The following roundup of sourdough baking guides here at The Perfect Loaf will help you navigate the waters of baking naturally leavened bread at home. Start with the Beginner Baking Guides up top and work your way down as you become familiar with each topic.
Of course, it all begins with your sourdough starter. Be sure to visit the Sourdough Starter Guides section below to first create your own sourdough starter from scratch, learn how to maintain it, and if necessary, store it when not in use.
Beginner Baking Guides
It all begins here. The first step is to make a sourdough starter, review guides on baking in a Dutch oven, home oven, and why temperatures are important.
- Creating a Sourdough Starter
- The Importance of Dough Temperature in Baking (with a calculator)
- How to preshape bread dough (preparing the dough for final shaping)
- How to Stretch and Fold Sourdough (strengthening the dough during bulk fermentation)
- How to Bake Bread in a Dutch Oven
- Baking With Steam in a Home Oven
- Kneading with the Slap and Fold Technique
- The Best Way to Store Bread
- The Best Way to Store Flour
- Introduction to Baker's Percentages
- How to Bake Bread at High Altitude
- How to Bake Sourdough Bread in Summer
- How to Bake Sourdough Bread in Winter
- How to Top Bread Dough (with seeds and other items)
Sourdough Starter Guides
A sourdough starter is a stable mixture of bacteria and wild yeast. By feeding (refreshing) a starter regularly we “train” the culture to produce desired flavors and to have sufficient strength for leavening dough.
- Creating a sourdough starter
- How do I feed my sourdough starter?
- Maintaining a sourdough starter (spotting the signs of ripeness each day)
- What is a levain and how is it different from a starter?
- Keeping a small sourdough starter to reduce waste
- Storing a sourdough starter (for short and long term)
- Sourdough starter frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Shaping dough is both technically challenging and one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire baking process. While there are many ways to form dough into various shapes, these are my preferred methods for all things shaping.
- Shaping a baguette
- Shaping a
- Shaping a boule2
- Shaping a pan loaf (sandwich bread,
P ullmanloaf, pain de mie)
- Shaping buns and rolls
Most home bakers tend to revolve their baking around their time off, this usually means baking on the weekend. While my guide to a weekend baking schedule focuses on this, it's possible to shift this schedule to bake on any day of the week, just adjust the schedule to suit. We all lead super busy lives, but with a few handy tips we can work baking into even the busiest of schedules.
- Weekend baking schedule (bake bread only on the weekend)
- A simple weekday baking schedule and recipe (bake bread during the busy workweek)
Other Baking Techniques
Baking with sourdough isn't limited to baking large, crunchy loaves of bread. The following guides are handy techniques to bring another dimension to your baking.
- How to freshly mill flour at home for baking
- How and when to autolyse your bread dough
- How to use tangzhong (or yudane) to make super soft bread
Sometimes having the right tools can make all the difference, especially for a home baker when the kitchen environment can change drastically day-to-day. The following guides aim to give some inspiration on how to improve your baking environment to increase baking consistency.
- Baking with a dutch oven
- How to use the Brød and Taylor dough proofer
- Baking without a dutch oven: steaming your home oven
- Baking bread in a Rofco oven (a larger oven for baking more bread)
- How to Use a Famag Spiral Dough Mixer (a larger mixer for large batches of dough)
- Build your own dough retarder
- My most used baking tools
For more baking techniques and recipe videos, visit The Perfect Loaf's YouTube channel.