Classic Sourdough Bread: time steps in for added yeast.

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Sourdough bread.

For many, it’s the Mt. Everest of bread baking.

If you can “conquer” sourdough, there’s nothing you can’t do, bread-wise.

Not surprisingly, many new bread bakers want to jump right in and begin with sourdough. After all, it’s so distinctive; so delicious; so… well, trendy.

But tackling sourdough bread your first time out of the gate is like nosing into traffic on the Indianapolis 500 speedway when you’ve just gotten your learner’s permit.

Trust me – not a good idea.

Sourdough baking has a long (but ultimately simple) learning curve. If there was ever any process that should be taken one small step at a time, it’s baking sourdough bread.

First, you make your starter. Then, you feed it regularly until it’s strong and vigorous. These first two steps may take up to a week or more.

Then, and only then, do you bake bread.

Attention, sourdough newbies: don’t be discouraged. Our posts on creating your own starter and maintaining your starter take you step by step through the process.

Plus, if you run into a challenge along the way (a crevasse on the trail up Everest), our bakers’ hotline folks are ready to help – 802-649-3717.

Once you’re ready to bake, Rustic Sourdough Bread, with added yeast, is a pretty fail-safe way to start.

And once you’ve mastered THAT, you’re ready to plant your banner on the Summit of Sourdough:

The classic sourdough loaf, leavened simply with the starter you’ve been so lovingly feeding and growing – no Red Star, no SAF, just your own wild yeast.

So, whether you’re a seasoned sourdough trekker looking for a chewy, moist, richly flavored loaf of “natural” sourdough; or a sourdough neophyte who’s ready to take your baking above treeline, enjoy this recipe.

We call it Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread, but that’s really a misnomer. Extra-flavorful would be closer to the mark; because there’s nothing like the nuanced, complex flavor of sourdough bread made simply with flour, water, salt, starter… and time.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our gridded photos.

First, make sure your starter has been fed, and is good and vigorous: if not ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it should at least be prepared to raise bread dough all by itself – without the benefit of added yeast.

Place 1 cup (about 8 ounces) fed, vigorous sourdough starter in a bowl.

Add 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, and 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Beat vigorously.

Cover, and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours. Then refrigerate overnight, or for about 12 hours.

The dough will expand a bit during its overnight rise, but don’t expect it to go crazy. You may see some large, lumpy bubbles trying to emerge – kind of like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Add 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 1/4 teaspoons salt.

Mix and knead to form a smooth, satiny dough. The dough may seem dry at first; but keep kneading.

It’ll eventually become very stretchy (albeit still a tiny bit sticky), and will have a lovely sheen.

Allow the dough to rest in a covered bowl until it’s relaxed, smoothed out, and expanded somewhat. Depending on the vigor of your starter, it may become REALLY puffy; or it may just rise a bit. This can take anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.

Understand this: sourdough bread (especially sourdough without added yeast) is as much art as science; everyone’s timetable will be different. So please allow yourself to go with the flow, and not treat this as an exact, to-the-minute process.

Gently divide the dough in half. Shape it into two oval loaves, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 2 to 4 hours. Don’t worry if the loaves spread more than they rise; they’ll pick up once they hit the oven’s heat.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Gently spritz or brush the loaves with lukewarm water…

…and quickly give each one three 1/2″ to 3/4″-deep slashes, diagonally across the top surface.

This is scary, I know; you think you’re going to deflate your lovely loaves.

Guess what? You will. But if you get them into the hot oven IMMEDIATELY, they’ll pick right back up.

Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until its interior registers at least 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.

The loaves may brown beautifully.

On the other hand, depending on how long you’ve let the dough/shaped loaves rise, they may brown very little.

Why does sourdough bread often not brown as well as a standard, non-sourdough loaf?

Well, while the dough is going through its prolonged rises, lactobacilli has been helpfully converting starch in the flour into simple sugars for the yeast to consume. Eventually, though, the yeast has been working in the dough for so long, it consumes just about all the sugar there is.

Which means there’s none left for caramelization on the loaf’s surface: browning.

If they appear to be browning insufficiently for your taste, and you don’t mind a bit of oil, remove them from the oven with about 5 minutes left in their baking time. Brush or spray with olive oil, and return to the oven.

The loaf on the left is untouched by oil; the one on the right, sprayed with olive oil. Your choice.

Here’s the loaf without oil. It’s not a deep golden brown, but hey, it is what it is – sourdough.

Cool completely before cutting.

Nice crumb, eh? Love the big holes.

You’ll find this loaf is very chewy, somewhat dense, and nicely moist.

Best way to store this bread: cut-side down on the counter.

That’s right – no bag, no refrigerator. It’ll stay pretty fresh for several days. If it feels weird not bagging it (or if you fear the cat may give it a lick), place it in a bag, paper or plastic, but don’t seal it up; sealing will turn the crust rubbery.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread.

Print just the recipe.

Note: for added sour tang, try adding 1/2 teaspoon to 5/8 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid) to the dough.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. marcin

    I’ve been making this bread every week for the past three months, and I’ve learned a lot. One thing I learned from you on some other post is to add flour 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough has the right amount, not too much and not too little. I now have control over the process. And I use the paddle attachment on my mixer for a minute or so both days to make sure the dough ingredients are mixed well. Sometimes I have to add more water, sometimes more flour. Also, I now make it in 8 1/2 by 5 inch loaf pans so we can get the slices into the toaster. Also, with great success, I have been combining the two recipes that came with my starter. So I do everything the way you have written here, but I add 2 teaspoons of instant yeast the second day because my dough was not rising without it. I’m wondering, hoping, that the problem was the dry winter air and that now that it is warmer and more humid, I won’t need the yeast the second day. We’ll see next week. I have been making bread for over thirty years, and this is spectacular. The flavor and texture are so wonderful. Now we are waiting for our homegrown tomatoes. What a perfect sandwich that will be! Thank you, PJH and KAF. Your instructions make it so easy and successful.

