of the dough.
  • Rotate the bowl a quarter of a turn and do it again.
  • Keep doing this until the dough is very resistant to being stretched, at least four quarter-turns so every side of the dough has been stretched.
  • Optional: Flip the dough over and tuck in the sides so it’s a tidy, round dough ball again.
  • Cover the bowl with a shower cap and let it rest until the next round.

Step 4: Bulk Fermentation

Bulk fermentation begins as soon as the sourdough starter is added to the dough, not after the last set of stretch of folds (it’s a common misunderstanding).

Properly fermented dough is puffy, jiggles a little when shaken, is domed or has slightly rounded edges where the dough ball touches the sides of the bowl, it’s not sticky, and has lots of bubbles around the sides and bottom of the bowl.

bulk fermentation finished

It’s the hardest part of the sourdough breadmaking process to master because there’s no specific time to guide you. It could take 4 hours or 12 hours.

  • How strong is your starter?
  • Is your levain overripe?
  • What was the temperature of your water when you added it to the dough?
  • What’s your altitude?
  • What types of flour are you using?

All of those things will impact your bulk fermentation time. But I have tips and tricks for you!

My favorite hack, because it works so well for me, is the float test. But there are many methods (and honestly, those methods are probably more reliable than my bestie, the float test).

Watch how the float test works in this video:

@thatsourdoughgal

The float test has been a lifesaver for teaching me when sourdough is ready for the next step. You can use the float test to tell if your sourdough starter is ready to make bread, and you can also use it to determine if the bulk fermentation is finished. Your dough will not float until the bulk ferment is done, so it’s a great way to avoid under proofing. You can teach yourself the signs of perfectly fermented dough by studying the dough once it passes the float test! It’ll be puffy, almost cloud like, and pretty easy to handle. There will be no major stickiness. Once you handle perfectly proofed dough, you’ll have a much better idea of what to look for, and before long, you won’t have to do the float test at all (though it’s still a nice test for reassurance!). The only thing to watch for is that you don’t overproof your dough. As soon as the dough passes the float test, move on to pre-shaping, shaping, and resting in the fridge. But you shouldn’t have an overproofing problem, because as long as you are checking your dough every hour or two, you’ll pass that float test and will never have over proofed dough again! #sourdoughtipsandtricks #bulkfermentation #bulkfermentationtips #sourdoughproofing #sourdoughtok

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

Beyond the float test, here are other common bulk fermentation methods:

  • Dough Temping (probably the most accurate): Different dough temperatures require a different percentage rise to achieve equal fermentation at baking time.
    • Here’s why: when you place your shaped dough in the refrigerator for a cold retard, it can take 8-12 hours for the dough to reach “hibernation” temperature of 37F/3C. During that long cooldown, the dough continues to ferment, particularly in the first few hours when the dough is still above 50F/10C. The dough temperature, when it enters the refrigerator, determines how fast and how much the dough will continue to ferment throughout the cold retard. So, a dough temperature of 80F should aim for a 30% rise, a 75F loaf should aim for 50% rise, and so on.
    • The following three resources have been the most helpful for me – click each tab to view them.
  • The Aliquot Method: After mixing your dough, take a small portion (aliquot) of the dough and place it in any small container with measurement markings (like this test tube). Mark the initial level of the dough sample in the container. Let both the main dough and the aliquot sample rise together. The aliquot will rise at the same rate as the main dough. The dough is typically considered ready for shaping when the aliquot has doubled or tripled in volume, depending on your recipe and preference. You can reference the dough temping guides above to see how much your dough should rise!
  • Aliquot 2oz condiment cup hack: Take 40g of dough and add it to a 2oz condiment cup. When the dough touches the lid, it’s ready for shaping.
  • Dough Mat: a dough mat, also called a fermentation mat, comes equipped with a built-in thermostat, which allows you to set and control your desired temperature. By providing a consistent and controlled heat source, it ensures that your dough rises efficiently and evenly.
  • Visually: looking at the dough to determine if it’s done. The dough should form a dome with the dough moving away from the sides of the bowl. There are bubbles forming underneath the surface. It should be about doubled and have a smooth surface. When you touch it, it’s light, airy, and puffy.

Again, I just find the float test to be easy and reliable, but I really want to explore dough temping as it seems like it would provide a more consistent result through the seasons.

