The Sourdough Baking Group

This site was originally created to provide support to users of the Sourdough Bakers FB group and anyone else who has an interest in baking with wild yeast.

You will find all the basic info you need as well as tips from the experts on a range of related subjects and a range of recipes for beginners right to the more advanced.

The Sourdough Baking Group is run by a dedicated team all of whom enjoy baking, and who understand the passion and addictive nature of baking with sourdough.

We are always adding new content and recipes, so we hope you visit often.

This is also the support site for our Sourdough Facebook group which is full of further support and inspiration from other sourdough enthusiasts. Please feel free to  join us there.

If you found us through Facebook, then welcome, we hope you find this a good additional resource !

Tom Ford

Founder of the FB 100% Sourdough Group

I love sourdough! I love to make it, I love to eat it, and I love to share it. But when I first started making it,  I found it to be a bit of a challenge. Despite all the directions posted on websites, my initial attempts did not produce the perfect boules that were pictured on so many sites.

I eventually did learn to make sourdough and it has become part of my life. I make it several times a week and it’s what my wife and I eat for bread every day.

I love to share my bread, but I also love to share my experiences with making it and with learning to make it. This is why I started the Facebook Sourdough Baking Group. I want others to learn. I want them to know that, despite early failures, it can be done.  And this is why we started this website–so that we can share the joy and fun of making sourdough bread.

When I’m not baking sourdough bread, I like to cook other things. Most days I’m usually in the kitchen cooking for my wife or experimenting with new recipes. I try to avoid anything that comes in a box or a can and cook from fresh ingredients whenever possible.

I grew up in Kansas, went to graduate school in Iowa, and now live in a small town in Northeast Florida, USA, with my wife and three dogs. 

Karen Cooper

I am not a professional baker, but I do love cooking and baking and trying foods from around the world. I’ve been doing both since I was very young. I have travelled extensively, lived in the Caribbean, New York, and now, middle England. 

Compared to many, I am a relative newcomer to sourdough baking. I find it a relaxing pastime so don’t take it all too seriously.  I rarely use a recipe for bread  generally preferring to follow the principles and proven ingredient ratios.

Like many others, I wish I had time to bake more often. Every loaf is a learning experience and I don’t think you ever stop learning. 

In life, my main area of expertise is designing and developing websites which I have been doing for over 20 years. We all hope you all find this website helpful.

Martin Mosley

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed baking. There’s something special about taking simple ingredients and creating wholesome and tasty breads and pastries.

For a short period some years ago, I turned this love of creating into a small business, and introduced a French public to traditional English baking.

Now, aside from commercial baking, the pleasure comes from seeing family and friends enjoying home produced fare in a convivial atmosphere. I enjoy experimenting with new (to me) recipes. Adapting them to suit the occasion.

Away from the ‘fournil’ I am a historian and genealogist, helping people around the world to understand their family history, and the heritage of the places they lived. I build specialised websites to help families preserve those histories.

Becki Jameson

Our colleague Becki is one of the original FB Group admins. We look forward to continuing to work with her on the FB Group.

She’s enjoyed several decades of baking experience, having provided desserts and breads for her small church’s monthly potluck meals.  She became interested in sourdough in 2015 during a particularly stressful time in her life.

Becki enjoys the contemplative, peaceful process of gently stretching and folding dough, and the sanity-saving distraction of learning something new, it helped provide a necessary respite.   You can find out more about Becki’s baking at Becki’s Baked Blessings.

Disclaimer: Whilst we hope the information provided is helpful and informative, we cannot guarantee that all details will be 100% accurate.  There are many schools of thought and conflicting ideas on many of the sourdough processes and methods.  This site is simply meant as a broad guide to baking sourdough, and is not a scientific reference.

Also, please forgive the mixed US and UK spellings throughout. We have a team from various countries working on this site.This site may contain affiliate links. 

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A special sharp knife, or tool which holds a razor blade, in a curved or straight manner. You use it to score the dough before baking.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is generally understood to be a covered earthenware or cast-iron container for cooking casseroles. They are ideal for bread as they can accommodate bread dough and be covered to help generate the steamy environment requiredto encourage the dough to rise. Enamel roasters with a lid, covered pyrex dishes, or even a flat tray with a bowl over the top of the dough, are equally effective.

Bakers’ Percentages

Sometimes called baker’s math, this is a method to express the different ingredients as a percentage of the total amount of flour. It makes scaling a recipe or building a recipe very easy once you know the total weight of the flour, and also allows you to know the ‘hydration’ of your dough.

Example: If you build your dough with 1000 gram flour, 670-grams water, 20-gram salt, and 8-gram yeast. According to bakers percentages, that will be 100% flour (the amount of flour is always 100%), 67% water, 2% salt, and 0.8% yeast.
You divide the amount of the different ingredients with the amount of flour.

