Natural sourdough bread
======================= 2020-04-28

inspired by: j'attend un levain
then from: comment entretenir le levain chef
and from: votre premier pain au levain

A site in English with pretty much the same content:

To start: New baker start here
More details: Sourdough Starter Maintenance Routine

Comment: There are many websites that give bread recipes, often contradicting each other. I had always rejected the idea of making my own leaven, it seemed long, difficult and doomed to failure. Then, the covid19 crisis helping, no more yeast in the stores, I tried the experiment. First of all, it's very easy, but actually you have to do it several days in advance, in any case the first time, to bring up the leaven.
I kept an article and a website on how to make a sourdough for a long time, then finally the website caught my attention for several reasons, it is very well documented, very complete, contains many photos and videos, and finally Marie-Claire, author of this site is unbeatable on the subject.
The first link above explains the method for obtaining a master leaven. I followed her instructions except that I used standard bread flour, and boiled water (no chlorine).
The second link gives instructions on how to maintain the master leaven, and the third, finally, on how to make a first loaf. Instead of making a ball I made 2 baguettes with the same amount of dough.
Now my master leaven is in the fridge, but I'm going to take it out a few days before my next bread is made.
From my observations, the temperature is important, Marie-Claire recommends 26 to 28C [79 to 82F], near my radiator, where I keep my leaven and proof my dough, the temperature is 23 to 25C [73 to 77F] and everything worked fine.
I have a kitchen machine (Kenwood), which is very useful for kneading, and my oven (which only goes up to 250C [480F], not 270C [520F] as recommended, is equipped with a steam function at the start of cooking which avoids having to place a container of hot water in the oven.
Finally, I used standard bread flour, with excellent results.
Between the time I started my leaven and the time I made my bread, 8 days have passed, but now that my master leaven is ready, I will just have to refresh it 1 to 2 days in advance. Note also that my leaven was born very quickly: 2 days.
I prepare my 2 baguettes on a well floured pizza peel, covered with a thick towel for the second rise, then I yank them in the oven (I also use a pizza stone well pre-heated). Since I do not make a round loaf, I cook my baguettes for ~35 mn (instead of the recommended 45 mn).

Other interesting links:

Bread shaping (7'50"): Nicolas Supiot : Meilleur artisan du pain au monde
baguette shaping: Shaping and Baking Artisan Baguettes
and: Master Baker Lionel Vatinet's Shaping Techniques
and: Façonner comme un PRO
and: Façonner des baguettes

Since the sites above are in french, I placed a translation below, but I would rather suggest to use Google Chrome as a browser and use the translate feature (little [GF] icon at top right) to have it in english with the pictures at the right place. I tried to fix as much as possible the translation errors from Google, so in case of doubt, refer to the text below.

>>>>> Scroll all the way to the bottom for my summary. <<<<<

I'm waiting for a leaven

Here is the simplest and most universal method to give birth to a natural leaven.

To find out if your leaven is born, you need to see the bubbles of fermentation through the glass.

Warning: Some people do it differently and it works too. I do not pretend to have the only truth in this matter. I will speak here only of what I know. If you are experimenting with a method, follow it from A to Z, without changing an iota. If you mix up several methods found on the net or elsewhere, it is doomed to failure.

You should know that the leaven comes from bacteria found naturally in the air, in water and in flour. Those who live with me are not necessarily the same as those who live with you. That said, many people have already experimented successfully, and for years, this way of proceeding.

Flour, water and nothing else!

There are other ways to use raisins, or yogurt, kefir or other ingredients, as a starter. A baker's yeast, however, consists only of flour and water. Grapes provide yeast, they can be useful, but the problem with raisins today is that they are sulfited to keep longer. As for yogurt, kefir or any other set of bacteria, these are not baking microorganisms, so this is not of great interest, and it may even give an unstable result. Either they will very quickly be supplanted by the own bacteria of wheat or rye as they are refreshed, or else they will thwart their development and the growth of the leaven will be delayed.

Some put honey.

You can also put honey, in very small quantities, that is to say a knife tip, at startup, and ONLY at startup. After, it's over. Honey is an antiseptic that will inhibit bad bacteria. The problem is that it can also inhibit good ones. So I do not recommend putting honey, unless we have already made several unsuccessful attempts during which the sourdough has molded.

And why make it complicated when it is extremely simple and it has been successfully reproduced without interruption for 6 thousand years?
What you need to get started:

   Organic bread rye or wheat flour
   Pure, non-chlorinated water
   Nothing else !!!!

And also equipment:

   A jar
   A spatula

Which flour?

Whole wheat flour is fine, but the leaven will start more easily with rye, which has better fermentation power. The higher the number after the letter T (T for "type"), the more the flour will be "complete" and the better it will be for fermentation. Do not worry, then you will make the bread with any flour: white flour or white flour, wheat, rye; ... the leaven will accept everything. I am growing my leaven starter (several years ago) in rye right now with T 65 flour.

Organic flour ferments more easily than other flours. Do not use industrial flour sold in supermarkets (Francine type, or this kind). Also, do not use a flour for "country bread preparation" or the like, since these flours contain salt and other additives and the sourdough could not develop.

It is also important to use fresh flour, which is therefore alive. This is why the supermarket is unsuitable, because it may have been ground several months or years before being marketed. These flours are dead. The millers' flour found in organic stores, or producers' stores, or directly in millers always indicates the date on which the cereal was ground. Use it within 3-4 months.

Which water?

