The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Loaf of Real Sourdough - I'm Hooked

rryan's picture

First Loaf of Real Sourdough - I'm Hooked

Hello.  I recently joined The Fresh Loaf and have thoroughly enjoyed perusing through the site and reading about what others have been doing and looking at pictures of their beautiful breads.  I have baked breads off-and-on for a number of years, but have never made a true sourdough.  I have used KA Flour's dried starters, but commercial yeast is also used in the recipes.  The resulting bread is good, but not great.  Your site provided enough inspiration for me to get off my duff and actually make some sourdough!

I made starter using equal parts (by volume) organic AP unbleached flour and bottled spring water, and fed it at least daily for about 10 days before using it, and it appeared nice and vigorous.  The dough recipe was from John Ross's Sourdough Baking website located at  The recipe is:

* 2 Cups of sponge (proofed starter)
* 3 Cups of unbleached flour
* 2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 4 teaspoons of sugar
* 2 teaspoons of salt

In addition, I added 1/2 cup spring water to make a wetter dough.

Because I have shoulder pain, I used the stretch-and-fold method instead of kneading the dough.  I did the first stretch-and-fold at 20 minutes, then 3 more times at 45 minute intervals.  After a final 45 minute interval, the dough was well-raised, and I formed a boule and put it to rise in a 10-inch skillet lined with oiled parchment.  After about 2 hours, it was ready for the oven.  I baked it in a cast iron dutch oven, which was preheated to 475 degrees.  The boule was scored, then lifted into the dutch oven on its parchment and then covered with the lid.  The oven was turned down to 450 degrees and the bread baked for 30 minutes.  At that time, the lid was removed and the bread baked for another 15 minutes.  It sounded nice and hollow, and the internal temperature was 201 degrees Farenheit, so I removed it to a cooling rack.

As it was already late at night, I left the bread on the counter until morning before slicing it.  It looked beautiful to me, and the flavor was awesome - probably the best bread I have ever baked.  I'm sure it's not on a par with what many of you more experienced bakers are doing, but I'm really happy with my first attempt.  Now I need to learn about Bakers Percentages, etc. and gain more experience baking real sourdough.

Here are a couple of pictures of my first loaf.  Any comments and suggestions are welcome.





trailrunner's picture

You did great ! Looks beautiful and great scoring. I too like the Sullivan Street bread idea of using a closed hot pot. Gives a very nice crust. Good luck on the next loaf too. c

rryan's picture

Thanks for the encouragement, Trailrunner.  I learned about the dutch oven method from an article in Cook's Illustrated magazine entitled "No-Knead Bread 2.0".  The author enhanced the Sullivan Street bread recipe by altering the hydration and adding acidity and flavor by using a little white vinegar and 3 ounces of beer in the form of a lager.  While not sourdough, it is a slow-rise bread and is quite delicious and has a beautiful crust.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, rryan.

Welcome to TFL!

Your SD boule looks really good. It's hard for me to comment on the recipe, because I'm so used to thinking in terms of weights of ingredients rather than volumes.


rryan's picture

Thanks, David...

I most generally use recipes that provide weights, but I was a little hesitant about converting my starter cup volume to a weight this early in the game.  I plan to weigh a few cups to get a good average, then try some bread formulas using weight alone.


Susan's picture

You should have seen my first loaf!!!!!  Flat as a pancake.

Try using KA Bread Flour sometime rather than AP.  You'll notice a difference in the bread.  And you'll know which you prefer.  Have fun.  I just remarked to a friend that I don't know why anyone would eat yeast bread if they could have sourdough.


Susan from San Diego


rryan's picture

Hi, Susan...

I have a partial bag of KA Bread Flour, as well as a few cups of their European Style Artisan Flour.  I thought I would try a loaf from each over the next week and see how they compare.  Ultimately, though, I want to try a whole grain sourdough.  But first, I need to make sure I can have some loaf-to-loaf consistency using unbleached white flour.

I agree with your sentiments about sourdough vs. yeast breads, although I've eaten some darned good yeast breads!

Wild-Yeast's picture

Now you have to ask yourself, "Why did I wait this long to begin my life"..., this is not effete snobbery but a fact based on taste...,

Congrats!  The elation of the first successful sourdough bread is one you'll never forget.

You'll only get better from now on as will your sourdough bread. 

Best, Wild-Yeast

rryan's picture

Thanks for your encouraging comments.  As far as waiting so long...who knows why?  But I'm still young - only mid-sixties - so I should have a few more decades left to get better.  Right?

Also, I have found your Baker's Percentage tutorial. it will be very helpful, and I have bookmarked your great blog.



Dhaus's picture

I can relate to your experience. 

Largely due in part to this awesome forum, I started down the sourdough road three weeks ago and for me, after seeing that first successful loaf and eating that first slice, there is no turning back.

Welcome to TFL.


rryan's picture

You are correct, Darren, there is no turning back.  I made a sourdough pizza 2 nights ago, and it was amazing - basil pesto, mozzarella cheese, and diced plum tomatoes. 

My starter is quite vigorous, and I have already put 2 jars in the fridge containing 2 cups of starter each, and am maintaing fresh starter on the countertop.

Tomorrow morning I will start a new loaf of sourdough bread.  I am going to do another boule and bake it in my cast iron dutch oven, but this time I plan to replace part of the unbleached white flour with some organic whole wheat bread flour from my local co-op.

I'll post pictures of the finished loaf.  Wish me luck!