Beginner’s Sourdough Bread

This post might include affiliate links. Please see my policy.

I vividly remember the weeks leading up to my first loaf of homemade sourdough: days and days of voraciously reading about bread before I finally thought that my newborn sourdough starter and I were ready to take on the sourdough world. Dog-eared pages, post-it notes, bookmarks, and highlighted passages peppered the book that first kindled my baking spark. I scribbled down a schedule in my notebook for what to do when, and how to do it. Flour was purchased. Water was filtered. The kitchen towels were cleaned. And just like any engineer, I dove in head-first and got my hands dirty.

Surprisingly, my first loaf of sourdough bread turned out to be pretty decent–but oh boy, was it sour. I remember my wife eating a slice and saying that it was “pretty good, yeah, pretty good bread.” Only later did she fess up that it was “actually just okay, to be honest.” But all-in-all the bread had a nice rise, a crunchy and well-colored crust, and it did taste great considering it was my first loaf of any kind of bread. And you know what? We ate the entire thing.

beginners sourdough bread crumb
Beginner's Sourdough Bread crust and crumb

After many breakfasts and dinners accompanied by fresh sourdough, I found myself descending into a full obsession with how to make sourdough bread. There was something ancient about performing the whole process that I found captivating. It was–and still is–exciting to mix such elemental ingredients and to see them produce beautiful, life-giving sustenance: it is modern-day alchemy. It’s such a simple thing, and yet it brought me so much joy to see my family and friends tear into a freshly baked loaf that I wanted to bake every day of every week.

Starting to make your first loaf of sourdough bread can be daunting. That’s why I’ve put together this beginner's sourdough bread tutorial and recipe that is meant to give you confidence as you take your first steps. This how-to guide starts with explaining baking terms and definitions so that we will have a common vocabulary once we get to the recipe. And then each step of the process has lots of information to ensure that you feel like you understand what is happening and what to do. But, before we get going on this beginner’s sourdough bread recipe, let’s first take a look at what sourdough bread even is.

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough is a specific type of bread that is created through a natural fermentation process involving suitable bacteria and wild yeasts in the environment (i.e. the air and even a baker’s hands) and, most importantly, on the grain itself. Generally speaking, bacteria are primarily responsible for producing organic acids (lactic acid and acetic acid) that contribute to sourdough bread's flavor, texture, and storage qualities. The wild yeasts produce carbon dioxide gas and ethanol during fermentation. When this gas becomes trapped in the dough’s airtight gluten matrix, the dough begins to rise, resulting in a final loaf of bread with a light and airy texture.

All recipes on The Perfect Loaf are naturally leavened; in other words, you won’t find any commercial yeast or instant yeast here. There’s nothing inherently wrong with commercial yeast, but I prefer to make bread this way because of the wonderful flavor and texture, the health benefits, increased keeping quality, and the fact that it requires so few ingredients to make something so delicious. Some bakers prefer making sourdough with commercial yeast, too in order to gain the benefits of each: increased flavor, digestibility, and keeping quality from sourdough fermentation, plus the strong rise and predictable fermentation from commercial yeast.

The Perfect Loaf Sourdough Starter Illustration
Michael Hoeweler

Baker's Terminology


A starter is a mixture of flour and water that you allow to ferment naturally. You'll refresh (feed) the starter indefinitely to keep the fermentation active and healthy, and you will wait for it to become fully ripe before you use any of it to make bread. When you want to make bread, you take a small amount of your starter to create an off-shoot that we call a levain (see below).  To read more about the starter and learn how to make one, see my post on starter creation.

Levain (or leaven)

A levain is made by mixing a small off-shoot of your ripe starter with water and flour (and sometimes sugar) and allowing it to ferment prior to mixing it into a dough. It is the vehicle for adding yeast and bacteria to the dough. Unlike the starter, which lives on as its own entity, the entirety of the levain goes into the dough and has the same fate as the bread itself: to be baked in the oven. See my post on what a levain is and how it's different from a sourdough starter for more information.


Some recipes utilize a step called autolyse (“auto-lease”). It occurs at the beginning of bread baking and is a step in which only flour and water are mixed together. The goal of autolyse is to initiate enzymatic activity in the dough to help draw out sugars from the flour. Additionally, it helps increase dough extensibility (the ability for the dough to stretch out without tearing). In most cases, increased extensibility is a good thing as it helps the dough expand and fill with gasses, resulting in a light and airy loaf. See my in-depth post on the autolyse technique for more information.

