Tartine Sourdough Country Loaf Bread Recipe #33

If you’re brand new to baking sourdough, you might want to first check out my Beginner’s Sourdough recipe, it has longer in-depth explanations on every step in the baking process!

I call this batch number 33 of the Tartine sourdough country loaf bread recipe, while it may actually be my thirty-third pair of these I’m not 100% positive. I know for sure it can’t be any less, but it’s probably more. On to the entry…

Another Sunday, another pair of Tartine sourdough country loaves shaped and proofing. My family has come to expect this bread to be on hand during the week, and in the rare case where we have to buy some bread from the grocery store we are always disappointed. Baking bread is a relatively simple act when you boil it down to the pure actions, and yet getting that perfect loaf out of the oven does not always work out… but I still strive forward.

Sunday started out a bit lazy, waking in the later morning after attending a friend’s birthday party the night before. I stumbled into the kitchen and took a look outside to see completely clear skies and the Sun already starting to heat things up. Given the rising temperature I knew Sunday would be a day of quick dough handling and preparation. As you can see, even my German shepherd Arya (yes, that Arya) was a bit lazy this morning — too many rabbits, pigeons, and tennis balls chased Saturday, apparently. Oh what a life.

Our German shepherd Arya

Although the leaven was prepared later than usual Saturday night it was definitely ready to go (left hand side image below). As you can see, the bubbles on top indicate there was significant yeast activity overnight, and judging by the smell (like ripe fruit, almost a hint of vinegar) hopefully it didn’t go too far.

Tartine Sourdough Starter (aka: leaven, levain)

Over my starter’s lifetime I’ve experimented with different flours for feeding and have settled on a formula that my particular strain seems to thrive on. Instead of following Chad Robinson’s Tartine starter formula in his book whereby he feeds 50% whole wheat, and 50% all purpose, I feed my starter 100% rye flour. I’ve found that my starter really shows noticeable activity when fed exclusively rye. If you’re interested in reading about how to create and manage a sourdough starter like mine, head over there and read on.

Also, if you’re one who frequents Instagram, head over and check out my Instagram feed. I typically post many “daily bakes” and those behind the scenes shots that sometimes don’t make it into these posts!

Prepare the leaven – 12:00am

The night before you plan to prepare your dough, mix the following, lightly cover, and set out on the counter overnight:

  1. 55g ripe starter
  2. 200g whole wheat flour
  3. 210g H2O

Mix the flour + water, autolyse – 9:00am

For this loaf I decided to try and tweak the whole wheat to white bread flour percentages. I still wanted some of the WW taste and texture, but a bit more “white” in this loaf. Due to the WW reduction (from the last Tartine recipe), I’ve also reduced the amount of water to 74%.

Note that this is not a traditional “autolyse”, which only has water and flour mixed together, but this is how Chad performs this step in Tartine — let’s follow suit for this bake. In my more recent baking adventures I no longer mix flour, water and levain together for this step.

Gather the following:

  1. 250g of your new leaven
  2. 300g whole wheat bread flour (I’m currently using Great River Organic whole wheat bread flour)
  3. 700g unbleached all purpose white flour (King Arthur)
  4. 20g salt
  5. 740g H2O + 50g H2O


  1. Add 250g leaven to your large mixing bowl
  2. Pour in 740g H2O @ 80ºF and mix with your hands until the leaven is completely dispersed
  3. Add 700g white flour and 300g whole wheat flour and mix with your hand until all the dry bits of flour are gone
  4. Cover your bowl with a towel, or if in a dry climate, plastic wrap and let autolyse for 30 minutes
  5. After 30 minutes, add 20g salt on top of the dough and slowly pour your 80ºF water on top. Squeeze the dough with your hand to incorporate the salt throughout
  6. Now reach your hand under the dough and pull the side up and over onto itself. Continue to do this as you spin the bowl; grab, pull, and push. Do this just until the dough comes together and becomes super sticky. Generally this will only be between 5-10 turns
  7. Transfer your dough to your plastic or glass container, set a timer for 30 minutes

Next we tackle the bulk fermentation step.

Bulk Fermentation

At this stage we want to do 4 sets of turns, plus 1 – 2 hours of rest on the counter. A “turn” consists of reaching under your dough, grab the bottom and pull up the dough on top of itself. Do this 4 times, one of each side of your container (if it’s square, that is). Additionally, you want to do this rather vigorously. The stretch up and down on itself is what gives the dough strength (working the gluten strands).

  1. 10:10am – Turn 1
  2. 10:40am – Turn 2
  3. 11:10am – Turn 3
  4. 11:40am – Turn 4
  5. 11:40am to 1:40pm – Rest on Counter

Pre-shape – 1:40pm

When the dough has risen about 20-30% and you see a bunch of little air pockets throughout, it’s ready for pre-shaping. Take the dough out of the container onto your *unfloured* work surface.

Tartine sourdough on the counter ready for pre-shape

Sprinkle some flour on top of your dough and divide in two equal halves. Take a half, flip it over and pull each of 4 edges from under onto the top. Then, flip the folded dough over so the seam is on your work surface. You want to form loose boules here by using your hand and your dough knife. Your work surface grabs the bottom of the dough slightly as you spin the dough around to make a little ball. Repeat with the other half and cover (I cover with two inverted mixing bowls) for 30 minutes.

Tartine sourdough boule after light pre-shape
Here you can see our pre-shaped boules resting before final shaping.

Shape – 2:10pm

The resting dough should have spread out, but not quite into a pancake shape. If it has formed a pancake you can strengthen it by pre-shaping one more time and waiting another 40 minutes.

Flour the top of one of the boules and flip it over with your lightly floured hand and dough knife. Take the part of the dough that’s closest to you and fold it up and over in half. Take the part that’s to the right, stretch it out as far as it will stretch, and fold it up and to the left. Repeat with the left side and the side of the dough farthest from you. Then take the edge that’s closest to you, pull it up and over again towards the back. When doing this last move you will lift the entire dough up and over until the seam side is now down on your work surface.

Spin the dough using your two hands to shape into a boule. As you slightly pick up the dough and spin it, the bottom snags the unfloured work surface and creates tension. I do this several times to create a very taught surface on the top of the boule. Sometimes small air bubbles will be visible.

If you’d like to shape this dough as a batard instead of a boule, you can see a video of how I shape a batard over at my Instagram feed.

Proof – Appx 3:00pm

Place towels into small mixing bowls and dust with white rice flour. These bowls will hold the dough as they proof in the fridge overnight. Take your taught boules and place them into the floured bowls with the seam *up* facing you. I place each of my bowls into plastic bags and then into the fridge.

Tartine sourdough boules in bannetons ready for proof

Score + Bake – 9:00am

Gather your tools:

  1. Razor blade for scoring
  2. Parchment paper
  3. Pizza peel
  4. Pizza stone
  5. Oven mit
  6. Lodge Combo Cooker

Speaking of tools, if you’d like to see all the tools I use when baking head over to my tools page and take a look! Don’t forget to come back and finish this loaf, though.

The first of these sourdough loaves has around an 18 hour retard. The “original” Tartine formula indicates for around 8 hours of cool fermentation in the fridge but 18-20 hours seems to be the sweet spot for me as the bread really takes on a complex flavor with this extended fermentation time. It also seems to help open up the crumb more than what you would normally see, I really strive for that wide open crumb that’s airy, light, and soft.

In the morning you first want to get your oven ready. I place the rack in the middle of the oven with a pizza stone on top. The stone isn’t necessary but I’ve noticed much more consistent baking with it absorbing the heat for 1 hour. Turn your oven on to 530ºF and let it preheat for 45 minutes.

I bake this dough straight from the refrigerator, no warmup time is necessary. Take one of your loaves out of the fridge, cut a circular piece of parchment paper and place on top of the bowl. I then place a the pizza peel on top of the parchment paper (and bowl) and invert the whole thing quickly to get the dough out of the bowl and onto the paper + peel. Get your razor blade out and score the top of the loaf to allow the bread to expand while rising in the oven. For these sets of loaves I scored one with my “Roman numeral three” pattern, and the other with a single long slash.

Quickly take out the shallow half of your hot combo cooker and drag in the parchment paper and dough.

Cover with the other half of the combo cooker. Turn the heat down to 450ºF and cook for 25 minutes. After this time, open the oven and lift off the combo cooker lid (you can leave it in the oven to the side), close the oven, and cook for an additional 35 minutes at 440ºF. These times and temps are a drastic change from the Tartine book but I’ve found them to be necessary due to my elevation and climate. I want the crust nice and dark brown.

Tartine sourdough baking in Lodge cast iron combo cooker

After pulling the loaves from the oven I cool them on a wire rack for at least one hour before cutting into them. Cutting too soon can cause the crust to harden drastically and the inside to become quite dense. Easier said than done, however.

Tartine sourdough crumb

Tartine sourdough "ears"

What a pair of beautiful loaves this morning. There’s no doubt the lazy Sunday morning/afternoon turned out to be a success in the kitchen.

Buon appetito!

Now that you’ve attempted this recipe, try your hand at the higher hydration version for a bit more challenge, and an even better tasting loaf!

Recipe and method submitted to YeastSpotting.

  • Your bread shots are gorgeous and I love the timeline instructions. Just beautiful (and cute pup!) =)

    • Thanks! The bread, while quite a bit of work, is very worth the effort. And yes, she’s a great dog… most of the time 🙂

  • After nursing a new starter for the past week, I decided to use your post as a guide for my first loaves. I’m pretty pleased with the result, but my crumb is a little dense and the loaf doesn’t have as much tang as I’d hoped for. Next time around, I’ll be more patient with ferment and proofing — and make sure I have enough WW flour on hand before I get started.

    I’m wondering where you might be in the world. Your post appealed to me since you mention altitude and climate. We’re in Utah at just over 4,600 feet. It’s not tremendously dry here, but drier than average.

