This post about my sourdough bread journey has been a long time coming. I’ve been working so hard to perfect my process, and although many have been begging for me to share my recipe, I didn’t want to post it when it wasn’t up to standards. I can confidently say that I have the best-tasting sourdough bread recipe for you to try. This won’t be the end of my sourdough bread recipes, and I plan to share many more posts about starters, discard recipes, sourdough bread flavors scoring, and more.
The Best Golden Sourdough Bread Recipe | Easy for Beginners
It typically takes me 24 hours to make my bread from start to finish (from feeding my starter to baking) 24 hours sounds like a high-maintenance process, but I promise it’s not. There are a lot of hours where you just leave the bread alone to rise or leave the starter alone to activate. The process can be customized to fit any kind of schedule. The more you bake sourdough bread, the more you’ll find your groove when it comes to a timeline that works for you.
Sourdough Bread for Beginners | The Best Golden Sourdough Bread Loaves Recipe
Along with the sourdough bread recipe, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks to perfecting this sourdough bread and some fun ways to jazz it up. Sourdough bread is simple, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll naturally get more daring with the process. You may even put your own spin on the recipe and find a routine that works better for you. The more and more you play with sourdough, the more perfect your loaves turn out each time. It’s fun to look back and see how far I’ve come. I remember googling everything there was to know about sourdough starters, and after reading and watching all the videos, I was still so confused. Eventually, you catch on, and it makes you feel like you’re a bread scientist. I’m
kind of obsessed with it at this point. I love trying new techniques, and I love watching others for inspiration. My for you page is just filled with sourdough videos and scoring art.
This isn’t going to be a blog on my sourdough starter, but I will share a little about that process. I want to make a separate blog about that. If you’re interested in starting, I would recommend beginning the sour starter process now or purchasing an active sourdough starter on Amazon. It took me about two weeks to make my own starter, and if I’m being honest, I wish I would have just purchased a starter online to save myself the days of frustration. The good thing is that my starter is still thriving and making the most delicious loaves of bread. I’ve been meaning to name her, too. So if you have any good name suggestions for my sourdough starter, please leave them in the comments. It always cracks me up listening to people talk to their starters, and calling them by name.
What made me get interested in sourdough bread?
I have always admired bakers online making their own bread. A few months ago, I was browsing the grocery store and looking to pick up sandwich bread for a spread I was putting together. The loaf of sourdough bread that was dry and crispy, most likely sitting on the shelves for days, and smaller than the palm of my hand, was $15. It wasn’t made in the grocery store, the flour wasn’t organic, and there were so many ingredients listed on the back. I started googling recipes for sourdough bread, and I got sucked into the wormhole of #sourdoughlife, and that’s what created the bread monster I am today. I like that it’s an art, takes passion, and bread just makes everyone happy! It’s one of my favorite hobbies.
Homemade sourdough bread makes the best sandwiches, one of my favorite foods. I can’t go back to grocery store bread ever again! This sandwich has been a favorite of ours. I make a giant one, and we split it with a side salad or homemade soup. It has toasted sourdough bread, avocado, mayonnaise, honey-roasted turkey, bacon, peppers, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and American cheese.
Don’t Overcomplicate Your Starter
People (including myself, at first) get so nervous about the sourdough starter. It’s hard to understand at first, and it’s a bit intimidating. I think it’s often way too overcomplicated. So many people tell you that you can’t do this and can’t do that, but I’ve done many of those “can’t dos,” and my bread has turned out perfectly fine.
What should I do if I want to make sourdough bread?
The first thing you need to do is feed your starter. Some people will tell you to feed your starter with equal parts, but I hardly ever do that, especially if I have to make enough starter to bake 10-12 loaves. (feeding instructions are listed below)
If you want to make sourdough bread and do not have a starter, try purchasing some from a local bakery or a live starter on Amazon, or ask a neighbor for some starter. You’ll be able to immediately feed the starter and get to baking within a day.
Feeding your starter with equal parts
Equal parts of starter, water, and flour are what most people do when feeding your starter.
You can make a successful starter by combining 1/4 cup of active starter, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/2 cup, and so on)
Feeding your starter with more flour and water (not equal parts)
If you add more flour and water than a starter to your jar, it’s called a Levain. The levain has a less sour taste, and it also makes more starter, just in case you need more for a recipe. It may require more hours to activate, but it’s helpful when you need more starter or if you’re trying to tone down the sourness. If you only have about two tablespoons of starter in your refrigerator, you’ll want to make a levain in order to bake a recipe that requires 100 + grams of starter.