    And thank YOU, Marcin, for carrying on the great cultural tradition of bread-baking. Sounds like you’ve become a seasoned sourdough baker; it’s certainly interesting, isn’t it? A little tweak here, a little change there, and you can produce subtle changes in your bread. Glad we could be a small part of your journey. PJH

    Reply
  2. fredericahuxley

    You are absolutely right: You have to be comfortable with bread making before attempting sourdough! The timings all change with the seasons, and the different flours used, and you have to just go with the flow, and let the dough tell you when to proceed to the next step. It is such a satisfaction, making sourdough bread, and it is the way that bread was made for millenia – no timings, no yeast, no oven temperatures – just the incredible fusion of water, flour and salt. My particular pleasure is to convert recipes back to sourdough.

    So beautifully put, Frederica – sounds like you’ve really embraced the sourdough spirit… Thanks for your words here. PJH

    Reply
  3. lowneyshopping

    Could you explain the ‘brushing with lukewarm water’ step? That is not on the directions which come with your sourdough starter, so it confused me.

    Thanks!

    Everyone’s different in their approach to sourdough; there’s no one right or wrong way. I like to brush my shaped loaf with warm water because my theory is that the water will 1) keep the crust just moist enough that it doesn’t set until it’s done rising fully; and 2) will create steam as it evaporates, creating a crisp/crackly crust. Try it and see if you like it – PJH

    Reply
  4. Candace

    Recipe looks good but it sure isn’t Heirloom Tomato Pasta Salad. I clicked on today’s KAF email (yummy looking photo!) “see how it’s done” and got this!

    I know – has to do with when each blog is published. Unfortunately, there was a mixup with when the pasta salad blog was published (several weeks ago). Long story short – sorry about that! PJH

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  5. Candace

    Without having used this recipe I have to comment. Sourdough is the most wonderful stuff! We have been using our starter for nearly 40 years, since we got the starter packet while living in San Francisco. It is so forgiving, which is not the general comment one hears about sourdough starter. We have forgotten it for months in the back of the fridge, freshen it up, and off she goes! We don’t use it much in the summer, but winters in our house involve sourdough bread, pancakes, waffles and so much more.

    I agree, Candace – my sourdough must feel pretty abused at times, but some TLC seems to bring it back to health just fine… PJH

    Reply
  6. JuliaJ

    Your recipe for pane francese makes a very similar loaf, using a lump of “old dough” as a starter, and no pre-bake slashing. I find it simpler to hold back a ball of dough for the next loaf than to maintain a starter. As with this recipe, the long rise is essential–I’ve rushed the 3-step rise for a pane francese from start to end in 8 hours but it’s a much better loaf with a 12-18 hour total rise time.

    Julia, thanks for the reminder – that pane francese recipe is indeed a good one… PJH

    Reply
  7. meganpcannella

    I’ve been making this bread for several months now. It comes out differently every time. My big question is: after you let the starter, flour and water sit overnight, you add 5C more flour the next day. Do you then add more water? I’ve found it impossible *not* to add more water…up to 1.5cups. Is this a huge no-no? I’m mixing this bread on my own–no mixer.
    Thanks for the advice and fantastic website and recipes!

    Megan, if the bread’s texture seems right to you, then I guess you’re managing to balance your flour and water, somehow. The recipe as written (1 cup fairly liquid starter, 1 1/2 cups to 1 2/3 cups water) makes a dough with a minimum hydration of about 63% – which is about average (not too stiff, not too soft). If you add an additional 1 1/2 cups water, that would bring your hydration up over 100% – which is basically pourable liquid. Are you using King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, rather than bread flour? Are you measuring your flour by weight (5 cups = 21 1/4 ounces), or by the “sprinkle and sweep” method? I’m guessing either you’re using a high protein flour, or measuring it differently than we do here. You may want to speak to the folks on our baker’s hotline about this – a two-way dialogue might get to the bottom of this more quickly than posting here… So give ‘em a call, OK? 802-649-3717. Thanks for connecting here – PJH

    Reply
    1. SkiIdahonorthsouth

      If you are adding 5 cups the second day, you have mis-read the recipe…

      Starter, water, 3 cups (of the total of 5 cups) flour sits overnight.

      Then, the next day…

      Add the remaining ingredients including approx. 2 cups of flour to get a 5 cup total. It might need +/- a little bit and is indeed effected by humidity. But the +/- will be less than 1/2 cup usually.

  8. glpruett

    I made sourdough weekly for many years, and then got out of the habit. When I saw this post last week, I thought it would be great fun to make a couple of loaves of sourdough, sans added yeast, to complement my Father’s Day gift to my husband of a grill pan and press. What a sandwich!

    The results were fantastic! I must admit that I wasn’t too optimistic when I saw those two roughly-oval-shaped lumps lying there on my parchment paper lined pan, but when I slashed it and put it in the hot oven, the oven spring I got was incredible! It probably would have been even more impressive if I had remembered to spritz the dough with the warm water prior to putting the bread in the oven, but mistakes just HAPPEN! At any rate, the bread had a fantastic tang, chewy crumb, and was beautiful to boot! Thanks again!

    Reply
  9. pmartin

    I think the problem meganpcannella may be having is by adding an additional 5C of flour on the second day. Wouldn’t it be 3C first then an additional 2 the next?

