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Simple Sourdough Recipe for Beginners

by Amber Fairweather |

Sourdough for beginners can be really daunting. We have simplified the process, using no fancy sourdough equipment, so that anyone can start their sourdough journey. 


Sourdough is an art and requires practicing and becoming in-tune with how the sourdough starter works and the different effect the various variables cause. 


We have simplified the sourdough process so that any beginning can have a go at baking sourdough. The most important foundational variable to start with, is having a strong and active sourdough starter. Having a strong sourdough starter will give you the best chance at having a successful loaf. Symbiota offers sourdough starters and sourdough kits to take the hard work out for you. Our starters are decades old, providing great leavening agents and a depth of flavour. 

I highly recommend feeding your starter organic flour, even if you don't use organic flour in your loaf. Organic flour supports starters in being really active and doubling in size. 

Once you have an active sourdough starter, a good day to start this sourdough bread process if you are a beginner (and away from home during the days) is on a Saturday Morning. 

First you need to feed your sourdough starter. 

Feeding your sourdough starter:


Make sure you have fed your starter several times so that it increases in size 75-100% (i.e. almost doubles in size) several hours later after feeding. The colder it is the longer it is going to take to peak, the warmer it is the faster it will take to peak. Once your sourdough has peaked, it will drop back down again, so you want to make sure you use it when it has doubled. 

As a guideline if you starter has been frequently fed, it will double accordingly:

At 23/24℃ it should double in +-6 hours

At 19/20℃ it should double in +-10-12 hours

To feed your sourdough, use the ratio of 50g of sourdough starter, 50g flour and 50g of non-chlorinated water (this flour is additional to the ingredients list). If you are trying to get your starter active quickly, do this every 12 hours. If you are maintaining it at room temperature, do this every 24 hours. If you are leaving it in the fridge, do this once a week. 

Right, you have an active starter that is doubling in size, it is time to bake!


Ingredients for making sourdough bread:


  • 520g high-grade bread flour (ideally organic, if not organic make sure there is no folic acid in it)
  • 12g sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 385g warm water
  • 100g fed sourdough starter at its peak

The evening before you bake your bread (Friday or Saturday evening works well):

Process for making sourdough:


  1. Place weighed flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix your weighed starter and water in a bowl until it is cloudy. 
  3. Pour the starter-water into the flour and salt and mix it until you have a thick thick dough. 
  4. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and leave for 15 mins. 


  1. Do you first set of “stretch and folds”. Wet your hands, slide your hand down the side of the dough (make sure your hand is wet enough not to stick to the dough, you may need to wet it again). Grab the dough one one side (easiest at “12 O’clock angle), pull it upwards and then fold it up and over the center of the dough (down to “6 O’clock angle). Turn the whole bowl to 3 O’clock (a quarter turn) and repeat this “stretch and fold”. Repeat this for 30 seconds or until the dough begins to feel firm. Once the dough feels firm, cover the bowl again and let rest for another 15 minutes. 


  1. Repeat step 5. 
  2. Once you have completed your second round of stretch and folds, turn the ball of dough over (so it is now upside down). 


  1. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap or a damp, clean kitchen towel to reserve the moisture and leave at room temperature overnight. If your room temperature is approx 21℃ it will take 10-12 hours to proof. The warmer it is the faster it will proof and this might require you to adjust your starting time. 

6-8am the following morning:

  1. The dough should have expanded. It won’t necessarily double in size. Do the poke test to see if it has proofed enough. To do the poke test, use a floured finger and press the dough with the pad of your index finger. If it indents easily and then springs back to the original shape, it is ready to bake. If it's firm to press, it needs to be left for longer and if it feels loose it has likely fermented for too long and might be over-proofed, but bake it anyway. 
  2. Place baking paper in a medium sized bowl, or oil the bowl. Try to choose a bowl that can support the shape of a sourdough loaf. You will want a bowl with higher sides than a shallow bowl, and a bonus if it has a lid. Casserole dishes work great. If you are lucky enough to have a Dutch oven, use this. 
  3. Wet your hands, and slide them down the side of your dough and bowl, loosen the dough away from the bowl. With both hands, grab a side of the dough and lift it up +-60cms. As you place it back down, fold it over itself. If your dough is runny, it might be over-proofed, stretch and fold it anyway it should tighten up. If your dough won’t stretch, it hasn’t proofed for long enough. 
  4. Wetting your hands each time, continue this stretch and folder movement for 4 quarter turns, waiting a minute in between each stretch and fold. 
  5. Lift your dough up and fold it into the bowl you are going to bake it in, as you would fold it with the stretch and fold. Cover with a wet kitchen towel or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 mins. If you have a casserole dish with a lid of a Dutch oven, place the lid on.  This will help firm up your sourdough loaf, to make scoring easier. If you want to bake it later you can leave this loaf in your fridge for up to 8 hours. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the more sour your loaf will become. 
  6. If your dough is unmanageable, and taking now shape, simply use a bread loaf pan. This could be because the dough has over-proofed. 
  7. When you are ready to bake the sourdough loaf, preheat your oven at 260℃ fan bake. Make sure your oven is very very hot and fully preheated before placing your loaf in the oven. 
  8. Score your loaf with a serrated knife, or if you have a lame or a blade, you can use this. To score your loaf, slice it down the center, approx 1 inch deep. 
  9. Spritz the top of your loaf with water. If you don’t have a lid for your baking dish, place a tray of ½ cup of water or even better a handful of ice at the bottom of your oven. This will help create the steamy environment in the oven that sourdough loves. 
  10. Place your sourdough into your hot oven, and bake for 20 mins with the lid on. If you do not have fan bake, bake for 25 minutes. 
  11. Your loaf should have puffed up and be slightly golden brown. If it is pale, place the lid back on and bake for a further 5-10 minutes. 
  12. Once your loaf is lightly golden brown, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature of the loaf should be 95℃. 
  13. If you are aiming for a crusty loaf, you can increase the covered baking time while decreasing the uncovered baking time. 
  14. Remove your sourdough loaf from the oven and let cool on a rack for a minimum of an hour. If you cut your loaf too early, you will risk having a dense, stodgy loaf. Resist the temptation!
  15. Time to cut your loaf! Slice your loaf. If you are happy with it, congratulations. If you find your loaf crumb is a bit dense, it is likely it did not proof for long enough. If your crumb has pulled away from the crust, it is likely it is proofed for too long. 

Sourdough is an art, be proud of yourself for giving it a go and implement your learning into each next bake. There is so much to learn about sourdough baking, and you can choose how far you want to challenge yourself. 

If you have landed up with a loaf that is really dense, toasting imperfect sourdough bread slices helps everything! The taste is still great!