My New Favorite Sourdough

I love baking all kinds of bread, but a basic sourdough loaf is an essential staple at our house. Good with everything from blue cheese to blueberry jam, and quite possibly even better unadorned, we always feel something is missing if there isn’t a loaf resting on the cutting board, ready for a quick snack or a hearty sandwich.

I first tried this recipe, adapted from the Vermont Sourdough in Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, about a month ago. I loved it then, and have made it several more times since, to make sure the first time wasn’t just beginner’s luck. Nope; this one is a real winner. It’s a plain, honest, not-too-sour sourdough with a touch of pumpernickel for depth of flavor. With a thin, crisp crust and soft but substantial crumb, this is now my go-to bread for everyday good eating, anytime, with anything.

norwich-sourdough-wild-yeastThe original recipe calls for 125% hydration starter. I adjusted it to work with mine at 100%, and made a few other tweaks as well. I am calling it Norwich Sourdough, in honor of the home town of Hamelman’s King Arthur Flour bakery. And this charming Vermont town, as it happens, was my home, too, for five memorable years.

Norwich Sourdough
(adapted from Vermont Sourdough in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman)

Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves)


  • Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2.5 hours
  • Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
  • Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
  • Bake: 35 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F



  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
  2. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
  5. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls.
  7. Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
  9. Batards in couche

  10. Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  12. Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.


  13. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
  14. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!

Norwich Sourdough batards

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    I’m really looking forward to reading about your starter, Susan.

    I’m on day 5 (again) of capturing my own yeast. I’m getting nervous that it’s not going to work but absolutely determined that it will….


  2. Ann Timms says

    Susan, I love this bread! I don’t have a mixer so did it by hand and as I said on TFL I made a real mess when I kneaded in kosher salt! Took some extra kneading and stretching but once I had fixed it the dough was a delight. I had also whined pitifully on TFL because I couldn’t get crisp crusts, but with these loaves the crust was crunchy – and I got EARS! Many thanks, Annie

  3. says

    Elizabeth: you’ve gotten your starter off the ground by now. Looking forward to seeing more of your bread.

    Annie: ears, crisp crust — all good. Keep baking!

    BZ: thanks! You’re no baking slouch yourself.

  4. Gena Lora says

    I love this site. I made the melon pan, it was cool!
    Is it possible to put the bakers percentages on the recipes? If not, I will still love the site.


  5. says

    Hi Gena Lora, I’m so happy you like my blog. The melon pan is fun, isn’t it?

    It has been my plan to include baker’s percentages with the recipes; however, I thought it might be confusing to do that without providing an into to baker’s math for those who aren’t familiar with it, and I haven’t gotten that done yet. I’m working on it though; look for it soon!

  6. says

    L, I’m glad the bread turned out well. Lucky co-op!

    Daniel, you have every reason to be proud, those loaves look fantastic. I’m so happy you let me know.

  7. says

    One question I have, is the dough supposed to be a bit sticky? The first time I made the dough it was really sticky so I added some more rye flour. It made it a bit more firm, but was still loose. Today, I made another batch and it came out just as sticky as the first. I added some more rye flour, but tried to keep it looser than my last batch. The first fermentation took off like wild fire. It will be interesting to see how these come out. Thanks again!

  8. says

    Daniel, “sticky” and “loose” are subjective but the dough is definitely on the somewhat sticky side immediately after mixing; it becomes less so as it ferments. If you would like your bread to have a more open crumb (interior), increase the water. For a less open crumb, decrease the water (and mix longer). I like to use water rather than flour to adjust the dough consistency so the ratio of flour to other ingredients is maintained.

  9. says

    This sounds absolutely delicious. It will accompany the coq au vin I make for my family on Christmas.

    One question about the starter: does “ripe” mean at full rise in the daily cycle of the starter, or does it simply mean a starter that has matured and is capable of raising bread?

  10. says

    Mike, this will go great with coq au vin. Sounds like a wonderful dinner. By “ripe” I do mean at full rise (i.e., several hours after feeding). Merry Christmas!

  11. Lotte says

    Hi Susan,

    Great blog you have! I already tried several of your recipes and they are all great.
    Your sourdough bread and instructions to make a starter are great, it is the first time I managed to bake a good sourdough! I already made the bread succesfully several times. I baked it with steam and on a baking stone, and I tried baking it the KN method, and that worked great too.