    You’re absolutely right – I completely spaced on that detail of what she wrote. Thanks so much, I’ve rewritten that recipe step to make it clearer. Sometimes it takes a community to write a recipe! PJH

    Reply
  10. pschapman

    The may seem like a really simple question but can you give any tips (or links to tips) for shaping an oval loaf? All the tutorials I see are for boules and batards. I have baked this recipe several times but always end up shaping as 2 boules because it’s what I feel comfortable with. I’ve been reluctant to mess around with something new because the dough always seems very “fragile”. Thanks!
    I found just what you are looking for here. ~Amy

    Reply
  11. ImADoughDoughBird

    My first screaming success with a sourdough recipe – I’d been trying and trying and faithfully tending to my starter, but every loaf had something wrong. I had almost changed my mind about sourdough and resigned myself to making all bread in the house except for sourdough. I thought maybe my plants would appreciate the starter I had left as a nice nutritious meal, and I would wash my hands of this whole sourdough business. Until these two beautiful loaves came along and changed my mind BACK and I’m right back where I belong – on the sourdough wagon! DELICIOUS – crusty – tangy – holes where there should be holes and none where there shouldn’t…maybe it had a little to do with all the practice but I’m giving the recipe the credit! Thank you!!!

    I am SO GLAD this worked out for you! We love reading about our customers’ successes, so thanks so much for sharing here. And – enjoy your newfound status as a sourdough expert. :) PJH

    Reply
  12. Tall_Hall

    I bake non-sour dough bread using a clay pot to achieve an artisan crust. Is this possible/necessary with the sour dough recipe?
    Yes, you could use your clay pot for just about any bread. Let us know how it comes out! Elisabeth

    Reply
  13. Renee G.

    I live at 6,800 ft and am curious about any changes I should make to this recipe for high altitude?

    I’ve got a starter going and it will be ready to bake with in about 4 days.
    Hi Renee
    We have a wonderful chart for high altitude adjustments on our site. It tells you what to change, how to change it and why. It’s an excellent resource for our fellow bakers in the clouds. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. Emma

    I’m in the middle of my second attempt at this recipe. The first try wasn’t bad, the loaves just didn’t rise much in baking, so they came out more like sourdough flat breads (very tasty, though). In re-reading the recipe, I wonder if I should have let them rise another hour before baking or if my terrible NYC apartment oven with no window wasn’t yet hot enough. I also have a couple of questions: 1.) When you knead the dough, do you do a full-on kneading session, or is this more of a gentle incorporation of the ingredients? I can’t tell how long or vigorous the kneading should be from the recipe or blog posting. 2.) When you shape the loaves, do you punch the dough down first or do you try to preserve the bubbliness by handling it gently? Thanks!

    Sourdough is a real learning experience, Emma – you may try letting the loaves rise more next time; and you might also try letting the dough rise LESS prior to shaping, as it’s possible the flatness comes from the gluten having become so tenderized by the sourdough’s acids over time, it just starts to give up the ghost… The kneading should be full on; knead as you would any yeast dough. And I never punch dough down; I gently (but thoroughly) deflate it. Doing this expels the CO2 and gives the yeast new oxygen to “breathe.” Please call our hotline, 802-649-3717, if you’d like an easier way to back-and-forth about sourdough bread. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  15. Ann

    I’m trying this out for the first time, but my starter’s been really vigorous so I have my fingers crossed.

    I’ve halved the recipe since I wanted to just try it with one loaf of bread.

    So I’ve just added the first portion of flour–1.5 cups for me–along with the water and the starter. My dough is…doughy. Relatively stiff in that it maintains it shape overall. Is this what I’m going for or next time should I try adding more water? The picture you have posted looks pretty watery.

    Also, tips on what to cover it with? I need to buy saran wrap…so currently I’ve just been putting a pan over the bowl as a lid.

    If the dough seems rather stiff (and not elastic and stringy like the pictures), you can add a few tablespoons of water to loosen it up and knead another few minutes to get it incorporated. It is also possible that the dough wasn’t quite done kneading (but again, a little extra water is FAR better than too little!). To cover, a pan lid will work great! I also use a (clean!) shower cap as it fits most any round vessel in my kitchen!! With a stiffer dough, you’ll likely to let it rise longer in order to get it up to that “doubled” stage–a stiffer dough requires more time since the yeast can’t move around quite as well. Hopefully this helps! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  16. Barbara

    This was my first attempt at making bread…I actually sprouted some wheatberries and rye, dehydrated them, and ground into flour… and mixed with water kefir for a sourdough starter. I was excited..and did not wait long enough…so my bread is very dense..but VERY tasty….i followed your directions after the starter….and added your unbleached flour. I generally don’t eat bread..am a raw vegan chef – but have wanted to try sprouting my own grains and using water kefir for sour dough starter. Anyone ever do this? I’m having a hard time finding good instructions for amounts…so I just used half rye flour(sprouted) and half wheat. for starter.

    When subbing recipe ingredients it’s good to do them one at a time – then if the recipe results are poor, you can pinpoint the culprit. This may be a terrific topic for the community part of this website. There are some other threads there that may be helpful in your quest. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  17. Brigit

    I made sourdough bread in Spain for three years when I lived there in the early nineties, using a starter created from Carol Field’s excellent book “The Italian Baker,” I was limited with the flour I could get, but my results were spectacular, once I learned about my starter. Since then, um, I’ve been too busy. Now, I’m back! The embarrassment of riches available via mail-order here in the USA makes me curious but almost like a kid in a candy store – unable to decide. I mistakenly ordered a large quantity of active dry yeast (from KAF), for those times when I wasn’t confident enough in the naked starter. But, I don’t want to have to proof it in warm water. I see that most recipes call for instant/quick-rise, if yeast is needed. With the long ferment time, will active dry yeast eventually become, um, active? Even if it’s mixed in with the room-temp starter and flour? Or, should my water addition be quite hot?
    Definitely avoid hot water, as you don’t want to kill off the yeast. The active dry will definitely take longer to get up and running, and it can throw off your proofing times. I’d really say stick with the proofing step if you can. As little as 10 minutes of pre-planning can keep your recipe on track, rather than having to play catch-up while you wait for your yeast. ~ MaryJane

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  18. Julianne

    I’d tried making sourdough bread twice with other recipes and they turned out flat and horrible. This recipe, on the other hand… wow, what a revelation! The instructions were spot on and it was so helpful to have the photos as a reference point. As you suggested, as soon as I slashed my loaf (I halved the quantities and made one boule), it flattened to only an inch high but after two minutes in the oven it had risen incredibly.