    • I’m located in New Mexico, my elevation is around 5200 ft. It’s very dry here, although this summer has been a bit more humid than usual which has been nice. I am still tweaking my formula to compensate for the elevation, but I firmly believe adding a bit more leaven (I add about 5% more overall) helps things along.

      If you aren’t achieving as much tang as you’d like, and you’re doing a slow cold proof in the fridge, go a bit longer and see how it turns out. Mine usually get close to an 18 hour proof in the fridge.

      I’m glad my posts have been informative for you as a guide! Would love to hear how things turn out in your future bakes.

  • elizabeth

    Just wanted to let you know, under method #5, you have 50g of salt, instead of 20g.

  • elizabeth

    What kind of towels are working well for your proofing bowls?

    • I’m currently using a pack of flour sack towels from Amazon. I’ve taken these and cut them to fit the size of the basket with a little overhang and then use a thick rubber band to keep them lifted just a bit above the bottom of the baskets.

      • elizabeth

        Thank you. I’ll have to try the rubber band trick, is that to keep any creases from forming on the surface of the dough?

        Also, are you baking your loaves straight from the fridge, without warming them up at all?

        • The rubber bands can be a bit annoying, but they serve their purpose. I use them to lift the towels just a bit off the surface of the baskets to keep the dough in the center a bit more, preventing them from spreading out too much.

          Correct, straight from the fridge.

  • elizabeth

    Picked up a combo cooker this morning and just took my first loaf, following your recipe, out of the oven. Looks pretty good, but I haven’t cut into it yet, so it could be dense, which usually seems to happen for me, baking straight from the fridge. I’ll let you know what the crust and crumb is like for me here in MT at 6000ft. Thanks!

    • Excellent, can’t wait to hear how it turned out. One quick question: what flour are you using to bake?

      I’m at about 5280ft so we are almost in the same boat there. Higher elevation, I believe, really makes things a bit more challenging.

  • elizabeth

    I used Stone Buhr ww bread and king arthur ap, I don’t have many options for organic flour here, except by mail order. I’d like to try baking with organic emmer and einka flours. I’ve made the Tartine recipe before and although it always tastes good, my loaves are usually very spread out, so I’ve had the best luck with your recipe so far.

    How many minutes do you reheat your dutch oven for the second loaf(I turned it back up to 530 and heated about 15mn), or do you use two dutch ovens at the same time? I don’t think I could fit two on my stone.

    • Just for experiment’s sake, try using King Arthur Bread Flour next time instead of the KA AP. I’ve had really good results moving to a higher protein flour like that one.

      I usually just reheat for about 15 mins after the oven gets back up to 530º F. I don’t have enough room for 2 combo cookers either.

      • elizabeth

        I’ll try a bread flour, but I haven’t seen KA bread around here. What different results have you gotten with a bread flour?

        Have you tried any Ken Forkish recipes from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast? I like the taste of the Country Blond/Brown, but it must be another recipe I need to adapt for my altitude.

        • I’ve noticed a bit more strength in the bread flour with a bit more rise. I think it’s possible to get this same rise with AP, but I am still working with straight AP to achieve this.

          I have read through Forkish’s book several times now but have not baked from it as of yet. I have a few more “experiments” to try with my Tartine recipe and then I’m going to give the Country Blond a shot. It’s a great book.

          • elizabeth

            So, no difference in taste between the KA ap and the KA bread?

            I can’t wait to hear about your Forkish experiments and your next Tartine experiments!

            • Taste-wise, no I didn’t really notice much different besides the crumb just being lighter.

              Can’t wait to get started on them, first I have to finish eating the loaf I’ve just baked 🙂

  • Janet

    After turning down the oven to 450 and baking for 25 mins, you saybto “open the oven…” Do you mean to remove the top 1/2 of the lodge cookeror actually open my oven door?

    • Open the oven and remove the top 1/2 of the lodge cooker, close the oven and proceed with baking! Removing the top half releases any steam that has built up and will allow the bread to full crisp up and cook.

      • Janet

        Hi, so i’m on day 8, feeding twice per day for the last two days and i have yet to get the rise in the starter that yours does ( or at least looks like it does in your photos). It smells as it should but feels kind of pastey when mixed, Some bubbles – mostly larger ones. Temp in my house is cool, usually 65 during the day a little cooler at night. Have the starter next to the stove where it’s a little warmer. Can’t figure out what i’m doing wrong. Too cold? Too dry? Suggestions?

        • Temperature definitely has an impact on your starter. The cooler the temperature the slower the fermentation (meaning it will take longer to rise). When my house is around 66-67º F at night and it takes a good 12 hours for my starter to burn through about 100g of flour. My mixture is typically 50g starter to 100g flour to 100g H2O.

          As for the dryness of the starter, perhaps try adding a tad more water, say 5g, to get it just past that “pasty” state and a little more easily mixable.

          Do you have an area of your kitchen that is low to mid 70’s? I think increasing the temperature will definitely help get things going!

          One more suggestion: you might want to stick with one feeding per day for a little while until you see some good fermentation activity. It’s possible you are discarding too much of your culture before it has a chance to fully consume all the food (flour+water) you’ve given it.

          Let me know how these tips work out for ya — good luck we’ll get you up and running!

          • Janet

            Ok thanks! So excited for that first loaf it’s difficult to be patient!

            • Trust me, I know exactly what you mean. It’ll come very very soon!

  • Janet

    Ok, I’m about to put together the leaven to bake tomorrow but…did i read somewhere that if my starter was made with rye flour i should use rye flour on the bread as well? Will switching to whole wheat slow things down? Really want this loaf to turn out!

    • foodtravelthought

      I use a rye starter with non-rye bread all the time, no worries there! My 50/50 all purpose/rye starter really is multipurpose, you can use it in any sourdough bread recipe you’d like. You might have read that some people don’t want to impart any rye flavor in their bread and thus keep a starter without rye flour. It’s all personal preference — and honestly the amount of rye flavor you get is very, very small.

      Good luck and let me know how it turns out!

      • Janet

        How fun and super delicious bread! Two beautiful artisan loaves on the first attempt. Wish I knew how to attach a photo! Ended up throwing away almost 200g of leaven the first time, baking again tomorrow and this time didn’t discard, just reduced the rest of the ingredients proportionately. Will have four awesome loaves this time! Thank you for your terrific instructions!

        • foodtravelthought

          This is great news! Glad to hear your two loaves came out excellent. Really is a great feeling, right? Making bread has got to be one of the most satisfying tasks out there.

          You’re welcome on the instructions, I’m really glad they helped. If you haven’t yet, check out my other loaves once you get this one under your belt — happy baking!

  • Julie

    Hi, I tried making this bread today, and just put it in the fridge.
    I’ve been really happy with the result of both my new sourdough starter, and the rising of the dough so far, but when I got to the step where I was suppose to shape the dough, it was all gooey. It stuck to my hands, the kitchen table, even my shirt got caught in it.. I ended up having to dust the whole table top, just to be able to do anything with the dough.
    All I can hope now, is that the dough will hold the shape, when I pull them out off the bowls tomorrow. Right now I’m scared they won’t even let go off it.

    Though I have a tendency to go off the recipe, I actually stuck to this one all the way (so far), sine it’s my first try making bread, but right now I have a feeling it won’t turn out well. Do you have any suggestion to where I did something wrong? The dough looked really good, and rises really well, it just never hold itself, even after having turned it ever 30 min for 2 hours.

    But other than that, thanks for some really great instructions – I just hope I can bake a bread that looks just as delicious as yours does!

    • How did the bake go?

      With high hydration dough like this it is definitely a challenge to shape as the dough sticks to absolutely everything. What I would suggest is to try this exact same approach but next time remove some water from your mix, start with say 50g removed. This will help tighten up the dough some and make shaping easier. If you’re still having trouble remove even more until it’s comfortable for you to work with. As you get experienced with this dough start increasing the water again in small increments.

      I don’t think you did anything wrong at all, it’s just challenging at first! Thanks for the kind words and let me know how it goes on your next attempt. This is one of those things that gets easier with practice, and no matter what, the results are always tasty.

  • Mike

    Sorry maybe I missed this: do u preheat the combo cooker (I am using a Dutch oven) in the oven when preheating the pizza stone?

    Also, any benefit to greasing the combo cooker/Dutch oven?

    Any adjustments you would make for sea-level climates? (Longer high temp/low temp or variations thereof)?

    Finally I have some spent barely grain from brewing. Was going to dry it out and sprinkle over the top if the loaf before the bake…bad idea forgetting a crunchy crust? Was going to dry out the grain on a paper towel overnight.

    GREAT page. Thanks for posting!

    • Yes, I pre-heat the combo cooker in the oven on top of my baking stone for a full hour before baking.

      I don’t see any benefit to greasing the cooker, it’s so hot by the time you put your dough in the bottom will sear quite quickly and prevent sticking.

      When I first started baking I experimented with different levain amounts, water amounts, etc. to compensate for my high altitude. After about a year or so of tinkering with this I’ve determined, at least for these recipes, there really is no need to alter the recipe based on your altitude (climate is a different story though, the drier it is the more hydration you’ll need as your flour is more dry).

      I have no experience in using spent grain byproduct, but I know there are many bakers who have used these grains with excellent results. I would definitely try sprinkling it on top, why not! Sometimes I coat my loaves with oats, nuts, and other ingredients.

      You’re welcome, thanks for the comments!

  • Mik

    Update: Did this bake last Sunday and the result was INCREDIBLE! Wife and others (including me) simply loved it. Tried sprinkling the spent grains on top, but I will likely try to incorporate them during the first mix next time (bonus, they are likely crawling with lactobacillus)…

    One question I had: I wanted to do a bake this weekend (to serve around mid-day Sunday), but we are going to be busy during the time when I really should be working the dough (most of the day Saturday, until the evening). What is your experience from a shorter retard before the bake? Ie I would be doing all the steps you outline for mid-afternoon Saturday in the early/mid evening Saturday.

