How to Make a Sourdough Bread Using a Foolproof Starter
Follow this easy recipe to make a delicious sourdough bread that starts with making a sponge. The benefit of using a sponge is that you never have a large amount of starter that you have to tend to. Your actual starter will never be more than a few tablespoons contained in a jar no larger than 8-ounces. No more feeling guilty for throwing out cups of starter before each feeding!
  • CourseBreads
  • CuisineAmericana
  • KeywordBreads, Rye Sourdough Starter, Sourdough Bread, Sourdough Starter
Servings Prep Time
2loaves 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 8-10hours
Servings Prep Time
2loaves 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30minutes 8-10hours
  • 2tbsp Rye sourdough starter
  • 1/3cup Rye flour
  • 2 1/3cups Filtered waterlukewarm, divided
  • 4 1/2 cups Bread flour
  • 1tbsp Fine ground sea salt
  • Additional bread flourfor dusting
  1. Make the “Sponge”. Add the starter to the rye flour and 1/3 cup of the water. Mix well and allow to rest for 6-10 hours. It should become bubbly and foamy.
  2. Add the bread flour to a clean bowl and add the salt. Mix well. Make a well in the center of the bread flour and pour in the remaining 2 cups of water and the sponge. Mix well using a wooden spoon or spatula. You can also use your well-floured hand. The dough will be sticky. (You can use an electric mixer to do this, but it really isn’t necessary.) All the flour should be moistened and pull away from the bowl, leaving the bowl with a clean appearance. This takes approximately one minute to do.
  3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm (approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit), undisturbed place for approximately 6-8 hours.
  4. At six hours check the dough to see if it has doubled in size. If so, it is time to check the dough to see if it has risen sufficiently. The easiest way to do this is with the “Finger Test”. (See the recipe notes.)
  5. Once the dough passes the finger test, you are ready to transfer it from the bowl to a well-floured board. Divide the dough into two portions and shape each portion into a round “boule” loaf. Watch the video for a detailed demonstration on how to do this.
  6. Place a dish towel on a wooden cutting board and flour the dish towel. Flour the top of each round loaf and cover with a second dish towel. Allow each round loaf to double in size. This will take approximately 1-2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
  7. While you are waiting for the round loaves to rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it comes up to temperature, allow it to stay at this temperature for 30 minutes before adding the round loaves to the oven. Once you place the round loaves in the oven to bake, immediately turn the heat down to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Once the round loaves have doubled in size, transfer each one to their own parchment-lined and floured baking sheet. (You can also transfer them to a baking stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal or wheat bran to prevent sticking).
  9. Use a lame to make some cuts on the top of each round loaf to allow for proper baking. If you do not have a lame, use a sharp knife. If you would prefer to skip this step, invert your loaf and place it on the parchment-lined and floured baking sheet with the seam side facing up.
  10. Bake the bread for approximately 30 minutes. You can tell that it is done when it is nicely browned on top and when it has a hollow sound when you tap on the bottom of the round loaf. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least one hour.
  11. After one hour, you can slice and enjoy the bread. It will stay relatively fresh on the counter for a few days (if it’s not all eaten by then!!) or you can transfer it to a plastic bag and refrigerate it. It will stay fresh for about one week. You can also wrap the bread well in plastic wrap.
Recipe Notes

To check the dough with a “Finger Test”, push your index finger and your middle finger into the risen dough. If your finger imprints disappear, the dough has not risen enough. Give it more time and check it in another 30 minutes.

If your finger imprints stay in the dough, but begins to partially spring back (leaving some of your finger imprints visible), the dough has risen correctly, and you are ready to bake the dough.

If however, your finger imprints remain firmly imprinted in the dough, it has risen too much and will not bake up a light bread. However, do not worry. It this is unlikely to happen if you start checking your dough at the 6-hour mark. However, if this does happen. All is not lost. The dough can be used to make a flatbread like pizza or focaccia, and it will be fine.

Find this recipe and video at

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