    One question though: your crumb seems very light and airy in the picture, mine is a tighter. Do you have an idea what might be the problem? I don’t use malted flour but bio all purpose flour, could that be it?

    Thanks for your great website!


  12. says

    Lotte, there are several things that go into achieving an open crumb. In general, the more water you use, the more open the crumb will be. The gluten needs to be developed sufficiently to support the large(r) air pockets, but if it’s developed too much the crumb will be very regular. Also, make sure you’re not overproofing the loaves or the crumb will be dense.

  13. Lotte says

    Hi Susan, I tried using more water (50 grams) and kneading longer. Since I don’t have a stand mixer I use a handmixer and I think that calls for longer kneading also.
    They turned out beautiful, with a nice open crumb!
    Thanks for your tips and help.

  14. Mily says

    Hi Susan, I made this bread several times before followed the recipe posted on The Fresh Loaf. But this time I followed your recipe and baked the bread in the new set up oven similar to yours using lava rocks & hot water to create steam… It’s much improved as you can see the results here:

    It’s a not-so-bad crumb for hand-mixed dough –I was the mixer– ;o) and slashed with a utility blade, isn’t it?

    However, the crust wasn’t as thick and as crackly as that of bread I baked in a closed-lid pot (in my pot baking days). I used about 2 x 3/4 cup of hot water in 2 times during the steaming phase. Could it be then the prolonged steaming phase the cause? Thanks.

  15. says

    Lotte, you’re welcome, I’m happy my suggestions were helpful.

    Mily, great looking loaves, as all of your are! Steam is only helpful to a certain point, and if there is too much/too long it can compromise the crust. I use less than a cup of water, once only, and remove the steam pan after about 8-12 minutes. I think it depends partly on your oven, how good it is at keeping the moisture in, so experiment. I’ve found that keeping the loaves in the oven with the heat off and the door ajar for several minutes at the end of the bake, to drive off remaining moisture, is very helpful to producing a crisp crust.

  16. Herb says

    I’ve been experimenting with sourdough for a almost a year and have had some success interspersed with some failures. Here is a link to some photo’s

    Yesterday I tried your technique of using a flower pot and unglazed tiles in a gas oven. It worked great, had wonderful blisters on the crust. I’ll do this again.

    The main issue I’m struggling with now is getting the bread to taste sour. I use a starter I got from Sourdo
    International (SF Starter) and it has plenty of rise and the container in the fridge makes lots of hooch so I assume there must be ample yeast and bacteria. For a Sunday bake I feed the starter Weds night and after a couple of hours on the counter put it back in the fridge. Friday morning mix a half cup starter, a cup of flour and half cup water and let proof for 12 hours at room temp (~66 F). Friday night punch down and repeat for 8 hours, Sat morning repeat for 4 hours in th eoven with light on (~ 80 F). Next, mix in 3 cups flour, cup water with salt dissolved. Let stand for half hour before knead. Then let rest for hour and begin stretch and fold for several hours. Into bannetons and retard in the fridge over night. Sunday morning take out of fridge at same time as pre-heat oven and then bake.

    The bread has good crust and crumb, but not much in the way of sour. When I took the starter out before using the volume had increased and there were small foam bubbles on the top. So, I’m assuming the starter was good to go. With such long fermentation times I expect extra sour. The end result is faint sour.

    Sorry for the long post, thanks in advance for any suggestions to increase sour.

  17. says

    Herb, I’m having a little trouble following how you build up your starter, but in general sourness is favored by cooler temps and a stiffer starter. Your bread certainly looks great!

  18. Herb says

    Here’s how I build up my starter: Feed the fridge jar a couple of days before using. Then take out 1/2 cup starter and mix with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Let ferment for 12 hours at ~66 F. Punch down and then mix with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water and let ferment for 8 hours at ~66 F. Punch down and mix in 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water and ferment for 4 hours at ~80 F( would have tried 6 hours at 66 F but was running out of time). Then I mix in 3 cups flour and 1 cup water, salt and then autolyze, knead, proof and then retard.

    I was thinking that the long cool ferments would enhance sour. I just shared these thoughts with Ed Wood who tells me that long cool ferments or proofs aid in yeast production and enhance rise at the expense of bacteria production while short warm 85-95 F ferments or proofs aids in bacteria production at the expense of yeast. So, this weekend I’ll try warmer and shorter proofs. I’ve also been using white flour exclusively and after experimenting with temps will try adding a bit of rye.