    I expected the crust to be quite thick and crisp, but it was soft and chewy (still nice!), even though I left it to cool in the turned-off oven to evaporate any remaining moisture (internal temperature 200F). I thought that spraying with water, adding steam etc was done to get a crisp crust, but this is obviously not the case, so how would I achieve that result, please?

    Steam does indeed help with creating a great crust. However, I find that if you do not allow the steam to escape once the bread begins to brown then the extra moisture will soften the crust. This can be done by simply opening the oven for a few seconds to allow the steam to escape!-Jon

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  19. eselleme

    So this was my first whack at sourdough ever. I know, you guys advised for this not to be the first sourdough to take on, but I was feeling confident! Honestly, it paid off! I made the first batch over the weekend and both loaves were gone within 24 hours from when they came out of the oven. I used my Zo for when I mixed/kneaded everything in and my second rise and it came out beautifully. Awesome sour, tangy flavor with a great, thick crust.
    The second batch I made this week and added garlic and rosemary. I brushed the top with a tiny bit of garlic oil in the last 5 or so minutes then sprinkled with sea salt. Wow, this was AMAZING. I’m saving one loaf for Christmas dinner!
    In case anyone can use this tip: I’m having trouble proofing things in my drafty kitchen. I actually proofed them in my oven. I took a pot of boiling water and put it on the bottom rack. I put my shaped loaves on the top rack then shut the door quickly. I turned the oven to 400 degrees and started it, and turned it off once the preheat was on for a minute in a half. I left the oven door shut until they were proofed. This worked out great! I also baked them with a pan of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven to get a nice, hard crust on the bottom to create steam :)
    Thanks for posting this, I loved the detailed instructions for someone who is a beginner at sourdough.

    Wow, great job – as you say, this is a challenge for beginners, but it sounds like you pulled it off wonderfully well. Thanks for the tips, too – so helpful to others following this recipe. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  20. oliverhsg

    Do you recommend kneading in a mixer or by hand–or a certain combination of both? In the photos, it appears as if the dough is always in a mixer bowl. I figure you KAF folks have some pretty great equipment but my KitchenAid could handle it. However, I just made my KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer overheat and release some pretty acrid smelling smoke (!) by kneading the extra-tangy dough. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!

    Oh my! That sounds like your dough might have been too stiff while mixing–the pictures above show how supple and slack the dough should be. Your mixer should not struggle while beating and kneading this particular recipe; rather, the dough stays quite “loose”. Perhaps try working only on very low speeds–I usually never take my mixer beyond the 3rd power setting with doughs–and ensuring your dough is as slack as ours is (a bit more water might do the trick!). Best, Kim@KAF

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  21. kaf-sub-kimat32779

    I have made this recipe many times and all have turned out quite tasty and get a good oven spring and nice crumb using the tips in the blog. I have a couple of nagging questions about dough temperature. After you put the super starter in the fridge overnight – do you finish the dough cold right out of the fridge or let it come to room temp? I have made mine right out of the fridge and still have it double in less than 5 hours but the dough is still pretty cool. I have read recipes that say the dough should be at 78 degrees after kneading. Second question: After shaping into loaves – if you retard the second rise in the fridge for a day or two – ideally how long should it “proof” before baking? I let mine proof a couple of hours after shaping and before putting into the fridge and let them proof after taking them out until they start to be “puffy”. Thanks!
    Thank you for trying this recipe! After the overnight rest, you may mix the dough straight out of the frig. If the loaves are retarding in the frig for that amount of time, I advise to put the loaves in the oven right from the frig. However, if what you are doing is working (nice oven spring and color) by all means, continue. The extended rise time can be a concern for 2 reasons. If over risen the loaf may spread out rather than up while baking. Also, an extended rise time could effect the caramelizing. The yeast consumes all the sugars if given the chance! Elisabeth

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  22. Emily, Grass Valley CA

    Question related to the relative liquidity of the starter. I received some for Christmas (yay!) & the KAF recipe says to “pour a cup”…it MIGHT pour, if I stayed a while, but it’s a pretty gooey starter. I know it’s alive & well (having successfully baked some bread with it), but when I’m using the Super Sour recipe (no extra yeast), there is no way that I can add the full amount of flour. I start out okay, but after the 12 hour slow rising, it calls for 2 more cups flour…the most I’ve gotten in is 1, maybe 1 1/4. I’ve let the dough warm up after removing from the fridge, but that doesn’t really change things.
    Is my starter perhaps too stiff? And what can I do about it?
    Congratulations on your new starter, Emily! All you have to do is bump the water amount in your next feeding if you would like it to be more runny. Your starter is probably very happy with all that extra food (flour) but boosting the hydration will not hurt it a bit. As you noticed, the thicker the starter, the less flour you may need in a given recipe. I am glad you did not try to force the full amount in the recipe! Often our baking decisions are based on “feel” and “appearance.” Happy Baking! Elisabeth

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  23. bcorrigan

    I am new at making the sour dough bread. I made the rustic loafs a few times and they came out great. I then wanted to try the extra-tangy. To my shagrin, I fed the sour dough the night before and was ready to start at 10:00 a.m. I added the proof and the 3 cups of flour, let it sit for a few hours but then was instructed to leave in refridgerator over night or 12 hours. This would take me to 3 a.m. I had to leave for work in the morning so I left it in the refridgerator until I get home from work. Will it still be usable or do I need to restart. What is the best timing to make this bread and do it in a reasonable amount of time, not 3 days? Thanks, Brenda