Let’s just say you only have a few lingering spots of starter in your jar after making a loaf of bread, you’ll add in 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of flour to keep it going, place it in your refrigerator, and about 12 hours, your starter will be activated again.
I never measure accurately. This is why I say people overcomplicate the starter process. I sometimes don’t even measure the water and flour going into the starter jar, and it works out perfectly each time. I’m not saying you should do this, but this is just my reason why I think the “bread people know it alls” overcomplicate things. It’s an intimidation technique (just kidding, idk, ahhh)
You’re probably confused, but I promise you’ll catch on soon. I plan to do a lot of TikTok and videos in the future that will help explain much more of this.
Do I toss out the extra starter when feeding my starter?
Yes, this is what confused the heck out of me at first.
It’s called your discard. If you’re using 1/4 cup of starter to feed, you’ll discard the rest. You can either toss the discard out, use it for making the more starter, or use it for another recipe. I hardly ever dump mine out. I usually feed it, place it in the refrigerator, and use that for the next batches of bread. You can find so many cool recipes online to use up the discard, so nothing goes to waste. I’ve tried chocolate chip cookies, muffins, quiche, and pancakes. I’m looking forward to sharing so many more sourdough recipes this year. I’m
kind of obsessed at this point.
Where should I store my starter if I’m not baking for a few days?
Starters take many weeks of neglect to die, and they are pretty forgiving after some troubleshooting. If you do not plan to use your starter for a week or two, just place it in the refrigerator. Feed it every 7 to 12 days. Scoop out a few tablespoons of starter, and add in a few tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of flour. Mix, and let it be. You do not have to add much flour and water if you do not plan on baking.
If you do plan to bake every 24 to 48 hours, you can leave your starter out on the countertop. You’ll just have to keep feeding it daily. Refrigerating the starter slows down the fermentation, putting your starter to sleep and allowing you to let it be for a few days or a few weeks. I always feed my starter before sending it to the refrigerator jail.
If you are going on a vacation, rest assured your starter will be perfectly safe in the refrigerator.
How do you feed your starter after weeks of refrigeration?
So you’re ready to bake, but your starter has been in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Take your starter from the refrigerator, and let it sit on the counter for 45 minutes to an hour. Make a levain, or feed your starter with equal parts. Place your fed starter by a window or in a warmer spot for 5-12 hours. Use the tape to measure its growth, and your starter should be active and ready to bake! You can also do this the night before if you plan to make the dough in the morning.
The starter is Ready when…
After feeding your starter, place it in a warmer area in the house. (I keep mine under a heat vent or by the window on a warm day.)
In about 5 to 12 hours, your starter should double in volume, look foamy like a sponge, and it will smell sour. Once you grab a spoonful, it will stretch like bubblegum. (or try the float test.)
What ingredients do you use to make your starter?
- Organic All-Purpose Flour (there are other flours you can use to make starter, but I like to keep it simple)
- Purified Room Temperature Water
What ingredients do you use to make your sourdough bread?
Ingredients are so important when making sourdough bread successfully.
- Organic Bread Flour – I use King Arthur – (you do not have to use organic, it’s just what I use most often)
- Purified Room Temperature Water – (you can leave your water out overnight to help kill lingering chlorine)
- Active Starter – (previously fed within the past 5 to 12 hours)
- Fine Artisan Sea Salt – (or fine sea salt) – Try to avoid iodized salt because it can leave a bitter aftertaste.
- +any fillers you’d like to add during the fold & shaping.
Side note: these are the ingredients I use most of the time, but you do not have to use organic bread flour or artisan sea salt.
I have made wheat sourdough bread, but I’ll save that for another post. I’m already throwing way too much information at you right now.
Can I use a metal spoon or metal bowl with sourdough bread?
This is an annoying debate! Some people (the bread know-it-alls) will yell at me in the comment section about using metal bowls and spoons, but I haven’t had any issues! My bread turns out fine no matter what I mix or proof it in.
There are so many different ways to bake sourdough, which is why each loaf is unique! Here is how I get my bread to come out perfect each time!
This depends on your timeline; it does not have to be exactly 12 or 24 hours.
