Classic Sourdough Bread

Learning how to make sourdough is much simpler than you think! Once you've got your sourdough starter ready, it's smooth sailing to a fluffy, delicious loaf of bread.

Classic Sourdough Bread Loaf and Slices
Photo: Jason Donnelly
Prep Time:
20 mins
Rise Time:
8 hrs
Bake Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
20 mins
2 loaves (20 slices)


  • 3 ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)

  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter, room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon salt

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup water


  1. In a large bowl stir together 3 cups of the flour, the water, and Sourdough Starter until smooth. Cover bowl with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 4 hours. Place bowl in refrigerator; chill overnight.

  2. Stir in salt and as much of the remaining flour as you can. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough (2 to 3 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise at room temperature about 2 hours or until slightly increased in size (you may see a few bubbles).

  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; gently divide in half. Shape each dough half into an oval loaf. Place loaves on prepared baking sheet and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature about 2 hours or until nearly double in size.

  4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a sharp knife, make three or four diagonal cuts across top of each loaf. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until bread is golden and sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire racks.

Sourdough Starter

  1. In a large glass or plastic container* stir together flour and the water. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place (about 70°F) and let stand 24 hours.

  2. Stir in an additional 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Cover loosely; let stand in a warm place 24 hours more. Repeat every day for 5 to 7 days or until very bubbly and aromatic. Starter is ready to use at this point.

  3. If not using, to keep at room temperature, feed starter by stirring in an additional 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Let stand in a warm place overnight. Repeat daily. Or keep starter in the refrigerator and feed once a week. To use, let chilled starter come to room temperature before measuring. Remove desired amount. Feed remaining starter and let stand at room temperature 24 hours before chilling again. When the amount of starter gets to be too much, remove half before feeding and either share with a friend or discard.

Dutch-Oven Bread

Prepare as directed through Step 2. Line two large bowls with floured towels or flour two proofing baskets. After dividing dough in half, place each half in a prepared bowl or basket. Let rise as directed. Place a greased 4-qt. Dutch oven in oven as it preheats. Using the towel or basket, carefully turn one of the dough halves onto a floured surface. Make cuts in top of bread. Carefully lift and place dough into hot Dutch oven. Bake, covered, 15 minutes. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until golden. Remove; cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough half.


If using a plastic container, be sure it is very clean and free of residue.

Saving starter for later

To preserve your starter for a longer period of time, try drying it 1. First, fee your started as though you were going to bake with it. If it has been stored in the fridge, take it out and feed with equal parts unbleached all-purpose flour and lukewarm water. Let it rest, covered, until it becomes very bubbly. 2. Next, spread starter out onto two parchment lined baking sheets. Allow to dry at room temperature until completely dry (this will take 1 to 5 days depending on weather and location). Starter will be brittle when completely dry and will easily snap between your fingers. If you have a scale, weigh the dry starter, it should be about half the weight it was before drying. 3. Break the starter into pieces and store in an airtight container. Date and label the container and keep in a cool dark place. Bringing the started back to life: 4. Measure out 1 oz, about ¼ to 1/3 cup into a large container at least 1 pint in size. Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of lukewarm water, just to cover the starter chips. It will take up to 3 hours with occasional stirring to dissolve the chips. 5. Once the mixture is smooth, feed it with 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of unbleached all-purpose flour. Cover lightly and place somewhere warm and allow to work for up to 24 hours. Starter should be bubbly. 6. Without discarding any, feed the starter again with 1 ounce each of lukewarm water and flour. Cover and return to its warm spot until you see some serious bubbling (this could take up to 8 hours). 7. Feed the started again with 1-ounce water and flour, cover and allow to rest up to 12 hours, until tiny bubbles form and starter expands. 8. Starter is now ready to return to its regular feeding schedule. Discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup) and feed remaining starter with 4 ounces each lukewarm water and flour. This time the starter will expand quickly, about 4 hours or less. Your is ready for baking! Feed it again by repeating step 8.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

102 Calories
21g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 20
Calories 102
% Daily Value *
Sodium 350mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Protein 3g
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 1.3mg 7%
Potassium 30mg 1%
Folate, total 51.5mcg
Vitamin B-6 0mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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