    I have referred about 6 people to this page after my bake…awesome, awesome, awesome stuff. Oh and I used rye in place of the WW. To your point, going to tweak things one-by-one in furtherance of the craft in my homebakery!

    • That’s great! Glad the formula worked out and glad I could help. It’s such a great feeling to prepare excellent bread for guests, very satisfying.

      I’ve done shorter final proofs by adjusting the time left out on the counter before popping into the fridge, or using slightly warmer water when doing your mix. The long and slow fermentation adds more subtle flavor to your end loaf, but that proof in the fridge can be cut short by leaving your dough out, say for 1 hour, after you do your final shaping. You’ll have to experiment with these times to suite your starter and environment, but that is one way you can shorten your final proof.

      If you want to shorten your bulk fermentation step, you can use warmer water in your mix (which will speed up fermentation). This has a side effect of, again, reducing the more subtle flavors in your end loaf. Taking more time always increases the flavor in your result but sometimes one’s schedule will not be flexible!

      Thanks so much for referring people to my site! Trying to get the word out as much as I can, but it’s not always easy. It pleases me when I can help others in any little way I can.

      Have fun!

  • Britt

    Hi Maurizio, I know this thread is older but I am stuck on one of the preliminary steps. My starter is strong and filled with activit, it passes the float test. When I attempted to make my leaven, I followed your #33, as I am at altitude as well (Denver), adding the bread flour and water and letting it sit in a warm spot for 12+ hours. The leaven turned very runny and does not pass the float test. I decided to let it sit another 12 hours…still does not pass. I guess I am unclear why the leaven needs to be prepared when the starter seems ready to right from the jar. I have 500+ grams really active. My starter has been hungry and alive for over a month, fed a combo of rye and gold medal bread flour every 24 hours. Is it critical that I feed on a shorter interval…every 12 hours? Your site is very informative, yet I feel I must be missing something???

    Your help is much appreciated!

    • Britt-
      How much of your existing starter did you add to make your leaven? For your leaven try this: 25g existing starter + 50 white flour + 50 whole wheat flour + 100g water. Mix that up the night before, say around 10pm in a glass container (so you can see the activity on the sides in the morning). In the morning, around 7-8am depending on the temperature in your kitchen, your leaven should be ready to go. It should be bubbly and smell slightly ripe (like fruit, in a good way). Use this for your dough mix, as any of my recipes do.

      If yours was super runny there is a high likelihood you let your leaven go too far. 12+ hours at a high-ish temp (close to 80ºF?) could over ferment and you’d end up with a soupy mess in there.

      If you feed more often, say every 12 hours, then you can definitely feed it less and keep less than 500g total. If you can only get to it once every 24 hours then more at feeding is necessary to give it food to eat during that longer period. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to feed it often like I do, but I’ve seen the best results that way.

      I’m not sure if you’ve read my posts on managing a sourdough starter but I highly recommend them if you have any more questions: http://www.theperfectloaf.com/category/starter/.

      Thanks for the feedback on the site, I am glad it’s helping! Good luck with your next attempt and please feel free to comment back or contact me with any more questions. Happy baking Britt!

      • Britt

        Morning Maurizio,

        Thank you for your quick reply! I know I didn’t give you a lot of background. I followed your #33 loaves…55g Starter + 200g bread flour (maybe I should use WW?) + 210g H2O. My starter is on the stiffer side and very gooey. After your explanation, I think I did let the leaven sit for to long. The bowl I used was very large too, I remember reading this can create problems.

        One other thing I am a bit confused on is the timeline. If I wanted to bake bread, lets say Sunday morning, would I need to get the leaven ready Friday night? Looking through the time line for #33, it appears the process is 48hrs. +?

        Leaven prepared Friday night.
        Leaven ready Saturday morning for making dough…autolyse…late afternoon start bulk fementation…pre-shape…shape…proof. The proofing is where I am confused, and I suppose this step is measured on how you prefer the taste of your end product. I have read anywhere from 4hrs to 20. In #33 it appears you did 18hrs for your first loaf. Did your bread have a really sour taste? I am looking for a very subtle sourness, I think my family wouldn’t like a real sourdough ( I like it!)

        Thank you!

        • Britt,
          If you use WW flour as part of your leaven you’ll see stronger yeast activity due to the extra nutrients in WW flour. I like using a mix.

          Yes, if you wanted to bake Sunday morning you would do the following:
          1. Prepare leaven Friday night before bed (like 10pm)
          2. On Saturday, mix dough, bulk ferment, pre shape, shape and then into the fridge for the overnight proof
          3. Bake Sunday morning/afternoon (about 12-20 hours after you pop into fridge night before).

          There are ways you can cut down this timeline if you have a time crunch, but you don’t want to sacrifice too much here as more time generally means more flavor! In some of my later posts I talk about making the leaven the morning you do your bulk, pre shape, shape and it works out very well.

          Yes, the longer the proof the more sour your bread will become. Now, this doesn’t mean you can cut your proof super short as the dough still needs to ferment. Think about it this way, the longer your starter (leaven) has to ferment the more acidity in your bread (a byproduct) and the more sour the taste. Have you ever let your starter go too long before feeding again? Smells strange because it’s consumed all the food you’ve given it and it has produced a ton of acidity.

          One sure way to reduce the sourness of your bread is to manage your starter so it is fed frequently enough to get rid of that excess acid byproduct. The posts I liked to above help with that.

          I’m not a huge fan of super sour bread, it does have its place, but I like the sourness to almost disappear. To each his own, though.

          Hope that helps, I’m here if you have any more questions!

  • Saad

    Hello there,

    quick question. when the dough is taken out of the fridge, do you allow it to come to room temp or slash and put in the oven straight ahead. And do you think it is necessary to give the dough another rise outside after its taken out of the fridge? thank you

    • I bake it straight from the fridge. I’ve tried this each way many times and really haven’t noticed any benefit to letting the dough rest on the counter before baking. The one thing I’ve noticed when you do leave it out, though, is that the dough will be harder to score if it’s very high hydration. That cold environment helps keep the dough together some, making it easier.

      Hope that helps!

      • Saad

        thank you so very much for your reply. my last question would be, what makes nice holes inside the loaf. I have been baking and getting some but not as big as the ones I see in your pictures. what determines them. what factors have to be taken into consideration to achieve that. thank you

        • You’re very welcome, glad it helped. There are many, many factors that come into play when “opening” up your crumb when baking. Proper starter activity (fermentation), sufficient dough strength, light but assertive pre-shape/shape, and sufficient proof time. It’s something I continue to work on and have had success over time with practice and experience. You’ll get there, it comes with experience and attention to all the little details when baking.

          Have fun!

  • I just wanted to drop a line and let you know I finally tried this recipe. I used my starter which I grew from your directions as well. It’s been my best two loaves to date. I have been baking at home seriously for roughly a month and these two were amazing in comparison to previous loaves. I did not have the combo cooker but I did have a stone. I did notice that my loaves flattened out slightly, I don’ t know if that was from a shaping issue or maybe I should have repeated the pre-shape. Either way they turned out good but I am still striving for better! Any input is appreciated but mostly I just wanted to thank you for such thorough posts and solid recipe variations.
    Here is a link to one of the loaves.



    Thanks again!

    • They look great! You will definitely need to get some steam in that oven to help them rise. You can either use a combo cooker like I typically do, or you’ll have to have a pan/pot at the bottom of your oven and throw in some warm water to create steam. You can search on Google for help with that route if you don’t snag a combo cooker. There is also a method where you load your baking stone with a loaf and then invert a large pot on top of the loaf to trap in the expelled steam. Your crumb looks nice, some openness to it and a nice light brown color. It looks like you baked them long enough, the coloring on the crust is great.

      They might have also “flattened” out a bit because of the way you performed your score. Did you slash in pretty deep at a 90º angle with the top of the loaf? Try going at it at an angle, or you could do a little “x” on top (again, don’t go in too deep if at 90º).

      I think you’re well on your way here! You’ve got nice fermentation action, good coloring, and some pretty good rise going on. Get some steam in there and see how it goes next bake — let me know if you have any more questions, I’d be happy to help.

      • Awesome! Thank you! I did really go overboard on my scoring, my wife and I both thought that may have some play into it. Also I wasn’t aware that the steam also aided in the rise. I had been just steaming by pouring water onto the oven door. But that tended to dissipate rather quickly. I will try these tips this week. I just started a new leavin so I will be baking soon, on a work day too!

        • No worries, it just takes a bit of practice. Look forward to hearing your results!

  • Nathan J

    Hi there from Brisbane, Australia. I found your site a few weeks ago and have made my starter, passed the float test this morning so hopefully I can bake this weekend. Just a quick question, I don’t currently have a dutch oven or combo cooker ( just some cast iron skillets that I love!) so I was wondering if I could bake on a standard baking tray or loaf tin, and just throw some water into the hot oven just as I place the dough in (or put a tray of water in the bottom) to create the steam for that all important crust?

    Hopefully I can get a dutch oven soon, I am really getting into cooking with cast iron.

    One last thing, If I only wish to make one loaf of bread, can I safely halve the recipe, including the leaven, or is it better to prepare a full leaven?

    Thanks for any advice, can’t wait to try some real bread!

    • Hey there! Great news on the starter, that is half the battle with baking. You can definitely make this bread in a loaf tin if you’d like, I’ve done it a few times with great results. Or if you’d like, you can bake this bread directly on a baking/pizza stone in your oven and then create steam by heating a cast iron skillet at the bottom of your oven and then when you load your dough toss in some cold water into the pan to create steam. Be careful when you do this, steam burns are a real thing and you can also potentially crack the glass on your oven if you get too much cold water on the hot glass.

      The dutch oven is a sure fire way to go, I highly recommend picking one up. Not only will you make some incredible bread with it but you can use it for a ton of other things in your kitchen!

