The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

my first sourdough recipe - thoughts

scottv's picture

my first sourdough recipe - thoughts

Tell me if I have my thinking correct on making a recipe:

take 30g of refrigerated starter (100% hydration) out on Wed AM and add 30g water and 30g flour = 90g starter
on Wed PM (after 12 hours) add 90g water and 90g flour to 90g starter = 270g starter
put 270g starter in fridge

on Saturday AM, take 270g starter out of fridge and put 10g of the starter into a clean bowl and add 10g water/flour and put that back into the frige for next week

mix 260g of starter with 400g of flour and 220g of water with 10g of salt = 880g dough
do a stretch and fold, wait 10 minutes
do a stretch and fold #2, wait 10 minutes
do a stretch and fold #3, wait 10 minutes
shape into boule or batard and proof for 2 hours


How does this sound?



BreadBro's picture

Your proof times seem quite low for a naturally leavened bread. While it depends on your room temperature, the activity of your starter and the type of flour, a 30 minute first proof time is extremely low. I'd suggest doing stretch and folds every 45 minutes and then extend your final proof to possibly 2.5-3 hours (obviously, keeping an eye on the dough to see if its ready before then)

Other than that, it seems OK. Good luck.


scottv's picture

alright, how about replacing this:

on Saturday AM, take 270g starter out of fridge and put 10g of the starter into a clean bowl and add 10g water/flour and put that back into the fridge for next week

mix 260g of starter with 400g of flour and 220g of water with 10g of salt = 880g dough
do a stretch and fold, wait 10 minutes
do a stretch and fold #2, wait 10 minutes
do a stretch and fold #3, wait 10 minutes
shape into boule or batard and proof for 2 hours

with this:

on Friday evening, take 270g starter out of fridge and put 10g of the starter into a clean bowl and add 10g water/flour and put that back into the fridge for next week

mix 260g of starter with 400g of flour and 220g of water with 10g of salt = 880g dough
do a stretch and fold, wait 45 minutes
do a stretch and fold #2, wait 45 minutes
do a stretch and fold #3, wait 30 minutes
shape into boule or batard, cover, and proof overnight

bake in the morning

Xenophon's picture

As was remarked above, it all depends on starter activity, ambient temperature etc.  With my (100% rye sourdough) starter I found out that it takes a bit of time to adapt after mixing it with white bread flour.

What I do is the following:

- Take rye starter (100%), say about 40 gr. and mix with 200 gr white bread flour, adding water to achieve a bigs at about 65-70% hydration.

- This mix stays out overnight (about 20 centigrade) and I let it ferment.  Typically, things only get going after 7-8 hours and the process takes 12-14 hours at ambient temp.  Then I retard it overnight at 4 centigrade (essentially stopping all activity).

- The next tray I build the final dough by adding the preferment to about 500 gr flour, bulk fermentation then takes about 1.5 hours (at 24 centigrade), I give it a single stretch and fold, shape.

- Final proof is about 1 hour, 24 centigrade.

My reasoning is that I let the preferment develop in full so that after mixing the next day, a huge quantity of wild yeast/bacteria + slowly developed flavour are introduced into the final dough and that  this then develops quicker.  It's essentially an exponential process and I've found the inertia period for wild yeasts to be longer than for regular yeast, probably due to the fact that the organisms need some time to get used to the new environment with a different pH.


But there's more than one way to Rome obviously, which is one of the things that makes the process so interesting.


dabrownman's picture

(30% of the dough flour and water) but only 90 g of it is full strength. The initial build of 90 g after 12 hours is full strength but when you add another 180 g of flour and water to it and immediately refrigerate it, by the next morning the levain probably will not have doubled in the fridge and be ready to go to work. But in this case it might be OK

The 90 g that is full strength is enough to raise an 880 g loaf of bread all on its own if left out overnight to proof for 8 hours. But it might over proof too. I don't leave dough out on the counter overnight to proof but do let it proof in the fridge overnight At 30% full strength levain it is fully proofed in the fridge in 8 hours. 20% levain takes 12 hours and 10% levain takes 8 hours. Since you really only have say 15% levain that is at full strength (half the total) It might work out OK if left on the counter overnight - but it might over proof too - you will have to test it.