Customize this timeline to fit your daily routine. I wake up so early, so I make mine start at 4 or 5 am. You do not have to do that.
Ingredients for Two Loaves of Sourdough Bread
- 190 g Active Starter
- 780 g Purified Room Tempurature Water
- 1060 g Organic Bread Flour
- 4 Tsp Fine Artisan Sea Salt
The Best Golden Sourdough Bread Recipe | Easy for Beginners | 24 Hour Sourdough Bread Timeline
12:00 to 1:00 pm
Add the weighed activated starter and water to a large bowl and mix well. Mix in the weighed organic bread flour. You may have to use your hands to combine the ingredients. Add the salt (make sure to add it last, so it does not interfere with the starter.) At this point, the mixture will be very sticky and hard to form into a ball. Cover it with a damp towel, and set it aside for one hour.
After making your sourdough, feed your starter jar, and place it back in the refrigerator if you do not plan to bake for a few days. If you plan to bake it again the next day, you can leave it out on the counter.
Wet your hands. Fold and stretch your dough until it forms a large ball. You can do this without bringing your dough onto the countertop. I usually do this step with the dough in the bowl the entire time. (refer to the video for help) Once the dough is formed into a ball, cover it back up with a damp cloth and set it aside for three to five hours. It should double in size at this point. Keep your dough in a warm house (67 to 73.) I have often placed the bread in the oven to rise with the light on.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Divide the dough into two equal parts. I use a scale to ensure the separated dough weighs the same; otherwise, baking times will change for each. It’s ok if they are a few grams off. Add a little flour to your surface, stretch and fold, and then shape each sourdough into a tight ball. Add flour to the banneton, and place the dough smooth side down into the banneton (proofing basket.) Cover with a damp towel, and place in the refrigerator overnight. The longer it proofs in the refrigerator, the bolder the flavor will become. If you want to add in fillers like cheese, cinnamon, raisins, etc., do this during the last stretch and fold (I shared this in the video.)
You can leave the proofing sourdough in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours, so if you want to bake the bread when you get home the next day instead of the morning time, that will work too!
Some do not proof their sourdough in the refrigerator. I had the BEST results after cool proofing. Whenever I left the bread out, it rose and rose, and I had to do another stretch and fold in the morning before baking.
5:30 am (next day)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Remove the proofed sourdough from the refrigerator. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper (smooth side up.) Dust with flour, and use your fingers to smooth the surface. Use scissors, a knife, or a scoring tool to add fun designs. Slice the dough about 1/2 inch thick on the top before placing it into the oven. This will form a stunning “ear” on the sourdough bread.
Bake your sourdough bread.
Place the bread (still on top of parchment paper) into a dutch oven with a lid. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the lid, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remember that all ovens cook differently, so pay attention to the bread once you remove the lid. You do not want to go through all of that work and then burn your bread!
Allow the bread to cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.
ENJOY YOUR BREAD!
When do I add my fillers to sourdough bread?
Once you master the art of making a plain loaf, adding in flavors is when the fun begins!
If you add herbs, you can mix those in during your first fold and stretch.
Garlic, rosemary, lavender, oats, cinnamon, thyme, basil, etc.
If you’re making bread filled with cheese, fresh produce, sugar, honey, olive oil, or other fun ingredients, I typically wait until the final stretch and fold and shape to do so.
The key is ensuring the ingredients (other than herbs) are folded into the center and not on the outside. Otherwise, it can stick to the pan or burn at a high temperature (especially when using honey.)
Some ingredients can take the extra heat.
Fun flavors of sourdough bread
Jalapeño & Cheese
Fold in a generous amount of diced pepper jack cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, and jalapeños. Add olive oil, extra cheese, and jalapeños to the score lines before baking.
Add lines of honey and sprinkles of cinnamon in the center of your folds. Try your best not to get honey on the outside of your dough (honey burns quickly.) If honey intimidates you, use brown sugar instead!
Add roasted garlic cloves, dried basil, olive oil, and parmesan to the center of your folds.
When your bread is done, add more parmesan and basil to the top, and let it cool. (don’t add parm on top until it is cooked, or it will burn)
Everything But the Bagel
Fold everything but the bagel seasoning in during your first stretch and fold. After scoring, add olive oil and extra everything but the bagel seasoning into the creases.