Bulk Fermentation

The dough's first rise is called bulk fermentation. After mixing the flour, salt, and levain into a dough, you put it all into a bowl or container, cover it, and let it rest. The dough will undergo a fermentation process during this step that is critical. Bacteria and yeast begin to generate organic acids, alcohols, and leaven the dough, which will translate to flavor and rise in your final bread. Also, bulk fermentation is the time when you might give the dough additional strength through stretching and folding.


The proof is the dough's final, or second, rise and occurs after the dough has been divided and shaped. I typically proof at a cold temperature in the refrigerator (also called “retarding”). During this time, the dough continues to ferment, which further strengthens and leavens it.

Want the best bread in your home kitchen?

Join the membership and receive ad-free reading, access to a members-only chat to ask baking questions, my full suite of baking spreadsheets, discounts on baking tools & supplies, live baking events, and more!

The Perfect Loaf Logo

Final Dough Temperature (FDT)

The final dough temperature (FDT)5 is the temperature of the dough right after mixing all of the ingredients together. Naturally, each component (levain, the flour, the water, and the ambient environment) has a temperature. While most of these are out of our control, we can easily adjust the water temperature, and adjusting this temperature enables us to change the FDT of the entire dough to meet whatever the recipe calls for.

Let’s look at an example. Here, we will determine what our water temperature needs to be in order to meet an FDT of 78°F (25°C):

IngredientMeasured Temperature
Levain75°F (24°C)
Flour70°F (21°C)
Room Temperature75°F (24°C)
WaterTemp = (FDT x 4) - (LevainTemp + FlourTemp + AmbientTemp) 6
WaterTemp = (78 x 4) - (75 + 70 + 75)
WaterTemp = 92°F

We need to warm our water to 92°F (33°C) so at the end of our mix, our final dough temperature will be 78°F (25°C).

Recommended reading: The Importance of Dough Temperature in Baking.

Baker's Percentages (Baker's Math)

Baker’s math, or baker’s percentages, helps bakers adjust the actual quantity of the ingredients up or down, depending on how much bread they want to make. I write all the formulas on The Perfect Loaf in baker’s percentages where all ingredient weights are a percentage of the total flour weight, which always adds up to 100%. Read through my introduction to baker's percentages for a more in-depth explanation (including how to scale up and down a bread recipe).

beginners sourdough bread in bowl ready for bulk fermentation

If you're finding this beginner's sourdough bread recipe too involved, look at my Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread for a different approach.

Creating a Sourdough Starter

It all begins with a sourdough starter. Before we look at how to make sourdough bread, you need to create a healthy sourdough starter that shows consistent signs of fermentation each day. I have an entire post dedicated to creating a sourdough starter if you’d like more information and instructions for getting one going.

For information on how I maintain my starter on a day-to-day basis, please take a look at my sourdough starter maintenance routine. In it, you will see the visual and aromatic cues to look for when your starter is ready for refreshment (feeding).

Baking Tools

sourdough starter and baking tools

There are a few necessary tools for baking your first loaf of this beginner's sourdough bread. The following might look like a long list, but many of these things you probably already have in your kitchen—oThere are a few tools that are necessary for baking this beginner's sourdough bread. The following might look like a long list, but you probably already have many of these items in your kitchen—only buy what you don't have. Note that one item is absolutely necessary: a kitchen scale. If you don't have a kitchen scale, please consider buying one. Measuring flour with cups and scoops is entirely inaccurate!

You can find a full list of all the tools I use when baking on my baking tools page.


taking beginners sourdough bread dough temperature with a Thermapen
Using my trusty instant-read Thermapen to monitor dough temperature.

When I first started baking, I didn’t quite grasp how important temperature is in the bread-making process. I always like to say: treat temperature as an ingredient. What I mean by that, practically, is that if one day you mix with water that is 70°F (21°C) and then a week later mix with water that is 80°F (26°C), you will get drastically different outcomes. Temperature determines the amount of fermentation activity you’ll see. Lower temperatures generally mean less activity, therefore things will take longer. Higher temperatures generally mean more activity, therefore things will take less time. Working at an ideal temperature will ensure both consistency in your bread baking and that you’ll get the results that you want in terms of flavor, rise, texture–well, everything.

Treat temperature as an ingredient, just as flour, water, and salt are ingredients.

If it’s cold where you’re baking, see my tips on how to bake sourdough bread in the winter. And conversely, if it’s warm where you are, see my post on how to bake in the summer. Both of these guides will help ensure you have ample bread rise during baking.


