Sourdough Bread

Updated 04/26/20

Every time I post a picture of a freshly baked sourdough loaf on social media, someone asks “Is the recipe on your blog?” Before I bake this weekend (that’s how I party) and post pics, I thought I better post the recipe here.

dating profile pic

On Twitter, I follow Joe Fitzmaurice, an Irish baker, who recently used a hashtag that sums up what I have written here: #EasyWhenYouKnowHow. I constantly refer to my blog for my own recipes. I forget them all. This one I have memorized, however. I could make it in my sleep. Sometimes at 5am, I do make it in my sleep. Although I list 27 steps down below, you can lump them together into a mere seven:

  1. Make a leaven
  2. Soak the flours
  3. Combine half the leaven with the soaked flours
  4. Turn dough during the bulk fermentation
  5. Shape dough
  6. Proof
  7. Bake

Sourdough Starter

Before you make your sourdough bread, you’ll need a starter. I have written posts on that herehere and here. For answers to the most frequently asked sourdough starter questions, go here.

Recommended Equipment and Books

I hate to tell people to buy more stuff. You may find some of these items at yard sales or secondhand stores. I saw piles of Dutch ovens at a huge antiques fair recently. You don’t need all (or really any) of this BUT I find using the proper equipment results in better loaves. I’ve included some basic items here for those of you with no baking experience.

  • Kitchen scale. I highly recommend you get your hands on a scale if you plan to undertake serious baking. I measure my flour in grams because weight can differ greatly from volume. If you don’t have a scale, you’ll find the approximate measurements in cups here.
  • Dutch oven. It’s probably wrong to love an inanimate object as much as I love my Dutch oven. Commercial ovens inject the interior with steam, which creates sourdough’s nice crust. You can replicate this environment with a Dutch oven. The moisture from your dough will generate steam inside the sealed Dutch oven. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, bake in loaf pans or on a baking stone or cookie sheet. Mine is huge—6 1/2 quarts. A smaller one will work—5 quarts or even 4.
  • Banneton baskets. I proof my loaves in these wicker-like spiral baskets. I had trouble tracking them down and they cost about $25 each (not cheap). I have two baskets, so when I make three loaves, I just use a towel-lined bowl sprinkled generously with flour to proof the third loaf. Works well.
  • Razor blade or lame. The razor blade for scoring changed my life. With a good score, the bread can expand more, resulting in a better rise. 
  • Dough scraper. Use this to clean your cutting board and to flip your dough around. If you have a limited budget, this is the one thing you might want to splurge on.
  • Silicone spatula. I use these to scrape down the very sticky sourdough starter. 

(Go here for making sourdough bread without the expensive equipment.)

This is based on Michael Pollan’s recipe from his fabulous book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. He bases his recipe on Chad Robertson’s in Tartine Bread. I love both of these books. The pictures in Tartine Bread really help you along BUT the recipe spans about 26 pages (and you thought my post was long!). Michael Pollan’s is about four pages. Tartine also offers many delicious variations, such as the coriander raisin bread pictured below. (Oops, I accidentally used cardamom in these loaves, which tasted great.)

cardamom raisin

Ingredients for Two Loaves

I often grind fresh flour for my bread. I use only about 20 percent freshly ground as it tends to make a dense loaf. If you use freshly ground flour, grind it immediately before using as the oils in the grain turn rancid quickly. That’s a blog post for another day…

For the leaven:

  • 100 grams whole wheat flour
  • 100 grams white flour
  • 200 grams warm water
  • 35 grams recently fed sourdough starter

For the sourdough:

  • 600 grams whole wheat flour
  • 200 grams white flour
  • 200 grams spelt or rye flour
  • 750 grams warm water (adjust as necessary)
  • 1/2 the leaven
  • 25 grams salt combined with an additional 50 grams warm water
This is actually freshly ground sorghum but you get the idea
This is actually freshly ground sorghum but you get the idea


Try to do the following as you work on your bread:

  • Take lots of notes
  • Smell and taste the dough at its various stages—the smell, taste and feel all serve as clues to the dough’s progress
Four stages of sourdough, beginning top right clockwise: bulk fermentation; leaven ready to use; formed loaf in banneton basket; baked loaf

1. Begin with active, fed sourdough starter. I usually feed mine twice before I bake, once first thing in the morning and later in the early afternoon. I then start my bread in the evening with my active starter. (Sometimes I will only feed the starter once before starting the bread.)

