Sourdough bread for beginners

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  6. Lisa M Daly Reply

    Thank you SO much for your very detailed instructions. I posted my results on Pinterest . My screen name there is Newvillemom. The results were amazing, especially considering this was my first attempt. I had one small problem. The day after, I could barely cut the bread. I remedied this by popping it in the oven at 250 degrees, wrapped in a damp towel, for about 5 min. Is there anything i can do to insure that my crust stays crispy, but not so hard to cut the next day??

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  12. Heather Reply

    Brilliant explanations, am making my first sourdough today and tomorrow.

  13. Antonio Marić Reply

    Amazing recipe. I made pretty good sourdough before but im trying to learn new techniques every time. When you take dough from the fridge do you first let it warm up a bit on room temperature of you basically put it in the oven straight away?

    • Thank you 🙂

      Yes, I take it out, score it and put it straight into a piping hot oven 🙂

  14. Petr Juraczko Reply

    Hi, We would like to thank you very much for the great instructions for baking sourdough bread, the first attempt was eaten and now we bake twice a week, combine flour and enjoy fantastic bread, which unfortunately has not been sold in the shops long ago. It is very useful in this difficult time and we try to spread your recipe further, thanks again, we wish you good health, best regards Petr and Martina from Prague

    • Thank you and great that you can make fantastic bread at home.

      I honestly think that you can make better bread than most bakeries, with a little bit of practice 🙂

  15. Ben Reply

    Hi Sune,

    What size bannetons should I use for this recipe? The Amazon link you included has various sizes, but my guess is that you used two 7.9 inch or 8.6 inch bannetons?

    Thanks!
    Ben

  16. Ashley Lise Jensen Reply

    Hvad er “bread flour” på dansk?

    • Hvis du læser artiklen på dansk kan du se at der står manitoba mel. Det er mel med en protein procent på mellem 12% og 13%.

      Til dette brød har jeg brugt manitoba mel fra Valsemøllen (før Finax).

  17. Kenneth Yost Reply

    Been binging your sourdough stuff on YouTube and am finally doing my first loaf today! Thanks for the advice / help from afar. As it turns out I am from Manitoba and am wondering what type of Manitoba flour you use (I had sworn I had seen it in the background of one video, and this article confirmed it!). It is difficult to actually locate local products here, as most are generally stated as “Canadian”, so I was intrigued to know what else you know about it…

    • I honestly don’t know if the Manitoba flour I am using is Canadian, although that would be cool.

      The site of the company doesn’t state it, they just state that it has a higher amount of gluten than regular flour, and that makes it good for making bread. Essentially it’s bread flour, which until recently, we didn’t have any flour like that in Denmark 🙂

  18. Nicole Reply

    I made this today and the flavor is there but my bread didn’t rise much and is quite dense. I’m wondering if it’s because i used AP flour instead of bread flour, which is difficult to find at stores currently. I’m curious, have you tried AP flour mixed with vital wheat gluten as a bread flour substitute?

    • It can absolutely be the AP flour.

      Mixing in Vital Wheat Gluten is a very good way to strengthen your AP flour.

      Use my calculator to figure out how much to add: https://foodgeek.dk/en/vital-wheat-gluten-calculator/

      Also make sure you check gluten development with the windowpane test and add more sets of stretch and folds as needed 🙂

  19. Tore Reply

    Takk Sune for this detailed recipe and video. However, while the it tastes great, my bread comes out of the oven flat (no oven spring). With the exception that my starter is 100% whole wheat, I followed your instructions to the “T”, including the levain – i.e. equal parts WW and BF. Any ideas what is going wrong?

  20. Natalia Reply

    Hi Sune, congrats on your fantastic channel. And thank you for your brilliant work and explanations.
    I would like to ask you what the average temperature in your kitchen is. I’m not sure if you’ve said it at some point in any of your vids. I think it would be a useful bit of info. Perhaps you could add it to your vids? My average kitchen temperature where I do my bulk f. is about 21c. Maybe I should do this longer than you if I dunt have see through containers to see the dough double. I’m rather new at this great and your videos were the best find so far.
    Thank you!

    • My kitchen is normally around 21C, but commonly I put the dough in my proofer set to 30C 🙂

  21. Leslie Wolff Reply

    I made the best sourdough bread yet by following your instructions and watching your super helpful video, thank you. The shaping is going to take some time to really learn, but I started to get the hang of it by loaf two.

