Sourdough Loaf - Stage 1

The following recipe is for a tried and tested Sourdough Loaf

Yield: 0.960-0.980 kg (1 large loaf or 2 small loaves)


For the sponge:
  • 90-100 grams ripe 100% hydration starter (N.B. Remember to keep 10 grams of your starter back to refresh as your ongoing starter)
  • 250 grams strong white bread flour (unbleached, untreated flour)
  • 310-320 grams cool water (wetter dough is a bit more difficult to handle but makes better bread)

For the loaf:
  • all of the sponge
  • 300 grams strong white bread flour (or 250 grams white and 50 grams of rye, wholemeal or spelt flour)
  • 11.5 grams salt (essential)

  • Sponge: 8-12 hrs
  • Work Dough: 10 min
  • Fermentation: 4 hrs with folds at 1.5 and 3 hrs
  • Shape: 5 min
  • Prove: about 4 hrs at room temp or overnight in fridge plus 2 hrs at room temp (until double in size)
  • Bake: 30 min

Example Morning Baking:
  • Sponge: e.g. 10:15 - 18:15
  • Work Dough: 10 min
  • Fermentation: e.g. 18:30 - 22:30, with folds at 20:00 and 21:30
  • Shape: 5 min
  • Prove: 22:35 - 08:00 in fridge plus 2 hrs at room temp 08:00 - 10:00
  • Bake: at 10:00 for 30 min

Example Afternoon Baking:
  • Sponge: e.g. 23:00 - 09:00 the night before baking
  • Work Dough: 10 min
  • Fermentation: e.g. 09:15 - 13:15, with folds at 10:45 and 12:15
  • Shape: 5 min
  • Prove: about 4 hours e.g. 13:20 - 16:20 (until double in size)
  • Bake: at about 16:15 for 30 min

NB: Timings are illustrative and approximate and not written in stone, and are based on my baking experience here in the UK - you may find you need to prove the dough for longer on a cooler day or in a cooler climate, or for shorter on a warmer day or in a warmer climate.  The key is not to under or over-prove the dough, so bake it when the dough has about doubled in size and still has some spring-back when touched.

Retarding the Dough in the Refrigerator Overnight

Lowering the temperature of the dough produces a slower, longer rise with more varied fermentation products, resulting in more complex flavors. In sourdough bread-making, cold decreases the activity of wild yeast relative to the lactobacilli which produce flavouring products such as lactic acid and acetic acid. Dough that is retarded before baking results in a more sour loaf.

Stage 1 - Make the Sponge

Put 90-100 grams of ripe starter into a large bowl.

To the 90-100 grams of starter add 250 grams of bread flour and 310-320 grams of water.  Here I've used unbleached white bread flour and filtered tap water.

Mix all the s
ponge ingredients together in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature to ferment (8-12 hrs).

Next, go to Stage 2 - Make the Dough

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