2. The night before you make your bread, in a glass or ceramic bowl, make a leaven (basically a giant starter). Combine 100 grams whole wheat flour, 100 grams white flour, 200 grams warm water and 35 grams fresh starter. Cover with a plate to prevent crust from forming on top and place in a warm spot.

3. Soak the flours for the dough at the same time as you make your leaven. In a large glass, ceramic or wooden bowl, combine 600 grams whole wheat flour, 200 grams white flour, 200 grams rye or spelt flour and 750 grams warm water. Cover tightly with a plate to prevent a crust from forming on top. (You don’t need to place this in a warm spot as with the leaven and it may dry out if you do.)

Pollan’s recipe calls for more water in this step—850 grams. I would suggest you start off with less and work your way up to more as you get more experienced at baking this. Even with the smaller amount of 750 grams of water, the very wet dough can freak new bakers out.

Good morning leaven
Good morning leaven (oops, it’s a little crusty on top…just scrape that off)

4. In the morning, combine 1/2 the leaven with the soaked grains. I use my hands to work everything in together. The remaining leaven is your new sourdough starter. The starter that you made your leaven with now goes into your discard jar along with all the other excess starter left over from feedings.

5. Combine 25 grams salt with 50 grams warm water and set aside.

6. Wait 20 minutes. Add salty water to dough and thoroughly mix it in with your hands. The bulk fermentation begins now so note the time.

7. Wait another 20 minutes. Turn the dough for the first time. Wet your hand, reach under to the bottom of the dough, pull it up and fold it over on itself. Turn the bowl 1/4 of a turn and repeat for a total of at least 4 turns. 

If you want to add seeds, nuts, olives or raisins, do that after the second turn of the dough.

Seeds: Fennel, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds are good choices. I use about 1 ½ cups total. Toast for 10 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, soak the seeds in about 1 cup warm water for 30 minutes before adding to dough. The seeds will absorb this water. If there is any remaining water, strain it out. Soaking plumps these up. They taste so good. Skip this step if you prefer though.

Nuts: Toast as with seeds until fragrant. You don’t need to soak nuts after toasting but chop whole ones into small pieces.

Olives: Chop into smaller pieces if whole.

Raisins: Soak 3 cups golden raisins in warm water for half an hour and strain before adding to the dough.

Coriander raisin dough after a few turns during bulk fermentation

8. Continue to turn your dough every 30 to 45 minutes.

9. End the bulk fermentation after 4 or 5 hours. My dough begins to break down around 5 hours so I rarely go past 4 1/2 hours. Your bulk fermentation may require more or less time, depending on your kitchen environment.

10. Generously flour a wooden cutting board or your counter top.

11. Dump dough onto work surface and halve into 2 blobs.

12. Sprinkle with flour and with your hands, rotate each blob gently while pushing the sides toward the bottom of the blob. Don’t work the dough any more than you need to in order to achieve this.

13. Cover with a towel and wait 20 minutes.

14. Sprinkle your work surface with more flour. With your dough scraper, flip a blob over. You’ll now shape your loaves. Pull gently on one end of the dough to form a rectangle. Fold the dough in half. Pull gently on the ends (i.e., not the folded side) to form a rectangle again. Fold over again. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat this folding. Now turn the dough diagonally. Make a rectangle, fold it. Make a rectangle in the opposite direction, fold it. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat this folding.

You have folded the dough a total of eight times. This creates a tight loaf and helps create a better rise. But be gentle! Don’t pop any air pockets. These are gold! The dough gets more difficult to fold as you continue to fold it. This is the trickiest part. Don’t worry, your bread will taste great 🙂

Formed coriander raisin loaf
Formed coriander raisin loaf

15. Sprinkle banneton baskets or cloth-lined bowls generously with flour. Place formed loaves in baskets, top side facing down. When you drop the loaf into the Dutch oven, the smooth side will face up. Cover the loaves with a cloth.

16. Proof the shaped loaves. I get the best results from an overnight cold proof in the refrigerator. This overnight proof gives you a break BUT you can proof now for two hours at room temperature and then bake as outlined in the next steps.

