Sourdough bread.



“The fermentation process that gives the bread its distinctive sour taste also makes it more gut-friendly. … The wild yeast and bacteria in a sourdough starter break down some of the carbohydrates and proteins found in flour, says Kate Scarlata, a Boston-based dietitian and author of The Low-FODMAP Diet book. When bread is made with fast-rising yeast, the bacteria don’t have time to do any pre-digesting.” (Source: )

Sourdough bread are some times called wild bread or Levain bread. “I prefer to call it sourdough bread made with starter and levain”

OBS. Sourfough bread  is not like the natural Italian bread. The Italian bread is not sour as it is made with natural yeast cells only.

I decided to learn how to make sourdough bread. I have done than mroe than 12  breads so far, some of them documented as posts under the cathegory taste, you find these by clicking on the option tast under the menu option above, Horus Eye. Or click here. I try in this main sourdough page to document what I have learned so far. I write in English so friends of mine who prefer to read in their own language, can do so with google translate.

You must master four steps where step 1 and 3 are the most complicated.

You will make mistake with the  step 3-5. I did. I have made mistakes every bake so far but always got eatable, tasty and nice looking breads.  In my opinion, you need to make  mistakes to learn and improve. However to make fewer mistakes

  • look at the videos several times, take notes
  • and write observations and conclusions in a log book like I have done in my sourdough posts.

Sooner or later will you  eat your own good tasting fluffy sourdough bread. 🙂 . These are the main steps:

  1. make a starter (the link takes you to a separate page). The starter is a bacteria-yeast culture. I were lucky to get a good started from my brother.
    take care of the Starter bacteria-yeast ecosystem in your refrigerator. 
  2. Make a  levain, that is a magnified bacteria-yeast culture (starter)
  3. Getting a good elastic sourdough (adding flour and water and doing  4 stretches and rests) 
  4. fermenting and shaping the dough  (final stretch to get air into the dough,
  5. Final rest, baking)

The work with step 2-5 is little but all steps require resting sessions so it takes up to 24 hours to get a good sourdough bread.



History and Science

A article in discusses the benefits of sourdough and the history of it.

It says among others that

Poorly-prepared and poorly-digested wheat (in white bread  prepared with Baker’s yeast) is the chief contributor to the current plague of “gluten-intolerance,” obesity, diabetes, Candida diseases and many allergenic conditions all of which contribute to the conditions that cause cancer

Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat.”  Many links to sources  in this article are obsolete.

According to sourdough bread 

  • does not spike your blood sugar the way white and whole grain bread do
  •  has the phytic acid is broken down allowing our bodies to absorb 18 different amino acids, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium. 
  • rates a 68 on the glycaemic index
  • is able to resist mold( Source  )
  • has, after the fermentation process, pre-digested the starches in the wheat for us, making it easier to digest. (Source )

A warning is given in the article: “Many of the breads labeled as ‘sourdough’ at the store contain yeast in the ingredient list, which is a clear indication that it is not a true sourdough.”. In my personal experience, you can check that by asking of a piece of bread and smelling at the bread. It should smell acid.

The history and science of yeast is well  described in

Part of this history is also describe d in Lisa Rayners book “Wildbread” below. available on google books. this book:


Recipes are indicative

Different kind of flour absorb different quantities of water. So never rely on levain recipes.  They work for the flour the recipe the  author used. Flours from different countries are diffferent. So in all stages the my main rule are:

  • Different kind of flours absorb different quantiities of water
  • adjust quantitites to get the right consistence and humidity !
  • take notes about flourtype, flour  and water quantities you use, to be able to adjust and get better result in your next sourdough making.


5 steps and timetable

The sourdough bread Tom makes, is created in 5 steps I try to explain the reason of:

  1. Make a levain.  You want to have many bacteria and yeast cells in your dough to get the right acid taste and texture. The levain is like a grown up starter culture.
  2. Create the dough. You add more flour and water into the levain.
  3. Create protein chains by Stretch and folds. By stretching and folding, you create a lot of protein chains that makes the bread porous and  hold the carbon dioxide  created by the yeast cells..
    You make 4 Stretch and foldings with 30 minutes rest in between.
  4. Fermenting.  Fermenting is done twice in room temp. QKatie in the video below calls the second fermenting  “bread basket and final shaping”. Yeast cells create carbon dioxide and bubbles.
  5. Cutting and Baking
    QKatie in the video starts cutting the dough and lay it in the oven with high temperature baking under a lid.
    I use to start with maximal temp under lid 45 minutes ot until get a nice colour and then lower to 175 Celsius for another 45 minutes to get it fully baked.

About the timetable

Times are  not emphasized in Katie’s video below.
Katie never tell about when they started the different steps.
The procedure can be started in the evening or early in the morning. Whenever you start,  the whole procedure to get a baked sourdough bread takes about 24 hours.

I suggest times starting late night  as I believe Tom may have done so in QKatie’s video.


Starter -creating and taking care of it

To make a sourdough bread you need a good starter. I have described how to make one in  a separate page that is found under Horus – taste – starter.

Click here to jump there directly.


Doing the sourdough breads

When you have a starter, you can follow Tom who explains  the whole procedure from making the levain until the baking, in the video.

Tom in Katie’s youtube videos below, gives you good idea about  levain and  dough consistences. Look carefully at these. 🙂

I wrote down all the info below the video to make it possible for you to translate it in your language.

QKatie´s video:


Step  1.  Make the levain

When you have a starter (OBS. The link opens another page) Do this e.g at midnight. With rest this takes ~8 hours.