      You can certainly half the recipe, including the leaven, with no problem!

      You’re welcome, let me know how it goes — happy baking!

      • Nathan J

        Thanks for your quick reply, can’t wait to get it baked. I will be preparing my leaven this Friday night and if all goes well I will have a nice loaf on Sunday.

  • Devon

    Hi! Thanks so much for the recipe and pointers! This is my first sourdough starter and bread! Maybe I’ve missed something, but it looks like the leaven recipe makes 465 grams, but we only use 250 grams for the bread. What do we do with the rest? Do we discard it or use it as a new starter? Please let me know. Thanks!

    • You are very welcome, glad you found my site! Once you make this first loaf it will be life-changing, trust me 🙂

      You’re correct, you really don’t need to make that much leaven. You really just need to make enough to keep your starter going after you bake, or if you do like I do, I always just keep my starter separate from any leaven I make for baking. Later recipes I’ve posted here dramatically reduce the amount of leaven created to bake with, making just enough to cover the recipe and nothing more.

      I hope that helps, happy baking!

  • Clara

    This is my first time making a starter and I am excited about it. I am getting ready to put my bread in the oven using a Dutch oven on a pizza stone. Is my bread covered though the entire process? Or do I uncover during the second stage, when I open the oven and lower the temperature?
    What do I do with my left over levain? Can I feed it like my starter?
    Thanks for your excellent instructions.! Happy baking!

    • You only need to cover the bread for the first 20 minutes or so of the bake (to keep the steam trapped inside). I go into more detail on this in my later posts. After 20m remove the lid (but you can keep the lid in the oven to help regulate heat) and lower the temperature some, cook until finished, about 30 minutes at 450F for me.

      Your leftover levain can be used to create another starter, discarded, or you can use it to make other food like pancakes, waffles, or banana bread. Check out my post on my 3 top “leftover” levain recipes — they are so good.

      You’re very welcome, glad you’re finding my site useful! Let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions — happy baking Clara!

  • It’s hard to say without more details. Make sure you shape it relatively tight before placing into proofing baskets and watch your proofing schedule, you don’t want to go too long in the fridge — the longer you proof the slower the rise in the oven (within reason). I typically do 16-18 hours in the fridge.

  • Steven Aasen

    My first attempt at making this bread was successful. Bread was delicious. Can the leftover leaven (the other roughty 250g) be “regenerated” and used? And if so, how? Thanks,

    • Steven, excellent! You really do not need to make this much leaven, since the recipe only calls for 250g reduce everything so you have the same percentages (i.e. 50% mature starter, etc.) but only a total of 250g leaven for the recipe. I wrote this recipe quite a while ago when I was making an excess about of leaven per the Tartine instructions, but nowadays I only make what’s necessary to do the bake.

      If you have leftover leaven you can always use it for something else, I have a page with my top 3 leftover sourdough starter recipes — give them a shot!

      • Alistair Henderson

        Hi love all the detail in your posts. What is the right ratio of mature starter to flour and water to make the levain? You say ‘50% mature starter etc’. Does that mean 125g of starter to make 250g of levain? Or is it the 1:1:1 ratio? Thanks!

        • Thanks Alistair! For this recipe I am using a ratio of 1:4:4 (1 mature starter, 4 flour, 4 water), approximately. This recipe was written up quite a while ago and nowadays I pare down my levain quite a bit but also use a ratio of 1:2:2.

  • Dan Falen

    I started bread making in July. To date I have successfully made the Tartine recipe several times and even home made baguettes (Pate Fermente method). We love the Tartine but I’m intrigued by your idea of decreasing the WW and increasing the White. Can yo give me some insight into the changes this makes to the Tartine? Does it change the crumb? What effects does it have on flavor? Would you say it makes this easier or harder than the Tartine to get right? Thank you!

    • Dan, thanks for the comments! Increasing the ration of WW to white will typically result in less rise and a tighter crumb, but a completely different flavor profiled (and a bit more nutrition to boot). I would say that working with whole wheat, especially at the extremes such as a 100% whole wheat loaf, takes more practice and can be challenging, however, the flavor is worth the experiment. Whole wheat sourdough is some of my favorite, it has a heartier flavor to it and it’s much more complex. If you visit my recipes page I have a few recipes for varying levels of whole wheat, from 20% all the way up to 100%. You could start at a lower level and work your way up, you won’t be disappointed!

  • Katie Catalano

    I’m still working on my starter and haven’t tried baking with it yet, but for when I do I was wondering about the cook times and temperatures! You said yours were altered for your elevation and climate, but I live in north Florida. It’s winter so temperatures will range from the 40s-60s but we’re a low elevation and pretty much always humid, lowest will be 45% in the coming week. How would you suggest I alter the cook times and temperatures? I’m absolutely eating up all of the information on this site by the way! Thank you!

    • Hi, Katie! Honestly, after baking for a few years after writing this I’ve come to believe times and temperatures really depend on a lot of other factors rather than elevation. I think you can use the temperatures listed here with no problem. As for duration of the bake, just continue to bake until it looks deeply brown, or until your liking. I like to bake dark, but not quite as dark as some. A good benchmark for “doneness” is if the interior of your loaves reach around 212ºF — if you have a handy instant read thermometer carefully poke into your bread near the end and see where it’s at. From then on you’ll be able to just look at the bread and decide when dark is dark enough 🙂

      • Katie Catalano

        Thank you so much! I do have one more question for you! I’ve been using your post on the rye starter and something strange happened. By day 3 there was TONS of activity, lots of little bubbles and some larger ones, with the sour smell I was hoping for, but then suddenly after feeding it on day four all signs of life were gone. I haven’t changed a thing in my feeding: same flour mixture, same water, same timing, same method. As for the weather if anything it’s gotten a tad warmer, which I would expect to be a good thing. I fed it again this morning (day 5) and now there are some signs of life again, but it’s almost as if I’ve re-started. Any idea what may have caused this?

        • You’re welcome, Katie! Yes, that is totally normal, it doesn’t happen to everyone but it can happen. Sometimes early on you’ll see activity like this that will disappear after a day or so. This can actually be yeast/bacteria that you won’t want to keep around in the long term and it eventually dies off as the good, beneficial yeast/bacteria starts to take hold. Just keep with the schedule and eventually signs of life will emerge and be quite strong. Oh, yes warmer temps are definitely welcome! Good luck, it will get there soon enough and you’ll be baking in no time.

  • Stephane

    I am really enjoying your posts but do have a question. In the cooking process, you indicate:

    Cover with the other half of the combo cooker. Turn the heat down to 450ºF and cook for 25 minutes. After this time, open the oven and cook for an additional 35 minutes at 440ºF.

    Do you really mean to keep the oven door open for an additional 35 minutes? Or did you mean to open the hot combo cooker and cook, with the oven door closed, for an additional 35 minutes at 440F?

    • Stephane, thanks so much for the comments! Holy smokes, I can’t believe that typo has been there for so long! Good catch, I’ll fix it now.

      What you guessed is correct: after the initial cook time, open the oven, remove the combo cooker lid (you can leave it in the oven to the side), close the oven and continue to cook for an additional 35 minutes.

  • Laura

    Hey again!
    I’m about to start baking in the next few days, but I’m unclear on the flours. I’ve not been able to find whole wheat bread flour for the 300 g portion. Would it be okay to use just whole wheat flour? Does a bread flour need to be incorporated into the recipe somehow? All i have is all purpose and regular whole wheat. I also have regular bread flour on hand. What do you suggest?

    Thank you always!

    • Hello, Laura! Sorry for the confusion, no need for “whole wheat bread flour”, it’s simply whole wheat flour, that’s all. I’d suggest using the whole wheat flour you have and the bread flour. Once you get the hang of the recipe try using a mix of bread and all purpose, or just all purpose on its own. I prefer the taste of the all purpose (lower protein) flour in bread and only use proper “bread flour” when the added strength is necessary.

      • Laura

        Okay I’ll start with bread flour and whole wheat! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to get started! This blog is so fun to read and so very helpful.

        • You’re very welcome, good luck and happy baking!

  • Katie Catalano

    Hello again! I’ve made a few loaves now and it feels like I’m getting the hang of it! I do keep encountering the same problem though and I’m not sure how to fix it. I’m using the lodge combo cooker and each time the top crust is perfect but the crust on the bottom is so thick and hard I can barely get through it with my knife. I’m assuming it’s because it’s in contact with that very hot surface the whole time, but does this happen with your loaves? Should I reduce the cook time? Or I also thought about only preheating the pizza stone for the whole 45 minutes and putting the combo cooker in with like 20 minutes of preheating left? Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Excellent! My crust on bottom is a little thicker than the top, but not by much, certainly not impossible to cut through. There might be a few things we can try to reduce the heat there on the bottom. When you take the lid off your combo cooker (partway through cooking), place it down on the stone flipped over and the pan with your loaf inside the bottom. This way you’ll create a little insulation so the bottom doesnt cook as quickly. I think your suggestion will work well also, place the dutch oven in there with, like you said, 20 mins left on preheat. This way it’s not super hot, but still warm enough to get ample oven spring.

      Hope that helps, let me know if either of those work well for you just in case I run into this myself! 🙂

  • Andy

    Do you have any videos available where you demonstrate some of your dough handling? Some of the steps I am unsure of.

    • Unfortunately I do not… I am working on that, though!

    • plutek

      i’m finding this really helpful for dough handling:

      • Both of those videos are fantastic guides. Mac (the first video) makes some incredible bread and Trevor (in the second video) is a top notch baker! You can find more videos and recipes of Trevor’s at his website.

    • Not sure how I missed this message so long ago! I’m working on videos and I hope to have more up soon 🙂 Sorry for the late reply.

  • Eugene Kam

    I love this recipe ! The favor is just wonderful. I’ve tried Chad and Ken’s pure levain recipes but has all failed.
    Would I get more oven spring if I let the my dough sit out to room temp before baking ? Thank you for your blog.