17. After proofing the loaves, place the Dutch oven in the oven and heat at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. If you have refrigerated your loaves, remove the first one from the fridge before you turn on the oven. My Dutch oven is very large—6 1/2 quarts. A smaller one will do.

18. Pull the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Hold the basket above the pot. Drop in the loaf being careful not to burn yourself.

19. Score the loaf using a razor blade on a stick or a store-bought lame. I prefer the razor-blade-stick combo as the blade on the lame is not usually replaceable. Put the lid back on. Return the Dutch oven to the oven. 

20. Reduce the temperature to 450 degrees.

21.  After baking for 20 minutes, remove the lid. This is the moment of truth. Hopefully your dough has risen nicely. Before I peer inside, I ALWAYS feel a little anxious! I doubt this will go away…

If all goes well, you'll see a little puff of steam when you remove the lid and a nicely risen loaf
If all goes well, you’ll see a little puff of steam when you remove the lid and a nicely risen loaf

22. Bake another 23 to 25 minutes without the lid, until the crust of the bread has browned and caramelized.

23. Place baked loaf on cooling rack.

My students take their formed loaf home to bake
Another student loaf baked at home

24. If you did an overnight cold proof, pull the second loaf from refrigerator.

25. Place Dutch oven with lid on top back in the oven. Heat the oven to 500 degrees for 15 minutes.

26. Repeat steps 18 through 23.

27. Devour bread after it has cooled. Resist the temptation to tear into it. The bread continues to bake after you remove it from the oven.

student loaves
Loaves students worked on in class, which I baked the next morning; they insisted I score with my initials 😉

178 Replies to “Sourdough Bread”

  1. Liselotte Kraaijenbrink says: Reply

    Hi! Is it recommended to once in a while make extra leaven, so to have a new starter – and do something useful with the old leftover starter of course. Or is it also fine to only make enough leaven as needed and to feed the remaining starter once a week when left in the fridge. And do this for years or something?;) depending on how long I’ll continue to make my own bread. So, is it wrong/worse to only feed your starter little bits for a long time instead of giving it a big meal every now and then?

    Thanks! I still love this recipe😀

  2. I am just now starting down the sourdough path- made my first loaves yesterday! I will definitely be trying your recipe next week. Your instructions are very clear!

    1. Hi!
      Loving your blog, quite entertaining and clear, helpful instructions.
      My first sourdough starter (made using your tips) has just turned one month old and I celebrated the occasion by trying to bake bread.

      Unfortunately my dough was very liquid. I followed your instructions carefully, only I used spelt flour. Any idea what the issue might be??

      1. Hi Veronica,
        Thank you for the kind words. Happy birthday to your one-month old 🙂 I love spelt flour but I find it makes VERY wet dough. I would add less water next time if you use all spelt. Otherwise, the dough is hard to work with. I hope that helps.
        ~ Anne Marie

  3. I am very new to wild sourdough starter. I just began my starter on January 11, 2019, and just found your website a couple days ago. I was reading through these directions and wonder: so, you don’t grease the Dutch oven at all? I have a cast iron one I think will work for this.

    1. I use parchment paper to avoid sticking but I’ve also added cornmeal to the bottom of the pot with mixed results.

  4. I have been trying a couple of sourdough starter and bread attempts before and ended up with heavy rocks or dead starters. You explain things really well so I understand the why and how. THANK YOU!

  5. These are the best sourdough recipe / instructions I’ve come across so far, and I’ve tried a few! Easy enough to make, though the dough is super soft and hard to handle, but absolutely worth it!

  6. Sydney Boland says: Reply

    Thank you for the awesome recipe!
    My loaves never seem to split the same way yours do–they don’t have same crusty look. Also, I do not have a dutch oven large enough to fit my loaves. Do you have any tips for baking on a cast iron skillet?
    Any help is much appreciated.
    Thank you 🙂

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Sydney,
      My loaves starting splitting well when I made my lame (the stick with the razor blade). The razor blade made a huge difference. And when I use it, I go deep. It took my bread to the next level. I haven’t baked on a cast iron skillet but I have baked on a pizza stone which I think would render pretty similar results. I would put the skillet in the oven to heat up and then pull it out and drop the loaf onto it. You won’t get that same caramelized crust as you would with a Dutch oven but you will get a delicious loaf. When I use my pizza stone, my bread rises like crazy.
      Anne Marie

  7. …soak the grains????…I don’t understand, what do you mean ?,witch are the “grains” ???sorry !!! Love your bread !!!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Marisa,
      That means soak the flours. I’ll go make a note on there.
      ~ Anne Marie

  8. Thank you ! I was filling silly asking …I’m old (78) and Italian… you are so graciosos, thank you !!! I always put the leaven
    in the water and then add the flours… love making bread; yours look amazing !!! Ciao !

