HomeGeneralThe Foodbod Sourdough Master Recipe by Elaine Boddy

The Foodbod Sourdough Master Recipe by Elaine Boddy

Hi, I’m Elaine from Foodbod Sourdough, sourdough baker, teacher and cookbook writer, and I’m here to show you the simplest way to make sourdough. In the previous issue I shared how to make a sourdough starter from scratch, if you made yours and now fancy a go at making a loaf, this is my master recipe, the simplest way you’ll ever find to make sourdough.

If you already have an existing starter, you can use that, too! And whatever flour you used to make your starter with, you can use it to make any loaf – the flour in your starter does not need to match the flour in your dough.

You can find more details, answers and guidance in my book, The Sourdough Whisperer.

Sourdough Master Recipe

Yield: 1 standard loaf

Time: 24 hours from the time to feed your starter to the baked loaf; hands on time: 30 minutes.


*Your starter, fed and ready to go.

*Good-quality strong white bread flour – I recommend using King Arthur Bread or Matthews Cotswold Strong White Bread flour. You can use other flours to make sourdough, but if this is your first time making it, or using my recipe, I recommend starting with these flours.

*Digital scale: weighing the ingredients rather than using cups makes a real difference.

*Large mixing bowl, ideally 9ʺ (23 cm) diameter and 3.5ʺ (9 cm) deep – this is the exact size bowl that I use and helps to measure if the dough is fully proved. If your dough only just fills the bowl and has a good structure, it’s well proved.

*Bowl scraper: always useful for scraping the bowl down.

*Shower cap, or bowl cover of your choice: the dough needs to be covered as it proved to prevent it from getting a dry heavy surface.

*Banneton, 8.5ʺ (21.5 cm) diameter/500-750g brotform banneton prepared with rice flour, the perfect thing for giving the dough shape during its second prove.

*Parchment paper: this needs to be good quality parchment paper rather than waxed paper (that will stick like glue to the baked loaf).

*Lame or razor blade: scoring the dough before baking helps the loaf to grow as it bakes in an even way. The blade needs to be thin and sharp which is why a razor blade is best, and the ‘lame’ is merely a holder for the blade, and safer than holding a blade.

*Enamel roaster pan, 10.26ʺ (26 cm) diameter, or other baking pan with a lid; I use lightweight, inexpensive enamel pans to bake my loaves, they heat up quickly, cool down quickly and don’t weigh (or cost) anywhere near as much as cast iron. By baking in a covered pan it encourages the dough to grow without needing to add steam to the oven.


  • 50 g active starter, fed beforehand and given time to grow and respond
  • 350 g water (use whatever water you use in your starter; I use tap water)
  • 500 g strong white bread flour (as described above)
  • 7 g salt, or to taste (I use very little salt in my loaves, you may want more)

1. I always begin making my dough between 4-5 p.m.; this is my standard timetable, and it can be manipulated for your household of which there are more details in my book and on my site, but for now, I recommend starting around this time. Mix all of the ingredients together* in your bowl to make a rough dough, with no dry flour showing. Cover the bowl with a shower cap or cover, and leave it for around 2 hours on the kitchen counter.

*Return the rest of your starter to the fridge until you need it again, with the lid firmly fitted.

2. After the rest time, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough to build up its structure. To do this, pick up a small handful of dough from one side of the bowl, using your thumb and two forefingers to grab a portion, lift it, stretch it and fold it over the rest of the dough to the other side of the bowl, turn the bowl a few degrees and repeat the process, lift and fold, turn the bowl, lift and fold, turn the bowl, and continue until the dough comes together into a smooth-ish ball. Then stop. Cover the bowl again and leave it out on the kitchen counter. You can now leave the bowl again for an hour, or half an hour, whatever works for you.

3. Over the next few hours, at intervals that suit you, perform 3 more sets of the lifting and folding action, just enough to bring the dough into a ball; this is the dough telling you when it is time to stop. After each set, cover the bowl and leave it on the counter doing the final set before going to bed.

*You do not need to set a timer, the intervals don’t need to be done at exact times apart, do it whenever you’re passing the bowl.

4. Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight to prove. I typically let my dough prove, untouched, for 8 to 10 hours at temperatures of 64-68°F (18-20°C). If it is colder where you are, it may take longer; if it’s warmer, you will need to make amendments to the dough at the start of the process. There’s more about this on my site and in my book.

5. Next morning, you should have a bowl full of grown dough, look for it to double in size before moving to the next stage, or if you are using a bowl the same size and make as mine, allow your dough to grow and fill the bowl so that the surface is an inch below the edge. To place the dough into the banneton, do a series of lifts and folds on the dough and bring it into a firm ball again, then lift it into your banneton, placing it smooth side down. Make sure that at this point you pull the dough tightly into a firm ball, don’t be scared of being firm with the dough, if you are too gentle with it, it won’t have the shape and structure it needs. Cover the banneton with the same cover that you previously used for the dough, and place it in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, and up to a maximum of 24, to allow the dough to firm up and develop flavor.

6. When you are ready to bake, you have two choices: to preheat the oven or bake from a cold start. If you choose to preheat the oven, preheat it to 428°F (220°C), with fan, or 464°F (240°C), no fan. Have an enamel roaster or pan of your choice ready, plus good quality parchment paper.

7. Remove the cover from the banneton, place your parchment paper over the top of it, place the pan upside down over the top of them both. With one hand under the banneton and one hand on top of the pan, turn it all over together to turn the dough out and into the pan.

8. With a lame or a clean razor blade, score the dome of the dough cleanly and firmly, at a depth of 0.2ʺ-0.4ʺ (0.5-1.0 cm).

9.  Bake the loaf: if you preheated the oven, bake for 50 minutes, keeping the lid on for the entire time. If you are baking from a cold start, place the pan in the cold oven, turn the temperature to 428°F (220°C), with fan, or 464°F (240°C), no fan, and bake for a total of 55 minutes from the time that you placed the pan in the cold oven, with the lid on the entire time.

After 50 to 55 minutes, remove from the oven. Open the lid to check the loaf; if it’s looking pale, place it back in the hot oven, minus the lid, for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the loaf to the color of your choice. Once the loaf is golden brown, carefully remove it from the pan, remove the parchment paper from the bottom, and place the loaf on a wire rack.

10. Leave the loaf on its rack to cool completely. Whichever route you take to bake your loaf, once it is cooling, wait at least 1 hour before you slice into it. If you cut into the loaf too soon, it will still be cooking, plus steam will fill all those carefully crafted holes and make the bread gummy; if you can wait a few hours, it really is worth it. Slather with butter and enjoy!

For more tips, guidance and troubleshooting, plus everything you could ever need to know about making sourdough as simply as possible, check out my book, The Sourdough Whisperer. For more help and advice, feel free to contact me directly at [email protected].

(This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)

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