    • Thanks, glad to hear that! Leaving it out will not necessarily get you more oven spring. It all depends on how much fermentation you have by the end of bulk and how long you plan to proof your dough in the fridge. More fermentation helps but up to a point, if you go too far your loaves will have very little spring as the food (flour) that is present in your dough is completely used up by your levain.

      The best way to test is to keep all things consistent but tweak that final time you let your dough rest before putting into the fridge.

      Hope that helps!

  • maggy monceaux

    Hi Maurizio, I am a bit confused about the autolyse part in this recipe. Are you mixing the levain in with the flour/water? I thought the autolyse was just flour and water. Did I get this wrong? I am only on my third attempt and so far they’re all turning horribly but I’ll keep at it until I get a good loaf 😀

    • You’re correct, an autolyse is with flour + water ONLY. I wrote this article quite a while ago when I was still following the Tartine book closely, where they do the “autolyse” with levain added. Each baker does this differently it seems, but a true autolyse does not have the levain included. If you’d like your bread to turn out as this looks then follow it as I’ve written, alternatively you can leave out the levain from the autolyse and add it in when that step is finished (which is what I do 95% of the time nowadays).

      Keep at it, you’ll get the hang of it! If you haven’t yet read my Beginner’s Sourdough post, check it out! There’s a few key points I explain there that I missed out on here. Happy baking!

  • Julia

    Hi there! I’m, unfortunately stuck at an early stage in the process. I managed to follow your instructions back on the starter page and now have, what I think, is a pretty healthy colony that looks similar to a lot of your photos (no more molding issues!). The starter can pass the float test, no problem. I followed your instructions at the top of the page to prepare the leaven the night before. The following morning my leaven looked pretty similar to your photo, with lots of bubbles throughout and some bubbling through to the surface. Proceeding forward to the bulk fermentation process, i’m getting absolutely no rising! My house in the Bay Area is quite warm at the moment ~80 degrees, but no matter how long I leave it out the dough just sits there staying the same shape.

    Do you think this is attributed to the starter being weak, or more of a temperature or flour issue? At the time I didn’t have any whole wheat flour handy, so I just used the king arthur unbleached all purpose for the entirely, could that be the main issue? I would expect to see SOME rising regardless of the flour, but I’m still new to this whole process, maybe the yeast just isn’t chowing down as much on the white flour?

    Any advice would be appreciated! I’ve been trying to get this to work for weeks now! I’m jealous of all the people below who have had such success!

    • Glad your starter is doing so well now! That’s interesting you’re seeing zero rise during bulk, you definitely should see some, even if it’s just a little. Using 100% KA flour is fine, no problem there. Also, 80ºF is a good temp to bulk that, you should have significant activity at that temperature.

      Is it possible you’ve over hydrated your dough? does it look like it’s not holding together when you are doing your turns in the container during bulk? When you do a turn set (a turn at North, South, East and West) does the dough hold its shape in the container? You should notice strength developing in the dough throughout the 4 hour process.

      One thought: is the flour you’re using very old? I’ve never experience this happening but something I just thought of. Have you tried any other flour?

      I’ve never added sugar to my dough, no reason to do that! There’s plenty of starches in the flour 🙂

      • Julia

        Thank you very much for the prompt response! The flour was new, so I don’t think that was the issue. Maybe i’ll try some whole wheat flour/mixture the next time I try. When I did a turn set of the dough, the mixture was quite damp and sticky. It would separate from the sides and allow for me to do a turn, but it would settle back into its container quickly. When it was out on a work surface it would settle down into a pancake shape, similar to that first ‘pre-shape picture’. Still it didn’t show any signs of rising at all over an entire day. I guess i’ll just keep at it!

        • It sounds like maybe it was a bit over hydrated as well, I’d try reducing water a bit more, maybe 5%, and see if that helps. Keep me posted!

  • lorrie

    I am preparing dough for my first attempt at baking a loaf.
    My dough is in the first 30 min. autolyse stage.
    What do you do with the leftover leaven?

    • Fantastic! These earlier recipes I have here on my website build a larger leaven than is needed, that excess can be composted/discarded or fed with water & flour if you’re using that to keep a “mother” starter going. In other words it’s just extra that’s not needed.

      Later recipes I have listed here make a leaven that has only the amount you need for the recipe (plus a small amount just in case).

      Happy baking, Lorrie!

  • Stephen

    Been having a fair amount of success with your amazing blog. Just trying to adapt your recipes to baking in the UK and so far so good.
    BUT… I made my leaven at about midday and, then as so often happens, my day flipped and I’ve not had a chance to make my bread. I popped the leaven in the fridge when I eventually got home 7 hours later… Will it be okay to bake with the following morning?

    • That’s great to hear! I’ve not had a chance to bake with any UK flour and I’ve heard there can be quite a difference.

      I’ve actually never refrigerated a levain and then baked with it, it’s hard for me to say definitively how this will work out. I would guess that as long as you give the levain time to warm up in the morning and resume fermentation it might be strong enough to bake with.

      I’d be interested to hear how it works out Stephen, in fact I should try this myself sometime soon! Please keep me posted 🙂

      • Stephen

        Well it worked. I’ve put a pic on my Instagram and tagged you in it.
        Let me know what you think.
        Also what do you think is the best way to store my loaves? I’ve tried plastic bags which I’ve found make the bread sweat. So now wrapping in grease proof paper which seems to be working better.

        It’s interesting baking here. Despite being the middle of summer the temperature still isn’t as high as you like it. So I’m find the process a bit slower. I’m also having to use less water.

        Thanks for the blog it’s really fantastic!

        • Excellent! Stephen, can you send me your IG username or DM the picture? I’m not sure which it was!

          I like to keep my loaves in a bread box or in a paper bag on my counter.

          It sounds like you have a good grasp of what things to change to work with your environment and flour though, that’s a great sign! Everyone will have to make changes, and I try to state that, it’s the nature of baking and something we all have to get used to.

          Glad you’re well on your way!

  • Eddie

    First time sourdough baker here. I love your site and IG page! I find myself coming back to it several times to get recipe ideas and tips. Question about the leaven: I ended up making a lot more than what’s actually used in the final dough. Can I reuse the leaven for baking the following week and if so do I just keep it in the fridge? Will it still be active to rise bread a week later? For example the recipe here makes about 465g leaven but only 250g is used in the autolyse. What do you do with the extra?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Thanks, Eddie!

      I would not suggest using leftover leaven for baking, but you could use it for pancakes, waffles or banana bread or even pie and galette crust!

      Instead of reusing the leaven, just scale back the amount you make, only enough required for this recipe. I posted this quite a while ago back when I used to make much more leaven than was required by the recipe (and this is how they do it in Tartine) — but it’s not really necessary. Just keep the percentages of everything the same and make just enough for what’s called for in the final dough mix. You can see I do this in all of my more recent recipes.

      I hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions!

      • Eddie

        Thanks for the quick response! Appreciate you taking the time to answer questions from everyone. I have another question about the mixing (prior to bulk fermentation). Your method says to do just 5-10 turns before the before the dough comes together. My dough was still a wet, sticky mess with no elasticity after 10 turns. Also your IG page shows a slap and fold technique that, after a while, you can really see the dough taking shape. Can I implement slap and fold prior to bulk to get that shape and texture that you do? I just want to make sure I’m not overworking the dough as I’ve heard that can make the final product dense and chewy?

        • Not a problem!

          If after 10 turns it was still very sticky and wet you can certainly add in more turns — sometimes I’ll do 30-40 when not doing slap/fold, if necessary. Alternatively you could do the slap/fold technique I frequently use. Both of these arrive at the same end goal: adding strength to your dough before bulk fermentation where it’ll be further strengthened using sets of stretch and folds.

          It’s hard to over work the dough at mix time by hand. It can definitely make the end result more chewy and tough (plus other adverse side effects) but usually this is a result of mixing in a mixer for too long.

          Hope that helps!

  • Chip

    This is a delicious bread! I made it for the first time today. In the instructions, I would recommend indicating that you should take the loaf out of the fridge right before baking. I was unsure, so I tried it both ways; once right from the fridge and once on the counter while the oven was preheating. I didn’t notice a difference and have since found a note in the comments that it should be baked right from the fridge. Putting that in the instructions might avoid some confusion for another person. Thanks for all the great work on this page!

    • So glad to hear that! Thanks for that feedback and I agree, I’ll add that wordage to the instructions so there’s no ambiguity in the future. Thank you and happy baking!

  • Laura Dobell

    in the middle of preparing for autolyse and realize I don’t have granular salt, only rock salt. Would it be reasonable to mix this in the water so it dissipates, rather than trying to grind 20g by hand? Thanks!

    • Sure, that would work. As long as it’s fully dissolved in the water you add to your dough that will be just fine. Happy baking!

      • Laura Dobell

        Thanks Maurizio! I’m in the bulk fermentation process, on turn 4. The dough is still very sticky. Next steps are to pre-shape on an unfloured work space. I can’t imagine putting this on a counter! it’s so sticky! Is this normal?

  • Laura Dobell

    My poor little loaf ended up about 2″ high – more like a disc than a loaf. The air bubbles aren’t are pronounced as in your pic. Any suggestion on what might have gone wrong? The starter seemed great, and was trucking along.

    • It sounds like perhaps your dough was over hydrated, especially if it was overly sticky as you mentioned in your comment below. Try reducing hydration 5-10% and see how it goes next time. Once you are comfortable with the process and shaping you can slowly increase the water as your flour allows.

      Keep a close eye on the temperature of your dough during the entire process, it’s very important. Keeping your dough around 78F is a great place to be.

  • Ed Bartlett

    Hi Maurizio,

    Have used your starter guide to get a nice strong-ish starter at two feeds a day (and LOTS of great sourdough pancakes with the cast-offs.)