  19. says

    Herb, how interesting that Dr. Wood’s advice is exactly opposite of what I’ve been taught and experienced. I’ll be interested to hear whether your warm short proof gives you a less sour flavor.

  20. Herb says

    Well, sorry to go on at such lengths with these posts. I can report that I did two experiments with proofing temps over the weekend. Both experiments produced the extra sour I was looking for.

    With one I reactivated the starter at 80 F for 8 hours and then mixed up the dough, kneaded and proofed for 12 hours at 80 F. After 10 months of fooling around with sourdough I actually made
    a bread which tasted sour. The only problem with this one was that I used too much water. The other experiment was with a three stage proof. I used 1/2 cup starter right from the fridge (a day after activation) added 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water (85 F) and proofed at 85 F for 8 hours, punched down repeat two more times. Then mixed in 3 cups flour and 1 cup water, salt, autolyze, knead, rest, proof and bake. I usually use this 3 stage recipe with longer (12 hour) proofing at room temp (~66 F) and retard overnight before baking. The bread is almost sweet, no sour. Could only get to sour with the warmer proofs.

    I’m puzzled with the results. I live near SF and would expect that historical use of sourdough was at similar temps as my room temp. I plan on more experimentation this coming weekend and will try to faithfully reproduce your recipe. Could you explain ‘ripe starter’? I’m guessing that it’s activated or recently fed.

  21. says

    Hey Susan (just thought I’d respond on this rather than back on my blog) – when I finally decided that I’d try this recipe, I converted my starter to a 100% hydration. I’d been feeding it 1:1 by mass for a few days by the time I made the bread. Would that have given it enough time? The second loaf (that I refrigerated) didn’t flatten out as much. I wasn’t able to get a shiny crust though, even with steam and spraying it with water every minute for the first 10 minutes. Should I spray it some in the end as well?

  22. says

    Caitlin, yes, 1:1 feeds for a few days should get it very close to 100% hydration. Your crust looks good to me; it doesn’t have that chalky look you get with insufficient steam. However, I wouldn’t spray so often — you lose too much heat with all that opening of the oven door. I’m not a fan of spraying, I think there are better ways to steam. I explain what I do in my post about steam — steam at the beginning and don’t open the oven again for about 10 min. You definitely want DRY at the end for a crisp crust, so do not spray at the end.

  23. says

    Thanks! It’s reassuring that I had sufficient steam with that one. I think I just have to improve my steam technique a little, which might involve oven modification. Hopefully then I’ll get better oven spring and it will actually open up at the slashes.

  24. Emilio says

    hi Susan such a nice bread !!!

    u wrote that u converted this bread from ha 150 % hydration sourdough to a 100 %

    im wanting to do that with one of my recepies to..

    thanks for reply !!

  25. Emilio says

    bahh : ) ill write u the recepie its a short one..
    400g sourdough ratio 1:2:1
    600g water
    300g white flour
    500g rye flour
    20g salt

    Will be forever thankfull :P

  26. Herbert says

    the starches and the proteins are modified by the lactic acids, resulting in a moister crumb and better keeping qualities, what kind of acids modify the starch and protien and how does it make it make a moister crumd and longer shelf life. can it be explain through a diagram?

  27. says

    Herbert, I’m not a chemist or microbiologist so I don’t think I can give you answers at the level of technicality you’re looking for. Perhaps if you query at The Fresh Loaf someone can point you to some scientific references.

  28. Iris says

    Greetings from Holland!
    I have been staring in delight at this loaf for weeks, no, months and today finally baked it!
    I have been raising a starter the past two weeks and yesterday took the plunge! My first sourdough-attempt.
    The rising was terrible (did grow for the least bit), the dough looked like anything but good bread so I just let it on the counter and only baked it this morning. It rose a bit but the oven did all the work and I was delighted to find two kinda pretty loafs coming out of the oven at the end. The bread was still quite wet inside (but I didn’t allow it to cool completely), the taste was quite good! Will try again, thanks for this recipe!!

  29. Leigh says

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while (found it through, and wanted to thank you for the great recipes. This was some of the best sourdough I have ever made. Great work!

  30. Jess says

    HI! I’m trying to figure out how to make and use sourdough starter and am confused…when a reciepe calls for “ripe” 100% hydration starter is the stuff that you discard at each feeding? and if it is can you keep it by itself for a period of time.

