Sourdough bread.



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

I decided to learn how to make sourdough bread. I have done 5 so far, documented as posts under the cathegory taste, you find under the menu option above Horus Eye. I try in this 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.


I share five logs of the  eight bakes here

  1. fourth-levain/
  2. fifth-sourdough/
  3. sixth-levain/
  4. seventh-sourdough/
  5. eight-sourdough/
  6. My ninth sourdough is made following Sabastiéns advices
    (see video below.)
  7. With my tenth  sourdough I go back to stretching as Tom explains

You must master four steps where step 1 and 2 are the less 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 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. Create  a Starter bacteria-yeast culture
  2. take care of the Starter bacteria-yeast ecosystem in your refrigerator. 
  3. Make a  levain, that is a magnified bacteria-yast culture (starter)
  4. Getting a good elastic sourdough (adding flour and water and doing  4 stretches and rests) 
  5. fermenting and shaping the dough  (final stretch to get air into the dough, Final rest, baking)

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

The starter culture and the levain, are kept resting  in a refrigerator while all other rests are done in room temp.



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.

Preview this book:
(Hint. You may need to click arrows multiple times to get pages to



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.

The youtubes below give you good ideas about this. Look at these. 🙂


Starter -creating and taking care of it

Manfred Enoksson’s video

Manfred does not show how he makes the dough. He just shows how he  make the starter and how he stretches the final dough.

I thought one has to have a so called sourdough starter. to make a sourdough with.  But not.

In a youtube  video I found how to do a  “starter” .

The problems i to get the right bacteria. You get it with a eco-apple and some rye- or dinkel-flour

As there are no eco-apple to be found where I am in Italy I got two different aadvices

  1. make it with only flour and water. It takes a few week to get a good starter this way.
  2. use grapes or dried grapes. flour and water

I have not tried these methods as I were lucky to get a good starter in  Sweden and take it with me to Italy.

You can use any kind of flour or mix but wheat flour with some rye or dinkel is the best. 

You need

  • 100 g flour of some sort
  • 100 g 30 C warm water
  • a digital balance
  • a few bowls
  • a doughscraper
  • Shell from a  half eco-apple
  • a grater
  • a fork
  • a cleaned jar

Create the starter

Create the starter

  1. add flour to 100 gram 30 C warm water to get a liquid consistence. Look Manfreds video below.
  2. Add grated shell from a half apple.
  3. Stir with the fork
  4. let the mix rest 1 day in 24 degrees celsius.

Stir the culture  every 24 hours   and put it back to rest in 24 degrees celsius for another 24 hours..

After 2-4 days you find maybe  a porous, bubblying slimy culture that has a god acid taste. 

Look Manfreds video below.

If so, you have a good starter culture /ecosystem that now has to be moved to the refrigerator.

Taking care of the starter

keep the culture in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

Add  10 gr flour ( a spoon) with a spoon water every week. Stir with the fork and put it back in the refrigerator.

The starter is now ready to be used to make  a levain  bread.

The  youtube with Manfred Enoksson  from Saltå kvarn shows in his own way how to make a starter. This video is good as it shows the consistence of the starter before an after the resting time.


Tom making sourdough breads

Tom explains  the whole procedure in the video but I wrote down all the info below the video to make it possible for you to translate it in your language.

QKatie´s video:


Some thoughts about this video.

The most important thing before every stretch and fold is to keep your hands wet. That is not emphasized in Katie’s video.
Katie never tell about when they startted the different steps.
The procedure can be started in the evening or in the morning. Whenever you start,  the whole procedure to get a baked sourdough bread takes about 24 hours. I suggest times starting in the morning as I believe Tom may have done so in QKatie’s video.

Remember what I said about indicative recipes above. As you may notice in the video above, Katie says Tom uses King Arthur wheat flour. That is a key information! Katie does not tell about thee kind of full wheat flour but I imagine it is King Arthur too.

If you can buy this type of flour, you may be able to have success following the quantities mentioned in the video  or the  sourdough bible book Tom recommends.

After getting valuable  information from a Uk farmer, I believe however that  each year you may get different kind of King Arthur wheat flour depending on the climate that year.

NB. My  documentation  may not be exactly as Tom explains it as he doesn’t reveal starting times. But it works fine for me and so I hope it is satisfying Tom too who I am thankful for, he shared his sourdough baking technique.

In my first three levains I started the procedure 10 pm day 1  and had a ready levain to be baked in the oven the day 2 at 6 pm.

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

  1. Create the starter. With a starter you get a healthy ecosytem of lactobacilli and yeast cells. See above how to make and take care of a starter. It is easy.
  2. 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.
  3. Create the dough. You add more flour and water into the levain.
  4. Create protein chains by Stretch and folds. By stretching and folding you create a lot old protein chains that will hold the carbon dioxide and make your bread porous. You make 4 Stretch and foldings with 30 minutes rest in between.
  5. Fermenting.  Fermenting is done twice in room temp. QKatie calls the second fermenting  “bread basket and final shaping”. Yeast cells create carbon dioxide and bubbles.


You need

Step  2.  Make the levain.

  • 80 gr wheat flour and 80 gram full wheat flour or rye flour
  • 160 gram water
  • 1 table spoons  of starter

Step 3. to make a mix for 4 dough (breads)

  • dough
    • 300 gram levain.
    • 1050 gr water  (=3 dl liter for 1 dough)
    • 8 gram salt for 1 levain
    • 1355 gr white flour.  (~340 gr Wheat flour for 1 dough)  
    • 150 gr whole wheat flour  
    • (~38 gr Wheat flour for 1 dough) 
      Yo must adapt the total quantity of flour to get the right consistency. No flour is ideantical in absorbing water.
  • 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 1: 10 am day 1.Create a levain

    (~8 hours)

    • Mix 160 gr  flourmix and 160 g water and add 1 spoon of starter to  create a levain.
    • put the mixture in the refrigerator in  a covered container (to preserve humidity) for at least 8 hours.

Step 2:  6 pm. Create the dough

(~50 minutes )

  • solve  300 gram levain in 1 liter water
  • 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.
  • 6.40 pm. Stretch, fold the dough(~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.
    • Do the Stretch and fold and rest, 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 3. Fermenting

I call this third step fermenitng 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 step “Bread basket and shaping” .

9 am.  fermenting 1 ( ~60 minutes )

  • Tke out the doughs from the refrigerator.
  • Let is rest another 30 minutes in room temp.
  • Take up hte 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


10 am. “Bread basket and shaping” – fermenting 2

  • Prepare a basket with floured towel
  • Do a few final stretching (without breaking the dough) and foldings.
    Form the levain gently to a ball.
  • Put the levain in the basket 
  • let it rest 1-2 hours depending on temperature.
  • While it is resting heat up the oven to max temperature.

Baking the levainbread

  • Gently move the levain to a floured plate. Gently Remove surplus flour.
  • Move the levain on the baking plate with some corn on the bottom (ed. or oven paper) to avoid sticking.
  • Baking step 1: 25 minutes with cover in 450 celsius
    Baking step 2:25 minutes without coverin 450 celsius


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.

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