    Brenda, 3 days is what gives it the extra-sour flavor and the good rise, without added yeast. Not knowing your schedule, I’d suggest doing it around a weekend would work better than weekdays. You can speed each resting time up a bit to fit your schedule, but you’ll be sacrificing a bit of both rise and tangy flavor. As with any sourdough bread, experimentation is key – it’s flexible, and you simply have to discover what works best for your schedule, with your starter, in your kitchen. Sorry I can’t be more specific’ but sourdough, esp. sourdough without added yeast, simply doesn’t work like that… PJH

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  24. Wrangell_Dale

    OOOooopps!
    I added the 2 Cups of flour, sugar and salt BEFORE the 12 hour rise in the fridge. I missed that line. Did I kill it? It’s going in the fridge while awaiting the bad news.
    Grumble, grumble…I should learn to read…

    I’ll bet it’ll be just fine, Dale – the rising times might be thrown off a bit, but persevere – I’m guessing you’ll end up with a good loaf of bread in the end. PJH

    Reply
  25. Wrangell_Dale

    I was amazed! My messed up sponge actually made great bread. Not as sour as I want, but it was tall, beautifully browned, crunchy/chewy top crust and chewy sides and bottom crust. A nice crumb, a little moist inside, but only 3-4 minutes shy of perfection.
    I’ll try my technique again this weekend but with adding the salt, sugar and final 2 cups of flour at the right time!
    Can I post some photos of my first sourdough bread in 30 years?

    You are welcome to send them along to our Bakers email OR post on the Community part of the site! To increase the sourness of your starter, you can feed it with half-AP flour and half-whole wheat (or rye) flour. This will boost the nutrients to the yeast and get them super active! Also, you would want to bake your bread to a minimum internal temperature of 190F . If the crust is fully browned before the middle is done, simply tent the loaf with foil and keep baking until the temperature inside reaches that 190F! Best, Kim@KAF

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  26. captlynhall

    I have made five loaves of sourdough bread over the past 4 weeks. I use only my starter, no baker’s yeast and bake them in my dutch oven. They come out looking beautiful, taste good, have a nice crispy crust, but the crumb feels a bit rubbery to the touch. My recipe says to cook until the internal temperature is 210 degrees, but I have never been able to get to that. About 205 is the most. Could the crumb be that consistency because it is not being baked long enough to reach 210 inside?

    Sounds to me like you might try taking the cover off your Dutch oven sooner; a rubbery interior is often the sign of too much steaming. You might also try not baking in the Dutch oven at all, unless the dough is so soft it needs the support… Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  27. mikeoak840

    I have two beautiful loaves of this sourdough bread doing their last 2-4 hour rise before a few quick slashes and into the oven. I haven’t made sourdough in YEARS, but the feel, the look and so forth of this bread appears to be fantastic. I’m not sure if it’s YOUR sourdough starter, your bread flour, dumb luck or some mystic combination of the three, but I can already tell this is a winner.

    One thing I noted – the instructions here on the website and those on the back of the starter instruction sheet differ. Some of the rise/rest times are different, the instruction sheet doesn’t include spritzing or brushing the loaves with water just before slashing & baking, and so forth. When I sat down and fired up the computer, I thought I’d perhaps goofed. I know it will all come out in the end, but getting the instruction sheet and website in sync as much as possible would, I’m sure, be helpful for other bakers.

    In looking at some of the reviews here on the website and the recipe here, it appears some things have changed – the recipe above says bake to an internal temperature of 190, but a 2/12/2013 post says their recipe says 210 degrees…and the baker is only able to get it to 205. Another post says 190 degrees minimum. This will be the first time I’ve baked bread to a certain internal temperature – in the past it’s been time and look. Again – I’m sure it’s all going to work out fine in the end.

    Mike, sourdough is SO flexible that it can become confusing. Let me check with our customer service team about the “starter instruction sheet” – I’m not sure what that is or what it says, but I’ll find out. As for the 2/12 review, my impression was the writer was citing a different recipe, not the one here in this blog. I like to bake any dense, whole-grain loaves to a higher temperature, but sourdough is usually light-textured enough that I keep it between “at least 190°F” (as the recipe says) and 200°F. I’m betting your bread is going to come out just fine… welcome back to sourdough baking! PJH

    Reply
  28. traisi69468

    Terrible outcome. Flat, thick crunchy crust that is not easy to break, doesn’t cook on the inside and no rise. Flavor was terrible, no sourdough taste at all, just a bit of tang is all. I used KAF sourdough starter which was very active. 2 days of work for these paperweights and several dollars of expensive KAF flour wasted.
    I am so sorry this was not a good experience for you! Sourdough can be a challenge and we certainly understand these challenges. We want to help and would really love for you to call and speak to one of our bakers. We are not able to compensate for your time but can for the materials. Our toll free number is 1-855-371-2253 and are here every day until 9pm during the week and 5pm on weekends. You’ll be back in the saddle soon! Elisabeth

    Reply
  29. kkmbakes

    How much flexibility is there in the rise and fermentation times e.g. Can I feed the starter for 16 hours instead of 12 hours? Can I leave the first dough in the fridge for 20 hours instead of 12 house? And so on. I can understand that the times given should be minimum times, but are they maximum times too?

    Waiting for the prescribed times can restrict your daily schedule.

    Sure, give anything you want a try. You’ll figure out how to adjust to your schedule as you go along. Since none of us has tested every variation, every time you bake it’s research: record what you do, and the results. That way, you’ll soon find your “sweet spot” of rise/temperature/flavor. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  30. M&M

    I’ve been baking sourdough bread for over a year, but it has been a very hitty missy affair!.. However thanks to your wonderful site I have gained a lot of knowledge i.e. why we need to divide the starter, how rye flour will revive a starter that was decidely unwell and the photos are such a great help, as well. Now I have a question – is it possible to plait sourdough? I have tried previously, but I think “disaster” would be the word to describe my efforts. I think that what I want is a challah recipe with a sourdough riser. By the way, I don’t use sugar in my recipe, I use agave syrup. Thanks again for a really wonderful site.