  9. Thank you for the recipe! I will try it out, but I’m not sure about step #16. I’d start #4 in the morning at 10:00, so by the time I get to #16 I figure the time should be around 4:00 PM. If I start an overnight cold proof at that point, the dough would be in the refrigerator until about 7:00 the next morning, or roughly fifteen hours. Is that okay? I had heard not to exceed twelve hours when proofing in the refrigerator.

  10. Hi Anne Marie, I’ve baked these loaves quite a few times, but I always end up with a very sticky loaf. I bake far longer than the recipe, and get an excellent crust and taste, but the loaf is too sticky. I don’t have a cast iron pot, but instead use a glass casserole dish with a lid instead. Any insight into the problem? The actual structure of the crumb looks fantastic, lots of air pockets, but it’s always sticky. I should also note that my loaf doesn’t double in size while proofing.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Marcella, I wonder if you’re letting the bulk fermentation go too long. I would try cutting that shorter next time. And if you aren’t already, take lots of notes. That can help you pinpoint where problems arise.
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Thanks for the answer, Anne Marie. How exactly do I stop the bulk fermentation? Could I also ask if doing more than four turns or more frequent turns would speed up the fermentation process? Thanks for answering all these questions!

      2. The Zero-Waste Chef says:

        You’re welcome, Marcella. Sure you can do more than four turns. I don’t think it speeds up the fermentation process. To stop the fermentation, you just move on to the next step–dump out the dough and divide it into two blogs.

  11. Hello! I’ve been following along and am about to use my healthy starter to try my hand at my first batch of sourdough! When the time comes to soak the grains the night before, do you mix the water and flours thoroughly for this step or just throw them together and let the sit for the night? Thank you!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Karrah,
      Woohoo! Mix the flour and water together. You’ll likely have to use your hand to get it incorporated well. Just use one hand so you don’t have to clean off both. It’s quite sticky. Enjoy!
      ~ Anne Marie

  12. I know this sounds crazy, but how can I make a softer crust? I made the bread and loved it. It turned out great. But I really struggle to eat the crust with my dental problems. Can I make this bread in regular loaf pans so I can make uniform slices for sandwiches?

  13. Hi Z-W C. I am gluten free and have been making this bread for about 2 years now with no reaction. I love the test and texture. Thanks so much for simplifying the directions from Pollan”s recipe! Question: I’ve always wondered how to tell if the bulk fermentation has gone on too long. Does the consistency of the dough change? I always stop at 4 or 4 1/2 hours because I’m afraid I’ll go too long without knowing it. Thanks!

  14. Hi Anne Marie, thank you for such clear instructions. Even though your recipe is one of the clearest I have come across, I still have a couple of questions.
    Firstly, why do you soak the grains? My dough seems too wet throughout. It gets a bit more springy, but it is still difficult to make a tight ball in the final stages. The bread looks good and tastes absolutely acceptable but it doesn’t rise much and it is a bit too stodgy inside. Any ideas how to overcome these would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Luiza

  15. Hi! I really like your recipes! Two days ago I made this bread and it was amazing! Thank you for this recipe and clear instructions!

  16. Inspiring Blog!
    Today I made my first bread in a pot 😉
    Works great 👍 Thank you very much for the recipe.

  17. […] projects keeps me buoyed. I’m learning to make sourdough bread. I’m inspired by Zero-Waste Chef. The whole process looks very slow and complicated. It’s enough to discourage me but it […]

  18. Hi! I’ve made this sourdough bread a few times. The first time, I had my parents over for dinner & they loved it. My dad even said it was the best he’s ever tasted and he’s been making is his own bread for at least 40 years. I’ve made a few modifications to make it easier for me. I make about half the amount of leaven because I don’t’ need that much left over at the end (though sometimes I like to have extra around for pancakes). I’ve also made this successfully without spending 4-5 hours turning it every 30 minutes. I made this once when I forgot that I had other obligations during the bulk ferment and just hoped for the best. And it turned out great by just letting it rise for 4-5 hours without touching it. It’s a great time saver.