Personally, I would take 30 g of starter and feed it 20 g of each flour and water making 70 g. Then feed it 40 g each flour and water 6 hours later making 150 g of starter that will double in 6 more hours and be at full strength after a total of 12 hours. Stir it up and then refrigerate that overnight -it will still rise some more in the fridge.. Take 10 g out in the morning feed it 10 g each of flour and water and let it rise 25% before refrigerating (about an hour) to use as your stored starter for the next bake.

By still making an 880 g loaf of bread by adding flour and water to the dough and using 140 g of starter, you will be at 16% levain but it will all be full strength and ready to go. Still you will have to test this to see if the shaped dough will make it overnight on the counter.

The reason i like to proof overnight in the fridge is because it gives me more flexibility. If it over proofs you bake it straight out of the fridge. It is still cold, easy to slash without collapse and it won't spread as much in the hot oven even though it won't spring much. If it proofs to 85% overnight then you can bake it right out of the fridge no worries and you get the spring. If it under proofs you just take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter and time turning on the oven for preheat to bake the loaf when it does get to 85% proof, No matter what you get a nice loaf of bread.

When proofing on the counter overnight, if it over proofs - slashing is a problem and collapse a real possibility. If it proofs perfectly (85%), you still have a cold oven and 45 minutes later when the oven is finally hot, the bread may be over proofed again. So what you want to shoot for is a bread that wants to be an hour under 85% proof the next morning so the oven is hot an bread ready to go at the same time the bread is ready to bake. The chances of getting this right and having a nice loaf of bread are much less than retarding the shaped loaves in the fridge,

Something to think about...At least there is very little math involved:-)

Happy baking


adri's picture

1) About the bread:

SALT: I'd use 11g of salt which is nearer to 2%, no, just kidding ;)

HYDRATION: 66% - Thats ok for the beginning!

FERMETATION TIME: If you have a mature leaven (fully fermented but not already dying) built from an active starter and use 49% of the dough weight, 2,5 hours might be near to overproofing. But this depends on parameters like the activity of your starter, the temperature, ...

With my starter at the moment 45 minutes Bulk fermentation and 60 minutes in the proofing basket are enough with this formula. But I needed more time when my starter wasn't that active.

Best is to poke the dough a bit and see how much it springs back. If it does so very quickly, it will need more time.

You cannot compare this time to the ones in the Tartine recipes e.g.. Robertson uses a much "younger" starter (with less microorganisms) and maybe even less.


2) About the handling of the starter:

STORING: The part that you store should always have some time to ferment a little before you put it back in the fridge.


a) With my active starter 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water) peaks in 4 hours. you use 1:1:1 (twice as much starter) and let it ferment for 12 hours. The microorganisms might be dying from starvation.

b) It is better to use starter/leaven that was recently built, where the MOs are still very acitve and not stopped by putting it back into the fridge. To built an overnight leaven (about 12 - 16 hours) you can use 5% to 25% of starter.



  • On Friday PM, take 20g of refrigerated starter and mix it with 130g of flour and 130g of water. Let it sit at room temperature overnight.


  • On Saturday AM, take 280g of starter from the counter. Put 20g back to the fridge.
  • Bake with the remaining 260g as you said.



Muskie's picture

in so far as the levain is concerned (starter plus food), there's no need for that to take 3 days to work with.

I would also, however, suggest you make your dough ball (the rest of the ingredients other than the levain and salt) and autolyse. That is, mix together the remaining flour and water on Friday night and let that sit together in the fridge overnight. That should build some gluten strength in the bulk of the dough. When you mix that with the salt and levain on Saturday morning, it should feel silkier and closer to what you're looking for in your final proofs.

By the way, since you are going to repeatedly ferment your starter, keep in mind that it might get more and more sour. You might want to consider wiping some on a piece of parchment and let it dry at some point, say after you've made a really nice tasting loaf or you could find yourself making loaves that are too sour for your taste. Once dried on parchment, those pieces can then be frozen for an almost infinite amount of time (with no further feedings) and pulled out should you find your live starter getting too sour.

adri's picture

I assume, that if this happenes to you, there are some other problems with your starter.

A starter doesn't simply turn more sour by repeatedly feeding it. And fermenting is exactly what a starter should do.

Saving a starter always is a good idea though.

adri's picture

Maybe we can bake this bread "together"?