    To work with extra-sticky doughs, especially a sourdough-challah, I suggest checking out our no-knead challah recipe. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/08/12/the-no-knead-beat-goes-on-easy-challah/ It shows how to braid the dough even with it being very sticky. You could use the no-knead recipe for challah and swap 2-3 cups of flour+1-1.5 cups water for 2 cups of sourdough starter (unfed starter would be best, I think, to keep the dough from rising too quickly initially). Keep the rest of the ingredients the same and be sure the dough texture is very sticky when mixed. Also, check the dough as it rises since the sourdough starter might give the dough some extra rising power! If you notice the dough rising too quickly, simply punch it down once or twice during the first rise to keep it under control. Please send any questions on if you still need some pointers! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  31. Ann

    The recipe that came with the starter did not mention the parchment — is that just an extra precaution?

    The Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread recipe advises to use lightly greased OR parchment lined baking sheet for the shaped loaves – you know we love the parchment covered sheets for the ease of clean up! Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

    Reply
  32. Gambles

    Thank you so much for this blog and the recipe. I read everything I could find before my first attempt at a sourdough only risen loaf! My poor starter has been used for quite a few unfed recipes (the soft rolls are my favorite), but eventually I just got lazy and missed several weekly feedings. So…. more reading to refresh my mind and out on the counter it came to be “rebooted.” Since I spent 3 days feeding it twice a day, that seemed the perfect time to try this recipe since my sourdough was vigorously overflowing the crock! I followed all your directions. I was terrified when I had to “gently form loaves” but I soldiered on. My overnight was more like 18 hours, my next rise was 4 hours, and my last was also 4 which brought my to bread being ready for dinner – which was just a lucky coincidence!

    2 ? though: Hopefully I didn’t miss of forget this from my reading, but since I can’t find the answers I’ll ask:
    1: Why do I have to wait for the bread to cool completely? Warm is so much more fun! :)
    2: I used a loaf pan for one of the loaves. The crust is, of course, not as hard, but the shape is much more convenient. Since the crust is softer, would that affect storage? Should it be wrapped, bagged, or still just left with the cut side down on the counter?

    Thanks so very much for all this help. I decided to tackle yeast baking about 8 months ago. I’m disabled so I can only bake when my body allows my too which is a problem with multi day recipes. Still with every recipe I have tried, and there have been a lot, THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST!!

    Oh sorry, another question: Where is your sourdough starter originally from? Since I know they taste different from all different places, I was shocked when this bread tastes exactly like SAN FRANCISCO sourdough bread!

    Thanks again,
    Suzanne

    Great questions Suzanne. Here are my responses:
    1.) Waiting for the bread to cool completely allows the crumb to set fully. When the loaf gets pulled from the oven, the starches have fully gelatinized but haven’t had a chance to cool and set into their shape. Thus, when you attempt to slice the warm bread, you often “mush” the bread down and it can turn out squished pretty flat! Best to cool completely and then slice it up (warming them after if you wish) or cool the loaf, re-warm a bit and slice to serve.
    2.)The bread baked in a pan will show a sign of softer crust because the pan insulates the dough as it bakes, trapping in more moisture. If this moisture remains in the loaf after you pull it from the oven, you will have a soft crust and perhaps a pretty damp bread inside. Next time, you may want to tip the loaf out of the pan when it is done baking, and place it in the turned-off oven to dry it a bit and set the crust better–I’d keep it in for 5-8 minutes, being sure to check that it doesn’t burn if the oven was really hot!

    The softer crust (i.e. damp loaf) will mold quickly, especially if you store the loaf in plastic. I always keep my bread loaves cut-side down in a heavy paper bag (a clean paper grocery bag is best!).

    3.) Our sourdough starter comes from a starter first created in the 1700′s in New England. I was told it actually belonged to one of the former owners of King Arthur Flour, the Sands family! The starter will certainly take on the yeast spores of your home environment, so do be aware that it will evolve over time as it gets fed and used. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  33. Ann

    I love love love this recipe. Has anyone used it for rolls? Any other uses for this slow rise technique? I guess it would make a pretty spongy pizza crust…
    Hi Ann,
    Have you checked out the no-knead recipes we have online? You can do so much with no-knead doughs, it’s great! ~ MJ

    Reply
  34. LiseB

    Wow, I have to tell my bread story – inspired by landing on this recipe page.
    I lived in Vermont (East Dover) from ’79 to ’89. Bought 10 acres, built a house, had 2 kids, baked all our own bread, pizza dough, etc. My motto was, if ya want good bread ya gotta do it yourself. I have to have good bread.

    Then I discovered Hamelman’s bakery in Brattleboro. My epitaph was shot. So was my drive to bake bread while raising two young children. I no longer had to! One day while there, I had a funny feeling I’d seen the gal waiting on me before. It didn’t take long to realize we had gone to grade school/high school together in upstate NY! Small world.

    Fast forward: have been living in Boulder, CO since 1994. As a teacher, I have time in the summer to follow inspirations, and I was hit with the sourdough bread bug. Researching online, I discovered starter from Ischia, Italy. What!!! I lived there as a child on this small island for half a year. I even took my husband there, and we went to my old house. Who’d have known they had their own sourdough starter! Small world. So of course I ordered some.