  31. says

    I made it twice already, each time the same successful… so thank you,
    we are just arriving in your country, and I’m very happy to continue my baking here, with new ingredients, a new challenge. Your blog should help me in my cooking quest.

  32. says

    Jess, the starter is ripe, or mature, when it reaches its peak volume. This for me is about 8 (and up to 12) hours after I feed it (and I do feed every 12 hours or so). You should use it when it’s ready because if you keep it around too long without feeding it will run out of food and some of the yeast will start to die, and then it will not work as well to raise your bread.

  33. says

    I just made this bread, and it’s MY new favorite sourdough. I was too impatient to let it get sour, so I just did the 5 hour proof. I have not built up a large inventory of bread baking gear, so two loaves are in mini loaf pans in the fridge, and the other two I just made my best loaf on parchment, and allowed it to rise in a sheet pan. I then moved each to a hot pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, threw a few cubes of ice in the oven, and let er rip. The loaves are not tall enough for sandwiches, but it is delicious! This is excellent bread. My starter is also new, so I assume the flavors will further develop with patience in proofing, and as my starter matures.
    Thanks again!

  34. char says

    Do you have any experience with spelt sourdoughs?
    I’ve converted a wheat starter over to a rye/whole spelt.
    100 percent spelt just doesn’t seem to keep my slurry happy enough.
    Any ideas or recipes….
    So far I am creating very dense loaves…maybe to dense for my liking.

  35. Sally says

    Hello there

    first time on your blog – definitely NOT the last :-)

    I am still a beginner as far as baking bread goes, but have two starters going. ONe of them with wild yeast made as described by Dan Lepard’s in his fantastic book (The Handmade Loaf). The other is King Arthur’s commercial sourdough starter.

    I feed my wild yeast like this:
    55g starter + 100 g water + 125 g flour

    I am a little unsure how to calculate the hydration and how to change it to 100%. Do I add 100g water + 100 g flour? How does the 55g of starter enter in this calculation?

    Thanks so much for your help, forgive if this is a silly question

  36. says

    Nik, glad to hear your bread came out so well!

    Char, I’m sorry, I have never raised a spelt starter, and I haven’t too much experience baking with it. Dense loaves may be because the gluten in spelt is not as strong as that in regular wheat.

    Sally, to change to 100% hydration simply feed the starter with equal parts flour and water by weight (e.g., 100 g water and 100 g flour). The amount of starter you start with does not affect the hydration as long as it itself is is 100% hydration. (I.e., if I start with something that’s half flour and half water, and add equal parts of flour and water to it, it’s still composed of half flour and half water. But if you’re starting with something that’s less than 100% hydration, as your is now — 80% — it will take a few feedings of equal flour and water until it “settles out” to 100%.) The amount of starter you start with depends upon how much starter you want to maintain or build, how often you feed it, and how quickly it ferments. See my post on how I maintain my starter for more info.

  37. Sally says

    Perfect! That answers my question!

    I usually feed my starter 3 times before using, so I can adjust the hydration accordingly using your method

    I’m keeping a bread journal because it is quite amazing how a small change in proportion of flours or rising time, affects the final loaf.

    thanks for your quick reply!

  38. Capo says

    Hi All,
    I went to a local bakery today and obtained sourdough starter. I fed it per the instructions given to me by the head baker.
    .16# starter, .60# flour, .75# water. My water is filtered and my flour is organic, 12% proteen. Water was heated to 82 degrees. I scaled this down by half and maintained the same ratio. I mixed it and am maintaining a temperature of between 78 and 82 degrees. It has been 8 hours and it is not bubbling or frothing. Have I killed it or should I wait longer????

  39. says

    Capo, sounds like you’re doing everything right so I doubt you’ve killed it. Has the volume increased at all? A healthy starter does not really froth as much as become light and airy with a pebbled surface. You might want to check with the baker who gave it to you.

  40. Lu says

    Hi! Thank you for sharing your knowledge about bread. I never successfully baked with homemade starters. I would like to know what you mean by White Flour. Do you mean bread or all purpose flour? Thank you again for all your help. Your breads look wonderful!


  41. Linda says

    thank you! I made the bread this weekend and it honestly was the very first time I’ve been pleased with my baking results. The loaves were excellent! the right taste, texture, look, everything!

    I appreciate your sharing your talents with the rest of us.

    Now to try to extra-sour version that you posted!