Step 5: Divide and Pre-Shape

When your dough floats in water, is puffy, and has lots of bubbles around the sides and bottom of your bowl, it’s time to divide it into two separate dough balls and pre-shape it.

We essentially shape our dough into a nice, tidy ball twice. The first time is called the pre-shape. Doing it twice helps with oven spring and getting a beautiful, tall loaf of bread.

You can watch this process here:

@thatsourdoughgal

Heres a look at the shaping process when the bulk fermentation was finished. I share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Thanks for watching 🫶 #sourdoughbread #sourdoughshaping

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal
Note: I recently tried the caddy clasp shaping technique and am obsessed! Check it out if you want to simplify the final shaping.

To pre-shape the dough:

  • Spray or sprinkle a little water on your surface. I used to use a lightly floured work surface, but I find that water is actually a lot better!
  • Press and stretch one of the dough balls into a large rectangle, using the water to keep the dough from sticking to the surface. The water should help the dough cling, but not stick, to the surface.
  • Once you have a large rectangle of dough, grab one side and fold it over to the center. Do the same for the right side of the dough.
  • Roll up the long rectangle of dough.
  • Using a candy cane motion, roll the dough repeatedly until the surface is taught and you have a nice, round-shaped ball.
  • Set the dough aside and repeat the process for your second dough ball.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the dough with a little rice flour and cover with a tea towel.

Let that dough rest for about 30 minutes; then, it’s time for the final shaping!

Step 6: Final Shape

After your pre-shaped dough balls have rested for about 30 minutes, you’ll do the shaping process one more time.

How you shape the dough this time will depend on whether you want to make a round ball (boule) or an oblong one (batard).

different shaped loaves

To shape the dough into a boule:

  • Place your preshaped dough ball on a lightly floured surface and gently stretch it into a circular shape.
  • Pull the two bottom sides apart to create two “wings.”
  • Fold the right side over to the center, then fold the left side over the right to the center.
  • With both hands, pull the top of the “envelope” up and slightly away from you, then fold it down to the center, sealing it against the dough.
  • Grab the bottom with both hands and pull it up and over to the top.
  • Using both hands, tuck and drag the dough towards you to build tension on its surface. Think of a candy cane’s shape as you drag and rotate. After each drag, rotate the dough slightly and continue dragging until it has a uniform shape with a smooth surface free of tears or bulges.
  • Using a bench knife, flip the dough and place it into a banneton seam-side up.
  • Cover the banneton with a plastic bowl cover and place in the fridge.

To shape the dough into a batard:

  • Place your preshaped dough ball on a lightly floured surface and gently stretch it into a circular shape.
  • Fold the left side of the circle over to slightly past the center.
  • Next, fold the right side over, just overlapping the left fold.
  • Using both hands, take the top of the resulting rectangle and gently stretch it away from you. Then, fold it down over the remaining dough.
  • Use your index fingers or thumbs to press the top edge into the dough, lightly sealing it.
  • Continue to pick up from the top and roll the dough down, sealing with each fold.
  • Using a bench knife, flip the dough and place it into a banneton seam-side up.
  • Cover the banneton with a plastic bowl cover and place in the fridge.

Step 7: Cold Retard

Your bannetons will rest in the fridge, ideally overnight. I find the sweet spot is baking your bread the next day, but you can go several days for an extra-long fermentation.

shaped dough in fridge

Read More: How Long to Proof Sourdough in the Fridge (+ Tips)

Step 8: Score and Bake

The final step in the process is bringing the dough out of the fridge to score and bake it.

score the sourdough

Watch this process here:

@thatsourdoughgal

It’s time for scoring and baking! This is a plain loaf and my favorite, goat cheese with sun-dried tomato. It makes the BEST sandwiches…. Yum!! I feel like these are some of the best loaves I’ve made so far. #sourdough #sourdoughbread

♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

Preheat the oven to 450°F with your Dutch oven(s) inside on the center rack. If you can, wait 20-30 minutes after the oven is preheated to ensure your Dutch oven is as hot as possible.

Put a sourdough baking mat or piece of parchment paper on top of the dough in the banneton. Flip the banneton over and peel it off.

Using a bread lame or razor blade, score your dough.

Scoring tips: sourdough bread requires one deep expansion score. Feel free to add other decorative scores to that.