For this recipe, I used commonly available supermarket flour: Bob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour, Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour, and Bob's Red Mill or Arrowhead Dark Rye Flour. These are great flour choices, but equally suitable are any of King Arthur's offerings. I chose “bread flour” for the white component as it has a higher protein percentage compared to all-purpose flour, which helps bring significant strength to the dough so that less mixing and kneading is required–it also makes things a bit easier for your first loaf of bread7.

Beginner's Sourdough Bread Baking Timeline

Baking Schedule

This beginner's sourdough bread is a two-day-long process where the bread is cold proofed (retarded) in the fridge overnight.

The baking schedule to the right shows you a high-level view of what step takes place when throughout that 48-hour period.

Now we get to the formula for the beginner's sourdough bread formula. I start every recipe with two tables: Vitals and Total Formula. The Vitals table gives you a high level view of the contents of the dough, as well as how much the recipe makes (in this case, two loaves). The Total Formula table lists all of the ingredients needed for the entire recipe and their respective amounts.

Beginner’s Sourdough Bread Formula


Total Dough Weight1,800 grams
Pre-fermented Flour7.5%
Levain in final dough20.3%
YieldTwo loaves

Total Formula

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
811gBob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour80.0%
152gBob's Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour15.0%
51gBob's Red Mill Dark Rye Flour5.0%
18gFine sea salt1.8%
38gRipe, liquid sourdough starter3.8%
Total formula

Beginner's Sourdough Bread Method

1. Levain – 8:00 a.m.

Remember: the levain is an off-shoot of your continually maintained sourdough starter and is likewise composed of bacteria and yeasts. This preferment is made well before mixing the dough, given time to ferment, and then eventually added to the dough to kickstart fermentation.

sourdough levain
Ripe sourdough levain ready for mixing.
WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
38gRipe sourdough starter (100% hydration)50.0%
38gBob's Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat50.0%
38gBob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour50.0%
Levain build ingredients

Mix the ingredients in the table above in a clean jar and leave it at warm room temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), for 5 to 6 hours. Keep an eye on how your levain is progressing during this time. When it's ready, it will be expanded, bubbly on top, inside, and at the sides, and have a slightly sour aroma. The photo above is the state of my levain just before going into my dough mix.

2. Autolyse – 12:00 p.m.

The desired dough temperature (DDT) for this dough is 78°F (25°C). As described in the temperature section above, we will try to get the dough to be at this temperature right at the end of mixing (which is also right at the beginning of bulk fermentation).

773gBob's Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour
114gBob's Red Mill Stoneground Whole Wheat Flour
51gBob's Red Mill Dark Rye Flour
603gWater (this has 50g less than the overall formula, reserved for Mix step below)
Autolyse dough mix

Warm or cool the autolyse water so the temperature of the mixed dough meets the FDT for this recipe. Place the flour and the water called for in the table above in a large bowl use wet hands to mix until no dry bits remain; the dough will be shaggy and loose. Use a bowl scraper to scrape down the sides of the bowl to keep all the dough in one area at the bottom. Cover the bowl and place it near your levain for 1 hour.

hand mixing flour and water
Mixing dough by hand.

Note that the autolyse stage does not incorporate salt or the levain in any way since the autolyse is a long one hour. Adding the levain to the autolyse would mean fermentation would begin, which could end up overproofing the dough. Salt is rarely added to an autolyse because the salt would diminish enzymatic activity during this time, which is precisely why we are doing an autolyse. The autolyse and levain are two separate entities at this point that will be mixed together later in the process.

3. Mix – 1:00 p.m.

hand mixing levain, salt, flour and water
Mixing Beginner's Sourdough ingredients in by hand.
50gReserved water (this water was held back in the Autolyse step)
18gFine sea salt
190gMature, 100% hydration levain (from Levain, above)
Final dough mix ingredients

At this point, your autolyse is complete and your levain is ready. If the dough feels very wet and shaggy, do not use all of the reserved 50g of water; use only a splash to help incorporate the salt and levain. If the dough feels good to you, use all the reserved water.

But first, use your instant-read thermometer to take the temperature of the dough and compare it to the FDT for this recipe. If it is higher, use cold water for the remaining water; if it is lower, use warm water.

To the autolyse, add the ingredients in the table above (salt, reserved water, and levain). I like to spread everything on top of the dough and use wet hands to pinch all the ingredients together. Transfer the dough to a container or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.

