is for sale, 100K USD, contact us for more info.

complete beginner home baker help


I am retired, living in the UK and love baking but completely new to sourdough baking. What is the best type of sourdough loaf to start with? something very simple please. once I've had a success I will feel more confidence.


265 users have voted.


Clarabba 2011 September 13

Thanks so much for your suggestion. I followed the link you gave and made a sourdough loaf. It too was a success - far from perfect, but it smelt good, looked good OK and tasted not too bad. I'll definitely try it again.

panfresca 2011 September 10

It's pretty hard to completely wreck a loaf, and I've certainly tried hard enough!... You'll almost certainly produce results on your first bake which will please you. And from there you will learn more and refine your technique.

One of the simplest, most reliable techniques, and one which is a staple for many experienced bakers too, is the basic 1:2:3 method. (By weight) 1 of 100% hydration (ie 50:50 flour/water) starter, 2 of water, 3 of flour. Plus 1.8 to 2% salt.

You can just browse the many recipes on this site and choose one which you like the look of. One which I love and regularly bake is Shiao-Ping's Home Bread, which uses the 1:2:3 method and you can see here:

As flour particularly can vary hugely in weight, it's usually more reliable to weigh it rather than rely on volumetric measures (such as cups).

Good luck!

BruceHall 2011 September 22

Is the 1-2-3 method true for any grade of flour? What I mean is, will I need more starter to raise wholemeal flour than I would need to raise white flour? In "regular" breadmaking, I would normally add more yeast to drive a wholemeal loaf than I would for a white loaf, so is the same not true for a sourdough wholemeal loaf?



panfresca 2011 September 22

Whole meal flours usually absorb more water than other flours, so you should adjust that. I don't change the amount of starter for whole meal flours, but you could try it both ways and see if there's a difference. Peter Reinhart has done a lot of work on whole meal baking in his book "Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain Breads", developing methods to achieve a lighter more palatable loaf - worth checking out his methods. 

Clarabba 2011 September 22

BruceHall and panfresca - you have between you sorted out the question that i have been pondering the last few days. Thanks very much. It's worthwhile making the effort to get it right. The last loaf I made was wholemeal and very hard to work so I'm assuming it needed more water. 

farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 22

Hi Guys,

There has been nothing scientific about this but to give you some idea from some of my recent baking, I have gone from hydration of 69.5% with 100% white bread flour to 78.8% hydration with 40% wholemeal/60% white bread flour.

The latter dough was perhaps a bit soft and the oven spring was down from normal but that might just be due to my limited experience with handling higher hydration dough.

I will see if I can dig out photos of the finished product and post them for you.


farinam's picture
farinam 2011 September 23

Hello again,

The photos showed a bit more difference than my notes indicated so i have included another loaf with even higher hydration (80%) but with a slightly lower wholemeal content.  The first loaf had a bit of a 'cold shut' which might have contributed to the minor burst in the slash.  The greater spread and lower oven spring is obvious in the second but I put that down to technique considering the result for the third loaf.


Crumb comparison with varying hydration and wholemeal content

Not sure that this helps at all but the main message is to experiment and persist.  Nothing to lose but a half kilo of flour and it will be eminently edible anyway.


Clarabba 2011 September 23

Thanks so much Farinam particularly for the photos - as you say, just persist and experiment. Next time I'm going to use much less, if any wholemeal flour, and look at what I am doing rather than follow a recipe exactly to the gram.

Post Reply

Already a member? Login