Place your scored loaves in the hot Dutch ovens. Put the lids back on and bake for 30 minutes.

Ice hack: if you want blistering on the outside of the dough, add a few ice cubes to the Dutch oven, below the parchment paper, before baking.

After 30 minutes, remove the lids and lower the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the outside of the dough is dark, golden brown.

Place the hot loaves on a wire rack and let them cool for at least 2 hours before slicing. You can be a rebel and dig in earlier, but you may experience a gummy texture if you cut them while they’re still hot.

#1 Sourdough Bread Baking Hack

I struggled with underproofed bread for the longest time. I just couldn’t figure out how to tell if my dough was ready to shape. The underproofed dough left me with a weird crumb and gummy texture.

The float test hack changed that, and I’ve had perfectly proofed bread ever since!

Traditionally speaking, the float test refers to testing your sourdough starter. If it floats in water, it’s ready to make bread.

But I also learned that the float test can tell you if your bulk fermentation is finished.

About an hour after you finish your stretch and folds, tear off a small piece and put it in a glass of water. If it sinks, the bulk fermentation is not done yet. Repeat this every hour until it floats.

As soon as it floats, do your pre-shaping and final shaping.

Drawbacks of the float test: the float test doesn't guard against overproofing as overproofed dough still floats. Please make sure you are testing the dough every hour so you don't accidentally overproof! If your home is hot (above 75°F), you may want to test every 30 minutes. 

Also, if your house is really hot and your dough ferments quickly, you may end up with over proofed dough. That’s because the dough will continue rising in the fridge until it cools down all the way (dough temping is a good fix for this - refer back to the bulk fermentation section for more info).

Once you do this a few times, you’ll start to get a better idea of what properly fermented dough looks and feels like.

You’ll also know the general timeframe of how long it takes in your home. Keep in mind this will probably change with the seasons since your home temperature may fluctuate.

In my house, the bulk fermentation is typically 7 hours from start to finish. Yours could be 5 hours or 10 hours. In the winter, it could even be 12 hours!

I still use the float test as a backup, but my confidence with bulk fermentation has skyrocketed now that I know exactly what to look and feel for.

Related: Sun-dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Sourdough Bread Recipe

White Sourdough Bread Recipe

The Best Foolproof White Sourdough Bread Recipe

Recipe by Rebekah ParrCourse: Sourdough Breads, Sourdough RecipesCuisine: Bread
Servings

2

loaves
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

55

minutes
Calories

300

kcal
Resting Time

19

minutes
Total time

20

hours 

35

minutes

Make delicious white sourdough bread with this beginner-friendly recipe. With just flour, water, salt, and about 40 minutes of hands-on work, you can create classic white sourdough loaves your family will adore! Plus, it’s the perfect base recipe for all kinds of fun inclusions like cinnamon raisin, jalapeño cheddar, and my favorite, sundried tomato and goat cheese.

Ingredients for two loaves:

  • 150g active sourdough starter

  • 660g warm water

  • 975g unbleached King Arthur bread flour

  • 25g whole wheat flour (optional; substitute for more unbleached bread flour if desired)

  • 20g salt

Directions:

  • Step 1: Feed Your Starter
  • Pour out most of the starter (this is called discard and can be stored in the fridge). To the small amount of starter remaining in your jar, add flour and water. Details in the next step.
  • Lazy girl feeding method: Add 4-5 spoonfuls of flour and enough lukewarm water to make a thick pancake batter consistency.
    Precise feeding method: Combine 15g starter, 75g water, and 75g unbleached bread flour in a jar.
  • Let it sit for 4-10 hours until it peaks. You can test that your starter is ready by doing the float test. Pour a small amount of starter into a glass of water. if it floats, move to step 2.
  • Step 2: Mix Your Dough
  • Combine 975g unbleached bread flour, 25g whole wheat flour (optional), 660g warm water, 150g active starter, and 20g salt.
  • Mix until a shaggy dough forms and cover.
  • Step 3: Stretch and Folds
  • Let the shaggy dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and folds, each set 30 minutes apart.*
    Optional: during the second set of stretch and folds, you can add inclusions to your dough as long as they aren’t sugar or syrup. For two loaves, you’re looking at adding 350-400g of inclusions. You can separate the dough into two if you prefer different types of bread.
  • Step 4: Bulk Fermentation
  • Let the dough ferment until it’s approximately doubled in size, puffy, not sticky to the touch, and passes the float test.**
  • Step 5: Divide and Pre-Shape
  • Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into two pieces.
  • Shape each piece into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.*
  • Step 6: Final Shape
  • For a boule: Stretch dough into a circle, fold sides to center, pull top down, tuck and drag to build tension, and place in banneton seam side up.
  • For a batard: Stretch dough into a circle, fold sides to center, roll from top down, place in banneton seam side up. You can also try the caddy clasp, my new preferred shaping method!
  • Step 7: Cold Retard
  • Cover bannetons and refrigerate overnight. Ideal cold retard: 12-36 hours. Do not exceed 96 hours.
  • Step 8: Score and Bake
  • Preheat oven to 450°F with Dutch oven(s) inside.
  • Transfer dough to parchment, score, and place in Dutch oven. You can add ice cubes to the bottom of the Dutch oven if you want blistering on the outside of the bread.
  • Bake with lid on for 30 minutes.
  • Remove lid, lower temperature to 425°F, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing.