I won't have time this weekend but I could follow the exact formula with my starter during the following week and post pictures if you like?

scottv's picture

I appreciate the responses and technical information.  It is making me rethink my process.  I am basically trying to have dough ready to bake on Saturday morning/early afternoon.  I am fairly new to this (obviously) and it seemed that people build up the starter twice before using it to make bread - that's why I had two feedings before baking.  If you think it only needs one, I will drop the second feeding.

adri's picture

Two feedings will rise the activity/vitality of your starter.

If you just feed a little and the starter is at the edge of starvation, you would have to feed more often of course.

Once in a while (maybe once a month) you can do a feeding to enhance the vitality: 1 part starter + 2 parts water + 2 parts flour. Have it a bit over room temperature. If it peaks in 5 hours or less you can put it back in the fridge. If not: repeat.

It usually takes me just one cycle if I didn't totally neglected the starter for weeks. (Exam period and then 3 weeks of vacation).

To keep it a bit above room temperature, I put a teapot of boiling water together with the glass/bowl of starter into my (cold) oven.
Mini suggested to use just a cup of boiling water and put it next to the starter into the microwave. (make sure, nobody switches it on!)

BTW: As I posted last night, I decided to built some starter. I made a loaf very similar to your formula with my suggestions. The differences:

  • I used a sightly higher hydration (70% - 71%),
  • exchanged 100g of bread flour with whole wheat,
  • exchanged 25g of bread flour with cooked rye
  • and added 40g of soaked sunflower seeds.

It is currently in the oven. After 10 minutes the oven spring was fantastic.

I'll post a picture when it is done.

adri's picture

This is how the bread looks like

DavidEF's picture


The multiple feedings are not a problem, per se, but not really necessary either. What you need is an active starter, quality ingredients, and the timing worked out to fit your schedule. You never want to work with a refrigerated starter, if your timing is important to you. And you never want to work with a just-fed starter, because there is no activity in the flour and water you just added to it, just in the starter part, as DA said. Also, as Adrian said, you want to give your starter time to ferment a little before putting it in the fridge, not immediately refrigerating after feeding.

Here's how it might really go with the quantities you've started this post with. Times are approximate and will be affected by ambient temps.

30g refrigerated starter - to which you add 30g flour and 30g water. At my 70F ambient temp, with a good strong starter that has been refrigerated a week, this will take maybe 6 hours, give or take.

90g starter at room temp - to which you add 90g flour and 90g water. This will take maybe 4 hours.

270g starter at room temp - take 10g of this and add 10g flour and 10g water for a refrigerated starter. I would probably want to feed this a little more, but we're using your first numbers for comparison. Let this sit maybe 30 minutes and put back in fridge. Don't let it sit for too long, because it has a week of refrigeration ahead of it, but it needs some time to inoculate and begin to become active.

260g starter at room temp - add to this 400g flour and 220g water and 10g salt. This will probably take around 12 hours to completely ferment, if it were a starter. You don't want that, though, you want bread. So, mix it up, and let it sit 45 minutes, then do three stretch-and-folds 45 minutes apart, then shape it and let it proof. If you started in the morning, and the timings are anywhere near what I suggested (you will have to test this) then this will be an overnight proof, in which case, it should go into the fridge and can be baked in the morning. DA's advice about whether to bake from the fridge or let it sit a while at room temp before baking is where you are at this point.

Now, if you wanted to change these timings, to stretch them out, or shorten them down, you would change the feeding ratios, and/or the ambient temperatures. Feeding at a higher ratio (more food compared to starter) or fermenting at lower temps will stretch things out. Feeding at lower ratios or fermenting at higher temps will speed things up.

scottv's picture

I really appreciate everyone's info and I am creating a procedure for this weekend. 

Here is my weekly feeding this week of 30/30/30 after 7 hours.  Would you consider this ready to make bread?

Muskie's picture

I don't look only for bubbles, I look for rise in my starter to tell me its active. I look for a doubling of the starter within a reasonable period, say 2 hours or so. At the very least, you need some way to tell if it has peaked and started to fall. Given how much material you have on the sides of the bowl, I'm not sure how you'd tell if it has risen. I scrape the sides of my starter bowl every time I feed it. Using a straight sided container for these feedings too, as it makes determining the volume of rise easier to identify.

That all said, it certainly looks active.