  42. warda says

    hi, i love your blog, can you please post the recipe of
    ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter and 50% in details please, thank you for all this recipes

  43. Sybil Rampy says

    OK, I’ve been baking all my life, almost, but I’m not familiar with your % measurments. How do I change that into cups, t, and Ts? I really want to try your sourdough bread recipe.



  44. says

    Warda, my posts on starting and maintaining a sourdough starter are here:

    Sybil, if you don’t have a scale, you can get weight-to-volume conversions from the USDA Nutrient Database:
    Then order a scale. ;)
    You won’t find the weight of sourdough starter in the database. A cup of sourdough starter weighs about 230 grams, but that’s a very rough estimate and it depends on how you measure that cup. Really, a scale is better :)
    Here is some information on how to choose a good flour for bread:

  45. says

    You are amazing, certainly above the crowd and I can’t wait to subscribe. I have so much to learn. There is an “Italian” saying that when someone is called “a piece of bread” it means they are solid, good, to be trusted like salt of the earth. Your sight is certainly “un pezzo di pane.”

  46. James says

    This is such a great recipe and my bread has turned out amazing. I’ve also been experimenting with the recipe and variations including whole wheat and stone cut oat meal. Amazing, I love it.

  47. Julie says

    Hi Susan,
    I love your blog. I’ve been reading it every night and the more I read, that more I want to learn and start baking. This is a great source of information and now I’m totally addicted to it. I just started baking recently,and since I love good bread, I decided to give it a try. I already made a few loaves of sourdough bread. The results were o.k, but I want to improve and try again. Yesterday I baked your Norwich Sourdough recipe, and the flavor turned out great, the crust was good too, but my crumb doesn’t have those big holes I was looking for. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help and all this beautiful work you have done!!

  48. says

    This bread is delicious, now it’s my favorite sourdough too. I’ve put mine in the fridge for a night after the 2nd fold, than shaped it and rised in the morning.

  49. Brianna says

    I just wanted to thank you for the easiest sourdough recipe I could find! I dove headfirst into the world of sourdough starter about a week ago with nothing but basic knowledge, and after getting so-so results with rye flour, I switched it to white whole wheat. I like that much better, as I can more easily judge when it’s “bubbly.” (The rye starter was very thick and didn’t show it’s “life” as well, which made me nervous, LOL.) I was afraid it wasn’t mature enough to leaven a bread by itself, but after seeing such an easy recipe with basic ingredients that I wouldn’t cry over if they ended up in the trash, I decided to give it a try. It turned out pretty good for a first go! My oven is funny, so my crust got a little crispy (any ideas on that one? I’m getting a stone soon to help, but any other ideas in the meantime are welcome) but the inside was so light and chewy, and so very, very tasty. (Excuse the poor quality…)

  50. Brianna says

    Me again! Just wanted to let you know, I altered your Norwich Sourdough recipe (a very tasty one as-is!) to exclude the 120g rye flour and include 120g rolled oats. I know rolled oats soak up a LOT of liquid, so to compensate, I pre-soaked them in a mixture of ~1/2cup very hot water plus a tablespoon of honey for about five minutes. I’m sure you can change the amount of the honey or leave it out all together if you choose, but I like the extra sweetness. I think it compliments the tang of sourdough very nicely. Also, I used 200g of white whole wheat and 700g bread flour. It comes out very soft and chewy, absolutely wonderful for sandwiches. I uploaded some pictures here ( ) for everyone to see.

  51. Shiao-Ping Morton says

    Hi Susan, just want to say a Big Thank-You to you for all the lovely pictures and recipes you made at wild yeast blog. I have been following your blog postings here as well as at The Fresh Loaf and thoroughly enjoying them. I’ve made a purchase of books through your website. As well, I have signed up for Artisan I and Artisan II in August at SFBI. Thank you very much for your recommendations!! I am going to fly all the way from down under in Australia to San Francisco and am really looking forward to it. My whole family share my enthusiasm. Here are two positings of mine in The Fresh Loaf that I would like you to look at:
    (1) and
    (2) (please scroll down to the comments by me entitled “Australian Brero flour on David’s Semolina Filone”).
    Once again, thank you so very much for what you have done.
    Warm regards,

  52. Marat says

    Hi Susan,

    Kudos on the phenomenal website. I am a daily “webonaut” of all things yeast and an avid kitchen explorer. Your recipes opened up a whole new chapter of flour coated revelry. My family thanks you!

