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May 27, 2021

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners

This basic sourdough recipe is great for beginning sourdough bakers. It doesn't require a long rise, and the dough is really easy to handle. You will love the results. 

Basic Sourdough Bread stacked

Several years ago - on a whim - I ordered a sourdough starter from King Arthur Baking. I can't even remember why. I hadn't baked bread since my home economics class in junior high school. 

After following the instructions to revive the dried starter for several days, this was the first sourdough bread I made. 

The first few loaves I made tasted great, but they were kind of flat and pale, and the crumb was a little tight. It took me a couple of attempts before I was able to achieve the "look" I wanted. 

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners slices

After a lot of practice, and a lot of tasty bread, I learned how to shape the dough so that it wouldn't collapse after turning it out of the basket. 

Tip for shaping a sourdough loaf:

The trick is to develop "surface tension" on the shaped dough. You need to shape it gently while stretching the outer "skin" of the dough. I usually fold the dough over itself from all four "sides," flip it over, and then, using my bench scraper, scoot the dough over the work surface to tighten the top. 

You need to be firm yet gentle. Firm enough to tighten the outside, but gentle enough so that the dough stays airy. 

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners sliced

I also, with practice, upped the amount of water from the original recipe to help achieve a more open crumb. 

If you're ready to dip your toe into the world of sourdough, this recipe is the perfect one to practice with. Using a "mixed method," or combining sourdough starter with a little yeast in the dough creates a milder flavor because the rising time is shorter. 

Even though you are adding yeast to this dough, be sure your starter is fed and bubbly. This is not a recipe for leftover sourdough starter. However, if your starter seems a little tired, you can up the yeast to 2 teaspoons. 

Options for baking this sourdough bread:

You can bake the bread on a baking sheet or a baking stone. Before loading it into the oven, be sure to lightly spray it with water so that it has a chance to expand. You can also spray the oven walls with water after loading the dough. 

My preference is to bake the bread in a hot Dutch oven. My favorite one is the Lodge Combo Cooker because it's super easy to transfer the dough onto the lid and top it with the larger Dutch oven. It's also fairly inexpensive. I actually have two so I can make two loaves at once. 

This recipe makes two one pound loaves. If you want, you can make one large loaf. Just increase the baking time to about 45 to 50 minutes. 

This is an updated post: This recipe was originally posted in September, 2012. I've updated the photos, recipe, and added a printable recipe card. Thank you for joining my journey to make better bread! 

Basic Sourdough Bread

More "mixed-method" sourdough bread recipes:

Double-Fed Sweet Levain Bread

White, Rye, and Whole Wheat Sourdough

Sourdough Pain de Campagne with Toasted Seeds

Sourdough Apple Bread

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Baking

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners Recipe

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners

Basic Sourdough Bread for Beginners
Yield: 2 loaves
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
This basic sourdough recipe is great for beginning sourdough bakers. It doesn't require a long rise, and the dough is really easy to handle. You will love the results.


  • 227 grams (8 ounces/1 cup) of active 100 percent hydration sourdough starter.
  • 340 grams (1 1/2 Cups) lukewarm water (about 95 to 105 degrees F), plus more to create a slightly sticky dough
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 602 grams (21 1/4 ounces/5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until the ingredients come together into a shaggy ball. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a bowl scraper.
  2. Add a tablespoon or two more water to create a slightly sticky dough, depending our your level of comfort with wet dough. 
  3. Knead for about seven minutes on low/medium low speed. You can also knead by hand.
  4. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  5. Prepare two brotforms or smooth towel lined 7 to 9-inch bowls with a mixture of wheat and rice flour. You can use all wheat flour, but I like adding rice flour because it is like Teflon. (If you don't have brotforms or bowls, you can also allow your loaf to rise seam side down, covered with oiled plastic wrap, on a parchment paper lined sheet pan).
  6. Gently remove the dough from the bowl/bucket, divide it in half with a bench knife, and form both pieces into boules by pulling the dough from underneath with a scraper and bringing the stretched dough to the top. Do this on all four "sides." What you are trying to do is create tension on the bottom - which eventually will be the top of your loaf. This is to prevent the loaf from flattening out while rising and baking. If you create good surface tension, your loaf will be more rounded.
  7. Flip the dough over and move the dough on your work surface by tucking a bench knife or dough scraper under the dough and scooting the dough a few inched on all sides to create tension on top of the loaves. 
  8. Place your dough into your prepared brotform/bowls, seam side up. If you are using the parchment method, place the boules, seam side down. Spray the loaves lightly with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until puffy, about an hour.
  9. While your dough is rising, place 2 Dutch oven cookers in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees F.
  10. When the loaves are ready, remove the pans from the oven and carefully lower the loaves into the hot pans. If you are using a brotform, you can place a large piece of parchment over it. Top it with a plate, flip it over, and then lower the dough, parchment and all, into the pan.
  11. Just be very, very careful. These pans are hot!
  12. Slash your loaves, cover the pans, and place them in the oven. After 10 minutes, remove the covers and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the bread registers 190 to 200 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Baking times will vary depending on the cooking vessel you use.
  13. Carefully remove the loaves from the hot pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
  14. If you only have one Dutch oven, you can bake one loaf at a time.
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Would you like to comment?

  1. Beginner...that would be me. I just need a good sourdough starter. You always make it look and sound so easy!

    1. It was a lot of trial and error at first. It's been a fun hobby.

  2. Great tips for making the perfect loaf! I think I may just be the one person during this pandemic that has not made a loaf of sourdough...guess I need to work on that!

  3. What an amazing recipe, Karen. I've never made a sourdough with such a short raising times and will definitely be making this one. I owe my own sourdough journey to you and the breadbakers group. If only I had known that it's not as scary as I made it out to be!

  4. OK, on your advice, I have my starter bubbling away on the counter since yesterday, and I'm ready to make this TODAY!

  5. I've tried several of your sourdough recipes and they've been great! This one looks easy and perfect to make.

  6. I've been loving my sourdough starter and learning to make a good loaf of sourdough bread. This recipe is one I will try for sure. It looks delicious and simple to make.


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