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Sourdough Basics

Updated: Jul 14

Download our Sourdough Basics PDF printable

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Watch a 60 second video of our easy everyday sourdough method:

Maintaining your starter

  • Feed a 2:1 ratio of flour to filtered water

  • We use 1/4 cup organic whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup organic all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup filtered water to feed ours

  • It's fine to use whatever flour you have, but keep the ratio about 2:1

  • Make sure when you stir together your remaining starter, flour, and water that all the flour is moistened in the jar

  • It'll be thick and sticky after feeding and thats ok, after 6-12 hours it will have filled the jar and will be bubbly and more fluid (like thick pancake batter)

  • Temperature and season can affect how long it takes to become vigorous and the consistency of the starter

  • The important thing is seeing bubbles and that it about doubles in size

  • You can always change the size of jar and amount of starter you are maintaining depending on how many loaves you will bake at once

  • I bake a lot, so I often keep mine in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, but for enough starter for a single load a quart jar will work just fine

  • Feed every day and when you do either dump out half of your existing starter before feeding and save it for later use (google "sourdough discard recipes") OR go ahead and bake with that portion and then feed the remainder

  • Keep your starter jar covered with a cloth or a coffee filter and use a rubber band or the ring portion on the mason jar lid to secure it, it needs to breathe!

  • If you are not going to be baking for awhile, feed your starter and then pop it into the fridge with a lid on it. This will slow down fermentation enough that you can take it out, feed it, and bake once a week.

  • You can leave it unfed for up to two months in the fridge but you will need to feed and discard about 3 times to reinvigorate it before baking if it has been dormant for that long

  • If a dormant starter gets a layer of greyish water on top that indicated that the starter is starving. It's not harmful, just pour it off and feed.

Baking Basics

  • Sourdough is a soft dough, but it shouldn't be super slack or it may not rise well

  • There's not a lot of active work involved in baking sourdough, but you do need to plan on being home for 5-6 hours so you have time for multiple rises

  • Just like with the starter, the temperature and season will play a roll in how quickly the dough will rise

  • With the first two rises I do them on a schedule no matter how much the dough has risen, the final rise is where you might have to wait 2-3 hours to achieve the loft you want

  • Between rises handle the dough gently, do not punch it down and completely degass the dough, you want some bubbles to stay in there

  • The idea is to do multiple gentle "stretch and folds" or shaping rounds in order to allow the yeast access to more surface area and food so that the dough will eventually rise enough to bake

  • Do score the dough and make sure your knife is super sharp - I sharpen mine every time I bake! Scoring allows the load to continue expanding once in the oven. When the dough hits the heat, the yeast go into a frenzy and scoring allows some of the gasses to escape as the bread puffs up and gives the loaf room to expand instead of trapping them inside as the crust hardens

Our Sourdough Master Recipe

Some of you may not like this, but my sourdough master recipe does not have any actual measurements! That's just how I roll. You eventually get a feel for what a good dough looks, feels, and behaves like. I use the exact same method to make the dough for every type of bread - artisan boule, sandwich loaf, baguettes, bagels, pretzels, you name it. The only thing that changes is how I shape and bake at the end. My process is: MIX, RISE, STRETCH & FOLD, RISE, PRESHAPE, REST, SHAPE, RISE, BAKE


  • Ripe, active sourdough starter

  • Honey or sugar (optional, good if youre making a soft sandwich loaf)

  • salt

  • warm water

  • flour (all-purpose or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat)



Dump your entire starter except what clings to the jar into your mixer. Now you have maybe a cup or a little more of sourdough starter in your mixer bowl.

Add a couple tablespoons of sugar or honey (optional).

Add a cup of lukewarm water.

Start adding flour with the mixer running. I don’t measure I just add until the dough is starting to clean the sides of the bowl. It should still be slightly sticky and soft.

Turn off the mixer and rest it for 30 min before adding a teaspoon of salt and letting it knead for a few minutes.

Dough is done!


Slather the dough ball with butter, oil, or lard and cover the bowl with a damp towel for an hour.


After an hour dump the dough gently into a floured surface and do two sets of folds. Gently flatten it without pressing out all the gas bubbles and fold it like you would fold a letter in thirds. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat. Now gently place it seam side down back in the bowl.


Cover and rise another hour.


After the second rise gently dump the dough back onto the floured surface and gather all the corners together, pinching one side closed and flipping so one side should be round and smooth.


Dust the top with flour and leave seam side down covered with a cloth for 20 or 30 minutes.


Uncover and shape.

If making a sandwich loaf I roll the dough up into a log, tuck in the ends, flip it seam side down and tighten the surface by gently rotating and pulling against the table surface. If making a boule I just move the dough in a circular motion, pulling against the table surface until it’s a nice tight ball.

For sandwich bread: place in a greased loaf pan

For a rustic artisan loaf: place on parchment and leave to rise in place, or line a bowl or banneton with a well floured towel and place dough seam-side up in the basket to rise.

For pizza dough stretch to fit your stone or pan

For bagels or pretzels, divide and shape.


Cover and rise.

Sandwich and artisan loaves will be ready to bake in about 2-3 hours. Pizza dough can be baked whenever you are happy with the thickness of the crust, pretzels and bagels can do a short rise, then boil (with baking soda added to the water for pretzels) and bake.


For sandwich or artisan loaves, preheat oven to 450. Gently turn the bread out onto parchment. Score the bread with a super-sharp knife. Pop in the oven for 40 minutes. If you want a crisp shiny crust, add water to the oven for steam.

After 40 minutes remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing.

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