    A quick question on the folding for the Norwich Sourdough. When you place your mixed dough for the first fermentation, do you oil the top of the dough as well as the large rectangular container, then cover with plastic wrap or do you only oil the container and leave the top un-oiled but covered with plastic so it won’t dry out. The reason I ask is that I noticed that the dough sticks a bit to the plastic wrap but was concerned about putting oil on the dough, as it might then prevent it from coming together properly in the bake.

    Good Risings,
    Marat S.

  53. says

    Marat, I use a container with a lid. The container is large enough to so that the dough does not fill it and does not touch the lid. Then no plastic wrap is needed, and you do not need to oil the top of the dough.

  54. Marat says

    T-Minus 20 minutes before I pop the 4 loaves in the oven. Thanks for the clarification Susan. I’ll pick up a large Tupperware container for my bulk fermentation and save some bucks on the plastic wrap.

    Good Risings,

  55. Danni says

    Susan, I just used this recipe to make some wild yeast multigrain sourdough, which is so awesome. It is exactly what I was wanting and hoping for in every sense. Nice and chewy with an open crumb, great tangy sour taste, and fantastic crisp crust. I am so glad I found your blog and love all the yeast spottings too. This will be my standard sourdough recipe from now on. Thanks so much!

  56. Kaori says

    Dear Susan -
    I’ve been enjoying your blog for several months now, (during the course of those several months, I’ve purchased a baking stone, a slasher, and made the fabulous cloche!) and I finally decided to write in because the successes I’ve been enjoying with my sourdough starter has been absolutely amazing and they wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t encountered your extremely thorough help and guidance on your blog. So, thank you very much!!!

    While I truly enjoy the preparing, baking, admiring, and tasting delicious sourdough loafs, I also enjoy making soft yeast bread. As I see your skills and knowledge allow you to create even your own melon pan recipe just by tasting, you probably do not need it, but here is an interesting Japanese bread recipe website that I like very much.
    He is Japanese but he has translated most of his recipes and they are thorough with tons of pictures and full of interesting ideas, especially shaping.
    I think it’s worth a visit!

    Again, thank you and I will continue to call you my bread “sensei.” ;-)

  57. Vikirose says

    This recipe gave fantastic results. Bravo! It is a keeper.
    I used Manitoba Cream flour for the white flour.

  58. max says

    Hi Susan,
    thanks for the wonderful blog! I have a couple of questions for you.
    Is there any difference between folding the dohgh just before retarding in the fridge or folding after retarding?
    What is the suggested temperature for retarding , say 20 hours? (Top of the fridge at 4° or bottom at about 10°).
    Excuse me if i’m not so clear, but my knowledge of the English language is only based on web lurking and reading. Thanks.

  59. Bettie, Dallas TX says

    Susan, I must really trust you! I have a tendency to change recipes before I use them. Very little change to this one. Even if the bread hadn’t looked and tasted fantastic, the dough itself was a joy to work with.

    I used a postal scale and conversion charts to arrive at this for 1 large loaf (1 3/4 lb. cooked):

    3 1/4 cups bread flour (from Sam’s)
    1/2 cup KAF pumpernickel
    10 oz. water
    6.4 oz. ( by weight) starter
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt

    I mixed it (well) by hand and followed the rest of the instructions, refrigerating it for about 14 hours. I let it sit a room temperature while I heated up my commercial gas oven to 475 – about 30 minutes.

    Turned it down to 450 after putting the dough on the stone. Cooked it for 15 minutes with steam, 15 without steam, 10 more minutes with the oven turned off and the door cracked open. I think the oven temperature was a little over 450. Beautiful!!

    I’d never had the nerve to throw the water on the oven floor, but I did, and the world did not come to an end!

    My next one will be a smaller version using my Cuisinart 100 Brick Oven. Any recommendations?

    Thanks so much.

  60. says

    Fantastic! My new favorite sourdough, too…. I’ve just made 6 loaves and I’m thrilled with the open structure, even though the dough is fairly manageable. Retarded overnight, and brought to room temp before baking. Next time I’ll try baking from the fridge, as you suggest.

  61. Bettie, Dallas TX says

    The world did come to an end the next time I threw the water in – seems my aim is not too good. The water put out the pilot light! I’ve given my throwing arm a little practice, so maybe it won’t happen again.