  19. Is it possible to cut this recipe in half, in order to make just one loaf? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      Absolutely! You can also make just the amount of leaven you need for the one loaf and keep a small starter going in the background. That’s what I do now. It keeps my discarded starter pile more manageable.
      ~ Anne Marie

  20. love the detailed instructions of your recipe! thank you so much for taking the time. My loaves came out great, I did one with roasted garlic and it is so tasty! I did not use any rye flour because it is pretty hard to find where I am living. How can I make the bread taste more sour? Is that why the Rye is included?

  21. Hello, I’m self-quarantined and hoping to bake bread for the first time! Thanks for the recipe. Can I use all-purpose flour instead of white flour? Or are they the same thing? Thanks so much for any input you have.

    1. Hi Alison,
      Yes all-purpose or white. They are the same thing. I’d use unbleached white if you can find it but don’t worry if you can’t.
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Hello Alison,
        Another self isolating question! I have followed all your instructions to the letter- except I have halved the ingredients as its just me. Made the leaven, soaked the grains. Combined the latter with water, and its not at all wet. Slightly sticky but not wet. It is a ball shape in the bowl, its like a dough already. My rye flour is quite grainy as I ground myself, but not lumpy. It is floury but a bit gritty. Its bed time now, am tempted to add a tiny bit more water and hope that will be ok! Any ideas?

  22. Hello,

    What do you recommend doing if you don’t have a dutch oven? The instructions say you can use loaf pans or cookie sheets. Is there anything you have to do differently?

    1. Hi Melanie,
      I have been using a loaf pan for one loaf (my daughter prefers loaf-shaped bread) and my Dutch oven for the other loaf. Just put the loaf in the pan, let it proof and put it in the oven. I’d check on the bread after about 35 minutes to see if it’s done. For a cookie sheet, you’d use a towel-lined bowl or banneton basket and, turn the dough out onto the cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the oven. Again, I’d check after about 35 minutes on how it’s coming along.
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. So you still do all of the turning and shaping of the loaf, even if you are making it in a loaf tin? Just got a starter from a friend so will feed it for the next few days then attempt to bake a loaf! Who knew being in lockdown could be fun!

      2. Hi Taylor,
        Yes, you still shape the loaf but then put it directly into the loaf pan, let it proof and then bake it. Today, on lockdown, I made a loaf on a cookie sheet. That also works well.
        Happy baking!
        Anne Marie

  23. Thank so much, Anne Marie! For step #22, is that without the lid?

    1. Hi Tonya,
      Yes, without the lid! I’ll go edit that.
      Thanks for asking,
      Anne Marie

  24. Hello, thank you for your excellent recipes and website. I don’t have spelt or rye on hand…how would you substitute the flour ratios using all purpose unbleached white and red fife wheat (what I have on hand). Thank you!

    1. Hi Laila,
      I would use about 80 percent of the red fife and white for the rest of it. It should turn out well. I’d like to try the red fife wheat!
      Anne Marie

  25. Thank you for your recipe and detailed instructions! My dough is currently proofing overnight in the fridge. I’m a bit concerned because it is much more runny than yours. I’m not sure why since I used the flour and water amounts. Hopefully it turns out ok when I bake it tomorrow!

    Also, as a bread novice, I found step 14 rather difficult to follow without some sort of visual aid. Have you thought of adding pictures or making a short video showing these folds? Thank you again!

  26. just reading these comments hoping to pick up any tips as I myself have never made sourdough bread. i know many of the words/terms but a thought just popped into my head – what if there was a sourdough ‘dictionary’? ex. grains = flour etc. . .
    thank you for all the helpful, life-changing info you provide! looking forward to your book also.

  27. Hi Anne Marie! I am wondering if the temperature for the baking can be lower then 450-500 F? My Dutch oven (as per label) could be heated only by 400F. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Sasha,
      I haven’t tried baking it at 400F but I would try that. You might want to make half the recipe and see how it goes.
      ~ Anne Marie

  28. […] been using a set of directions derived from Michael Pollan, who derived his method from Chad Robertson of Tartine Bakery in San […]

  29. Hi Anne Marie. Long time follower, first time sourdough maker. Just a question about what you mean about freshly fed starter. Do you mean right after it has been fed, or waiting for it to rise and fall again before using it to start?

