Basic Sourdough Boule Recipe

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This French-style mild sourdough boule traditionally uses unbleached bread flour, plus some whole-wheat and rye flours. You can skip the whole grains and just use 500 grams of bread flour, but I encourage you to start using more whole grains when you feel comfortable with the process. Whole grains greatly increase the flavor complexity of your bread, among other benefits.

Yield: 1 loaf
Fermentation type: lacto
Primary fermentation: 8 to 12 hours
Secondary fermentation: 10 to 12 hours
Total time: about 18 to 24 hours


  • 195 grams (about 1 cup) starter, refreshed
  • 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) unchlorinated water, cool
  • 375 grams (2 1/3 cups) unbleached bread flour
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup) stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • 25 grams (3 tablespoons) rye flour
  • 10 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) sea salt

Baker’s Percentage*:

  • Starter, refreshed: 40
  • Unchlorinated water, cool: 70
  • Unbleached bread flour: 75
  • Stone-ground whole-wheat flour: 20
  • Rye flour: 5
  • Sea salt: 2

*Baker’s percentage: Each ingredient expressed as a percentage of the flour weight. To find an ingredient’s percentage, divide the total weight of an ingredient by the total flour weight, then multiply by 100. In this recipe, for example, the starter’s weight is 195 grams, and the total flour weight is 500 grams. When calculated, the starter’s weight is about 40 percent of the flour’s total weight.


Step 1: Refreshing the Starter

For one loaf, take about 1/4 cup of starter from your storage container and place in a small bowl. Refresh as described in Deceptively Simple Sourdough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the starter ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours before mixing your bread dough.

Step 2: Mixing

Measure the water and bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and rye flour, and combine in a large mixing bowl. Stir to blend, making sure all the flour is moistened. Let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Step 3: Kneading

Mix in the starter and salt. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes, breaking up this time with some rest periods. Knead for 5 minutes, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes; knead 5, rest 10, knead 5. This gives the gluten, which has been developing during all this exercise, a chance to relax.

If using a stand mixer and dough hook, follow your mixer’s recommendation for kneading time and speed. If hand-kneading, dip your hands in cool water as you knead. I moisten my hands whenever the dough starts to stick to them. This makes kneading easier, keeps the dough from becoming dry from the addition of flour, and results in a beautifully moist loaf.

Step 4: Fermenting

If you have a dough-rising bucket, put the dough into it and secure the lid. I love the 2-quart dough-rising bucket because it’s so simple to know when a 500-gram batch of dough is done fermenting: When the bucket is full, it’s ready. If you don’t have a dough bucket, leave the dough in the mixing bowl after kneading, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel. Let the dough ferment at room temperature until it’s doubled in volume. In my cool kitchen, the dough doubles in 10 to 12 hours. I mix the dough in the evening and let it ferment all night, so it’s ready to shape, proof, and bake in the morning.

Step 5: Shaping, Proofing, and Baking

When the dough has doubled, heat your oven and baking stone (if using) to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. (Leave the oven on for 1 hour before using it, so the stone is thoroughly heated. If you’re not using a baking stone, heat the oven for at least 15 minutes.)

Shape the dough by hand into a ball (boule). If you’re using a proofing basket (banneton), put the dough into the basket or bowl seam side up. Let the dough proof at room temperature for 1 hour.

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Put parchment paper on a peel, if you’re using a baking stone; otherwise, put the parchment on a baking sheet. Turn the dough onto the parchment paper, and quickly slash the loaf as desired using a bread knife or lame. Slide the loaf, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone (or a middle rack if you’re using a baking sheet).

Bake 45 minutes, or until deep golden-brown.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Store at room temperature for about 1 week.

See how easy sourdough really is? Yes, it’s science-y, but it’s not complicated or mysterious. It might seem a little fussy at first, but with some practice and patience, you’ll soon get used to the routine. And you’ll love the bread — and other foods — you can make with your sourdough starter!

Learn more about the art of sourdough in Deceptively Simple Sourdough

Is there any food that evokes pleasant memories and warm feelings more than bread? It’s the most basic of foods, yet many of us are intimidated by the prospect of making our own. From making simple yeast breads to teaching how to bake a wide variety of sourdough-based breads, author Victoria Redhed Miller inspires beginners and accomplished bakers alike to find their own comfort zone and move on to new skills when they’re ready. This title is available in our online store or by calling 800-978-7464. Mention promo code MFRPAJZ1. Item #8879.

Victoria Redhed Miller is the author of From No-Knead to Sourdough: A Simpler Approach to Handmade Bread, the award-winning Craft Distilling, and Pure Poultry. Victoria is also a regular speaker at the Mother Earth News Fair. She lives on an off-grid farm in northwest Washington.

Published on Aug 13, 2019


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