The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Updated with Pics - Help with First sourdough loaf - Carl's starter - Simple Sourdough Pan Bread - Low Knead

chirpy's picture

Updated with Pics - Help with First sourdough loaf - Carl's starter - Simple Sourdough Pan Bread - Low Knead

Hello all,

I'm in the middle of mixing my first sourdough loaf. I'm pretty good with commercial yeast breads - but this is my first sourdough attempt.

Starter: From Carl's Friends

Fully activated starter.

Using this recipe right now: Simple Sourdough Pan Bread
Hand Mixed with a Low Knead Procedure

I'll paste the recipe below - but here is where it came from: Found on this page as a pdf - second from top

I'm a bit confused - I started this at 2:15 in the afternoon. Now I'm realizing that I may have to bake into the wee hours if I want to prepare this properly. Is there some step at which I can throw it into the fridge - and finish tomorrow? Or am I doomed to an all nighter? FYI - I'm 5 hrs and 15 mins into the first step - building the sponge.

Help please?


Simple Sourdough Pan Bread
Hand Mixed with a Low Knead Procedure
Makes two large loaves
• 1 Cup Active Sourdough Culture
• 2 Cups Water
• 5 to 6 Cups Flour (divided)
• 1 Tablespoon Salt
Make the sponge
Six to ten hours before making the dough, put one cup active starter into a bowl and add
two cups of water and two cups of flour. Stir until reasonably smooth, cover and set
aside. The time for this step will vary. Ideally, you would want to go to the next step
when the sponge had reached peak activity. I just make the sponge before I go to bed at
night and make the dough the next morning when I get around to it. The timing is not
critical. If the sponge looks active, it will be fine.
Make the dough
Stir one tablespoon of salt into the sponge. Add three cups of flour to the sponge one cup
at a time. Stir to incorporate after each addition. I always stop at this point and judge the
dough. With experience, you will know exactly how much additional flour is required.
Until you have enough experience, add flour 1/4 cup at a time until you have a medium
dough. It will probably take two ¼-cup additions. You will most likely have to give up
your spoon or dough whisk and finish mixing the dough by hand. Cover the dough and
let it rest for twenty to thirty minutes so the flour can absorb the water.
Knead the dough
Knead the dough for 15 to 20 seconds. I do this right in the bowl. Cover and let rest for
10 to 15 minutes. Repeat the short knead twice more for a total of three short kneads.
Cover the dough and let rise for one to two hours. It does not need to double, but it
should definitely increase in volume by at least 50%. This will take longer in cool
Stretch and fold
Dump the dough onto a lightly oiled or floured work surface. Gently stretch the dough
into a rough rectangle about one third as high as the dough was when dumped on the
counter. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, and then fold the dough in thirds in the
other direction. Round the lump of dough and put it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover
and let rise until fully doubled.
Shape the dough
Divide the dough into two equal pieces, round, cover, and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Form the rounded dough into loaves to fit your bread pans. Place the dough into buttered
bread pans, cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside to rise.
Final rise
When the dough reaches the top of the pans remove the plastic and make your decorative
expansion cuts on the top of the loaf. Place the pans in a covered container to finish the
rise. I put the pans in a plastic grocery bag and close the top with a twist tie.
Bake the bread
When the bread is fully raised, place in a 375° F oven and bake until done - about 40
minutes. Cool before cutting.
The directions for making the dough call for adding flour and mixing to a medium dough.
The dough will become softer after the rest and the short knead steps. The end result is a
soft and easy to handle dough.
Kneading. You can use conventional kneading if you wish. After mixing the dough, let it
rest for 30 minutes, then knead until the dough is soft and supple. However why work
that hard?
Bread flour will give a higher rise, but All Purpose Flour will work just fine. This recipe
has been tested with a variety of flours and all have produced acceptable results.
Some taste testers preferred a little less salt. You might try 2 ½ teaspoons and see if that
suits your taste.
This is a simple bread, however it makes a great tasting loaf. I like it just as well as some
bread that is made by more complicated procedures.
Turn this into a nice whole wheat bread by substituting 1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour for
an equal amount of white flour and add one tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Chirpy.

Welcome to TFL and to sourdough baking!

In answer to your question, you can refrigerate your sponge overnight at pretty much any stage. It probably would have been better to do it earlier, but it will survive.

Before you mix the final dough, you probably should give your sponge an hour or so at room temperature to "wake up." If it's still cool, just mix the dough with warmer water. It should work fine, although the end product may be more sour due to the cold retardation which favors acetic acid production.

Happy baking!


chirpy's picture

Many thanks for your help, David. I'm glad to hear that I will not need to stay up all night with the dough. :D

"may be more sour" - Check. Good to know that. Thanks.

I've just finished adding the rest of my flour and am about to give it the first of a series of three light kneads every 15-20 minutes. I'm going to try to get it to the stage where I place it in the pan - then put it in the fridge over night. Will cross my fingers it behaves itself so I can bake it in the morning. Will let you know how it works out. I hope it is at least edible. :)

Have a great night.


chirpy's picture

Just logging my progress. I was too tired to get it into the pans last night. So I stopped when it was put into the bowl to reach at least 50% increase in size (double okay). It was in the fridge for about 11 hour and that did not inhibit its growth one bit. It definitely doubled. My only concern at this point is that I left the dough a bit too tacky/sticky. I should have used my experience from commercial yeast baking and added more flour - despite the fact that it would have been a LOT more flour than the original recipe indicated. (He indicated 1/2 cup more possibly needed - but I have already added 1-1/4 cups and it is still quite tacky and hard to keep off my fingers.) When folding, I did work in a bit more flour. Hope this is enough to keep it more workable.


It is presently doubling in a bowl on the counter.

Next step is to put it in pans. When in pans it will have to go back to the fridge for rising - or I'll be baking in the heat of the afternoon here. We're having a heat index of 105-110 here today. (It is running between 72 and 74 in the kitchen)

Wish me luck - I'm still carrying on!

chirpy's picture

Oops - a question, if you don't mind?

The loaves are in the fridge for the final rise. The directions state to slash the loaves when they reach the top of the pan. Then let them rise the rest of the way until baking. How high beyond the rim of the pan do I want the dough? 

Also - I read that some people slap it straight from the fridge to the oven - so that's my plan. If there is anything terribly wrong with that idea, would you give me a warning please?

Thanks in advance.

chirpy's picture

How does this look to you?

chirpy's picture

chirpy's picture

Any thoughts or comments on the loaf? I'd really appreciate hearing your thoughts.

MangoChutney's picture

It looks good.  Does it taste good?

chirpy's picture

Thank you. It tastes good. I like it toasted with butter the best. I wonder if it should have been taller though. I would like to find a less involved recipe, with fewer steps, fewer rises, for my next attempt.  I wonder if I had popped it into a cold oven if it would have been taller.