Cream Cheese & Lox
One of my favorite ways to enjoy sourdough is slicing it, drizzling olive oil over the top, warming it up in the oven, spreading garlic cream cheese on top with a splash of dill, lox, red onion, a lemon drizzle, and capers. Or, if you want to keep it dairy-free, use an avocado spread instead of cream cheese.
Fold in the oats during the first stretch and fold. Carefully fold in the honey during the final stretch and fold.
What tools should I purchase for making sourdough bread?
- Active Starter
- Bread Flour
- Food Scale
- Dome Bowls
- Proofing Baskets
- Flour Sack Towels
- Scoring Tools
- Dutch Oven
- Parchment Paper Sheets
- Bread Bags
YOU CAN PRINT THIS RECIPE!
Perfect Sourdough Bread Loaf | Golden, Crispy, Flavorful
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 1 Digital Kitchen Scale
- 190 G 190 g Active Starter
- 780 G Purified Room Temperature Water
- 1060 G Organic Bread Flour
- 4 Teaspoons Fine Artisan Sea Salt
Feed The Starter
- 5:30 amFeed Starter 1/4 cup of starter, 1/4 cup of purified room temperature water, and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (not bread flour!) Add a piece of tape near your starter line so you can track the growth. Set the starter in a warmer area of the house.
Make Sourdough Dough
- 12:00 to 1:00 pmAdd the weighed activated starter and water to a large bowl and mix well. Mix in the weighed organic bread flour. You may have to use your hands to combine the ingredients. Add the salt (make sure to add it last, so it does not interfere with the starter.) At this point, the mixture will be very sticky and hard to form. Cover with a wet towel, and set it aside for one hour.
Refeed Starter Jar
- 1:15 pmAfter making your sourdough, feed your starter jar, and place it back in the refrigerator if you do not plan to bake for a few days. If you plan to bake bread the next day, you can leave it out on the counter.
Stretch and Fold | First Rise
- 2:00 pmWet your hands. Fold and stretch your dough until it forms a large ball. You can do this without bringing your dough onto the countertop. I usually do this step with the dough in the bowl the entire time. (refer to the video for help) Once the dough is formed into a ball, cover it back up with a damp cloth and set it aside for three to five hours. It should double in size at this point. Keep your dough in a warm house (67 to 73.) I have often placed the bread in the oven to rise with the light on.
Stretch, Fold, Shape & Cool Proof
- 6:00 pm Remove the dough from the bowl. Divide the dough into two equal parts. I use a scale to ensure the separated dough weighs the same; otherwise, baking times will change for each loaf. It’s ok if they are a few grams off. Add a little flour to your surface, stretch and fold, and then shape each sourdough into a tight ball. Add flour to the banneton, and place the dough smooth side down into the banneton(proofing basket.) Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. The longer it proofs in the refrigerator, the bolder the flavor will become. If you want to add fillers like cheese, cinnamon, raisins, etc., do this during the last stretch and fold. You can leave the proofing sourdough in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours, so if you want to bake the bread when you get home the next day instead of the morning, that will work too!
- 5:30 am (next day) Preheat oven to 475 degrees.Remove the proofed sourdough from the refrigerator. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper (smooth side up.) Dust with flour, and use your fingers to smooth the surface. Use scissors, a knife, or a scoring tool to add fun designs. Slice the dough about 1/2 inch thick on the top before placing it into the oven. This will form a stunning “ear” on the sourdough bread.
- 6:00 amBake your sourdough bread.Place the bread (still on top of parchment paper) into a dutch oven with a lid. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the lid, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remember that all ovens cook differently, pay attention to the bread once you remove the lid. You do not want to go through all of that work, and then burn your bread!
- 7:00 am Allow the bread to cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.
- 9:00 amEnjoy your bread!
What Is Proofing?
In both regular (yeasted) bread making and sourdough baking, proofing refers to the rise after shaping.
Scoring is a way of making shallow cuts in the tops of the unbaked bread dough right before baking it.
Sourdough starter is a live fermented culture of fresh flour and water. Once combined, the culture will begin to ferment and cultivate the natural yeasts found in our environment. A small portion is added to your bread dough to make it rise.
Stretching and folding is a form of kneading in sourdough. Stretching and folding help activate the gluten in wheat flour, making it easier to work with and shape. If you skip stretching and folding, you will likely have a soggy dough that doesn’t hold its shape before or during baking.
Alveoli refers to the gas bubbles or pockets in the crumb of your bread. Large alveoli can be achieved by getting the right combination of fermentation, time, and temperature.