    • Sourdough is not a destination, it’s a never-ending journey <3

  22. David Larkin Reply

    Hi , is it possible to use 11% protein flour instead of 12% ? Is it just a matter of reducing the water slightly for a stiffer dough ?

    • You can use a flour with less protein. You do not need to change the hydration, but you may need to do more sets of stretch and folds to get a windowpane 🙂

  23. Ethan Reply

    Sune,

    Great site! I love your empirical approach to bread baking. A math question for you in this recipe. You say let the levain grow to 175% before starting the autolyse and then once the autolyse is prepared to let it double. Does this mean doubling from the initial point, so another 25% increase, or doubling from the 175% point, i.e., a 350% increase. I did a simple doubling and ended up with great tasting but flat bread. I used an 85 parts high extraction bread flour from a local mill, which is described as working like a mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour. Otherwise, I followed the recipe to the letter as far as I could tell. I started the levain in the morning at about 06:30 The boules went into retard at about 11:30 and came out the next day for baking at about 08:00. Was this too long en retard?

    Thanks again

    • I do things a lot less fussy these days. I just mix the autolyse as I mix the levain. When the levain peaks I mix it into the dough 🙂

      As long as your fridge is cold enough (below 4C/39.2F) there’s a very long period where the bread stays good. It goes into hibernation, sort of 🙂

  24. Richard Reply

    Wonderful article and recipe! Thanks for all the detail, great pictures and videos. I’m going to revisit this recipe many times.

  25. Gudmann Bragi Birgisson Reply

    I have found that autolysing for longer, up to two or three hours helped to make the dough more pliable, less sticky, and better oven rise

    • Different flour will act differently. I always encourage experimentation! 😀

  26. Gabriel Reply

    Hello Sune,
    Thanks for your work. It’s really appreciated!
    I’m making sourdough bread at home, but I’ve always wondered what kind of parchment paper you use. I’ve watch a lot of people on youtube using it to transfer the dough to the dutch oven and then place it in the oven, but parchment paper typically can’t go over 425 F and we’re using baking temperatures in the 450 – 500 F range.
    Is there some kind of baking paper I don’t know about?
    Thanks!

    • I am just using the regular kind. It does get a bit charred 🙂

  27. Kimmisook Reply

    Hello! I love your detailed instructions and video. Thank you so much. Quick question – can I proof my dough in the fridge in the same container I will use to bake in? Or must I proof it in a bowl, then transfer to the baking container?

    • You should proof in a banneton or a bowl lined with a dish towel and then turn it out, score it and then bake it free standing 🙂

  28. Tomasz Reply

    Is it possible to bake the bread the same day without putting it into the fridge? If so, how long would I need to wait before baking?

    • It is possible. Leave it on the counter for 30-60 minutes and bake 🙂

      Be wary that the second bread may over proof while the first is baking.

  29. Harley Reply

    Very nice videos indeed! I do have a few questions that may apply to others : 1) if the ambient temperature is low in my kitchen (around 12-15C), how does that effect the bulk fermentation process? Could it possibly take 4-5 hours of stretch & folds every 30 mins until I see any bubbles or rising? (even if it passes window pane test earlier), or am I over – bulking? 2) I live at high altitude (1700 meters above sea level) so how does this affect my hydration (less or more H2O normally?) and what about fermentation and actual baking times (in Dutch oven) sorry for the detailed comments, but perhaps they will apply to others? Lastly, what’s your opinion about IODIZED SALT? Can it really ruin the entire loaf? I just cannot find non-iodized salt now, better to use nothing or use IODIZED BUT DISSOLVED in a bit of H2O before adding? Thank you in advance and wish you a great day!

    • Your fermentation isn’t over until you see a rise. I usually go for 25% for good oven spring later 🙂

      I use iodized salt. It doesn’t ruin anything 🙂

  30. Patricia Reply

    For those of you who don’t have a proofing box, I came up with a solution with things I had on hand.
    .1. card board box 2. heating pad. 3. Thermo Pro temperature probe 4. wool blanket.
    Put the heating pad inside the box, place a hot pad on top of pad (just in case), place levain top of pad, lay the probe inside the box. Turn heating pad to high. Cover box with wool blanket.Monitor the temperature. Mine stayed at 82F. degrees

    Even though I created a warm environment for my levain, it took almost 3 hrs for it grow to 175%.