    1. I was wondering about the same. An answer would be very helpful!

      1. Hi Charlotte,
        Active, as in fed a few hours before you’ll use it. I’ll go edit that to make it clearer.
        ~ Anne Marie

    2. Hi Keziah, I mean an active starter that you’ve fed and that has risen up. I’ll go edit that.
      Anne Marie

      1. Thank you for your response! I really appreciate that you take the time for this.

  30. If I have a robust amount of starter already, can I cut the quantities for the leaven in half and add the entire leaven to the dough the next day? You started to address this earlier, but I wanted to make sure as I am new to the sourdough world!

    1. Taylor Metzler says: Reply

      Ok, so I’m a complete mess apparently and spaced out when adding the levain this morning, and instead of only adding half, I added ALL of it. Is there anything I can do?

      1. Hi Taylor,
        Someone just yesterday asked me this very same question. I think your bread will be fine. I’d add a bit more flour (if you see this comment in time!) because the dough will be more wet. It will also likely ferment faster, so I’d stop the fermentation early. These days, I make only the amount of levain I need and I use the whole thing and in the background, feed my small starter daily to keep it alive.
        ~ Anne Marie

  31. In step 4, you said the remaining levain becomes the new sourdough starter.. so do we combine that with the original sourdough starter? Or do we now have two sourdough starters? Thank you!

  32. Hi Anne Marie,

    When you proof in baskets, what do you use to cover them in the fridge?

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Rebecca,
      I cover the baskets with a thin tea towel.
      Enjoy your bread!
      ~ Anne Marie

  33. Hello again! I am sad because my leaven did not double in volume and it is throwing off my sourdough schedule as I do have to work tomorrow and cannot babysit it. I have already soaked my grains per this recipe and don’t want them to go bad while I figure out my leaven situation. Do you have ideas on how to preserve the soaked grains until I am able to use them? *sigh*

  34. Hi Anne Marie,
    I’ve tried other recipes & methods and though I’ve gotten some good tasting bread, it’s not as “airy” as yours (or theirs) looks. With less water to flour ratios I’ve still have dough that was way too sticky and wouldn’t hold up to shaping, i.e would have been better for pizza. In reading your instructions I see that you have an even higher ratio of water – I’m quite confused. Even more, I’m confused about one thing in particular: most recipes call for “bulk fermentation” after folding. Are you saying that the folding “is” the bulk fermentation? Thank you, Michael

    1. Hi Michael,
      That’s right, I do the stretch and folds during the bulk fermentation. Some recipes knead the dough a bit and then let it sit for a bulk fermentation. There are lots of different ways to do it. The first time I made this, I added even more water and found it hard to work with, so I cut back to about 700 grams and slowly worked my way up. (The type of flour also makes a wetter dough. I find a lot of spelt results in very wet dough.) Today, I usually add around 800 grams total (that includes the 50 grams I add later with the salt). Wet does get a nicer crumb, I find. I hope that helps.
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Hi Anne Marie,
        Thank you for your reply – but I’m still confused. If wetter dough makes a more airy crumb then why did my wet dough not rise? So you can help me make sense of this, here’s what I did. Mixed the salt and levain with dough that had autolysed for over an hour. Turn and folded every 30 minutes for six folds (super sticky). Then left the dough to bulk ferment for several hours. Then turned it out and tried to work with it – eventually getting the blob into some bannatons to rise over night. I ended up with 2″ of total rise, tasty but wet and dense. When I used less water I actually got it to rise a bit more, but not more than about 3″. Thanks so much, I’m sure you have better things to do. Best, Michael

  35. Genie Moore says: Reply

    Hi – I have been trying to get a starter going for about one month with no success. I ended up with starter that passed the float test but wasn’t rising very much, or consistently?! I just discarded all except for enough to use for yours. My question is – having started with my starter and 40 g water n rye flour, it is now riding nicely. Do I feed again tonight (12 hours) or wait until tom. am? I’m not sure if my problem was over feeding my other attempts. I was using AP flour only after starting with WW or Rye?
    Also for your bread recipe can I sub Bread Flour or a combo for the WW?
    Hope this makes sense.

  36. Hello. I was wondering, in step 4 you said the remaining levain becomes the new sourdough starter, so does that mean we should combine this with the original sourdough starter or do we now have two separate sourdough starters? Thank you!