  62. Kyle says

    I am a newcomer to bread making, but I must say that this recipe came out great. I have been coaxing along a sourdough starter for a couple of weeks and decided to try it out on this recipe. I must say I was pleasantly surprised, as another seemingly great sounding sourdough, was far too dense. I followed the recipe to the letter using the folding and proofing times given (my house was 72 degrees all day). The times were actually spot on for what looked to me like an appropriate final rise. As for cooking, I used a 475 degree gas oven with my pizza stone and a cast iron frying pan that I poured boiling water into when I put in the loaf. I removed the water after 12 minutes and cooked for 18min more.
    I was patient with the finished product and it paid off. The bread was still just barely warm and it was the perfect conveyor for my potato and root veggie chowder. The crumb was tight yet airy and the crust, just that, crusty. In the future, I may relinquish my spoon in order to eat a whole bowl of soup with this bread.
    All in all, I have always been an enthusiastic cook, but this and Jason Molina’s ciabatta have made baking exciting. I am always exploring new foods and techniques, but I also enjoy having go-to recipes so my friends and family don’t always have to be guinea pigs. I love your site and I look forward to exploring other breads on it.

  63. Liz Tree says

    Thank You. I have Made the Norwich bread several time now and I have HOLES!!! and it is yummy and I feel I am finally getting closer to my goal of crispy crust and chewy bread. I live rural and to get good bread I pretty much have to make it myself…Yea!!!
    Plus I love the name because I went to a summer camp called Camp Norwich in Massachuesettes for many years. I love your site and thank you so much for sharing and inspiring!!!
    liz Tree

  64. Jen says

    IS the salt necessary?

    A few of my family members are on salt restricted diets. I have always made bread without the salt and have had no problem with it, but I know that the salt retards the growth process of the yeast so that it doesn’t rise too quickly.

    Has anyone tried this recipe without the salt?

  65. Jen says

    After my first attempt at making sourdough I am pretty happy! thank you for a great recipe!!

    It took overnight to rise the first time and about 5 hours to rise the second time so I was wondering if all my feeding was for naught, but today a great first try, albiet a bit too sour.

    I am guessing that my lactobacillus outgrew my yeast and that I was left with a pretty tangy dough as a result?

    Everyone seems to feed differently. I followed Gaarp’s directions and it went mostly as he said but doubled more slowly on day 3 and 4.

    I will try the 1:4: feeding schedule you recommend see if it takes the tang down just a bit.

    I want sour, but not heartburn ;-)

  66. Anna says

    Thank you very much for sharing this recipe and others, Susan! Your website is very inspiring! The bread came out just great :))
    I have a question, please.
    How to use the dough for pizza? Is there a limit of time it can wait in the refrigerator to be baked?

  67. Nuala says

    I made my own starter a few weeks ago and have made 3-4 loaves since then. The loaf I made yesterday has been my best yet, but it’s definitely not as airy looking as the one in the photo above (it’s not the same recipe– I used the basic sourdough from the Breadbaker’s Apprentice). The texture and flavor are good, but I’m curious if there is an ‘ideal’ sourdough….what SHOULD it look like? Are all recipes different enough to result in different appearances?
    P.S. I love your blog!

  68. Barrett says

    Great recipe. It may take the place of my no-knead sourdough bread.
    Instead of a couche, I split a pvc pipe lengthwise, lined it with parchment paper and put the bread in for its second rising. Transfering the bread to the baking stone was a snap. The pvc is easy to store and really cheap.

  69. Davd B says

    Hello, I bought ‘Artisan Baking’ actually from your recommendation and made the started from there but I am a little confused as most of the recipes in there use only a little starter around 25g and this recipe uses 360g.

    I think I have around 200g of starter, to grow this to a level needed for this (plus spare to make more starter) should i just feed the starter and not discard any on the next refreshment?


  70. sandy says

    I found the recipe online one afternoon and decided to make the bread without really thinking much about how I was going to accomplish the steaming. Having no large spare terra cotta pots (as you suggested for a cheap way to capture steam) on hand, I used my turkey roasting pan (the dark kind with the lid) and inverted the bottom of it over both loaves on my baking stone. I also put a cake pan with water under the stone during the steaming phase. My bread is wonderfully golden brown and the crust is very crispy and a delight to eat!

