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How to make sourdough for beginners

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Is there a way to make sourdough for beginners? Yes, our guide takes you through the process in a clear and easy way to follow for great sourdough.

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Sourdough serves as a raising agent and is more digestible than yeast for many people. With just two ingredients, you can make it and multiply it if necessary.

Baking bread is becoming increasingly popular. The results are not always convincing. With the help of sourdough, however, the bread comes out of the oven in almost baker’s quality. The flour and water baking agent makes the dough fine-pored, increases the volume and keeps the finished bread fresh for longer. 

If you are looking for a digestible bread, you are also in the right place, because the phytic acid contained in the grain is naturally broken down in the production of sourdough. So sourdough is a very good alternative to yeast , which is not digestible for everyone. Below we reveal how easy it is to make sourdough for beginners — and even multiply sourdough.

What is needed?

  • flour
  • water
  • mason jars
  • wooden spoon

Rye flour, wheat flour or spelled flour can be used. If you make a wheat sourdough, you will also be able to bake a rye bread. 

Rye sourdough is used for breads that contain more than half of the rye flour. This applies to pure rye bread and mixed rye bread. Rye sourdough should always be used with wholemeal rye bread. This has a stricter taste and brings with it the typical pithy aroma of rye bread.

Rye sourdough has a brown-gray color and is the most stable form of sourdough. Due to the lower yeast content, a rye sourdough rises less quickly than a sourdough made from wheat flour.

Make sourdough for beginners: step by step

A little patience is required to make sourdough, because it takes place in several steps. Over time, the mixture will blister and smell sour. However, if there are major changes in color and mold forms on the dough, this attempt has failed and the mass must be disposed of as quickly as possible.

Day 1

On the first day, measure 50 grams of flour of your choice and 50 milliliters of lukewarm water and put the ingredients in a large mason jar.

Tip: The filling capacity of the mason jar should be at least 1.5 liters.

Stir the mixture in the glass well until you reach a consistency reminiscent of waffle batter . Then close the jar. The lid should only sit loosely and continue to allow air exchange. You should not use the rubber rings and clips that are typical of mason jars.

Put the glass on warm. Temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees are optimal for the fermentation process, which should now start slowly. The dough should rest here for about 12 hours. Then stir it thoroughly again.

Day 2 to Day 4

Add 50 grams of flour and 50 milliliters of water daily and stir well. Then she can rest for another 24 hours.

Day 5

Now the leaven is usually ready and can be processed further.

Tip: The leaven is ripe when it forms bubbles.

If there are still no blisters on day 5, the rest period should be extended. The mixture probably did not get enough heat. Something can be helped here. To do this, place the mason jar on the heater or place it in the oven at a low temperature.

From sourdough to bread

Now you can bake bread with the finished sourdough. This basic recipe makes two medium-sized breads:

  • a liter of leaven
  • 400 milliliters of water
  • a tablespoon of salt
  • a kilo of flour

Preparation of the sourdough bread

Put all the ingredients mentioned in a bowl and then mix them well together. If the dough begins to come off the bowl rim, you can form a loaf of bread. You have to let it rest for two to five hours so that it opens. So a little patience is required here.

When the loaf of bread has completely risen, you can bake it in the preheated oven at 180 to 200 degrees for about 45 to 60 minutes.

Tip: If the bread sounds hollow, tapping on the bottom can cause it to come out of the oven.

Multiply sourdough

It is time-consuming to make new leaven again and again. Rather, keep a portion of the sourdough batch back and multiply it as one of the great strategies to make sourdough for beginners.

If you have baked the first bread with your sourdough, you can keep the remaining sourdough in the fridge. You can easily increase this by taking it out of the cooling and “feeding” it. Simply add 225 grams of flour and 225 milliliters of warm water and stir the whole thing together. The dough should now rest in a warm place for 24 hours.

When the new sourdough is ready, you can process some of it further. The remaining sourdough goes into the mason jar and back into the fridge. The dough can be stored there for about a week.

Tip: 400 grams of leaven can be made from 225 grams of flour and 225 milliliters of water. The remaining 25 grams of flour and 25 milliliters of water correspond to the “starter”, the basis for the next dough.

This way you can continuously increase the dough. Those who bake less frequently can also create several cultures and give away the “starters”. If you don’t want this and still want to bake less, just feed your sourdough with less flour and water.

Make and multiply sourdough

Make sourdoughMultiply sourdough
Day 1: Fill the mason jar with 50 grams of flour and 50 milliliters of lukewarm water
let it rest, stir, let it rest
Day 2: Add 50 grams of flour and 50 milliliters of water, stir
Day 3: Add 50 grams of flour and 50 milliliters of water, stir
Day 4: Add 50 grams of flour and 50 milliliters of water, stir
Day 5: dough is ready
Feed the dough with 225 flour and 225 milliliters of water
let it rest for a day
Process the dough
Retain 50 grams of dough as a “starter”

Tips for baking with sourdough

Tip 1:

The proportion of sourdough should make up about 30 to 40 percent of the total dough mass. If there is less dough or the leaven is poor, adding yeast can save the dough.

Tip 2:

Sourdough bread takes a long time to mature. You shouldn’t lose your patience. Up to five hours of rest is normal.

Tip 3:

When baking whole grain rye bread, the dough is usually particularly soft. So that the dough does not run apart in the oven, it is convenient to put the mass in a buttered box. This keeps the bread in its shape and becomes wonderfully loose, since the carbon dioxide trapped in the dough cannot escape.


By now, you should be able to see that it is easy to make sourdough for beginners — so happy baking!

Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion, health and beauty writer from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.