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Sourdough Bread

Recipe Info

Difficulty: Hard
Mess Level: Low
Yield: 2 Loaves (2lb each)
Prep Time: 24 hr
Cook Time: 40 min


  • 900g (8 ⅓ cups) Bread Flour
  • 100g (¾ cup) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 750g (3 cups) Water at 80f
  • 20g (1 Tablespoon) Salt
  • 200g Ripe Sourdough Starter



Note: 90% of the problems that occur with sourdough bread stem from a problem with the starter. Check out this video before proceeding if you’re new to sourdough: 4 Steps to Sourdough Starter Success

  1. Measure out the salt and set it aside.
  2. Add the water to a mixing bowl and then add the starter. Swish to loosely combine.
  3. Add the bread and whole wheat flour to the bowl and mix with your hands until no dry flour remains. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Vigorously stretch the dough or complete slap n folds until it feels strong and the consistency is more “dough-like” and less of a shaggy mess you could pull apart.
  5. Rest the dough for 5 minutes then repeat. Rest for another five minutes, add the salt (if you’d like to add more water do so now, I typically do 78-80% hydration). And repeat once more. Squish to incorporate water, it will come together, I promise.
  6. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl or container if needed and check the temperature of the dough. We want to quickly get the dough to about 78-82 Fahrenheit. Hold the dough in a warm area to achieve this. Also, take note of the dough volume.
  7. Bulk ferment the dough for 3-4 hours. Every 30 minutes, give the dough a stretch or coil fold and note the temperature. Monitor the dough so it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, otherwise, it will ferment too quickly and overproof or end up taking 6 or more hours to finish.
  8. At hour 3, pinch off a bit and blop it into a bowl of cool water. If it floats, you are ready. If it does not float, continue bulking until it does. You’re also looking for a 50% increase in volume from where you started.
  9. Divide the dough into two loaves and pre-shape them. Let them rest for 30 minutes. Mist with a water bottle if the air is dry.
  10. Shape the dough by folding in each of the four sides and rolling it up. Place in a floured banneton and cover with a bag or shower cap. Take note of the dough volume in the banneton and either proof for 2-4 hours more until the dough has reached ¾ of the way up the banneton, or refrigerate the dough overnight for 12-18 hours (preferred).
  11. The following day, preheat the oven with a stone or dutch oven inside to 550 Fahrenheit. If using a stone, boil a pot or kettle of water. Dump the dough out onto a piece of parchment and score it. Transfer to the dutch oven and close tightly, or transfer to the stone and pour boiling water in a second pan placed inside the oven. LOWER the heat to 450 Fahrenheit and bake for 20 minutes. Check out the video below
  12. Remove the water pan, rotate the loaf if it is getting too dark on one side, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes and ideally, 2 hours before cutting into it.

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Make It...

  1. Vegan: Yes! This dish is naturally vegan.
  2. Gluten Free: Build a starter with gluten-free flour. Then use gluten-free flour as a substitute in this recipe. Once the dough is mixed just go straight to bulk fermentation. When the dough passes a float test shape it into a log and leave in a banneton or tin loaf.

Ramblings of a Line Cook

In January of 2020, before the Coronavires wreaked its havoc on the US, my friend, and colleague Dana DeMarco gave me Crust and Crumb. A James Beard award-winning book on bread. I’d decided I was going to bake one loaf of bread every month for the year of 2020 and I figured, by the end of the year I should have a handle on making a decent loaf.

I didn’t know what sourdough was, I thought it was just a type of bread in the same way focaccia and ciabatta are a type of bread and the first four sourdough attempts ranged from complete disasters to barely edible.

When you start in with sourdough I think you either love it or hate it. Whatever genetic makeup I received caused me to get aggravated at my failures in just the right way that made me want to figure out what about the process hadn’t worked. Eventually, I got a successful loaf. Then two, then three. At this point, I was baking once or twice a week instead of once a month.

Then summer arrived and I had four disaster bakes in a row until I learned that the change in ambient temperature was having a huge effect on the fermentation. I began to get consistently good results and was baking so much I had to start giving bread away almost every week. Someone asked me if I was selling the bread and I told them no.

The pandemic dragged on and in October cases began to rise again as available hours at work began to slow. So, on October 31st I baked about 30 loaves of sourdough and 20 baguettes. 10 of the loaves I had to throw away and I took the rest of my bread, some brown paper bags, and an Ipad to a local brewery to do a popup. We sold out in 40 minutes.

Since then, we launched Caupona and I bake every week for people. It’s growing, it’s slow. But when I look back on the sourdough process from last year I realize what is possible in 12 months, even during a pandemic. This is the method I use for the sourdough loaves at Caupona. I hope it helps you find success and fall in love with sourdough as I did.

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