Do this:

  • Solve 1 table spoons  of starter (opens in another page) in 160 gram water (~5 dl).
  • Add 80 gr (~3 dl)  wheat flour and 80 gram  (~3 dl) full wheat flour or rye flour  (~3 dl)
  • Keep it in the refrigerator over night (at least ~8 hours.

Step 2.  make a dough for 4 breads.

This takes~ 50 minutes

If the levain was created at midnight this has to be done in the morning but it is not a problem to make it later.

No flour behaves the same.

Dough ingredients:

  • solve  300 gram levain in 1 liter water (for 4 breads) 
  • 300 gram levain. (I use the whole of  the levain for 2 breads)
  • 1050 gr water  (~3 dl liter for 1 dough)
  • 8 gram salt for 1 levain
  • 1355 gr white flour+150 gr whole wheat flour  
  • .  (~340 gr (7.5 dl) Wheat flour with Italian Barilla 0) for 1 dough)  + ~38 gr Whole wheat flour for 1 dough) 
    Adjust quantities to get the right consistence.
  • put the mixture in the refrigerator in  a covered container or bowl (to preserve humidity) or at least 8 hours.
  • salt solution for 4 doughs
    • 30 g salt (~7.5 gr salt for 1 dough)
    • 785 gr water(~196 gr water for 1 fough)
  • Tools
    • a digital balance 
    • 1 deep container for the stretch and foldings. E.g. a water bucket.
    • 1  bowls/pots for every dough.
    • a few small kitchen towels for every dough

Step 2:  6 pm. Create the dough


  • Add 1350 gram wheat flour plus 150 gr whole wheat flour and mix with hands to get a sticky dough.
  • Let it rest for 25-40 minutes.
  • After the rest, Tom suggests  to add 30 gram salt and additional 75 gram water. Mix again with humid hands.
  • Step 3. 6.40 pm. Stretch, fold and rest the dough

Takes about ~2.5 hours stretch/foldings + 9 hours overnight rest hours )

  • Stretch and fold a few times with wet hands.
  • Let the dough rest 30 minutes in room temp.
  • After rest 2  You may add flour to get the right consistency (elastic with a nice plain surface after 3 streches, look at Tom’s video above) . No flour is identical in absorbing water.
  • Stretch and fold and rest, in total 4 times.
  • After the last rest divide the dough in 4 pieces.
  • Let the doughs rest in their own container in the refrigerator overnight to gain acidity

step 4. Fermenting

I call this third step fermening as hat it is what will happen. Yeast cells produce carbon dioxide that makes the dough get volume.

This step is made according to Tom in two steps where they call the second fermenting step “Bread basket and shaping” . I personally, seldom do this.

9 am.  fermenting 1 ( ~60 minutes )

  • Tke out the doughs from the refrigerator.
  • Let is rest another 30 minutes in room temp.
  • Take up the dough and get a circular shape and put the dough in a warm draft free place with a towel covering it.
  • Let it rest for 25 minutes


Optional. 10 am. “Bread basket and shaping

Do this if you want a bread with a round shape. Otherwise let the dough ferment another 2 hours getting a more flat bread.

– fermenting 2

  • Prepare a basket or bowl covered with a towel
  • Spray some flour over the towel.
  • Do a few final stretching (without breaking the dough) and foldings.
  • Form the levain gently to a ball.
  • Put the dough in the basket or bowl
  • let it rest 1-2 hours depending on temperature.
  • While it is resting, heat up the oven to reach max temperature.
  • After the rest remove flour on the top.

Step 5. Cut and bake the dough

  • Prepare the baking plate with some oil on it or baking paper
  • Check that the oven has reached max temp.
  • Lower to 275 Celsius.
  • Move the dough gently on the baking plate
  • Bake 20 minutes with cover in 275 celsius
    Bake another 20 minutes without cover in 275 celsius
  • I use to have the bread another 20 minutes in 170 degrees to get it fully baked.


Sebastien.’s method –
make a sourdough in less than 6 minutes

Sebastien Boudet tells in Swedish how to make a lavin in 6 Minutes. He does not include the resting time in his 6 minutes. And he is not making the 2 hours 4 stretches that Tom does. I have not tried to follow Sebastien. Look and compare. 


Masterbakers stew breadby Mattias

Mattias does a sourdough bread in a different way. He starts the first day in the afternoon maybe about 4 pm? 
He sprinkle the salt directly over the dough after the first rest. Then he bakes the bread in the morning after a 12-18 hours final rest.

The recipe is available under the video in Youtube in Swedish. I translated it to English.
NB. Mattias had the levain ready when he start making the dough.

  • Oven: 250 ° C
  • 730 g stone wheat flour
  • 450 g water
  • 250 g fresh bubbling wheat levain 
  • 22 g salt (important that it comes after)

How to do:

Day 1:

  • Mix flour and water with levains together with your hand. Let the doughrest for 30 minutes under plastic in room temperature.
  • Sprinkle on the salt.
  • Make 4 folds for 60 minutes (every quarter in a h).
  • Leave to rest for about 1.5-2 h.
  • Form the bread and place it on a floured canvas in a basket overnight.
  • Put it in the fridge.

Day 2:

  • Heat the oven up to 250 Ceslius, heat up a pot with lid about 10-15 minutes.
  • Put the dough in the pot and cut the bread, then put on the lid and put in the oven.
  • Remove the lid after half time,
  • bake a total of at least 45 minutes.

Look at the video a few time to get an idea of the procedure.


Alex method

A agnostic pluralist seeker

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