The Fresh Loaf

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My Uneducated Method of Making Sourdough - please help me improve my method

Thumbpicker's picture

My Uneducated Method of Making Sourdough - please help me improve my method

Well maybe not uneducated but I have no idea how other people do it so I thought I'd outline what I do and see if anyone thinks it's wrong...

1. I start with 300g of 100% hydration starter. ie. 150g Bread Flour 150g Water. I keep that in fridge.

2. Double the starter to 600g and let that rise...

3. Double that to 1200g...

4. use 900g of the starter for the bread leaving 300g (yes these multiples get you back to the original amount of starter ready to start again.

Making the bread

5. Take the 900g of starter 

6. Add 170g water

7. Add 510g bread flour

8. 16g salt.

At this point you will have 620mls water and 960g flour in the mixture which is 40% water 60% flour (I used a spreadsheet).

Then I mix the starter water and fresh flour in a large stainless bowl. 

Knead it....

Then when it's kneaded I return it to a smaller stainless bowl and pop it in the fridge over night.

In the morning I punch it down, divide it into 15 rolls (105g each).

Then I let it rise for about 2 hours or so (until doubled)

I preheat my oven to 230 degrees C with a tray of boiling water at the bottom.

Then bake for 21 minutes (until brown on top).

Cool for 10 minutes before cutting a couple for lunch.

Additional Comments

This makes very consistent and nice bread rolls but it's not quite like artisan sough dough from the shops... Any improvements to my method would be greatly appreciated. Also I'm not using a small amount of starter to make a levain - I'm using a large amount of starter and I just throw it in a bowl with water and extra flour and stir it all together followed by a knead. There is no wastage of starter either.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

keep on rolling!  Dough Is just fine and easy to remember too.

To make a different "look" all that is needed is a few different tricks and ways to shape a loaf instead of rolls. When proofing the loaf, because there is more dough to lift in one place, a loaf should not be fully proofed or doubled. The feel should be firmer less puffy as rolls set and bake quicker.  A loaf will expand more as the heat works to the center so scoring is worth checking into.  What would you like loaf to look like?

Thumbpicker's picture

Maybe a little browner/crustier than they are turning out I suppose. One other thing is I'd love to have a bit more variety in terms of the type of texture/flour. Eg. Like Spelt or rye... It's just hard to find that type of flour in bulk like the large bags of regular bakers flour that are common here in Sydney. 

I'm getting a decent crumb but not as open as a professional sourdough bakery. The crumb is more like regular bread - it's still very nice though and not dense.

I am just cooking them on a tray in an electric oven - I'm not using cast iron cookware.

They do turn out brown but not like the pictures of sourdough cooked in cast iron.

foodforthought's picture


Sounds like your getting decent results with your large preferment method so I wouldn’t change that, but you might get a more open structure by upping your hydration to 70%+. You might also try losing the kneading and going to stretch and folds only. I’m pretty new to this as well, though I have a bread ninja wife who occasionally throws a tip my way. A few thoughts based on what I’ve been learning here from our doughy gurus...

I’d suggest you take a look at @dmsnyder’s awesome San Joaquin Sourdough recipe, especially for the clear 14 steps he lists. I’d also recommend reviewing Full Proof Baking’s How to Make a Basic Open Crumb Sourdough Bread video. I’ve lately been getting great results from a modified version of San Joaquin Sourdough, using 10-15% spelt, 72-75% hydration and occasionally some soaked bulgur wheat or steel cut oats. I never knead and I stretch/fold every 30 minutes or so (per @dmsnyder)with a lamination (extreme stretch and fold per Full Proof) step in place of the second stretch and fold.

Many many thanks to TFL contributors for their advice, successes and disasters.


Thumbpicker's picture

Thank you for the great suggestions. I have gone away and looked at the links and videos that were suggested and they are giving me great ideas for taking it to the next level. I'm quite excited about it.

That video showing the high hydration dough blew me away. It was incredibly zen but compared to what I do it was such a refined process. Incredible.