  71. Becky says

    Okay, I left my starter out of the frig and fed it for 4 days then baked this morning but my loaves still didn’t rise. The first time I used the starter (before it was stored in the frig) my loaves were great. I feed it every week but the last 2x I baked, my bread didn’t rise. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help. BP

  72. Elsie says

    Thank you so much for this brilliant recipe.
    Both my mother, husband and I love this sourdough bread.
    The only bread I have ever baked so far has been sourdough, and I only started this year. The recipe I had was not giving me the results I wanted. So I decided I needed an alternative. So I found your site and decided to try out you “New Fav”. Wow!!
    I didn’t have time to let the dough rise for as long as I would have prefered, but it still came out beautiful. I shaped it slightly different. The crumb was fine but and soft, and the crust was ever so slightly chewy. Just Perfect. Thank you so, so much!! Btw. love you blog, will experiment with lots more!

  73. Rachel Ward says

    Can I ask why you proof the loaves seam side up? Does it matter if I proof them seam side down on the same pan I will bake them on? (I don’t have a baking stone yet.)

  74. says

    Rachel, you can proof seam up or down. I like up, on a floured couche, because then the tops of the loaves (which are face-down while proofing) retain some of that flour on their surface, which lends an attractive rustic look. I would not recommend proofing free-standing on the pan, however; the sides benefit from some support, so that the loaves proof up and not out too much. If you don’t have a couche, you can use bowls or basket lined with linen or a dish towel:
    When you proof in a basket, seam up is best because then the basket can simply be turned over to invert the loaf (seam side down) onto the pan or peel.

  75. Pat Conley says

    Susan !
    First of all you are my bread baking heroine. Full stop.
    Many thanks for your adaptation of Hamelman’s sourdough. Me too ! Thanks to you this is now my favorite sourdough, as well. I just made 4 loaves for the Easter weekend (plus 2 batches your Pain de Beaucaire) for all of my returning Easter bunnies and their kidlets. Even the littles loved the sourdough toasted with sweet butter and blueberry jam. The last loaf was made into ham sandwiches for the road.
    I made one batch with my rye starter and the other with my whole wheat starter. Naturally the rye had a little more “bite”, but both were super good. One of these days I’ll get my son to help me upload a few snaps….right now I’m useless. Thanks again for your impeccable directions and your inspiration.

  76. says

    Just wanted to give you feedback on this recipe.

    I was really pleased with the results, very good ‘softer’ crumb then the previous sourdough I was making from Dan’s ‘Handmade Loaf’ book which was a lovely change. Nice crust too.

    I didn’t follow your method for making the bread because I’m sort of stuck in the habit with the ‘no-knead’ bread method so I :

    mixed the ingredients up last night until I had a well combined dough and left it in fridge.

    took it out this morning left it to come to room temperature…then shaped it and left it to rest again on floured baking sheets ready to go into oven…and baked it…this is the method I find hassle free.

    I did leave it to overprove which I often do with distractions from kids etc which meant it didn’t rise as much as I was expecting but it had no effect on the taste & texture of the loaf..

    I want to try it again with just white flour for my middle daughter who doesn’t like the extra sourness from the rye flour..

    and the other way I’m going to try is exactly the same ingredients but added raisins as I think the sourness of the rye and sweetness of fruit will set it off nicely…

    so a big thank you for the recipe :-)

  77. Dwight says

    Angel, you should be able to obtain King Arthur All Purpose flour. It is malted. Malt is usually not mentioned anywhere on the label of most flours, but if you read the ingredients of most flours that are suitable for bread making, malt will be listed in the ingredients.

    If you cannot locate any King Arthur, you should be able to find some Gold Medal Better for Bread. It is also widely available, and suitable for this recipe.

  78. Angel says

    Thank you. I didn’t know that KA All-purpose is malted. I used KA bread flour and that seems to work as well.

  79. Tom says

    This website is totally amazing.

    I’ve cultivated my very first ever sour dough starter and it’s bubbling nicely.

    Really looking forward to trying this as it looks great!

    Much love from Oxford, England.


  1. [...] Bud pulled through! (The mark is how much starter there was after I fed him, and before I let him rise.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sourdough starter! I fed Bud twice more with the mix of rye and white flour, and tonight switched him to white flour only, but with more “food” (1:2:2 ratio, so there’s twice as much water and flour per part of starter) to see if he can still double in 12 hours or less. If Bud is still bubbling away happily tomorrow morning, then I can try him out in my very first bread recipe that calls for levain, or starter. Maybe some Norwich Sourdough? [...]

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