Recipe Video

@thatsourdoughgal I recently did a 3-part series on how to make sourdough bread. I wanted to combine all three parts for anyone who wants to follow along. A few things I’ve adjusted over the last few weeks: 1. I saw another baker add in just a touch of whole wheat flour to keep the starter happy and I loved that idea. Instead of 1000g of bread flour, I now do 975g of bread flour and 25g of whole wheat flour. I feel like that’s my little touch of love! 2. Instead of dusting the surface with rice flour when I go to pre-shape and shape, I now sprinkle some water instead. I find it’s much easier to stretch out the dough; it clings to the surface but does not stick. I also like shaping the dough with wet hands – it just seems to work better all-around. 3. Finally, I’ve experimented with adjusting the oven temps and times slightly and I’m enjoying it. I now do 450°F for 30 minutes covered, then lower to 425°F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. I do have a convection oven. 
Sourdough is a constant learning curve – and a lot of it is trial and error and little tweaks as you go. What about your sourdough process is different than mine? #sourdoughrecipe #sourdoughbread #sourdoughtok ♬ original sound – thatsourdoughgal

Notes

  • *Refer to the tutorials earlier in this article.
  • **Float test: tear off a small piece of dough and put it in a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s not done fermenting. Re-test every hour until it floats.

Sourdough Bread Recipe FAQs

Why add honey to a sourdough bread recipe?

I don’t personally add honey or sweetener to my white sourdough bread recipe as it doesn’t need it, and I like that my bread has no added sugars. However, if you want a little sweetness, you can add a few tablespoons of honey (no more than 100g in this recipe of two loaves). Honey will make your sourdough bread a little softer, and it offers a sweeter, more complex flavor.

How do you add sourdough starter to a bread recipe?

Add your sourdough starter along with the rest of your ingredients (flour, water, and salt) and mix with a dough whisk, a stand mixer, or your hands. It’s that simple!

How much salt should be in a sourdough bread recipe?

Sourdough bread should have 10g of salt for every 500g of flour. That’s why my recipe for two loaves (1,000g of flour total) calls for 20g of salt. You can scale this slightly in either direction and experiment to find out what you like best.

How do you double a sourdough bread recipe?

The good news about sourdough bread recipes is you can easily double them by simply doubling the ingredients. My recipe makes two loaves as it is, but you can keep scaling up with a calculator. You can also use hydration levels to back into a recipe. As an example, my recipe is at 66% hydration, so if I want to make 10 loaves of bread, I’d be working 5,000g of flour and 3,300g of water (5,000g x 0.66 = 3,300g).

Conclusion

Classic sourdough bread is a thing of beauty – it’s simple, delicious, and a crowd-pleaser.

Once you realize that sourdough baking is more of a formula than a recipe, it all gets a lot easier.

Go through these steps a few times, and you will never reference a sourdough bread recipe again!

Let me know in the comments if there are any major variations in how you make your bread.

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2 Comments

  1. With making the two loafs roughly how much do they weigh. I know I could eye it but just wondering if you weigh them when you split them for more accuracy . Thank you!

    1. Around 900-950 grams! I do like weighing it – it’s crazy how uneven it is when I eyeball it.

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