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Step-by-Step Guide To Your First Sourdough Bread

baking Feb 09, 2021
Step-by-Step Guide To Your First Sourdough Bread

Is it even possible to make sourdough bread at home?

Unlike what most people believe, you don’t have to be an artisan bakery to produce highly delicious and tasty looking loaves of bread.

Really, think about it for a second.

Making sourdough bread requires nothing more than flour, water, salt, and a little patience.

Of course, artisan bakeries make amazing and sometimes highly sophisticated breads, and we definitely recommend to find some and try some of their breads.

But you, at home, in your own kitchen, can also produce wonderful crunchy breads.

That’s why we share with you how to create a simple sourdough bread at home. 

What’s so special about sourdough bread? 

Did you know making bread with sourdough used to be the traditional way of bread making for centuries?

They tend to be richer in flavor, have a crunchier crust, and is better digestible overall. 

So, this article is all about getting you started with your first sourdough bread.

Are you ready?

Here’s what you need to know.

You need a healthy sourdough starter, a few simple tools (more on that in a second), and the right steps to follow. 

If you want to know how to make your own sourdough starter from scratch, make sure to read our guide on “How to Easily Create Your Own Sourdough Starter”. 

To make your bread, you will need these tools:

A mixing bowl – you’ll use it to mix all together.

A proofing basket – your dough will rest and take shape in this basket.

A bench scraper – Working with dough can be a sticky business. Your bench scraper will be your best friend to make working with sticky dough easy and fun.

A cast iron pot – it will give your dough a better crust and allow the heat in the oven to spread more evenly.

 Here are the steps you need to follow to make your bread:

1. Have an active starter

2. Mix the flour and water (autolyse)

3. Add the starter and salt

4. First Rise (with “Stretch and Fold”)

5. Shape and transfer to proofing basket

6. Second Rise

7. Score the bread

8. Bake

9. Enjoy 

Now, let’s look at each of these steps at a time.

1. Have an active starter

Feed your starter a few hours before you begin to make your bread so it’s active and bubbly.

2. Mix the flour and water, let them rest

Before adding the starter, you mix the flour and water in a bowl and combine them until you have a rough dough. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 1 hour in a warm spot.

This process is called “autolyse”: it ensures the gluten develops more strength and helps your bread become stronger in the end.

3. Add the starter and salt

After 1 hour, you add the starter and the salt to your dough and work them into your dough in a process called “stretch and fold”.

You simply take one end of the dough, stretch it long into the air, and fold it over the dough towards the opposite side. Repeat this process for around 30 to 45 seconds until the whole dough forms a rough ball.

4. First Rise and “Stretch and Fold”

Now it’s time for the first rise.

That’s when the starter begins to work its magic and starts to ferment the dough. It’s the time when your dough will become bubbly and rise in the process.   

Simply keep your dough in a warm place for 8 to 12 hours. Cover it with a kitchen towel, and make sure your rooms temperature stays around 25°C (77°F).

For the first 2-3 hours, make sure you continue to “stretch and fold” for 6 times or more, every 15 to 20 minutes.

Again, simply take one end of the dough, stretch it long into the air, and fold it over the dough towards the opposite side. Repeat this process for around 30 to 45 seconds until the whole dough forms a rough ball.

Then, just let it rise for the remaining time, covered with a towel, sitting in a warm room.

5. Shape and transfer to proving basket

After the first rise, it’s time to shape your dough and transfer it to the proofing basket.

Make sure to first flour your proofing basket evenly, so the dough won’t stick to it later.

Then, spread some flour on your kitchen surface, distribute it evenly. Transfer your flour from the mixing bowl onto the floured surface. It’s best to use a bench scraper for this.

Now, you take one end of the dough, fold it over the middle of the dough and gently press it down. Repeat with all sides until you’ve come full circle.

Then, using the bench scraper, flip the dough onto the other side. You now have the smooth looking surface facing you.

Gently move the dough with your left and right hand in a circular motion to make the shape rounder and more symmetric, applying just as little pressure as needed.

Slide your bench scraper below the dough, and flip the dough inside the proofing basket. The “bottom” of the dough is now facing upwards.

6. Second Rise  

Now it’s time for the dough to rise again a second time. Cover your proofing basked with a kitchen towel, and leave it in a warm spot (25°C/77°F or more).

Let it rest there for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, you can already start to pre-heat your oven to 270°C/520°F (start around 30 minutes before you continue with the scoring of the dough).

Make sure to add your Dutch oven so it can heat up as well. This will ensure you get the best baking results. 

7. Score

Now, remove the kitchen towel from the basket, take a piece of baking parchment, and place it on top of the basket. Flip the basket so your dough comes out sitting nicely on the baking parchment.

Looks beautiful, doesn’t it?

With a sharp knife or bakers blade, score the dough the way you want. Scoring will later result in a beautifully looking crust. If you’re not sure how to score, simply have a quick Google search.

Then, transfer the baking paper with your scored dough into the hot cast iron pot. Be careful when taking the Dutch oven out of the oven, it is hot. Make sure to use kitchen gloves or pot holders. Once the breads is inside, add the lid on top.

8. Bake 

Your oven should be fully pre-heated by now. Turn the heat down to 230°C (445°F).

Add your cast iron pot with the bread loaf inside and bake it for 20 minutes with the lid on top. Again, make sure to use kitchen gloves or pot holders. Set yourself a timer so you won’t forget the bread in the oven. 

After the first 20 minutes have passed, take the lid off and bake for another 30 minutes.

Afterwards, turn off the heat, take out the bread, and let it cool down for 20 to 30 minutes.

It’s ready to be cut!

9. Enjoy

Here comes the best part! It’s time to enjoy your delicious loaf of bread, crunchy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside.

Warning! One loaf of bread might not be enough!


It really isn’t that hard to bake your own sourdough bread.

And your efforts will be well rewarded: There’s something deeply satisfying about having your own freshly baked loaf of sourdough bread.

Now sure how to correctly time all of these steps?

Then this is for you.

Let’s say you want to enjoy a freshly baked loaf of bread on Sunday morning. 

Then here’s a sample timeline you can follow:

  • Saturday morning (10 am): Start to feed your starter.

  • Saturday afternoon (3 pm): Mix the flour with water, let it rest.

  • 1 hour later (4 pm): Add the starter and salt, stretch and fold

  • Saturday afternoon (5 pm to 7 pm): Repeat stretch and fold 6 times.

  • Saturday night (from 7 pm): Let the dough rise (1st rise)

  • Sunday morning (8 am): Shape, transfer to basket. Let it rise (2nd rise)

  • Sunday morning (8.30 am): Pre-heat your oven to 270°C/475°F

  • Sunday morning (9 am): Score, place in cast iron pot, bake for 50 minutes.

  • Sunday morning (10 am): Your loaf of bread is ready and waiting for you to be enjoyed!

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