    Today I used your Tartine #33 to make my first loaves, and they are sat in the fridge ready for baking in the morning. So far, so good!!

    A few questions I had:

    1. I am new to sourdough and relatively new to bread full stop. What hydration is this? I calculated approx 81% is that correct?
    2. Bulk Fermentation took about an hour longer – 3hrs15 in total – til I was comfortable it was ready. Could this just be because I have a cool kitchen? Any harm in that extra hour sitting around?
    3. I have a baking stone which I have used for non-sourdough loaves along with the pan of water for steam, but a fellow baker has suggested to bake it in my thick-bottomed metal saucepan instead (as I do not yet have a dutch oven or similar.) Any thoughts? Maybe try one loaf in each method?
    4. Finally my starter is currently 50% rye 50% strong white. What has more effect on the eventual loaf you make – the makeup of the starter or the makeup of the flour you use after the leaven? So if I wanted a more white loaf, should I make a more white starter or just use my 50/50 starter with more white for the bake?
    5. Oh one more – if I want to make one loaf, do I literally just half the levels on this recipe? (Although I read that it’s still best to make the same amount of leaven.)

    Thanks and great job on this blog (and the awards!)

    • Ed Bartlett

      I baked the loaves. I have stuck one of them on Instagram.


      Crumb looks pretty good, and it’s tasty as hell!

      But when I removed them from the fridge at 9am this morning they were pretty ‘wobbly’ and started spreading as soon as I took them out of the proving bowls. As you can see from the Instagram, I didn’t get the spring I was hoping for. It did rise a bit but also spread out the front. Any thoughts on why? Should I perhaps have strengthened it up a bit more before proving?

      • I just commented over at Instagram, your bread looks great! To me it looks like it was slightly over proofed, thus the sluggish rise and lots of small holes throughout. The longer your dough ferments the more the structure (gluten) will breakdown and that’s why your loaves spread and were wobbly (this can also be due to insufficient tension when shaping the dough, but I’m guessing over proof here). As long as you gave the dough enough of a tight “skin” on the outside when you shaped it they should be fine enough to rise nice and high.

        Next bake try to reduce your final proof time a few hours or so and see if that helps increase the rise in your bread. There’s a balance of course, you want it to be “fully” proofed but not so much that it starts to breakdown like you experienced. You are definitely on the right track here with your bread, you just need a little tweaking to the proof and you’ll be set!

    • Answers:
      1. Yes, about 81% hydration taking the 100%-ish hydration levain into account. In later recipes I clearly state the hydration so there’s no guessing.
      2. Yes, the lower the temperatures (within reason) the longer it will take the dough to develop. No harm in giving the dough the time it needs to be ready, in fact this is something most beginner bakers have trouble with… as they say, watch the dough not the clock 🙂 I like to keep my dough around 78ºF.
      3. You could try it, sure. I find baking directly on baking stones to work really well, though. I’ve never baked in an open pan/pot on top of stones but it might work well for you.
      4. The flour you use in your final mix has more of an effect as it’s in a much higher quantity than your starter or levain. I almost always use the same exact levain for my bread, no matter what type I’m making (50% ww and 50% white).
      5. Yes, just halve everything. I do suggest keeping the levain build the same quantity but even that isn’t 100% necessary, you just want to make sure you have enough levain to cover the recipe! One caveat to this is when the levain build starts to get incredibly low, like less than 40-50g or so, it becomes difficult to judge when it’s ready to be used (there’s just not a lot there!).

      Hope that helps and thank you for the comments!

  • Michael Campanile

    Hey Maurizio,

    Thank you for your guide and thorough explanations. I baked this bread today and it turned out wonderful. I have a couple of questions though: my loaves didn’t rise as much as I wanted them too, they spread out instead of up. I could’ve preshaped again to get a more taught top, but I’m curious what could effect the rising. Will ambient temperature effect rising during proofing? My starter hasn’t risen as much as yours during feeding but I am using a larger vessel. (I have fed it for about 2 weeks) Is there anyway to kick-start that rising from the starter? Would steam help it during cooking? I would also like to tone down the acidity a bit. Also do you ever add fruit to your levain?

    Sorry for the many questions! but now that I’ve started this process I can’t help but improve

    Thank you

    • You’re very welcome! Glad it’s helped. There are many reasons why your loaf might not have risen as high as possible. If you read down on this page a few comments below yours you’ll see my explanation for over proofing which is one such possibility. It could also be the dough wasn’t strong enough or you didn’t develop enough tension at shape time. Make sure when you’re shaping the dough is sufficiently taut, it should hold its shape on the counter after you shape it.

      Warmer temperatures will speed up fermentation activity so if you keep your starter warmer you’ll directly see this. I like to keep my starter at 75ºF and my dough around 78-80ºF.

      I’ve never added fruit to my levain, sorry!

      Hope this all helps, happy baking Michael!

  • kallanreed

    Hi Maurizio,

    I gave this a try and had a reasonable looking final loaf http://m.imgur.com/zUpmKUa , but the crumb was really tacky and dense. I cooked to an internal temperature of 210F and waited 2 hours before cutting, but it was still very gummy. It left a film on the knife. One thing I was thinking was that it could be the King Arthur 100% whole wheat flour I used. I also soaked the whole wheat flour overnight but made sure to keep all the liquid percentages the same.

    Have you ever had any experience with a gummy crumb?

    • Hi! I sometimes see a gummy crumb if the loaf is underbaked but 210ºF should be sufficient. It could be a few other things but first I’d focus on developing fermentation just a bit more in your bread. Make sure your bulk fermentation step goes long enough to develop the dough. At 78ºF or so it usually takes me around 4 hours. The dough should look very alive and if you tug on it you’ll notice it will have strength to it, it will resist stretching out.

      I think if we let your dough ferment longer we’ll see some, if not all, of that gummy texture go away. Also, have a look at my Beginner’s Sourdough recipe, I have some great photos there showing my dough development and when I call bulk fermentation quits.

      Happy baking!

  • Bec

    Hi Maurizio,
    Thanks for the amazing blog. I’m still having throuble getting a lot of spring and I was wondering how much you expect the loaf to increase in size after shaping the loaf and when it’s ready to cook. You note 20-30% increase before shaping but I’m curious how much bigger you do expect it to be prior to baking. Thanks!

    • You’re very welcome! The final rise of the dough in the proofing baskets, if kept at cold temperature for the proof, might not really rise all that much. I notice the dough usually puffs up just a tiny, tiny bit more than when I placed it into the fridge the night before but nothing significant. Home refrigerators are actually very cold for the dough at typically 38ºF — not much activity will happen at that temperature in terms of the dough rising. This is ok, though, because we’re looking more for flavor development (acid production) at this point.

      I hope that helps!

      • Bec

        Okay, thanks Maurizio. Do you ever do the final rise for this loaf out of the fridge or part of the rise out of the fridge?

        • I don’t usually — I love the subtle complexity imparted on this bread with the overnight proof. That cold, long period in the fridge builds up subtle sour notes in the bread that really fleshes out the flavor profile of this bread. You can definitely do that, though!

  • Franco Jason Di Palma

    I just today throughout my third batch of dough. Everytime I make it I follow the Tartine recipe to a “T”. After all is said and done the dough comes out loose and wet. I am very careful about my measurements but cannot figure out why it is so unmanageable. Any suggestions? I am ready to give up.

    • Ahh sorry to hear that Franco! It sounds to me like your dough is very much over hydrated, you need to reduce the water called for in the recipe as your flour might not be able to handle it. I would recommend reducing water 10% and see if that helps the next bake. Stick with it, we’ll get you there!

      • Franco Jason Di Palma

        Thank you so very very much. I will try that tomorrow and post after it is done. I appreciate your kind response. I will keep trying.

      • Franco Jason Di Palma

        Great job Maurizio. Dropped the water by ten percent and got two beautiful loaves of bread. Really really appreciate your help.

  • Amber Gavin

    Would it be okay to let the dough ferment for about 36 hours? I didn’t read through the directions before I started and won’t be home to bake it until then :/

    • It’s hard to say definitively, it depends on how well developed/fermented the dough was when you put it in the fridge. I’d say bake it up and see how it turns out, chances are it will still be delicious!

  • Terry T

    Ciao Maurizio! I’m loving my sourdough cookbooks but it is your blog that I visit for the actual bread baking instructions. Thanks for sharing your talent! Could you please offer suggestions on reducing the thickness of the bottom crust? And what a beautiful dog! Thank you.

    • Wow, really happy to hear that thank you! If you’re using a Dutch oven (DO) it can be hard sometimes to reduce the thickness of that bottom crust, it seems to happen more often for me in a DO than when I bake directly on baking stones or a Baking Steel. One thing you could try to do is preheat the oven for less time so it’s not quite so hot when you load your dough, or preheat at a slightly lower temperature. That might fix it for ya!

  • Kay C

    Hi, Maurizio! I love your blog and your encouragement to us sourdough novices. I’ve made the beginner’s sourdough bread 4 times and with tweaks gleaned from the comments section, each batch has turned out better than the last. Now I’m going to try this tartine recipe. You note that your oven temps have been modified for your high-altitude location. I’m sorry if someone has asked before, but for lower altitudes, do you recommend I lower the temps and/or baking times, and if so, by how much? Thanks!

    • Really happy to hear that! Yes, at lower elevations I’d probably end up baking this bread for less time overall. Just keep an eye on the bread nearing the last 10 minutes and turn down the oven and/or reduce the total bake time until the bread looks done to your liking. It’s hard to give exact temps/times to reduce as I’ve only baked here at my altitude but with a few tests you can dial it in perfect for your environment.

      Hope that helps and happy baking!

  • Franco Jason Di Palma

    Do I bake right out of the refrigerator or should I let the dough come to room temperature? Thanks again for your help and your attention to this wonderful blog.

    • I almost always bake right from the fridge. Thank you!