Banneton / Brotform / Proofing Basket

A type of basket or container used to provide structure for shaped loaves of bread during proofing. Banneton baskets are also known as ‘Brotform’ or ‘proofing baskets’. It is normally used for doughs that are too soft or wet to maintain their shape while rising. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for ones that fit the size of loaves you want to bake.

They are often made of natural rattan, or wood fiber. You can also use any container lined with a well-floured tea towel.

Oven Spring

The final burst of expansion of dough upon being introduced to a hot oven and where the yeast activity is increased during the first few minutes. At approximately 60C/140ºF degrees the yeast is killed off, but up until that point, dough can expand in the oven in the first phase of baking if it’s not over-fermented and still has dough strength. Many factors can impact oven spring including the length of fermentation, gluten development, and the hydration of the dough.


An alternative to traditional kneading used to develop gluten. The process is performed periodically in the bowl throughout the bulk fermentation. Take a side of the dough and gently stretch it up and over, to fold it upon itself, rotate the dough 90º, and repeat, then turn the bowl 45º and the same stretch and fold. Once all four corners of the dough have been stretched and folded, gluten development and a smooth, elastic dough are underway. Also, see ‘Folding’ and ‘Coil Folds’.

Bulk Ferment

Most loaves have two fermenting cycles. One before and one after the loaves are formed. Bulk fermentation is the first cycle, with a long fermentation period of the dough after the initial mixing of flour, water, starter, and salt and often comes during and after a period of kneading or ‘stretch and folds’.During this stage we are aiming to create dough strength, structure and flavor. The dough should feel alive, strong, airy, spongy and the surface shouldn’t feel sticky.

The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature, unless otherwise noted in the recipe and is a longer period of time (4 -12 hours) than the final proofing period. This step may be referred to as the first prove or first rising. Acetic acid, an organic acid is produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang. The warmer the environment, the faster the development of the dough will be

Window Pane

The window pane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently stretched and folded your bread dough. Pull a small piece of the dough and using both hands and your fingers stretch the dough very thin if it holds its shape without tearing the gluten is well-developed and your dough is ready to be pre-shaped, shaped and rest for it’s final prove.

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

A mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. Made either by inoculating with an established colony of bacteria or by capturing wild bacteria and yeasts over a longer period. Sometimes also called Leaven / Levain.



Autolyse (pronounced auto-lees) is a process in which a portion of (or total) water and flour in a bread recipe are gently pre-blended and set to rest for a period of time.

This resting period gives the dough special processing characteristics and improves the overall quality of the baked goods.

During autolyse process, several events can occur in the pre-mixed water/flour mixture:

  1. Continued flour hydration. Water molecules work their way into damaged starch, intact starch granules and proteins.
  2. Protein bonds continue to develop as a consequence of adding water, creating more gluten strands without mechanical work. This leads to better gluten structure and gas retention.
  3. Flour enzymes (mainly proteases) acquire time to adapt and work on the gluten by breaking down protein bonds.Protease activity is higher at low pH (acidic conditions). This is why autolysed doughs that contain yeast or pre-ferments (e.g. poolish) often experience greater protease activity. Such doughs are more extensible, weaker, softer and show less resistance to deformation than autolyzed non-fermented doughs.2
  4. Finally, as a result, the dough feels less sticky and very smooth after the autolyse.

As a general rule, the longer the autolyse time:

  • The shorter the dough mixing time (less mechanical development of gluten-forming proteins in needed). This means less energy consumption during mixing.
  • The shorter the dough stability duration
  • The less tolerance to overmixing. Breakdown is more pronounced once peak (maximum strength) is attained.
  • The smaller the P value in the alveograph test
  • The more extensible and less elastic the dough becomes at the end of autolysis
  • The better the sheetability and machining of dough during lamination of croissants
  • The easier and faster the dough expands during oven spring (better volume)
  • The lower the need for dough conditioners
  • The better the flavor and aroma of the finished product
Leaven/Levain/Sourdough Starter
  1. A substance, in this case a wild yeast starter, that is used in sourdough baking to make dough rise.
  2. Some methods of baking, such as ‘Tartine Method’ require a sourdough leavening agent be made from a sourdough ‘mother culture’ (aka your Starter). This technique is often employed to boost the yeast activity of the sourdough starter by feeding a small amount of starter a larger quantity of flour and water. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter, a leaven can be prepared 8-12 hours before the dough will be mixed by combining 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter with ½ cup flour and a scant ½ cup of water. This leaven can then be used as the sourdough starter and will be quite active come baking time.
  1. cause (dough or bread) to rise by adding leaven.