  31. karin Bee Reply

    Dear Sune,
    Thanks for the recipe – it was indeed a great recipe for a beginner judging by the beautiful bread I produced from it. Can I substitute rye flour for the whole wheat flour?
    Karin

  32. Robert Reply

    Hi Sune, thanks for your awesome videos and recipes and technique demonstrations.
    In fact, I baked my first successful sourdough bread last weekend following your video. I just wanted to ask where did you get your transparent container for the bulk fermentation? Where can I find something with similar shape and size?
    Thanks.

    • Those are made by a Danish company called Condi and are called Condibøtter (Condi containers). I don’t know if you can get them outside of Denmark.

      Write them an email at [email protected] and hear what the possibilities are 🙂

  33. Santa Reply

    Thank You for the wonderful recipe and very detailed description. Today I baked my best loafs so far and yesterday’s work to get them was easy and breezy. Also, my starter is more active than ever before since I switched from 1:1:1 to 1:3:3. You are my guru now.

  34. Steven Reply

    Thanks Sune! Great recipe!

    After a few failed attempts with some other online recipes, I followed this one and had the best results yet. Very well written recipe and I found the descriptions or the processes very helpful.

    I don’t have a dutch oven , so I use an inverted Pyrex casserole dish as a kind of La Cloche baking dome. I dialed the temperature down to 210 C and baked 25mins with the ‘lid’ on and then 25mins with the lid off. Came out with a very very dark crust. Do you think I should reduce temperature slightly or reduce baking time for slighly lighter crust?

    Also, I have had slight problems with my dough sticking to the pyrex at the base. Was wondering whether to try a little oil or maybe parchment paper.

    Any thoughts?

    • Try to limit the time with the lid on, to say, 20 or 15 minutes and see what that does 🙂

      Use parchment paper or sprinkle the bottom liberally with rice flour before turning out of the banneton to score

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  36. Duncan Coltharp Reply

    This is a great recipe! Thanks for being so thorough. 1 Question: I started my autolyse kind of late and my levain has started to fall. Is it better to let the autolyse get a full hour, or to short the autolyse and add the levain when it’s still expanding?

    Thank you

    • Honestly, either is fine. Your starter will be fine if it’s fed in the last 12 hours 🙂

  37. Karen Sun Reply

    I’ve really enjoyed your YouTube videos and baked my first loaves today following this recipe (but with all purpose and rye flours). They turned out great. Still lots of room for improvement but that is part of the fun. I really appreciate your experiments as they give me confidence in adjusting my ingredients, timing and techniques to suit my taste. Thank you 🙂

  38. Margo Reply

    Hi Sune,
    I’m accustomed to taking the final temp of bread I’m baking, but found no reference in your materials. Your Sourdough for Beginners provided excellent instructions that I followed and I watched the videos. The bread I just made (wish I could send a photo) was 209F, even though I usually pull bread at 190F. It is dense and chewy and seems a little underdone. (I followed your timings.) Do you have a final bread temperature recommendation?
    Margo

    • I usually aim for 99C/210F, but honestly it’s been a long time since I tested.

      I sounds like the dough might have been a bit over proofed. Was it hard to shape it?

  39. Susan Reply

    Hi Sune,

    Thank you for the detailed instructions on sourdough making. Wondering if I can leave the dough in the fridge for 2 days if I would like to bake one first and the other one the day after?

  40. Robert Reply

    Hi Sune, I’ve been baking successful sourdough breads using your recipes for the past couple of weeks, so thanks for that!
    I was wondering if I could leave the bulk fermented dough as it is and shape withought dividing it in two? And to bake one big bread instead of two smaller ones? I have a larger banneton lying around, so I would like to know what your opinion about that is?

  41. Margo Reply

    Hi again, Sune. The “reply” button doesn’t seem to work (it just returns me to the same post). So, in answer to your question about the dough being hard to work, not really. Although it didn’t stretch as far as yours do, t seemed fine given your excellent demonstrations! However, I retarded after the first stretch and fold (because I ran out of time that evening). I allowed it to rest outside the fridge for about an hour to let it warm a little before I continued the last two stretch and folds. Maybe that extra hour caused over-proofing. I did not try to “poke” test, but I agree it could have been over-proofed. I’ll consider that next time. Thanks!

