Hi, I was learning how to make sourdough loaves about 4 years ago when life got in the way and I have up my hobby. However, now I have a family, have been baking regular yeast bread for a few months, was given some awesome starter and am keen to get started again. So. I just want a really basic recipe. And I can't seem to find one here. I don't understand hydration percentages or bakers percentages. Can someone help me out please? I tried the Vienna loaf but it was a disaster. :(
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shasta's picture
shasta 2012 November 12

Hello Hyacinth,

I'll give you a few links that may help you out.

Bakers Percentage:!

A nice Basic White Sourdough Recipe:

The author of the link above also talks a little about Starter hydration in the recipe.

A great baking technique:

This is from the same source as the basic white recipe.

I hope this all helps. It really is all easier than it seems!




farinam's picture
farinam 2012 November 12

Hello Hyacinth,

Your last name's not Bucket is it?  You don't have to answer that /;-{)}

Anyway, if you read SourDoms beginners blog on this site he gives lots of good advice on bread making and the Pane francesa recipe is good and reliable as a kick off.  I advise that you make the recipe several times and don't despair if it doesn't turn out as you would like for a few times.  It takes a little while for you to get a feel for the dough and its development and the techniques for shaping the loaf and so forth.  After a few goes you will suddenly wonder what all the fuss was about.

However, if you feel you would like more advice don't hesitate to get back to us.  And by all means show off the results of your efforts.

Good luck with your projects.


Moohie 2012 November 13

Hi Hyacinth. I relied heavily on SourDom's beginners blog when I first started out. I made his Pane Francese recipe over and over for a while before I branched out and started experimenting a little. 

(I'll cut and paste SourDom's recipe below in case you can't find it (and don't worry about the percentage figures there, it took me ages to work them out, but you don't really need to know what they are if you're just following the recipe).  I did have some other basic recipes bookmarked too, but I seem to have deleted them. Anyway, the link to this recipe of SourDom's is )

There are some great videos on here, if you click on 'gallery' up the top then scroll down there are lots of videos to choose from. I also started doing some googling and found some great instructional videos (Northwest Sourdough has some good videos as does King Arthur flour). Basically I just went on a bit of a YouTube journey, going from one instructional video to the next. Some were great, some not so. It's a bit of a time waster, but interesting. 



Pane Francese (1)


1 teaspoon starter

90g white flour

90g water


180g starter (36%)

320g water (64%)

450g white bakers flour (90%)

50g wholemeal flour (10%)

10g salt (2%)

Hyacinth 2012 November 13
Wonderful tips and great advice! I'll keep you posted! Also, I would prefer to work with wholemeal flour. Any tips there? :)
farinam's picture
farinam 2012 November 13

Hello Hyacinth,

Wholemeal four will need more water (higher hydration) than white flour due to the greater absorbancy of the bran and germ.

However the bran and germ also serves to dispupt the continuity and strength of the gluten development and so it is more difficult to get a strong dough that will rise well and spring in the oven.  The bread will be super tasty though.

I would suggest that when you have practiced and are competent with your simple almost white recipes, then progressively increase the wholemeal content (and hydration to maintain dough texture/feel) until you reach a stage that you are happy with whether that is 100% wholemeal or some lower percentage.

Good luck with your projects.


Moohie 2012 November 14

I have had varying results with wholemeal (never 100% wholemeal - always a mix of white and wholemeal) depending on what brand of flour I use. The most successful wholemeal loaves I have had was when I used a combination of my usual Laucke's organic white flour and Four Leaf wholewheat flour. I did try Laucke's organic wholemeal, but it seemed to have too many 'big bits' of bran and germ in it and the loaf barely rose at all.

Not sure if you're in Australia though - if not, these brand probably mean nothing to you.  

I agree with Farinam, I would start with white until you're happy and confident in the whole process and then increase the wholemeal content until you get a result you're happy with. I found there was a tipping point, where the wholemeal content was too much and I got grizzles from the family about the bread! 

I must admit though, I usually just bake white loaves, as it's what the family prefer and it seems to be the most easily digestable for my daughter who is a little intolerant to grains. 

Happy baking.


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