  • Alissa

    Hello everyone! Very new bread baker here – I don’t go through much bread myself and was curious if this recipe can be halved to make one loaf instead of two? I apologize if this has a blatently obvious answer!

    • Hello Alissa, and welcome! Yes, just go ahead and split the recipe in half — that’s exactly how to do it 🙂 Happy baking!

    • Sarah Heckroth

      I am also new to bread baking, but I have been making 2 loaves and wrapping one tightly and freezing it after it is done cooling. It is pretty fresh and convenient in between baking opportunities!

      • This is exactly what I do quite often as well! I also like to slice the second loaf completely, place the slices in a freezer bag, and then use my Breville toaster with the “defrost” button to quickly defrost and toast entire slices of bread. It’s magic, actually.

        Thanks for the comments!

  • Olivia Bailey

    Hi hi! So exciting my first 80% hydration sourdough loaf is in the oven. How do I know for sure it’s done baking? I don’t have a thermometer so I can’t check the internal temperature. And I’m afraid to take it out and knock the back for that hollow sign…. am I just looking for colouring at this point? (Great blog by the way.)

    • That’s great, hope it turned out well! Yes, would just look for color at that point. At long as the duration is close to what I have here go by color to determine doneness after that. I’d highly recommend a thermometer at some point, though, to also help with dough temperature during the whole process. It really helps!

      Thanks for the kind words and happy baking!

  • Caroline

    Hi Maurizio! I’m curious about your choice to push the final rise longer and longer, in this recipe and others. I often find that I’m having to shorten my final rise to avoid overproofing- after just a few hours in the fridge, my bread starts failing the poke test. But I’d love to reap the benefits of a long, slow fridge rise. Is there anything you do to keep that long final rise from turning into an overproofing situation when you’re already using a pretty standard percentage of levain at the outset like you are here?

    • Hi, Caroline! That final proof is very dependent on many factors (amount of whole grain flour, temperatures, percentage of levain…). I like to push my final proof as far as possible (even more so lately) without my dough overproofing — it results in the best texture and flavor, in my opinion. If you want to try and lengthen that final proof you could reduce the levain percentage, cut bulk a little short (say 30 mins or so) or bulk at a slightly lower temperature to help slow things down.

      One thing you should keep in mind is that I do find the poke test to be somewhat unreliable when the dough has chilled in the fridge. As your dough gets colder it becomes more and more firm, compromising the efficiency of the test.

      Hope this helps!

      • Caroline

        Right, I’ve heard that about the poke test. After yesterday’s bake I wonder if maybe I was mistaking some of the signs of underproofing as overproofing- I pushed the second fermentation to about 8-9 hours in the fridge (for 100% whole wheat from Grist and Toll) and it looked pretty great. Thanks!

        • Ivana Juraga

          Inspired by this mini-discussion I tried to write out the timing for the original tartine recipe from the book and compare it to Maurizio’s timing, and I was totally stumped. If I follow Chad’s description in the book, it overlaps with Maurizio’s timing exactly, except then in the end he says to put it in the fridge for 8-12 hours. So if I’m done with all the steps by 3pm, then leave in the fridge for max 12 hours, I’d have to get up to bake at 3am the next day? Even taking into account that Chad might have a loose definition of “morning” and might start the autolyse let’s say around 11am instead of 9am, that would still have me baking at 5am on Sunday… Or am I missing something?

          • You’re right about that, with certain timelines you’ll end up having to wake up super early or go to bed super late. The important thing here are the durations for each step, not necessarily when they take place. For example, you could shift the entire timetable to the right so that after 12 hours you actually bake in the morning at 8am or sometime thereafter. This would mean your shaped dough would need to go into the fridge around 8pm the night before.

            Hope that helps!

  • Jenni

    Hi! Thank you for your website- it has helped me be successful at natural yeast when I wasn’t sure if there was any hope left for my loaves! What is your elevation? I am at 4,500 ft and found my loaf to be burnt a good 8 minutes before time was up. I am not sure if I should lower the temperature due to my high elevation or just cook for less time. Thanks again.

    • Really glad to hear my site has helped so much! I live around 5280 ft. and I actually notice my bread takes longer to cook than most. But yes, if your bread is burning then reduce the temperature and/or bake time to suit! Hope this helps — happy baking!

  • Eric Dillon

    Hi Maurizio! Love your site. I have successfully brought up a natural starter using your methods and techniques and its extremely gratifying. One quick question that i feel like I can’t seem to find the answer to anywhere is, why do you make such a large Leaven (465g total) when you only use 250g in your final dough? Also, is there a general rule of thumb as to a certain percentage of leaven to total flour or anything like that?

    • The extra large levain here is not really necessary. I will update this post to use my more recent methods of making just enough levain to cover the recipe and no more. Sorry about the confusion!

      There’s no set rule for levain percentage in a formula. Many things go into it: flour choices, flavor, desired dough texture, etc. I usually am in the range of 10-20%, depending on the formula and my testing.

      Hope this helps!

  • Blinknone

    Love this recipe and method. I usually use 100g of whole wheat and 900g of bread flour, and slightly less water. The bread is fantastic.

    • Really glad to hear that and sounds like your modifications work quite well! Happy baking 🙂

  • James Wood

    I live at 1320 ft or something close to that should I just lower the cooking temp and cooking time? Or what

    • Yes, I’d reduce the cooking time. Watch the dough near the end of the bake and stop baking when it looks well colored and done to your liking. I find my temps and times are usually a little higher than those at lower elevations but not significantly so.

      • Marshall Findlay

        Hi Maurizio, I’m looking to do my first bake with your sourdough starter recipe tomorrow (thanks for all the excellent posts!), and I just noticed you’d mentioned being at a higher altitude and thereby needing a higher temperature and bake time. What would you recommend for someone at sea level? Any big changes, or should I just keep an eye on the bake, as you’d recommended to James?
        Also, the dough during my shaping phase was quite sticky, making it difficult to shape and pick up; next time, should I attempt a less sticky dough or just add more flour when shaping it?

        • You bet! I’d suggest just keeping an eye on the bake. If you’re using a Dutch oven to bake these loaves then you could preheat your oven at 475ºF, I’ve found DO’s to sometimes get too hot even at my altitude!

          There are many reasons why the dough could be sticky, but it’s such a relative thing it’s hard to say why that happened (for me “sticky” might mean something completely different than for some one else). But yes, use enough bench flour until you get the hang of things. As you gain more and more experience you’ll find you will start to use less and less bench flour.

          Hope that helps!

  • Just stumbled across your page, some great info on here! I’ve been baking bread from Richard Bertinet’s Dough and Crust book, which has some great recipes in but I’ve just picked up Tartine and I’m looking forward to following it through. Going to bookmark this and read more when I get a chance 🙂

    • Thanks Andy! Bertinet’s books are great. Have fun with the Tartine recipe, it’s a keeper. Happy baking!

  • Craig Allen

    I realise others have already asked this question, but I’m still a little confused. I want to make a smaller loaf and will therefore halve the amount of ingredients. Maurizio you recommend making the same amount of levain (i.e. not halving), but should I still add the whole amount to the dough mix, or only add halve the amount of levain and bin the rest of it? Many thanks!

    • Hey, Craig! Yes, I like to still make the same amount of levain since it’s really a small amount to begin with. Halve all the ingredients in the Dough Mix section, even the levain added.

      In other words, the levain build will still be the same quantity, but the amount of that build added to the dough will be halved.

      Happy baking!

  • thomas murphy

    Love this one. Just finished first bake and published on Instagram. Will run a second loaf soon so have two different cold proof times to see variation. Found this to be pretty easy and straightforward and the result is excellent. Good general purpose loaf.

    • Awesome, really glad to hear that! It’s a pretty solid loaf of sourdough, that’s for sure 🙂

  • Tia Stockton

    Just got a mini fridge to do my overnight proofs in, and I’m wondering what temp I should set it at. I have a couple glasses of water in there right now and I’ll take their temp in the morning; I’m guessing I should aim for around 40*F? What would you recommend?

    • The retard temperature of your dough can be set to whatever your preference is, I’ve actually been playing with this temperature quite a bit lately, trying everything from 38ºF to 55ºF. I noticed my dough is much more expanded in the morning with warmer retard temps but you have to take this into account in the overall process otherwise the dough can easily overproof.

      At lower temps, like 38ºF, there’s very, very little activity going on in the dough overnight. Most of the activity takes place in the timeframe where your dough cools from room temp down to 38ºF — this could take a while depending on the fridge.

      I’m working on a writeup now where I built my own retarder using a mini-freezer. I hope to have it published pretty soon, I think you’ll find it really interesting and applicable, especially since you have that fridge!

      • Tia Stockton

        Thank you! That is helpful, and I look forward to reading more. The weather is getting warm and we don’t have AC so it’s throwing EVERYTHING off now. Hopefully I can use the fridge to help right the ship 🙂

  • Jill Murphy

    Hi Maurizio, I have found bulk fermenting overnight suits my schedule – starting about 7pm with mixing and folding etc. In the morning I shape and bake. I have found that I don’t need much of a second proof. It seems to work. But wondering whether a short second proof is an issue – less than an hour. It certainly doesn’t effect the taste. And seems to rise nicely. I would appreciate your thoughts

    • Hey, Jill! No, your method works just fine. Of course there are many ways to make bread, a cold bulk works very, very well. I’ve been experimenting more and more with this method and hope to have a writeup here on my process but it’s essentially what you’re doing. That final proof time will vary and, as you’ve been doing, the key is to just bake the dough when it’s ready! This could be 1 hour or 4, depending on the dough and ambient temperatures.

      Hope that helps and happy baking!

      • Jill Murphy

        Thanks Maurizio, it does. Its been an interesting process. I went too cold to begin – mixing with water out of the fridge. Experience has shown me the yeasts need a little bit of warmth to do their job. Provided my room temperature is in a range of 24-18 deg C for the entire proofing it will take 8-10 hours which suits my schedule. I was also over proofing by allowing a 3-4 hour second proof and not getting a good result. I still have a disaster every now and then but I am looking and learning rather than just allowing a given time for the second proof.