    I found a recipe on a good website, and once I gave birth to Luigi, my vigorous sourdough, I launched my first bread in years. But frisky as Luigi is, I wasn’t patient enough, and could have donated my first loaf to a discus thrower. I read some more, and landed on this page. My first loaf – about 4 hours from baking, (but we’ll see)…looks very promising. As I was reading down the list of authors, I saw – what? Jeffrey Hamelman? Could it be…MUST be. I read his bio on the KA site, and yes, it IS! Small world! And bread karma makes that world go round. My new motto/epitaph: Life is too short to eat bad bread. Cheers to all you bread people, and especially to Jeff Hamelman who has NO idea who I am :-)

    Regardless of whether or not Jeffrey knows you, this is a fantastic story! In terms of mastering sourdough, it really comes from trial and error/success! If you ever happen to come back to Vermont, you should certainly stop by and see if Jeffrey is in–I’m sure he’d love to hear this right from you. Final note: the more you bake, the more adept you will become at creating wild yeast breads. Practice makes better, not necessarily perfect! Let the wild (yeast) rumpus start!! Happy Baking, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  35. SonitaClaire

    Have tried this recipe twice. Followed recipe as best I can. both times no oven spring. My bread is as flat as a ciabatta (may be even flatter). The taste and texture were great, though. My dough was rather wet. Could this be the problem? Should I bake it in a dutch oven/ clay pot? Would that help? Any thoughts?

    It’s probably a shaping thing…..for best advice – call our Baker’s Hotline at 855-371-2253 or check the Baker’s Companion cookbook on page 281 for “shaping boules”. You can shape ovals or rounds and they should spring up fine both in the shaped rise and in the oven. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  36. LisaB

    My loafs are on their 2nd rise, but I’m just not real confident about them. Sour dough is very different than regular yeast baking…and I’m just not confident in reading the signs. My starter was very vigorous, bubbly and tangy smelling. When I put the dough in the fridge last night for the overnight rise, I was on top of the world. It looked just like the pictures this morning. And there’s where I started questioning myself. Mix in all 2 cups of flour at one time? In the stand mixer or with a spoon. Look at the video again. Not the same recipe. Put it in the mixer with hook. Knead. It was no where as loose as the pics! But it did spring back like the video said, even if it was really stiff. I let it rise for 3hrs….it did puff up, so I divided and shaped. It’s still a very firm dough….not at all soft like the pictures. We’ll see later after this final rise and baking, but something tells me I’m going to have a nice tangy,heavy, pack-ey two loafs of bread.:((

    Lisa: yeast bread recipes should always be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended): you should always feel free to adjust a dough by adding a bit of flour or water to get the right texture. NEVER assume that the way a recipe is written is exactly how it will perform when it comes to bread. There are simply too many factors that can get in the way: humidity, temperature, air pressure, altitude, etc. Even the way you measure flour one day can vary the next. If you noticed the dough was too stiff and not looking like the pictures, you have freedom to add some water (2-3 Tbs to start) to get the dough to the right texture. At this point, you might do best to use that dough to make some buttery sourdough rolls OR some cheesy rolls with the dough Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  37. terri

    I made this bread yesterday and have, what appears to be two very pretty, but very dense, loaves of bread. They didn’t appear to rise much after I shaped them… maybe not at all. Question – between the second rise and the shaping, should I have punched down the dough at all? I simply cut the dough in two and shaped.

    Great questions, sourdough baker! With sourdough it’s sometimes best to fold (in thirds like a business letter) instead of knead. Shaping the bread is also important. There are some great tips on the video page of our website (Baking Skills, Sourdough Bread: shaping and baking the bread). Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  38. DailyBread

    Thank you for an excellent recipe! This bread turned out beautifully despite a number of first-timer mishaps along the way. (First starter from scratch, first sourdough, first overnight rise…)

    I used the maximum given rising time for each stage, and put the rising dough in a lightly warmed oven (set to WARM 5 seconds, then off, prior to using). Sometime I’d like to try this with honey, molasses, or maple syrup as yeast food instead of white sugar.

    Kudos to you on your inaugural sourdough experience! I hope you have many more enjoyable journeys. Substitute any sweetener you like – all are fine. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Tom, thank YOU for choosing to invite us into your kitchen and (virtually) stand beside you as you bake. There’s no “just” in being a home baker; creating something using your hands and heart, then sharing with others, is truly a gift. Enjoy – PJH

  39. Anu Nigam

    I bought the Artisan bread baking crock and Dutch oven from your website and would like to use it for this recipe. Could you please tell me how?- as in when to keep the lid on and when to take it off?also, will the temp and time for baking vary?
    Looking forward to hearing from you and using my bread baking crock!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can create that brick oven effect by baking in a covered baker – use the recipe temp. and time as a guideline. Keep the lid on for the baker – and remove the last 10 minutes to brown the top of the bread. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  40. Judy Testa

    Can you bake bread dough that is already been shaped in a loaf and frozen, and only half thawed and have it turn out well?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Lots of variables in that question, Judy. Depends on your definition of “turn out well:” how slack the dough was; how it was wrapped and frozen; how hot your oven is… I’d say give it a try, recording what you do. If it’s good, then simply put a check mark next to your data; if it’s not, write down what was wrong, and see if you can correct it next time. Good luck – PJH

  41. Cliff

    I’ve made this recipe several times in the past and have gotten so so results…..never truly satisfied with the end result……until today. I watched your instructional videos again and realized I was “scooping the flour” as opposed to gently filling the measuring cup and leveling as you recommend. My previous doughs were very dry and I could never figure out why……until I learned how to properly measure the flour. The bread I made today is perfect….looks and tastes like bread from a professional bakery! Thank you!!!

