Welcome to Beginner Tartine Sourdough! I’m excited you’re here. I’ve got a beginner loaf video for you and the recipe. Here are also a few other beginner loaves using the exact same recipe. Just different shapes & scores.
I know how it feels to get started with a project, but learning how to bake sourdough is a rewarding and life-long skill that will serve you well. Please let me know if you have any questions about the video!
Also, check out my Sourdough School tab and video tutorial section for more detailed videos showing technique, and also really short videos for quick bakes and easy lessons. You might like: 4 SCORES & 4 BAKES IN 4:56 MINUTES, and LEARN SHAPE & PRESHAPE TECHNIQUE.
Beginner Tartine Sourdough
- 25 g sourdough starter fed the night before, stirred down before scooping out.
- 50 g bread flour
- 50 ml tepid water
- 450 g bread flour
- 340 ml water warmed to 95F
FINAL Dough Mix
- 10 g kosher salt this is flexible, allow for at least 7g
- prepared Leaven
- prepared Autolyse
White rice flour for dusting before the score (if preferred)
- Place a medium jar on the scale and weigh in 25g sourdough starter. Zero scale and add 50ml tepid water. Stir, zero scale and add 50g bread flour. Stir thoroughly and scrape down sides to tidy the jar. Cover and set aside in a warm place (ideally 75F). The Leaven will take about 4 – 5 hours to build.
- About 2 hours after you mixed the Leaven, check it for activity and if it's risen by 50% and has bubbles around the edges, then you're on track and time to mix the Autolyse.
- Place a medium mixing bowl on the scale and weigh in 450g bread flour, zero scale then add 340g water that's been warmed to 95F. With clean hands, mix thoroughly, squishing the dough with your hand, and holding the bowl firmly with the other hand. Scrape all along the sides and bottom of the bowl to completely incorporate the flour & water. The dough will be sticky, gloopy, tacky, shaggy. Scrape it off your fingers as best as you can, trying to keep most of the dough in the bowl. Cover and set the Autolyse aside in a warm place (ideally 75). Time is flexible with the Autolyse. It's basically hanging out until the Leaven is fully built and ready to use.
Combine FINAL Dough Mix
- When the leaven is fully built it will be puffy and pillowy, doubled in size (or more), bubbles around the edges, and a bit jiggly. You'll get to know this by eye, but if you're not sure it's ready, do a float test. Carefully scoop out a small dab of leaven and gently lower it into a bowl or glass of water to see if it floats. If it floats, it's ready to bake. If it sinks, it needs a bit more time to ferment and build. With your leaven being ready, take the cover off the autolyse and set it on the scale, zero the scale, and scoop in the leaven. You'll need most if not all of it, about 90-100g. Zero the scale and weigh in the salt. You're done with the scale. Mix the final dough to thoroughly combine. It seems tricky at first, the autolyse is stretchy and the leaven is slippery, but it will come together in about 5 minutes with a vigorous hand working it together. Working the dough, scrape along the sides and bottom, folding it in half and quarters, turning it – trying to get the interior mixed with the exterior. The goal here isn't to 'knead' but to thoroughly combine. Tidy the edges of the bowl with a dough scraper, then the edges with a paper towel if you're super tidy. Take a temp of the dough – it's hopefully around 75F – 78F. Cover and now the Bulk Ferment starts. Place the dough someplace warm, ideally around 75F, and note the time. The entire bulk ferment process takes 4-5 hours. In the first 90 minutes, we are handling the dough 3 x and at 30 minutes apart. In the last few hours, the dough finishes the bulk ferment on its own. Set your timer for 30 minutes (this is flexible but no shorter than 30 minutes)
Bulk Ferment phase 1: Stretch & Folds
- Return to the dough. Wet your hand with water and reach in the bowl to grab a section, sliding your fingers like a cup, down the sides, and to the bottom, then grab the dough (just that handful) and pull it up – allowing it to stretch about 12 inches – then fold that stretched dough over the top of the dough still in the bowl, and tuck it into the opposite side from where you initially grabbed it. You will do 3 more stretch and folds to complete doing the entire bowl,After 30 minutes return to the dough and repeat the stretch & folds, doing your 4 turns, cover, and set aside for another 30 minutes. You might have noticed, the dough seemed to relax and be more stretchy. This is good! It's building elasticity and strength. After 30 minutes return to the bowl to do your 3rd set of stretch and folds. The dough will seem so much more stretchy and silky now, and a bit tacky but not sticking to your fingers like it was before. Check the dough in 30 minutes to see if it's holding some structure from the last time you handled it. You should see some folds or creases – indicating strength in the dough. If it's totally smooth and puddled – you'll need to do another set of stretch and folds and check it again in 20 to 30 minutes. Once you see it's held some structure (creasing and shape from the last time you handled it), cover the bowl and set it aside for it to finish the bulk ferment on its own.
Bulk Ferment phase 2:
- Leave the dough alone, covered, to finish the bulk ferment. This may take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. After an hour, check for signs that the bulk ferment is coming along or possibly done. Signs the bulk is done is when the dough has risen about 50%, appears fluffier on top, even slightly domed around the edges, possibly some bubbles on the surface, and will be somewhat jiggly. If it still looks stiff, not much rise, and not showing the other signs, it just needs more time.
- When your bulk ferment is complete, dust a clean counter with a very light coating of flour. Pull each side of the dough outward, stretching it quickly and with a light hand, into a rectangle shape about 8 x 12 or around there. You're going to fold it into a letter shape, by thirds, folding over the top section and tack it in a bit, then fold up the bottom section, tack it in gently, then one side and then the last. The purpose is to fold the dough into itself creating tension on the underside of the dough (the part touching the counter). You should have a semi-firm ball, but not tight. Flip the dough over, with the seam side down. Dust a little flour where you plan to let it rest, then place your dough on that and let it sit, undisturbed for 20 minutes. If you want to cover it you can, I leave mine open to the air for part of the time so it looses some of its tackiness.