Take the temperature of the dough to get your final dough temperature. If your FDT is below 78°F (25°C), next time use warmer water, and conversely, if it’s above 78°F (25°C) use cooler water. Cover the dough.

4. Bulk Fermentation – 1:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.

At 74-76°F (23-24°C) ambient temperature, bulk fermentation should go for about 4 hours. Perform 3 sets of stretches and folds during bulk fermentation, spaced out by 30 minutes.

Beginner's Sourdough Bread via @theperfectloaf
Giving the dough a set of stretch and folds during bulk fermentation

Each set of stretches and folds consists of 4 folds: one each at the North, South, East, and West sides. Wet your hands with a little water to prevent sticking, and then lift one side (North) of the dough with two hands. Stretch the dough up high enough just so that you can fold it completely over to the other side of the dough. Rotate the bowl 180° and do the other side (South). Finish the other two sides (East and West) to complete the set. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered, between sets.

In the video below, you can see how I gently stretch and fold this dough during bulk fermentation.

After the third set of stretch and folds, let the dough rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation. During this time, fermentation continues, which aerates the dough (makes it rise), continues to strengthen it, and develops flavor further.

end of bulk fermentation
Beginner's Sourdough Bread dough at the end of bulk fermentation

At the end of bulk fermentation, your dough should have risen anywhere between 20% and 50%. It should show some bubbles on the top and sides, and the edge of the dough where it meets the bowl should be slightly domed, which indicates strength. In the photo above, you can see all these signs. If you don’t see these signs, leave it for another 15 minutes in bulk fermentation and check again.

5. Divide & Preshape – 5:15 p.m.

Dividing and preshaping dough

Lightly flour a work surface. Using a bowl scraper, gently scrape the dough onto the work surface and use your bench knife to divide the dough directly in half. Using your bench knife in your dominant hand, and the other hand wet (or floured, if you prefer) to reduce sticking, turn each half of the dough on the counter while lightly pulling the dough towards you. This gentle turning and pulling motion will develop tension on the dough's top, forming a circle.

Preshaping bread dough is an often overlooked step, but it sets the stage for successful shaping later. See my guide to preshaping bread dough for more information.

Let the dough rest for 25 minutes, uncovered.

In the video below, you can see how I preshape this beginner's sourdough bread dough:

6. Shape – 5:35 p.m.

shaping boules

If you're new to shaping bread dough, have a look at my guide to Shaping a Boule (a round), in addition to the steps below. Or, if you'd like to shape this dough as a batard (an oval) instead of a boule, check out my batard shaping guide.

Lightly flour the top of your dough rounds and the work surface. Working with one round at a time, flip the round so the floured top is now down on the floured work surface.

As seen in the image below, with lightly floured hands, grab the bottom of the round and stretch it lightly downward towards your body, and then up and over about 2/3 of the way to the top.

Then, grab the left and right sides of the dough and stretch them away from each other. Fold one side over toward the other and repeat with the other side.

Then, grab the top of the circle, stretch it away from your body, and then fold it down to the bottom of the dough. You’ll now have a tight package that resembles a letter.

Finally, flip or roll down the dough so the seams are all on the bottom. Using both hands, cup the top part of the round and drag the dough gently towards your body to create surface tension on the dough. The angle of your hands will gently press the dough's bottom on the counter. This dragging helps create surface tension on the dough, which helps keep it in shape during proofing.

shaping beginner's sourdough bread dough
Shaping Beginner's Sourdough Bread

Let the dough rest on the bench for a few minutes to help the bottom seam seal.

In the video below, you can see how I like to shape bread dough into a boule shape.

Meanwhile, prepare your proofing baskets. Line two proofing baskets, kitchen bowls, or bannetons with clean kitchen towels. Dust lightly and evenly with plain white flour or white rice flour. Gently transfer each piece of shaped dough to a proofing basket, seam-side-up.

You can also top this dough with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, and much more—see my guide to toping bread dough for more ideas and instructions.

7. Rest & Proof – 5:40 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. (next day)

Beginner's Sourdough Bread via @theperfectloaf

To prevent your dough from drying out overnight, place your bowls containing your shaped dough into reusable plastic bags and seal. I will usually puff up the plastic bag around the bowl by opening it wide and then quickly closing the opening.

Let the dough rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Then, retard8 in the refrigerator at 38°F (3°C) for 16 hours (overnight).

