The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advice for first sourdough bake

Levin bred's picture
Levin bred

Advice for first sourdough bake

I just successfully grew my first starter.  It is currently in the fridge waiting for me to bake with it for the first time.  The last time I fed it it doubled in under four hours @ 76F.


I used to bake every Wednesday after work when I used yeast, but I understand that I will probably have to do some work on Tuesday now.  I work from 8AM-5PM.  What would be a rough estimation of a schedule so that I could successfully bake a loaf sometime before I go to bed Wednesday night.  Could I feed/mix/knead before bed tonight, fridge ferment overnight, punch down/fold tomorrow morning, and then bake tomorrow night?  Or is that an unrealistic schedule?


Ford's picture

Morning of day before I bake (say, Tuesday).  Remove starter from refrigerator take 3.5 oz. of starter mix in 3.5 oz. each of water and AP flour.  (go to work)

Evening of day before baking  (still Tuesday)   Add 10.5 oz. each of AP flour & water. Mix well, remove excess starter and place it in the refrigerator for another time..  Let the rest ferment overnight at room temperature.  It will be ready to go the next day (Wednesday) and you can bake at your leisure.

I hope this helps.


cranbo's picture

Remember that your schedule not only depends on how active your starter is, but what % of starter you use in your recipe. 

Ford's schedule is pretty good, I'm going to suggest one with a little more detail. 

Tuesday morning: 

  • remove starter from fridge, feed starter, leave in at room temp 

Tuesday evening:

  • 5pm feed starter, leave at room temp to reach its peak. 
  • 9pm when starter peaks, combine ingredients (starter + flour/water/salt/etc.) and knead. Save piece of starter, feed it and return to fridge. 
  • 915pm start bulk fermentation at room temp (stretch and fold every 30-60 minutes as desired) 
  • 1115pm put bulk fermenting dough in fridge (you can experiment with cutting this down, I like having some extra time for yeast and LAB to activate at room temp before going in the fridge.)  

Wednesday morning:

  • Before work: if desired, stretch and fold dough 1x, dough goes back in fridge.

Wednesday evening:

  • 5pm: remove from fridge and shape
  • 515pm: rise in warm place until almost doubled  (anywhere from 2 to 6+ hours, depending on dough + ambient temp) 
  • 615pm: start preheating your oven. 
  • 715pm-11pm: bread goes into oven to bake. 

Hope it helps!



Janetcook's picture

Yes, that would work. 

Here is a link to one of txfarmer's blogs where the instructions for mixing and holding a dough are spelled out very nicely.  The type of bread featured is not one you will probably start off with but the scheduling/timing/method and use of the refrigerator is very explicit.

Hope it helps!


Levin bred's picture
Levin bred

Cranbo, your schedule is pretty much what I have in mind right now.

I hope to have some good photos for you soon!