Basic outline of steps

I recently made my first sourdough loaves. They turned out okay, but the rise was poor. I attribute that to kitchen temperature and will let time make up the slack. I find recipes everywhere, but would appreciate a basic list of steps. Mix, autolyse, knead, rest, etc. I appreciate your assistance

I have copied various basic methods from a variety of websites into a spreadsheet for my own purposes. When you read them you will see some commonalities. I’ll cut and paste a few for you. Don’t focus on the ingredients - focus on the steps in the following instructions - that’s precisely why I bothered to keep them for myself.

Mixing the dough/autolyse:

In a large bowl, mix water and starter with a whisk. Add flour and mix with a spatula until there are no dry clumps. Let sit for 1 hour.


After 1 hour, sprinkle salt on top of the dough and mix it in with wet hands. Stretch and fold over the 4 corners of the dough. Let sit for 30 minutes. Repeat the folding and resting 4-5 more times for a total of 5-6 turns/folds. This should take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour after the final fold.

First rise:

Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 12–22 hours.


Pull the dough out of the fridge and scrape it onto a clean counter that’s lightly dusted with flour. Form into 2 balls and let rest for 20–30 minutes.

After the rest, shape the dough into 2 round, taught balls by gently cupping your hands around the dough and rolling it on the counter to create surface tension.

Dust a tea towel generously with flour. Line a medium bowl with it. Invert dough ball into the bowl, bottom side up. Dust with flour. Fold the corners of the tea towel over to cover the dough. Repeat with second dough ball.

Second rise:

Place in refrigerator to rise for 3–4 hours.


About 45 minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat oven to 500ºF. Place a Dutch oven with its lid on in the oven to preheat as well.

When the dough is done rising, invert one of the loaves onto a sheet of parchment paper. Dust the top with flour and gently rub it over the surface of the dough with your hands. Score the surface of the dough with a serrated knife.

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven and transfer the dough, parchment paper and all, into the Dutch oven. Be careful as the Dutch oven will be very hot. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10–15 minutes, or until the loaf is deep brown and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. It should register at least 200ºF on an instant read thermometer inserted in the middle.

Remove the loaf to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1–2 hours before slicing and enjoying.


  • 500 g bread flour
  • 450 g whole wheat flour
  • 50 g rye flour
  • 750 g water (around 85F)
  • 200 g levain
  • 25 g kosher salt


  • Two nights before baking

Feed mature sourdough starter using the levain formula above.

  • The night before baking, around 6:00PM

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Thirty minutes to one hour later, around 7:00PM

Perform a set of stretch and folds. Cover and let rest.

  • Around 7:45PM and 8:30PM

Perform two additional sets of stretch and folds. Cover and let rest.

  • Around 10:00PM

Depending on your ambient temperature, the dough should double in size by around 10:00PM. In my case, at around 66F - 67F ambient temperature the dough doubles in size in about 4 hours. If not, wait until it does, about an hour or so.

Turn the dough over onto a flat, smooth surface. Divide into two equal pieces, pre-shape, flip and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • Around 10:20PM

Fold the loaves one more time, pinch the seams (optional), dip into sesame seeds and place into 14" oval proofing baskets, seam side up. Cover with each with a piece of paper towel, then wrap with a piece of plastic wrap. Proof in a cool place (around 66F or lower) overnight.

  • The morning of baking, around 7:00AM

Place the baking stone on the rack about 3 positions from the top. Place a kitchen towel in a bread pan, or a small cake pan, fill with hot tap water and place on a rack below the baking stone, to the side of the stone. Preheat the oven to 500F.

  • Around 7:45AM - 8:00AM

Prepare two pieces of parchment paper slightly bigger than the proofing baskets. Turn the dough pieces onto parchment paper. Score with a serrated knife. Using a pizza shovel, transfer the dough into the preheated oven. Using a water spray, spray some water on the sides of the oven to create some extra steam, and quickly close the oven door. Drop the temperature to 475F and set the time to 20 minutes.

  • 20 minutes later

Remove the bread pan with water from the oven. Drop the temperature to 450F and continue baking the bread for an additional 25 minutes.

  • 25 minutes later

Remove bread from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool down for an hour. Then slice and enjoy.

Thanks for taking the time to help. I must admit to being turned off by the steaming process, but c’est la vie. I’m a manufacturer (handmade) and it will be a while before I can devote a lot of time to reading. In the meantime, feed starter and make pancakes and biscuits with discard.

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LOL. When you have a moment, try to browse around on this site (Breadtopia), you will find one or two (or a hundred or two hundred) basic technique and recipe articles, tutorials, videos, etc.

Here’s my treatise on why your rise was poor:

Here’s a couple of Eric’s basic sourdough recipe + tutorials:

Have fun!


I think you did the basic outline:


final rise

Expanding a bit with bullet points for brevity :slight_smile:

  • what @homebreadbaker wrote !!! Demystifying says it all and the 2 other recipes are basic but can be adapted to other flours, primarily they have excellent info in what to look for.

  • recipes are guidelines and I don’t follow any that have times only without description or photos as to what things should look/feel/smell like (another theme from “Demystifying”.

  • generally, I find complex steps/routines to be “over egging the pudding”. For a basic white flour artisan loaf, you could

  1. Mix all
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours letting time do the gluten development and bulk fermentation
  3. Take dough out, let warm a bit, preshape, shape and back in the frig
  4. 8 plus or minus hours later bake the loaf from cold … in a covered baker (dutch oven, clay baker with lid, or cookie sheet/stone with a roasting pan lid or whatever). The covered bake does the steam thing without fuss.

I typically preheat DO or baker and oven to 500. Score cold loaf, into baker with lid on for 10 min. Reduce heat to 450 or 475 and another 20-30 min. Lid off until crust is to my liking and internal temp in the 200F range.

The simple long, cold ferment takes more time than a room temp process but an option if you can’t/don’t want to keep an eye on things.

Re discard. If you love sourdough pancakes and waffles, great. But there are many other things to use discard for and you might find after getting through the learning curve, you don’t have discard at all.

Discard options on this site: Naan dough - I use this for Naan, tortilla AND pizza crust, Crackers. And anything that calls for flour and water.

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I wish I could give this many hearts!! The linked article/recipes and experience are most of what a baker needs to know to make a great loaf of naturally leavened bread :slight_smile: .

All of this is so very helpful. I’m excited to delve into less discarding (seems wasteful). Searching now for a single loaf formula to play with. After the holidays, I’ll settle in and read, read, bake.