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Sourdough Master Dough 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 1/2 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 just starting to clean the sides of the bowl. It should still be pretty 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.

You’ll see that the flour has had time to fully absorb the water, gluten has developed, and the dough has become more structured.  If it’s still so soft that you can’t scoop it out and form it into a ball, add flour a tablespoon at a time until a soft dough forms.

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, seam-side up, 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 in a warm house or summer months.  In the winter it sometimes takes me 6 hours to get the rise I want!  This is where you have to be patient and have faith. 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 OR if rising in a loaf pan you can score it right in the pan. Score the bread with a super-sharp knife or bread lame. Pop in the oven for 30-40 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. 


Admire your gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread and marvel at how actually easy it was! Need a few more tips and tricks? After hours on the phone helping to troubleshoot sourdough for my friends and customers, I put together a sourdough basics guide in PDF format that includes information on maintaining your starter, baking tips, and this master recipe. GRAB IT HERE


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