Sourdough bread loaf

How to Make Homemade Sourdough Bread

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I don’t often make bread products, but homemade sourdough bread is the exception. After I watched the Cooked documentary on Netflix, I was immediately on the homemade sourdough bread train. The particular episode of Cooked, “Air” caught my attention because fermented sourdough, as bread was intended to be made, is easier for us to digest than regular bread. Who doesn’t wish bread was better for us? Modern bread is filled with preservatives and quickly risen, making it difficult for our bodies to use nutrients and digest. I make this homemade sourdough bread about once per month and freeze one loaf for later use. 

I have to completely honest, I had this recipe written down for quite some time and I have no idea where it came from! If it sounds familiar, let me know! 

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Homemade Sourdough Bread

Why is sourdough better for us?

Sourdough bread is easier for us to digest and it neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid is known as an anti-nutrient because it binds important nutrients that we need. Fermentation can have the yeast bacteria break down this phytic acid and make nutrients more available for us to absorb. The sourdough is “fermenting” almost like a pre-digestion to help us break it down when we eat it. It also apparently does not contain much gluten. According to Michael Pollan, if you are gluten sensitive you may be able to eat this (NOT if you have Celiac, just if sensitive!) Just like some people can eat bread in Europe but not here in America. Read about The Truth About Carbs and why certain types of bread may be better.

The process is easy for homemade sourdough bread and well worth the wait. You need white flour, whole grain wheat flour, rye flour, water, sea salt, a scale, ceramic/cast iron casserole dish, and possibly yeast. I find my Kitchen Aid very useful with the dough hook for doing the initial mixings. I’d rather not mix with hands. It makes 2 loaves and takes approximately 9 hours for the fermentation process and 45 minutes for baking. You could alternatively use two loaf pans as my husband has tried. It turns out more like sandwich bread. But be sure it isn’t going to stick!

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Sourdough Starter

*Best option: Buy a sourdough bread starter. Especially if you live in a colder climate like I do, we can’t catch “wild yeasts”. It will come with instructions. And follow along below starting with “each day, feed starter”. It is worth the small expense as it will last for years if you take care of it.

Other option: Mix equal parts water and flour in a glass or wood bowl. I like to do 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Cover with a towel and wait. Use unbleached flour and non-chlorinated water. You can let tap water sit out for a few hours and chlorine evaporates off. Use a glass bowl as reactions could occur with aluminum. Set it in a warmer area and cover with a towel or cheesecloth, so air can still get in. You should be able to catch “wild” yeast. If not, add some yeast from a packet. You should see bubbles and smell yeast or alcohol. 

Each day, feed starter discard half the starter and add equal parts flour and water. Continue this for at least 5 days before you begin making bread.

Sourdough Starter


Sourdough Bread Making

After the starter is bubbling well, you can start to make bread.  The steps are as follows: Mixing flour and water the night before, mixing leaven in the flour mixture the day of, fermenting, shaping and rising, and baking. The first step happens overnight. Before bed, you will be mixing two different concoctions together. Grab two glass bowls. 

The Night Before Baking Bread

First bowl: Leaven

sourdough bread leaven

  • 100 g whole grain flour
  • 100 g white unbleached flour
  • 200 g warm water
  • 35 g starter
Second bowl: Bread

sourdough bread making

  • 600 g whole wheat
  • 250 g white flour
  • 150 g rye flour
  • 900 g warm water

Mix each well. Cover both bowls and let them soak overnight

Bread Making Day

sourdough bread leaven and mix

Mix Leaven In Flour Mixture

  • Drop in a glass of warm water
    • if floats→ leaven is ready
    • if sinks→ add 1/2 packet yeast with 50 g warm water
    • Note – I have had a sinker, not added any yeast because my starter is clearly bubbly, and it was fine. 
  • Add 1/2 the leaven to the bread mixture and let rest 20 minutes (should be soupy-ish)
  • The other 1/2 of the leaven is your new starter (or just discard and use what you had before)

sourdough bread

Start Fermenting the Bread

  • Add 25 g sea salt to leaven/bread mixture you already let sit for 20 minutes, use hands to mix
  • Ferment 4-5 hours.. this means put a towel over it and let it sit
    • Every 45-60 minutes, turn dough→ stretch and fold the dough about 3 times.

sourdough bread

  • The dough is ready to make sourdough bread when “billowy and cohesive”
    • if it smells very sour→ ready to shape
    • should smell yeasty and sour
sourdough bread
Dough is ready


Shaping and Rising Bread

  • Shape 2 globes and use additional flour if wet, cover, and rest 20 minutes (sometimes it’s not perfect but that’s okay). Mine often goes flat but working with it too much and adding too much flour makes it tougher and less “holey” appearance. 

sourdough bread

  • Shape to a sphere or rectangle and put each on a surface and cover, rest the shaped dough for 2-3 hours (it might not shape perfectly, it’s okay). This is the last “work” you’ll be doing with the bread before baking as we don’t want to mess around with it after it’s been rising for that period.
  • You can place in fridge overnight if you ran out of time to bake→ just leave out for 1 hour before baking to get to temperature
sourdough bread
Ready to bake

Baking In Ceramic Cast Iron Dutch Oven (see below for loaf pan)

  • Use ceramic casserole dish with lid for best results, with chewy center and crusty, crunchy crust (or loaf pans as mentioned above for a softer sandwich bread)
  • Preheat oven to 500° with the ceramic dish inside the oven with the lid on
  • Take out the dish and decrease the temperature for 450°
  • Put flour, oats, or whatever you need to use so it doesn’t stick (it works well in my enameled cast iron without anything), place bread in dish CAREFULLY.  Feel free to “score” the top any way you like to make your homemade sourdough bread look fancy.
sourdough bread ready to bake
Ready to bake
  • Bake 20 minutes with lid on
  • Remove lid and bake an additional 23-25 minutes.

Brush with butter and let cool. Enjoy!

Baking in Loaf Pan

  • You’ll need two loaf pans, tin foil, butter
  • Butter two loaf pans
  • When the instructions say to shape dough in sphere or rectangle and rise for 2-3 hours, do this in the loaf pan instead
  • Shape a rectangle and place it in
  • When 2-3 hours is up, cover with foil and put in oven at 450 for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake 23-25 minutes more.
homemade sourdough bread
Perfect for sandwiches


Additional notes:

  • You can freeze one loaf (or even half a loaf) for later use – just wrap in plastic wrap and foil
  • It will certainly be hard to shape. It just plops in the pan but turns out great. The distinctive holes come about and it’s not too dry.
  • If you do happen to knead it a bunch and add a lot of flour, it will be more dense but still fine. One time my husband made it, added an extra cup or more of flour and kneaded it for some reason. It still was good bread. 

Sourdough bread with butter

Resources for Proper Bread Making:

Michael Pollan’s Cooked

Cooked documentary on Netflix

First We Eat podcast “Sourdough”

Sourdough Bread

Fresh Flavors: Homemade sourdough bread is easy to make with little work and allows easier digestion for the body.



    July 12, 2017

    No Knead Revisited – Many years have passed since the original New York Times no knead bread recipe was published and when Breadtopia was born, by the way.

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    May 18, 2017

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  • M. C. Frye

    May 17, 2017

    I love baking sourdough breads! I use a Romertopf clay baker or a La Cloche baker unless it’s baguette day. My sourdough starter is almost 2 years old now.

    • Mindy Voet

      May 17, 2017

      That’s great I love to hear that others are making sourdough breads!

  • Pingback:The Truth About Carbs: What is good and bad and why simple carbs need to be avoided

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