  42. Hi Sune, I have been baking sourdough for about 2 years and fine you calculator amazing. However, I cannot work out how to down load it. Tried your recipe today for the first time and it came out great, but have also been following BakewithJack (Kack Sturgess in the UK on YouTube following a course I went on with him, but now I want to play more so can you send me the link as all I get is a spooling symbol.
    Thanks for great series.
    Peter

  43. Daniel Kilbury Reply

    Fantastic bread recipe!! Instructions are top notch. My bread came out absolutely amazing. Boule #1 and #2 were baked about 12 hours apart. In the final cook for #1, went 25 minutes. Wifey said she likes a little softer crust, so I shortened the time by 5 minutes on #2 and the color shows a little lighter but still has good crisp and looks fine. We have to finishing eating #1 before enjoying #2. It remains uncut for now. That shouldn’t take long.

    I did 4 streach and folds in bulk just because I was having fun feeling that lovely dough. I got the nice window in the third time. I noticed my finished crumb results in #1 had some areas that were a little less open (more smaller holes than larger). That’s ok with me better to keep the jelly from falling through the holes. So my question is, should a person be expecting an even distribution of big and small holes? Other than the things I brought up, I followed the recipe exactly. I was thinking my streach and folds technique needs a tweak. I did watch, I believe most of your videos.

    Thanks for all your work on this recipe.

    • Thank you <3

      I am happy your bread turned out that great 😀

  44. Steven Reply

    Hi again!

    I love this recipe and have had great success with it. I am keen to keep experimenting and was wondering if you could suggest where I should go from here?

    Regards,

    Steven

  45. Emily Hicks Reply

    Tried this bread recipe for the first time this weekend, and the bread came out amazing! My favorite sourdough bread recipe so far (:

  46. Hugh Reply

    Hi Sune, thanks so much for your videos and web page – they have been incredibly helpful. I have a question about pre-shaping. I am finding that sometimes when I pre-shape my bread, it holds its shape and does not relax. This results in me not being able to repeat the shaping process, as you describe. Is this normal or does it indicate that perhaps the bread needs to proof for longer? Thanks! Hugh.

    • It sounds like you are using a very thirsty flour and that you may want to increase the hydration a bit 🙂

      You can use my Bread Calculator for that. Try in a 5% increments 🙂

  47. Josh Reply

    Hello Sune,

    Thanks so much for all the great stuff. I have learned a lot about my baking so far, from you and your recipes and experiments.

    I tried this recipe, as I am trying to find my “go-to” sourdough recipe. I have an active starter (fed twice over two days, and more than doubled) that I have used to make many great loaves. However, when I attempt to make the levain from this recipe, it only rose about 10%. It has been cool in my house, but I left it overnight, and still, only about 10% rise. It doesn’t specify in your recipe how long you expect it to take, but this seems extreme… Should I let it go? Or should I just use it and bake away?

    Thanks again!

    Josh

    • I don’t give a time, because that’s misleading for people. If the levain doesn’t at least double, you won’t be able to make a successful bread with it.

      If your starter rises enough, use that instead of the levain, but I would recommend that you find a warm spot for your starter and dough 🙂

  48. Ivan Reply

    In virus lockdown, a lot of friends and family have been following this great recipe, but finding that they can’t get it to work like Sune. You start before breakfast, wait all day and still your dough doesn’t rise enough. Bedtime has come, so you shape it and put it in the fridge regardless. What comes out of the oven the next day is rather dense and chewy. It might have some pretty large bubbles, a brilliant ear, and even a great taste. But it fails to delight.

    The people suffering this have all just made their own new starter from scratch, their new pet. New made starter usually doesn’t have the lifting power to make Sune’s recipe work well. New starters usually need to go through lots of generations, when eventually, we hope, Darwinism will operate to give us an active starter. It can take quite a long time. Sune says you need to get your starter to double. But if it doubles in 6 hours (in a warm place), that isn’t active enough. It should be doubling (in a warm place) in about 2 hours, and could even triple if you left it a bit longer.

    Here are three hacks to get a sufficiently active starter so that this recipe will make great bread for you. First, find a friend who has a long-established really active starter and get some from them. They can dry some (Sune has instructions in his starter maintenance video) and put it in an envelope in the post. My nephew (who will be going to college to learn bakery) tried this. A couple of days ago he sent me a picture of two identically-made loaves, one with his own new starter, the other with friend’s starter, and it was brick vs bread.

    The second hack is to put just a quarter of a teaspoon of dry packet yeast (1g) in your levain build, as well as your own starter. A lot of really great bakers do this, so let’s not be too purist about it – it works. When I finally got some yeast from the shop, I tried it, and the difference was amazing. My levain took 90 mins instead of 6 hours to double. My bulk ferment doubled in 3 hours, instead of rising 30% in 8 hours. The bread no longer had a good ear, and the crumb wasn’t exactly Poilane. But it was great bread, with a real sourdough character, and my wife complained she’d get fat if I carried on making it like that. Just remember you can’t keep this yeast-augmented starter for next time, you have to feed your continuing starter separately.