    1. Hi. I just made my levain last night, and I currently have the same concern. Have you figured this out? Thank you!

    2. Hi Philippa,
      No, just add that original starter to your discard pile. That isn’t as lively as the levain you just made. So you’ll a jar of discard in the refrigerator and your extra levain/new starter. I hope that makes sense. I’ll go add a note in the instructions.

  37. Help! My starter is more than 4 weeks weeks old, and is nice and thick with a good aroma, but is not getting bubbly throughout. It has a bunch of small bubbles on the top surface, but none visible through the sides of the clear mason jar. I had a starter 2 years ago that was clearly bubbly throughout. I’d hate to start over entirely. Any recommendations to get my sad starter to a healthy state? Appreciate any advice. Thank you!

  38. Hello,
    This is my first time baking sourdough bread. I’ve had my starter going for a couple of weeks and I’m ready to go. Maybe its because I’m a dude but I’m having a hard time visualizing how to do step 12 and 14. If there is any way you can try to rephrase these steps or reference a youtube video I would be grateful. Thanks for putting this all together

  39. […] After doing a brief literature review (I especially like the instructions from The Perfect Loaf and Zero-Waste Chef), and listening to this interview with Clémence Gossett of the Gourmandise School here in LA, I […]

  40. I’m looking forward to finally trying this recipe! After reading your “How to Prevent Your Sourdough starter from taking over your life” blog, should step number 4 be updated to using the whole leaven? Thank you!

  41. […] Download Image More @ […]

  42. Love the site. Thanks for all the info. Any thoughts on baking both loaves at once in two separate Dutch ovens? I tried this and the loaves seemed more dense but I am a new baker and may have made other mistakes so I’m not sure if that was the reason. If there is no good reason to bake them separately I would rather use less gas and heat up the house less by doing both at one time.

    1. Hi GG,
      I would do that if I had two Dutch ovens and they fit in my oven (my oven is tiny). I’ve also baked one in the Dutch oven and one in a loaf pan next to the Dutch oven (the loaf in the pan seems to bake faster). I don’t think using two ovens should affect the bread. If the loaves are dense, it could be that the dough fermented a bit too long. Maybe try stopping the bulk fermentation sooner next time. Also, if you didn’t do a cold proof, that makes a big difference in my bread. A lame for scoring the bread also does. I hope that helps!
      ~ Anne Marie

  43. Thank you!

  44. Hei Anne Marie, after my first loaves all turned out really great, and the baking was fun and easy, I am now stuck with a very, very wet dough (no spelt involved). I already cut down the water a bit, because this has been happening quite a few times now. It is so wet that I can hardly turn the dough or even shape it, it looks like a giant pancake on my counter. Amazingly, when I scrape the mess up and put it in a bowl to proof and bake later on, it still tastes really good. But the baking process is a pain. Any idea why this is happening? Maybe because it’s summer now and warmer? Or because my starter feels neglected as I only take it out of the fridge the day before baking, feeding it and then making the leaven? (Beforehand it was always on my counter and fed daily). Thanks for taking the time to answer. Love, Mila

  45. The recipe has worked well for me, but recently the dough hasn’t bloomed at the score marks, which leads me to believe it is overproofed. My kitchen gets warm during the summer, sometimes as high as 85 degrees F. I shortened the autolyzing time and ended bulk fermentation at four hours before retarding overnight in the fridge. But that may not be enough. What kind of adjustments should be made to the recipe when the temperature goes up?

  46. Hi, Anne Marie!

    I am totally new to the world of sourdough. My starter, Eloise, is finally ready for baking, and I am so excited!

    I don’t have any whole wheat flour at the moment — only unbleached white and rye, which is the combo I have been using for my starter. My question is: Can I sub rye for whole wheat in the leaven recipe?

    I am trying to make fewer trips to the grocery store these days, so I just thought I would check before I go out & buy whole wheat flour! Thank you! I love your recipes so much, and I cannot wait for your cookbook. 🙂


    1. Hi Una,
      Congratulations and hello Eloise! I would go easy on the rye. It doesn’t contain much gluten and you’ll get a flat loaf. So if you don’t buy whole wheat, just use 80% white and 20% rye. Thank you for the kind words and happy baking 🙂
      ~ Anne-Marie

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