A beginner’s guide to mastering the perfect loaf of sourdough bread. My goal with this guide was to BUST the myths that sourdough is complicated or time consuming.
Learn everything from making your own starter, maintaining a starter, how to easily make the classic artisan loaf, and over 20 additional easy sourdough recipes.
What's in this sourdough bread guide?
There’s few things more satisfying than pulling out a hot loaf from the oven. Simple ingredients + basic steps create extraordinary loaves that are so rewarding. What starts out as following a recipe can unfold into a way of life. My goal in creating this guide was to break down any fears or confusion with sourdough and help anyone, at ANY baking level, feel confident and successful in mastering the art of sourdough.
A few tips are shared below, but you can access the whole guide here. Here’s what’s in the full guide:
- Sourdough 101 – what it is compared to packaged yeast
- Sourdough starters – about starters & how to make, maintain, and preserve your own
- Step by step instructions in making the classic loaf of sourdough bread
- Recommended supplies
- Timing Guides
- Troubleshooting FAQ’s
- Over 20 bonus sourdough recipes (from bagels to brownies!)
What is sourdough?
Sourdough bread is an ancient form of bread making that uses natural yeast as a leavening agent instead of our familiar packaged yeast from the store. Natural yeast is created by combining flour + water + time. The yeast and bacteria found on flour and in the environment work together to produce acids and carbon dioxide. We call this aged combination a “starter” which is added to a flour + water + salt dough to create a delicious bread that has a crusty exterior, soft airy interior, and that slightly tangy flavor we know and love as sourdough.
Once you have natural yeast, or a starter, you can have it for life! You don’t have to create a new starter every time you make bread. People still have starters that were made long before you or I were born. You just have to feed it with flour and water regularly to keep it active, typically every 1-3 weeks.
How to make sourdough starter
You can take some starter from a friend who has one already (very easy to share), make your own (instructions on how to do this in my book!), or buy dried starter from my shop that activates in just 2-3 days.
Making it is easy, it just requires time. You combine flour and water, and feed it every day for 10-14 days, until the starter is consistent and active. From there on out it’s easy to maintain by storing it in the fridge and just feeding it every few weeks. A timeline with specific instructions on how to make your own is in my book. Or again, you can get dried starter from me that’s super easy to activate by just adding water and feeding 2-3 times!
My dried starter is a blend of organic all purpose flour and organic freshly milled rye flour. (Rye is amazing in sourdough starters. It contains a lot of healthy bacteria that starters thrive on and is a great kickstarter to a healthy active starter.)
Recommended supplies for sourdough
This ancient bread was made with the most basic supplies, so not all these items are mandatory and there are plenty of basic at home substitutes. Making bread as often as I do, however, has led me to having some very handy favorites that I hope are helpful for you too.
- Mixing Bowl
- Danish dough whisk: this instrument is SO helpful in mixing dough. People love these wooden ones too.
- Silicone mat: great nonstick work mat to shape your loaves on. I love this mat I have.
- Kitchen scale: I love this scale or this one. Easy way to achieve consistent results.
- Glass jar: (to hold your starter. Mason jars work great.)
- Oven thermometer: ovens are usually surprisingly incorrectly calibrated. Know how hot your oven really is with this inexpensive tool
- Bench scraper: such a helpful tool to work the dough on the counter top & transfer off the counter top
- Pastry brush: great for brushing off excess flour before scoring loaves
- Banneton: one of my favorite sourdough purchases. Great nonstick bowls for proofing loaves.
- Dutch oven: perhaps the best investment of them all. Sourdough bakes well based off STEAM, which a dutch oven provides by having a lid. You can use this for much much more outside of sourdough too.
- Bread lame: a helpful tool that makes scoring much easier. At home substitute is a razor blade. I also have this one that has an option to be straight, or bent, which gives more options in scoring.
Free recipe and discount code!!
Click below to download a free recipe for my favorite sourdough discard scones! This base recipe is from a sourdough scone recipe from my book, which includes several other scone adders and flavors. It’s so easy and such a crowd pleaser! If you’re nervous about sourdough, start with this recipe!
Plus, shhh, it comes with a discount code to use in my sourdough shop!
Questions about sourdough?
Have questions about sourdough? I’d love to help! Ask a question in the comment field below. I try to get back to comments promptly. And lastly, welcome to the sourdough family!