During this time, overall fermentation will slow (especially yeast activity), but bacterial activity will continue at a reduced rate, resulting in a more complex flavor and, ultimately, deeper crust coloring.

8. Bake – Next Morning: Preheat oven at 8:30 a.m., Bake at 9:30 a.m.

beginner's sourdough bread fully proofed

Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven with no rack above it. Put your combo cooker or Dutch oven on the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C) for at least 30 minutes. If you’re using a combo cooker, place the shallow side face up on one side and the heavier, deep side face down on the other.

Beginner's Sourdough Bread via @theperfectloaf

When your oven is preheated, take one of the proofing baskets out of the fridge, uncover it, and place a piece of parchment paper over the basket. Place a pizza peel, cutting board, or inverted baking sheet on top of the parchment and, using both hands, flip everything over. Gently remove the basket, and your dough should be resting on the parchment.

Using a razor blade, sharp knife, or baker’s lame, score the dough at a 90° angle between the blade and the dough. I chose to make a “box” pattern. If using scissors, snip the dough a few times at a very shallow angle between the scissors and the dough, forming a set of ridges down the dough's center.

scoring my beginner's sourdough bread
Baking bread in a Dutch oven

While wearing your heavy-duty oven mitt, and with caution, pull out your shallow side of the combo cooker and place it on a heat-safe rack or stovetop. Slide the dough into the combo cooker or Dutch oven. Place it back into the oven and cover the shallow side with the deep side, or put the lid on the Dutch oven. This sealed environment helps trap the moisture (escaping steam) from your dough to steam the loaf exterior as it bakes, which encourages maximal rise and a crunchy, shiny crust.

Bake for 20 minutes. Vent the oven of steam: use your oven mitt to very carefully remove the top of the combo cooker or Dutch oven. Leave the large side of the combo cooker in the oven to the side. Close the oven door and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf should have an internal temperature of around 208°F (97°C), and the crust should be a deep mahogany color and crackle/crunch when squeezed.

Use your oven mitt to carefully transfer the bread to a wire rack. Let cool for 1 to 2 hours before slicing. For the second loaf, preheat the combo cooker or Dutch oven for 15 minutes and repeat.

For more information on baking bread in a home oven, check out my guide on how to bake bread in a dutch oven.

Follow my guide to storing bread to maintain freshness.

Beginner's Sourdough Bread Crust
Baked Beginner's Sourdough Bread with a deeply-colored and crunchy crust.

Once you get the hang of this beginner's sourdough bread process and formula, you can endlessly modify it with add-ins like walnuts, cranberries, seeds, and a host of other ingredients bound only by your imagination. But the most important thing is to bake and have fun. Remember that sometimes bread doesn't come out as you intended–but stick with it, and you'll be rewarded time and time again.

And of course, buon appetito!

Beginner's Sourdough Bread Frequently Asked Questions

Why is sourdough bread good for you?

Sourdough, and its lengthy natural fermentation process, can help break down the gluten in grain, which helps aid in the body’s digestion. Additionally, fermentation helps “unlock” the nutrition inherent in the grain, allowing for better absorption.

Is sourdough bread sour?

While not necessarily very sour, this kind of bread will have more sourness than one made with 100% commercial yeast due to the acids created as a byproduct of natural fermentation.

How can I make sourdough bread more sour?

To increase the sour flavor of this sourdough bread, add more whole grains (both to your sourdough starter and the dough itself), keep the dough warm (78°F/25°C or warmer), and lengthen the total fermentation time by keeping the dough in the fridge to proof even longer than the 16 hours specified in the recipe—24 hours is a good starting point.

How can I get a more open crumb with my bread?

To get a more open crumb for this sourdough bread, first, be sure to focus on your sourdough starter: it should be refreshed (fed) often, kept warm, and used when ripe. Next, be sure to strengthen the dough sufficiently during mixing and bulk fermentation by using stretches and folds. Finally, it’s important that your dough is fully proofed so that when you press a finger into the dough, the dough very slowly springs back about halfway (if it springs back quickly, let it proof longer; if the finger indentation stays, bake immediately).

What's next?

After baking this beginner's sourdough bread, check out my Baking Guides page for more in-depth discussions on all parts of the sourdough bread baking process. If you're looking at adding mix-ins to your bread, have a look at my walnut cranberry sourdough bread, it’s one of the most popular recipes here at The Perfect Loaf—and for good reason!