Discard is the process of removing a portion of unfed starter from the jar before you feed your sourdough starter. The remainder of the unfed starter is called discard, and there are many recipes you can use it in to make sure it does not go to waste (or you can create a new starter)
The float test is when you put a teaspoon of sourdough starter into a glass of water. If it floats, it’s ready to bake bread with. If it sinks, you need to work on building your starter a little longer.
Taralynn, this post makes my heart so happy!! I’m still intimidated to try this, but your bread always looks phenomenal and it would be so neat to have my very own bread here instead of having to buy it at the store (like you said, they’re often on shelves for a long time and aren’t the best). Love how detailed everything is here, I made sure to pin it!
Hope you have an amazing weekend, friend! 🙂
Make Life Marvelous
Taralynn McNitt says
DO NOT be intimidated by sourdough! You will do great & sooooo much better than store-bought bread.
Let me know if you end up making a loaf!
I love this post! I’ve been very intimidated by starters and feeding them but I just ordered my first starter on Amazon.
I think the bowl debate is a little funny. But I had an idea for you! Growing up my mom had a giant bowl she called her bread bowl. She always made homemade bread in that bowl and the smell of her bread is ingrained in my memories. When I bought my first house my mom gave me said bowl and it’s so special to me. I’m sure your little boys memories will be full of fresh baked bread from mamas kitchen! A custom special “bread bowl” could be such a fun thing to pass down to him one day!
I can’t wait to start baking. Thanks for the inspiration!!
Taralynn McNitt says
I’m so proud of you! Once you make bread, it becomes addicting! My first loaf was TERRIBLE, lol so don’t give up if you don’t get it right the first time. You learn more and more as you go!
OMG hahaha my green bowl is my “bread bowl” lol that’s too funny!
I can’t wait to try your recipe, Taralynn! I’ve been baking sourdough for maybe a month now and I’m still trying to get the hang of it but your loaves always look so delicious. Thanks for sharing!
Taralynn McNitt says
I can’t wait for you to try it! Please come back and let me know what you think!
I tried to make sourdough starter during the pandemic and failed miserably. I don’t think it was warm enough at the time so I never got a rise. All of these flavors look delish and I’m going to buy some starter and try again!
Taralynn McNitt says
Making your own sourdough starter is so frustrating. It took me so much troubleshooting! That’s why I always tell people just to get an established starter somewhere! Save the troubles lol
Thanks for the post! I have been waiting for this ever since you posted your first beautiful loaf! I have been using farmhouse on boone’s recipe and the first time I made it, my loaf was amazing. Sadly, every loaf since has been a failure. Have you made any with some whole wheat flour? Do you only stretch and fold for one session? Her recipe calls for 6 rounds of stretch and folds 15-30 minutes apart. You mention a video but I don’t see it on your blog?
Taralynn McNitt says
I don’t find it necessary to do all of the folding and stretching, and it makes it inconvienet. I love a low-maintentance bread! I’ve made it both ways, and folding it less made it turn out way more fluffier!
The video is embedded under “Ingredients for Two Loaves of Sourdough Bread” 🙂 I also have it on my TikTok!
I’ve done wheat bread!:) I’ll be posting that soon!
Oh man I’ve been missing out! I always thought those videos were just ads haha. So excited to try again using your recipe!
Taralynn McNitt says
haha! they are my embedded vidoes, but they do contain an ad, which helps this blog stay running! 🙂
Yaaay, thank you! I can’t wait to get started! Yes girl, I’m like you, I like to find out what the true must-do’s are and just get in there and see what happens. Much more fun that way! 😉 So many delicious accidents to discover!
Taralynn McNitt says
Awww thanks, Andrea! I can’t wait to hear about your loaves!!
Can’t wait to try this! What size dutch oven do you typically use?
Taralynn McNitt says
I use a 6 QT. But if yours is bigger, it works too!
Love to read your sourdough journey! Before I was pregnant I was on a big sourdough kick. Unfortunately Breadford (my sourdough starter) died during pregnancy as I was too nauseated to even think of baking bread. I am just about ready to start back now that my little man is 2 months!
Where did you find the glass jars you are using for the starter? Love those!
Taralynn McNitt says
Oh noooo, not breadford! I couldn’t imagine doing sourdough starter while pregnant! I was soooo sick.
I got them at Hobby Lobby! 🙂