    And finally, if you can’t even get packet yeast, you can straightforwardly make a good substitute from wild fruit yeasts in just 4 days. All you need is a bit of sugar and an apple, or a few raisins, or something like that. Google “yeast water” and you’ll find a number of people offering to teach you this surprising but straightforward technique. You may have to do your levain build overnight, as the wild fruit yeasts are slower to get going than packet yeast. But once they are going, they will really lift your bread when you do the bulk ferment. A friend who had been labouring away with her own new starter tried this. Immediately she got great bread, again with a real sourdough character. Her 79% hydration version is amazing.

    One last lockdown hack – if you haven’t got a dough-scraper, a plastic dust-pan is a great substitute. Just wash it well.

  49. Daksha Reply

    Question
    When you autolyse do you put the dough in the proofer

    • Nope, just on the counter if less than 5 hours, in the fridge if longer.

  50. Jeanette T Reply

    Sune, your levain is 1:2:2. I’m assuming you use this ratio in order to have it ready to use by so many hours. The day before you plan to make the levain do you feed your starter with the same ratio? Should I feed it the night before at 1:3:3 or 1:4:4 so it will have plenty of food to make it through the long night hours? Is it ok to use fallen starter for a levain? Will stirring the fed starter reactive the gasses that had been produced before it fell?
    Thank you so much

  51. Bryony Jarvis Reply

    Water temperatures please!

  52. Guro Reply

    Hi! I’ve used your recipe a lot and i really like it. I usually bake using a cast Iron pot with a lid, or a pizza stone with the pod on top as a lid. However, I’m getting a new oven with steamer function – how can I utilize this to make the best bread possible?

    • In my oven I use the steam without fan. I start steaming about 10 minutes, before adding the bread. Steaming for 20 minutes, then I vent the oven, turn down the temperature and bake until the bread is finished 🙂

  53. Nidhi Vij Reply

    Can we use only all purpose flour instead of all purpose and whole wheat flour mix?

    • Yes, but you way want to lower the hydration, because of less protein in the flour 🙂

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  55. Phil Reply

    In the UK I have had great results with Shipton Mill white bread flour (12.6% protein) and stoneground wholemeal flour (14%). I’ve taken these up to about 80% hydration with no difficulties.

  56. Hello, If I don’t have whole wheat flour, can I use rye or spelt instead? If so, how do the measurements change?

  57. Colleen Dundon Reply

    Hi thanks for the recipe. Do you know how to figure out the carb count of the bread?
    My son is diabetic thank you very much Colleen

    • The carb count is listed in the recipe for one bread.

      Just weigh the bread before you cut it, and then you can weigh a slice and calculate the carb count this way:

      W_carbs = (W_slice / W_bread) * 344

  58. Monique Monmonier-Birch Reply

    wow! This was super helpful…thank you!

  59. Stacy Reply

    Hi Sune — I’ve really enjoyed your videos and found them very helpful! My question is…can I feed the starter in the morning and then, a few hours later when it’s peaked, take some of that starter to make my levain right away and then continue with the rest of the process? Or do I have to feed the starter the night before and then use it after it’s peaked and fallen overnight? Thanks!!

    • You can do it whenever you want. Feeding it in the morning is the same as making a levain. Nowadays I won’t bother with levains. I just feed my starter and bake when it’s at its peak 🙂

  60. Stacy Reply

    I can’t seem to reply to your comment on my question, so thank you for the answer regarding when it’s okay to use the starter for levain. Based upon your answer I just checked your updated/simpler sourdough bread recipe and see that you are indeed skipping the levain step. I’ll give that one a try soon 🙂 Thanks again!

  61. Mensch Reply

    Hi Sune,
    I like the way you explain stuff. You helped me a lot. One thing still bothers me: how cold is your fridge?
    I ruin all my doughs with overnight proofing at 7 degrees C.

    • Thanks. I have mine set really cold 2C/35F 🙂

      I’ll add it to the recipe 🙂

  62. Steve Reply

    Hi. I would like to know if i make one bigger bread it would be ok? Or better to make 2 ? Thanks

    • Absolutely, Just scale the bread up. You may want to bake a bit longer. I usually bake 25 minutes covered, 25 minutes uncovered these days anyway 🙂