Finally, now that you have your sourdough starter bubbling away on your counter, check out my sourdough starter discard recipes for ideas on how to use leftovers!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
the perfect loaf beginners sourdough crust

Beginner's Sourdough Bread Recipe

  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 23 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 24 hours
  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Category: Bread, Sourdough, Baking
  • Cuisine: American


The perfect bread to get started baking sourdough bread at home. This crusty, crunchy, and absolutely delicious loaf of bread is perfect for any lunch or dinner table.



  • 38 grams stoneground whole wheat flour
  • 38 grams bread flour
  • 76 grams water
  • 38 grams ripe sourdough starter

Main dough

  • 773 grams bread flour
  • 114 grams whole wheat flour
  • 51 grams whole grain rye flour
  • 18 grams fine sea salt
  • 653 grams water


  1. Levain (8:00 a.m.)
    In a small container, mix the levain ingredients and keep at 74-76°F (23-24°C) for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Autolyse (12:00 p.m)
    In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour and 603 grams water (50 grams is reserved until the next step). Cover and let rest for 1 hour.
  3. Mix (1:00 p.m.)
    To the mixing bowl holding your dough, add the salt, ripe levain (from step 1), and reserved 50 grams water. Mix by hand until incorporated. Transfer your dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.
  4. Bulk Fermentation (1:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.)
    Give the dough 3 sets of stretch and folds at 30-minute intervals, where the first set starts 30 minutes after the start of bulk fermentation.
  5. Divide and Preshape (5:10 p.m.)
    Lightly flour your work surface and scrape out your dough. Using your bench knife, divide the dough in half. Lightly shape each half into a round shape. Let the dough rest for 25 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Shape (5:35 p.m.)
    Shape the dough into a round (boule) or oval (batard)—place in proofing baskets.
  7. Rest and Proof (5:40 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. the next day)
    Cover proofing baskets with reusable plastic and seal shut. Let the dough sit out on the counter for 20 minutes. Then, place both baskets into the refrigerator and proof overnight.
  8. Bake (Preheat oven at 8:30 a.m., bake at 9:30 a.m.)
    Preheat your oven with a combo cooker or Dutch oven inside to 450°F (230°C). When the oven is preheated, remove your dough from the fridge, score it, and transfer to the preheated combo cooker. Place the cooker in the oven, cover with the lid, and bake for 20 minutes. After this time, remove the lid (you can keep it in the oven or remove it) and continue to bake for 30 minutes longer. When done, the internal temperature should be around 208°F (97°C). Let the loaves cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack before slicing.


While the recipe calls for 16 hours of total proof time, you could extend this time and bake the loaves in the morning, afternoon, or even the evening on day two. Leave the proofing dough in the fridge until ready to bake.

Keywords: Sourdough, Bread, Baking, Beginner Sourdough Bread

If you use this recipe, tag @maurizio on Instagram and use the hashtag #theperfectloaf so I can take a look!

  1. Note that this is a simplified description that does not consider the friction of a mechanical mixer since this recipe calls for mixing everything by hand. If a baker were mechanically mixing the dough at a bakery, they would have to factor in the frictional heat generated by the mixer arm's rotations.

  2. We multiply the FDT by 4 because there are 4 temperature inputs into this formula: 1) Levain, 2) flour, 3) room, and 4) friction factor.

  3. As you'll hear me mention throughout this site, I do like to use as little high protein flour in my recipes as possible as I find it leads to a slightly chewier, gummy interior.

  4. A baker’s term meaning place into a cold area to proof

  5. Note that this is a simplified description that does not consider the friction of a mechanical mixer since this recipe calls for mixing everything by hand. If a baker were mechanically mixing the dough at a bakery, they would have to factor in the frictional heat generated by the mixer arm's rotations.

  6. We multiply the FDT by 4 because there are 4 temperature inputs into this formula: 1) Levain, 2) flour, 3) room, and 4) friction factor.

  7. As you'll hear me mention throughout this site, I do like to use as little high protein flour in my recipes as possible as I find it leads to a slightly chewier, gummy interior.

  8. A baker’s term meaning place into a cold area to proof

The Perfect Loaf Logo

Join the Membership

The Perfect Loaf has been helping others learn to bake sourdough bread since 2013, help support the site to continue to grow with more baking guides, recipes, and more. As a member, you’ll receive baker’s perks: Ad-free reading site-wide; Access to a members-only chat to post pictures and receive baking help; access to baking spreadsheets, formula archives, and other baking tools; and baking hardware & supply discounts. Your support is greatly appreciated.