First ever sourdough loaf.....

Well, after some initial hiccups with my starter (the first started smelling like nail polish remover, so after some extra feeding with no changes, I canned it and started again), I baked my first loaf this morning.


It was something of a revelation.


In fact, I just looked at it for about 15 minutes, slightly bewildered that I'd managed to produce something of a standard I'd be happy to pay for. I've baked a few loaves in the past, but nothing sourdough, and with varying degrees of disappointment. So with some help from people here (and suggestions of a first loaf - this one is the Norwich Sourdough from the nice lady at Wild Yeast), here it is. I couldn't be more pleased, to be honest. Thanks so much to all who took the time to answer my questions. I feel the first pangs of addiction.



 Oh yes that looks really nice and the starter worked really well.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot


Looks terrific. Welcome to the tribe. You realise, of course, that there's no way back from here...?!

it's a long road, there's no turning back. still quite amazed that it works.

That is one lovely loaf!

That's a great looking loaf!!  Mine rises well and has good air bubbles but I can't quite get that great split at the top like you have.  I'm officially jealous.  :-)


And yeah, the addiction has begun.

Very nice loaf!!!


@Alien, don't overproof if you want to have good "splits" on top and I'd suggest a good retardation overnight at 5C

Where do I start to make bread like this one. Can you help me please with the flour, starter, spraying the water, I have just started. Thanks. Doug.

 My first loaf did not look half as good. You must remember to keep this pic so in 6 months you can look back at how your bread changes. You never forget the feeling the first time you pull out that first SD loaf and it has actually risen and it don't look half just keep staring in amazement, I know I did.,,yep...the addiction begins alright!

Hi Duke!


So, I've been trying to do the retardation overnight, and then most books recommend letting it warm up for 2 hours after taking it out of the refridgerator plus a 4 hour rise.  Or, doing a 4 hour rise after mixing, then shaping and doing another 4 hour rise.  This has gotten me a nice rise on the inside, but I can't seem to get that split.  Suggestions?


Thank you!




I followed the Norwich sourdough recipe to the letter really (here:, so I can scarcely take any credit. Autolysed, added the salt, manipulated the pretty wet dough by hand (no machine) with oil on my surface and hands for a minute or two, did some proofing at room temp for a couple of hours with occasional folds (the dough firms up a bit in this time), then another hour or so at room temp in the banneton. then in a bag, in the fridge overnight. then in the morning, get the oven on full whack, get some steam in there (a tray with boiling water in underneath the shelf with the baking stone on), then tip out the dough straight from the fridge onto a flat baking tray with some fine polenta cornmeal on to stop it sticking, and do two really quite deep slashes, and slide off the tray straight on to the stone in the oven. no letting the dough come back up to room temperature, just straight in, and turn the oven down to about 230c. I also speedily throw a small glass of water onto the bottom of the oven after it's been in for minute and quickly close the door again, just to get it going. possibly not advisable, but it does get the steam going.

so not sure what element of this gets the slashes looking good. maybe the depth. maybe putting it straight in the oven from the fridge without letting the dough get back to room temp. maybe the steam (this seems most likely for some reason). or maybe a combination of all the above.

Dougmaz, I'd just follow the recipe above and see how you get on.



I've read numerous ways to make slashes in the dough.  I've tried knives (even after sharpening sometimes it's really hard to get the slashes) and razors.  The razors seem to work best, but the kind I have it's hard to get them deep into the dough.


Any suggestions on how best to make the slashes?


By the way, I made the Norwich Sourdough - it turned out GREAT!!!  My new FAVORITE recipe.  SO good. 


Thank you!



Try slashing with a serrated knife. Also, the slashing action should be swift and decisive - in a recent post on another forum Shiao-Ping referred to her daughter's observation that her slashing action was 'savage'! That's a dramatic descriptor that probably arises out of personalising the bread dough! But it gives an accurate picture of the sort of action that results in a good slash.

You don't need to slash "deep into the dough" - 0.5 cm or so is enough.

With the Norwich SD, if you retard in the fridge overnight and bake straight out of the fridge you'll find the cold dough is easy to slash.

For all this advice, my slashing also leaves something to be desired more often than I'd like, especially with high hydration doughs at room temperature.

 I've bought one of those french lame contraptions but wouldn't recommend that. The best thing I've found is dismantling a cheap shaving razor.  Those little blades are sharp!  With practice the corner of one of those can cut even really sticky dough.  The downside is that it is a bit dangerous.  I use a cork from a wine bottle with a little slice in it to keep the blade safely when i'm not using it.  Don't cut yourself...