        Love your site BTW. It has been very inspirational in my quest for a great sourdough loaf. My starter is now over 12 months old and I am getting great results taking some info from you and some from Tartine. Now looking forward to experimenting with some of your other loaves.

        • That’s great to hear! Following a timeline strictly never really works out with baking bread, that’s why I always try to lay out a set of visual and tactile cues so readers can adjust their timetable to suit their particular dough.

          Thanks so much for the kind words, happy that you’re enjoying my website! Lots of good info here for baking not only bread — our starters are incredibly versatile, and giving, things. Happy baking!

  • Natalie Alexopoulos

    hi Maurizio, this is my first time at bread making and I got stumped at the mix! I used 1000g of organic strong white bead flour and 740g of water. It always felt it needed more water, but as it was my first time and there were no photos or descriptions at this stage I did not know…? Any descriptions and photos would really help. (every other stage is filled with great photos!:-) The pulling and turning was hard work and felt I was ripping it apart and the stretching did not stretch far without tearing. I am just about to put 1st loaf in and will wait to see what happens! Steuart and Natalie

    • Natalie Alexopoulos

      Update. Just baked, left for an hour… Bread had good crust and flavour, but was very dense…

      • Hey! You might want to look around here at some of my more recent posts, they have quite a few more photos. Specifically have a look at my Beginner’s Sourdough Bread post, lots of photos in there!

        It could be that your dough was too strong and needed more water, especially if it felt overly dry or really hard to work with. High protein flour can strengthen up quickly as well.

        An overly dense loaf can be the result of many things, but I like to first focus on starter strength and fermentation. Make sure your starter is rising and falling predictably when you feed it, and then when you make your levain from it use it when it’s most mature.

        I hope these tips help!!

  • Diana

    Hi my name is Diana and this is my first time making tartine bread, and I follow all the steps my dough was looking very good smelled great had all the air pockets you want but it was very wet from beginning to end I baked it and when I cut in to it after 1 hr of rest it was still wet. My question is where do you think I went wrong. I did use whole wheat flour and not whole wheat bread flour . That’s what I had in my pantry. My oven also turns on and off during baking would that have an effect on it. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you for your time

    • Hey, Diana! It could be that you over hydrated your dough or it just wasn’t fully baked out, and thus the gummy/wet interior. I’d first focus on the oven: is there any way you can stop the turning on and off? If you have another oven-safe thermometer (those ones you can hang inside), it might be helpful to stick that in there and monitor the temperature during the entire bake. Sometimes ovens can be very misleading.

      If you’re still having issues you could try reducing the hydration of the dough by 5-10% and see if that further helps. Depending in your environment and your flour this might be very necessary.

      Hope this helps and happy baking!

  • Storybarbarian

    I’m about to try your beginner’s sourdough recipe! I’m in Southern California, about 20 minutes from the coast. Weather right now is 70s and 80s and I’m in a city that is a bit elevated for coastline, but by no means in the mountains. Should I track closer with Chad’s oven temps or yours? Any other major recs given how my climate differs from yours? Your site is so helpful and amazing — thanks so much for sharing your knowledge! -Nick

    • Hey! Chad’s temps might be more accurate for your location, but mine will also work you’d just need to keep an eye on it near the end to make sure it doesn’t go too far. So yea, I’d go with Chad’s and then bake till it looks done to your liking! No other real recommendations other than have fun with it!

      • Storybarbarian

        Rad – thanks for the quick reply! Loving your insta feed too!

  • Hi my name is Misha. I’m so happy to find this blog. I had a very long brake in sourdough bread making, 3 years. Now I’m back on track 🙂 but it does not quite go well as It used to. I followed the process described in Chad’s “Tartine Bread” book. What I find surprising is that Chad’s starter recipe didn’t work for me. I ended up using 100% whole rye starter. It became bubbly after 2 days. I replaced rye with wheat during the course of 1 week after. Now my starter is 2 weeks old and it rises predictably. So I took 2 days off at work and baked for 2 days 🙂 Oh it was a pleasure!
    I’m trying to troubleshoot my process. https://imgur.com/gallery/dF9Qz I uploaded some pictures there. If I would distill here what I’m struggling with the most, it would be:
    – it was very very hard to shape the dough because it was sticky. It is 75% hydration dough. Can you give any advice about what I need to change/do to make it not so sticky and shape it more easily.
    – There is a 6:30 hour timelapse of my starter. I’m wondering if it is ok or it should be more active?

    Thanks. The next bread I’ll be making using the recipe from your blog 🙂

    • Hi, Misha! Thanks for the pictures. Fermentation activity in your starter, in the dough and in your resulting loaves looks nice and strong — this is great. It looks to me like the hydration of the dough might have been too high and your dough might not have been strengthened enough to handle it (or your flour isn’t able to handle that high of a hydration). I’d suggest dropping the hydration by 5% next time and see if this helps bring strength to the dough and make shaping easier.

      If you still have issues. you might be fermenting too long (or at too warm of a temperature) during bulk fermentation. Keep an eye on the temperature of your dough, I’d say keep it near 78°F to 80°F, and generally 4 hours is sufficient. If the dough starts to feel soupy and feel slack by the end of bulk it might be going to far, reduce the time or temperature to correct.

      I hope this helps and happy baking!

      • Thank you. I read a lot and I learned a lot lately from your blog. You are doing a great job. Appreciate the advice and will definitely try it on the coming weekend.

  • Marie

    I don´t have a combo cooker, what can I use instead?

    • If you have a baking stone you could load your dough on the stone and then use an oven safe metal bowl that’s tall enough to place over the dough and trap any steam. This works very well! Additionally, you could use any thick-sided pot that has a sealing lid (i.e. a Dutch oven or cloche).

      Finally, you could bake your loaves directly on the baking stones like I do nowadays. Have a look at my post on Baking With Steam in Your Home Oven for details.

      Hope this helps!

  • Nick

    I know Chad’s recipe calls for using 1 tablespoon of the starter for the leaven build, but yours is calling for 55g (which was more than double a tablespoon of the starter for me). Why do you suggest so much more?

    • The amount of starter used to make the leaven really depends on a lot of factors (flour, temperature, time, …). For me, 55g was required to get my leaven mature in the timeframe I had to let it ripen. You can certainly go for 1T, just give it the time it needs to become mature — that’s the most important factor.

      Hope that helps!

  • Tracy

    Hi Maurizio! I have been obsessively reading your blog since starting a starter two weeks ago, and I’m happy to report it has finally floated! I’m looking into baking with it now – just a quick question for you: if the starter is 50% rye, should the leaven be 50% rye as well? Or will the starter make a good leaven with whole wheat flour (is bread flour ok too)?

    • Excellent, really happy to hear that it’s floating! You can absolutely change the flour type of the leaven from your starter, it doesn’t have to be the same. I often change my leaven from my starter depending on the bread I’m making. I hope that helps and sorry for the late reply!

      • Tracy

        Hi! Follow up question–what are signs of overproofing? I keep baking these dense but delicious flat loaves… not sure why… I follow recipes obsessively!

  • Joey Schnople

    Hey! Quick question – if, instead of whole wheat bread flour, you had to choose between whole wheat or bread flour, which would you go with? What do you think the difference will be? Thanks!

    • They’re essentially two completely flour types. Bread flour is white flour, so that means a high percentage of the bran and germ are sifted out. Whole wheat almost always refers to flour that’s 100% whole grain (although, confusingly this can be a grey area) so it retains all of the wheat berry: bran, germ, endosperm. More whole grains mean more nutrition (and flavor) but this can sometimes result in a more dense loaf of bread.

      I’d say use whatever you’d like, really! It depends on what type of bread you’re after here and what you’d like to modify it into. If you’re after a mostly-white loaf of bread — a “country” style loaf — then use the bread flour.

      I hope that helps!

  • Sean

    Maurizo – I recently converted my starter to all rye (100% hyrdration) and used an all rye leaven to bake a Country Blonde. This meant that I used less leaven in the final dough. One of the things I was trying to see was if I could retard the proof time longer to allow more flexibility in when I could bake. I refrigerated the two loaves after shaping and baked the first about 20 hours later and it turned out very nice. I baked the second loaf at 40 hours and it also turned out nice, but expanded much more and had bigger holes in the crumb. I’m curious if you have experimented with using less leaven and found it can prolong a retarded proof. My percentages (including leaven) were: White Flour 92.2%, White Whole Wheat Flour 5.1%, Rye Flour 2.7%, Water 79.9%, Salt 2.3%.

    • Hey, Sean! Really interesting results. One of my techniques to lengthening the entire process is to reduce the levain percentage (and especially so when using high percentages of whole grains or fresh milled flour). I see the whole process as a continuum — if you shorten bulk just a bit (or decrease levain, increase salt, etc.) it could mean you could leave the dough to proof in the fridge longer since you’re not pushing bulk as far, risking an over proof situation. If I need to lengthen the time in the fridge I’ll typically do this, or, if using a dough retarder, I’ll lower the temperature to slow things down further.

      I hope that helps!

  • Brigitte Harper

    Hi Maurizio – I made this loaf for the first time and have had reasonably good results: Beautiful crispy crust, soft crumb, good flavour and good rise. It was also the first time I baked in a DO which gave great oven spring. However, my loaf was slightly gummy inside and, unfortunately, the greaseproof paper I used to lower in my dough, somehow got baked on to the bottom of my loaf. I can’t peel it off or shift it! What can I do to resolve these hiccups? Should I bake the loaf for an extra 5 mins? I baked it at Fan 230C for 20 mins then lowered to 200C for another 20 mins with lid off. I don’t want to risk baking at higher temperatures as it might give too hard and dark crust. What about the gummyness – any ideas? Love your blog btw. Thanks, Brigitte.