    Reply
  42. Jolly

    So what would the cooking instructions for using a dutch oven for this bread. Would you put the bread in a dutch oven for the final rise and then put them in a hot oven or would you place the dutch oven in the oven while its preheating and then place the bread in a hot dutch oven? Would the cooking times vary and do you remove the lid at a certain time? Thanks

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jolly, some like to preheat their Dutch oven or crock before adding the risen dough, but we find it less troublesome to start our crock bread in a cold oven; less chance of it deflating, and we really don’t see any difference in outcome. Follow the instructions for this recipe, as far as when to remove the cover. Good luck – PJH

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Absolutely! I tend to suggest to add 1-2 tsp of extra water per cup of bread flour. Jon@KAF

  43. Carolyn

    This is my go-to recipe for sourdough bread. The flavour is second to none. I struggle with the rising and baking schedule and wondering if you have any suggestions. I would like to bake my bread mid-morning, so it can be served at lunch. In order to do that, it means I have to get up in the middle of the night to start the day 2 process. Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Carolyn, I’d say your best bet is to shape the loaves, and let them rise in the fridge overnight, rather than for several hours at room temperature. Next day, take them out of the fridge as soon as you get up (preferably by 7 a.m. or so), and let them warm to room temperature, plus rise any more, if they need to. Then you should be able to bake them mid-morning for lunch. Enjoy! PJH

  44. Katrina Hardeman

    I’ve read through the responses, and decided to share a bit of “help”.
    I made this recipe a few times and was having issues with the dough not doing a whole lot of rising, and producing rather small and dense loaves. I tried using this on a regular cookie sheet, with a loaf pan, different sizes, letting it have more rising time, less proofing time, more kneading, less kneading, etc. It was getting frustrating to say the least, as I wanted to share it with my in-laws and was too embarrassed to do so. I still ate it, and it’s delicious, it just wasn’t the right texture/crumb etc…
    Then I recalled my grandmother’s way of baking sourdough bread. She always put the sugar in with the the starter and first few cups of flour and the salt in the second second “flouring”. Her reasoning back then was: “You’ll always catch more flies with honey than with salt”. I never understood what she meant by that when it came to bread making. Social graces yeah I understood, but, with bread? So, I tried putting the sugar in with the starter and first bit of flour, and voila! It works really well, IMHO.
    Hope this helps those who say they “tried it all”. Never give up, there’s always a way to make your starter earn it’s keep in your pantry. :)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m glad to hear your found a method that works for you! Also, a big help to achieve a more open crumb is to have a dough that has a higher hydration. Jon@KAF

  45. Susan

    I just got some new starter from a friend (after killing my through neglect) and pulled out my 25-year-old KAF sourdough recipe. I’m now looking for some different recipes on your website but was interested to see that this recipe is almost the same as my old one. The old recipe calls for a 12-24 hour first fermentation, slightly more salt, and a hotter oven but it sure makes some good bread. I make the loaves in a baguette pan because I’m not so fond of the free-form flattened ones. Mine never seem to puff up so much in the oven

    Reply
  46. Matt

    I must say my sourdough experience has been quite the journey. It started (no pun intended) just a few short weeks ago when I began my own starter (thanks to PJH’s great blog post). Being my first time having anything to do with sourdough the first few days were terrifying (“Ewww, why does it smell like THAT?”) but eventually after about 8 days the starter was doing quite well. It smelled wonderfully yeasty to boot. When it came time to make this bread I, stubbornly, tried to work it into a weekday schedule I was so excited! I made the overnight starter late last night, and all seemed great. This afternoon I added the flour (I added KAF Unbleached Bread Flour instead of AP for the second flouring), salt, and sugar and was ready to knead. It was quite stiff, probably because of the bread flour, so I added some water after trying desperately to get it to work out the way it was. The water helped but made the dough seem very sticky, despite it looking stiffer still than the photos. I left the dough as it was and didn’t add any more water. I left it to rest in the bowl for about 3 hours and saw a modest at best rise or “puffiness”. Being impatient as I am, I turned the dough out onto parchment and shaped it into one long, rather large loaf (it didn’t seem like that much dough to me, until it spread). When the shaped proofing came around I was quite worried to see almost no vertical rise. The dough spread out significantly but never rose above maybe 1.5″. I stuck it in the 425 oven anyways and BAM! Oven spring galore! I was amazed to see the loaf pop up to a reasonable size. It’s still in the oven right now, and is browning beautifully. I may update later. Thanks for the amazing recipe! Even me, the beginner, can bake sourdough!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Wow, Matt, I was reading this with some trepidation, hoping the story would have a happy ending. Sounds like it did! Yes, sourdough often has incredible oven spring; I’ve put many a flat, sad-looking loaf into the oven, only to see it blow up like a balloon within 10 minutes or so. I hope your bread is as delicious as it no doubt looks. Thanks for sharing here, and best of luck as you continue down the sourdough path. PJH

  47. Nancy

    I love the Pain Au Levain recipe in the KAF book and have been making this bread, using starter from another KAF recipe that has matured nicely, for quite a few months now. It is such a tasty bread and I find it satisfying making bread using only flour, starter, salt and water. NO SUGAR!

    Anyway I am curious about bubbles in my dough. I fold the dough after an hour, then let rise again an hour before shaping, and I am starting to get large bubbles. I kind of think this is a good thing, but I wonder! I can see them on the surface of my shaped boules and I’ve been popping them…. what do you think??

    thanks for the wonderful bread and your support – Nancy

    Reply
    1. Amy Trage

      Be sure to gently de-gass the dough before shaping to avoid these larger bubbles on your shaped boule. ~Amy

  48. Carol Vlasz

    I have a question, how wide is the King Arthur flour sour dough starter crock. I can’t find the width anywhere on line or in catalog, it only gives height and how much it holds. I would like to order one but need to know the height.

    Thank You,
    Carol Vlasz

    Reply
  49. Cynthia

    I really want to send you a picture of this sourdough baked in long cloche with top on
    How do I do this? The picture is on my iPhone. . I will try to send it to this web address. It is spectacularly tall!!

    Reply

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