Sourdough Bread For First-Timers

Going through the sourdough bread process step-by-step for those of you who want to make it, but don’t know how to go about it.

The idea of making sourdough bread is very intimating. Outside of my bakery days where I didn’t go much further than just feeding the starter and making the preferments, I haven’t ventured into the world of sourdough for that exact reason. But given the stay-at-home orders and more time on my hands than I’d like to admit, this really was the perfect time to try my own sourdough bread.

If you’re thinking “why not just buy it at the grocery store?”… I totally get it. This is for someone that’s looking to make a sourdough loaf for the fun and the art of it all, plus it tastes a whole lot better than anything you can get your hands on at the grocery store. Making sourdough is actually really fun and weirdly rewarding. It’s like a little science experiment that you get to eat!

I know that most people reading this will be beginners in sourdough land, so I’ve written on the steps as simply as possible without missing any of the important details in this post. In my own research I couldn’t find anywhere that listed out the steps by day, which is how my brain works, so that’s what I wanted to do here. All you really need to do is take it one day at a time, and the only ingredients you’ll need are good old flour and sink water! Let’s get started.


What materials you’ll need:

  • A glass container with at least a quart of capacity
  • A large glass mixing bowl
  • A scale that measures grams
  • A colander & small towel or a proofing basket
  • A bread razor or very sharp knife
  • A Dutch oven
  • Parchment paper

What ingredients you’ll need:

  • Whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Water

DAY 1Combine 1 cup of whole wheat or all-purpose flour with ½ cup of water in a glass container (at least 4-5 cups capacity) and stir until a paste. Cover with plastic wrap, let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.
DAY 2Feed starter with ½ cup of mixture + ¾ cup of flour + ½ cup of water and make a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.
DAY 3Feed the starter with ½ cup of mixture + ¾ cup of flour + ½ cup of water and make a paste. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours.
DAY 4Feed the starter with ½ cup of mixture + ¾ cup of flour + ½ cup of water, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 hours. Repeat again after the 12 hours.
DAY 5 – 12Each morning and night (as close to 12 hours apart as possible), feed your starter with ½ cup of mixture + ¾ cup of flour + ½ cup of water. Leave at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. You’re ready for the next step when the starter is very bubbly and doubles in size between feedings. This could take longer than by day 12 – just keep following the same steps until you see the doubling size.
DAY 13Make your preferment (measurements for 1 loaf*) by mixing 15g of sourdough starter with 125g of room temperature water, then adding in 100g of whole wheat or all-purpose flour. Mix until there is no dry flour left, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours – best to do this at night.
DAY 14 – PART 1In the morning, take your preferment and add 250g of room temperature water. Mix thoroughly and then add 380g of all-purpose flour. Mix until dough is shaggy and there is no more dry flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour for the autolyse. After the hour add 15g of fine salt and use wet hands to mix in the salt.
DAY 14 – PART 2After you’ve mixed in the salt, it’s time to begin the folding process. Every 30 minutes for 3 hours (6 total times), use wet hands to grab your dough from the bottom, pull it up to the middle of the dough, and push it down. Repeat this grab and pull motion without tearing the dough about 20 times, rotating the bowl as you go, and covering with plastic wrap when you’re finished. When you’ve finished your 6th grab and pull, cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes.
DAY 14 – PART 3It’s now time for the pre-shaping. Transfer your dough from the bowl to a floured surface and cover your hands with flour. Pull the corners of the dough to the center to create a circle, then flip it over and let it rest for 30 minutes. Dust the top of the loaf with flour, then flip again. Grab and pull the edges of the dough to the center and pressing it down once again, on each side. Roll over the dough so the seam is now on the bottom and the dough is smooth. Now, use the side of your hand to tighten the surface by rotating and smoothing (search “shaping sourdough” on YouTube for examples). Flip over the dough once again, top with a flour dusting, and place it into a colander lined with a small towel covered in flour. Fold over the corners to cover the dough with the towel completely. Let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes, then move to the refrigerator to sit for 12-24 hours.
DAY 15It’s finally time to bake your sourdough! Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Transfer the dough seam side down onto parchment paper, give the loaf a slash across the top, and lift into your Dutch oven. Cover and place in the oven immediately. Bake for 25 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered, then remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let cool completely until cutting.

*These measurements are for one loaf of sourdough, double, triple, etc… measurements for more than one loaf. When it’s time to shape the dough, divide into how many loaves you’re making.


So there it is. This may seem like a long process (it is!) but all it takes is about 5 minutes once or twice a day, and then a little bit of work when it’s ready to be baked. The biggest challenge is shaping the bread, which as I mentioned can be shown through tons of YouTube videos. When it’s all done, you’ll have a beautiful masterpiece and a great tasting sandwich! Thanks for following along.



Published by jennlueke

Hello Foodies! Looking for healthy alternatives and food that your body will thank you for? Look no further. Use the navigation panel to find recipes, blog posts, and other tips & tricks for changing your lifestyle. Click follow below to be notified when I post something new!

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