- Once your preshape has been sitting 20 minutes, you'll do this final Shape and then get it into the banneton. Prep the banneton – dusting it liberally with white rice flour (ideally) or you can use all-purpose flour. Flip the dough back over so the seam side is now back up and the smooth side is down. Working in a circle, pull the edges of the dough in sections over the opposite side and pin, pull and pin, pull and pin. You should be able to get in 4 or 5 before the dough really starts to tighten. You don't want to attack it and totally deflate it, don't squeeze all the air out. Just work it gently, but trying to tighten it up. You're building tension which will give good spring when baking. Flip the dough over, so the smooth side is up and seam side down. Cup the dough using your hands, dragging it across the counter a few inches, using your pinky fingers to guide and shape the back edge. Work it one way, then slide it the other, trying to keep it shaped in a ball and you'll see the surface of the dough is getting tight. Don't drag the dough so much that it rips. You want to find the sweet spot of pulling it firm enough, but not ripping. Once you feel it's decently taught and round, you'll flip it into the floured banneton, seam side up and smooth side down.
- With your dough now resting in the banneton, cover it so it's enclosed but also so that if the dough rises a bit, it won't touch the surface of whatever you're covering it with. A trick is to use a plastic grocery bag or produce bag, place the bowl inside the bag towards the back, blow up the bag like a balloon, then twist and knot the opening. You should have a semi-inflated sealed environment. Or, you could use a shower cap and pull up the top like a peak, as far away from the surface as you can get it. Last would be to dust the surface of the dough with flour and cover it with a clean linen or cotton towel. This isn't ideal because you don't want the dough to stick to it, it will cause problems with your oven spring if the dough is ripped by dough sticking to the towel.
- Allow your covered banneton to rest on the counter 30 minutes to 1 hour. If your kitchen is quite warm, 75F or more then this bench rest might only need 30 minutes. The idea is to allow the dough to ferment a bit, get settled in the banneton, and relax before it gets cold.
- Put the covered banneton in the refrigerator to rest overnight. The ferment will continue, but will slow down so it probably won't rise much. This is normal. The flavor will improve, though. You can even leave it in the frig for a few days, the flavor will become more pronounced, but still delicious, especially if you like more 'sour' sourdough.
Prep to Bake
- Put your dutch oven or combo-cooker in the oven and pre-heat it to 500F. Let it heat at least 30 minutes at 500f.
- Set up for the score by getting a piece of parchment ready. Cut the parchment down to size to fit the diameter of your loaf plus allowing a few more inches on the sides – just enough to grip it while you're transferring the bread into the kettle. Get out your blade and set it nearby, a pastry brush (to brush off the flour if any comes off when you turn out the dough), and some fresh white rice flour (or all-purpose) to re-dust with fresh flour. You want everything ready to roll before you take the dutch oven out of the oven and the bread out of the refrigerator. First – take out the dutch oven and set on a heat proof surface then quickly get the banneton, uncover it, place the parchment on top, then flip it over, turning it out, and holding the parchment at the same time so the dough rests on the parchment. If there's cakey flour on the surface from resting in the frig, brush it off carefully. Working quickly, sprinkle on some fresh flour, then score however you like, creating at least one slash 1/2 inch deep to allow a controlled release of steam.
- Your hot dutch oven is close by and you've just finished your score. Quickly but carefully lower your scored bread into the dutch oven using the parchment paper as a sling. You'll bake your bread on the parchment paper. (Up in the SCORE step you cut your parchment down to size – this is an important step – you don't want it billowing over your loaf). Replace the lid and put it in the oven AND TURN THE OVEN DOWN to 475F. Set the timer and bake for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and see how things look – your bread should have some nice spring and a light brown color (maybe on the blond side, maybe a bit darker). Turn the oven down to 450 and continue to bake with the lid off for approximately 15 more minutes. Keep a close eye on it during the entire time you're baking with the lid off so it doesn't over-brown. If it starts to over-brown right off the bat (while baking with the lid off), tent it loosely with foil. For the last few minutes, you're just baking for the color – pull it when you get the color you prefer, checking it in 1-minute intervals. If your bread has sprung nicely, the score will have separated and created an 'ear'. The edge of that ear may become crispy and on the dark side – this is normal. Remove from the oven, gently lifting the bread out of the kettle and setting on a cooling rack. Don't slice it for at least 1 hour if you can….bare minimum 45 minutes. If it's sliced too early, the crumb (the interior) won't have cooled enough and it might be gummy. It won't be raw, but the texture won't be as pillowy as it would if you let it fully cool.
A quick word about sourdough. In a nutshell, it’s slow food…but the best slow food there is. With video these days, it’s definitely something you can learn online. It takes a little practice and patience, but I have no doubt you can do it. I started using sourdough starter when I was a teenager and used it off and on over the years. Then about 10 years ago I completely jumped into baking sourdough consistently season after season. I had 2 online mentors initially, then started teaching myself. Now, I’m in an entire community of sourdough enthusiasts. We support each other with success and also failures. I learn as much as I teach, and each bake is different. It’s a process and learning to bake bread, especially sourdough, is worth it. It teaches you a heck of a lot more than just bread.
Also, fun fact: Did you know that I bake at ‘high altitude’? I really should say I bake at high elevation’ because after all, I’m not baking on an airplane. If you have questions about high elevation baking I would recommend you check out the link with Colorado State University https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/high-altitude-food-preparation-p41/#3k