The water should be little mineralized. You can use tap water, but beware of chlorinated water. Chlorine kills bacteria, and leaven is made up of bacteria. So let the tap water sit in an open carafe for a few hours, this is enough for the chlorine to evaporate. Or filter it through a charcoal filter. Bottled spring water is fine. Choose the same water you use for baby bottles. I use decanted or filtered tap water. It is also important that it is at room temperature, especially not out of the fridge. Remember: the sourdough comes from hot countries!

What about the air?

The air must be good. Avoid living in an excessively sanitized environment. Clean your house normally, without putting bactericidal products everywhere. Under no circumstances use air fresheners, either those in an aerosol can, or these things that are plugged into an outlet and that send a chemical scent: they are fatal for sourdoughs (and perhaps also for the people who breathe them, but that's another story).

Especially if you knead by hand, never use anti-bacterial gel to wash your hands. Just water and plain soap.

First day:
- the morning

Take a glass jar, scald it to warm it up. The heat will help start the leaven.

Mix 25 g of water with 25 g of rye flour. You get a kind of tiny porridge.
Mix and cover then keep the jar in a warm place, around 26-28C.

Heat is very important. In summer it's easy. In winter, put it for example on a radiator, on the hot water tank, on your dryer, or in the oven off with the interior light on. Use a thermometer to check that the temperature is between 25 and 30C. Attention, the leaven dies at 50C.

- the evening

Add 25 g of water and 25 g of rye flour to the morning starter, mix well and cover again to allow to ferment, still warm. This is called refreshing the leaven.

At this point the leaven weighs 100 grams.

Second day:
- the morning

Remove half of the leaven. There is 50 g, i.e. 25 g of water and 25 g of flour)

Do the same thing as the night before, with the same amount of water and flour.

The principle is for each refreshed to make it double its quantity: there are 25 g of water and flour in the jar, and we put back 25 and 25. This is what is called the proportion 1:1. If we did not remove it, we would have to put 50 g and 50 g, then 100, 200, 400, etc ... it would go up very quickly.

- the evening

Same thing.

The next days:
- morning and evening

We continue the process until the leaven is born. Remember to remove half the leaven beforehand, otherwise you will end up having one or two tonnes!

When the mixture makes small bubbles and takes on a sour smell (like the smell of vinegar, yogurt, or raw sauerkraut), YOUPI! Open the champagne! You succeeded !

Do not confuse the air bubbles you make by touching the mixture with the gas bubbles produced by the leaven. There must be more than a few bubbles present on the surface. The bubbles must come from the inside. Like an effervescent paste. The consistency is very frothy inside.

When the leaven is born:

Whatever starter flour, you can switch to T 65 wheat.

The refreshments are continued as before for 1-2 days, then only making a refresh every 24 hours.

At this stage we have several options:

   We keep the liquid consistency by making the refreshments always the same: same amount of water and flour.
   We choose a thick leaven and refresh with half water compared to the flour. It is this proportion that I choose for my leaven.

If you choose option 1: You have 100 g of leaven. Refresh 50 g of water 50 grams of flour, put it in the warm and wait 24 hours. remove half, and so on.

If you choose option 2: You have 100 g of leaven. Make a refreshment of 25 g of water and 50 g of flour, put it in the warm and wait 24 hours. Remove half, and so on.

Natural leaven has a cycle that must be respected:

As refreshed, the leaven will increase in volume, then go down again, then increase again, at its own pace. When we want to use it, we will always refresh it when the leaven is at the top, at its maximum growth.

To visualize the growth of the liquid leaven, put a rubber band around the jar at the level of the refreshed.

When you have obtained at least 3 successful shoots after the refreshments, that is to say that for 3 consecutive times, the leaven double or even triple in volume after the refreshed, you can make your bread.

If you do not make bread every day, it will not be mandatory to refresh the sourdough every day. It can easily last 1 week without refreshments. In this case, keep it cool as explained HERE (clic link).

Do not throw away the leaven before the refreshments: put them in the fridge in a jar to use them later in a pancake batter for example.
Remember, this is just flour and water.

In summary :

   Days 1, 2, 3, etc. until the birth of the leaven = 2 refreshed per 24 hours, 25 g of water and 25 g of flour 12 hours apart.
   When the leaven is born = 1 refreshed per 24 hours, 25 g of water and 50 g of flour.
   The leaven will be operational = when it has made 3 consecutive successful shoots, that is to say at least doubled each time.

Next episodes: how to take care of the leaven, keep it and prepare it to make bread. There is still a lot to learn!

How to maintain the sourdough to keep it for a long time?

Your leaven was born? Is it blowing bubbles in his jar? Is his level going up? Now you have the responsibility to keep him healthy so that he can make beautiful breads.

If you don't have a leaven yet, read HERE (click) the method to bring it to life.

A little vocabulary to start.

The leaven that you have in your jar is called the master leaven. Once you've refreshed it and it's ready to make the bread, it becomes the young leaven, or all-purpose leaven. We never make bread directly with the master, but we use leaven that has just been refreshed.

Routine maintenance of the leaven:

When you refresh your leaven, you concentrate the bacteria and yeasts that make it up. They ferment the dough, all the faster if it is hot. By consuming the sugars, this produces gas which makes it swell. When the bacteria have brewed all the sugars, gas production stops and the dough falls out. It also liquefies a little because the leaven has also "eaten" the gluten.

Observe the leaven cycle, which goes up and down and note how long it takes to get through these steps. It will help you.

From the moment the leaven is alive, at the beginning of its life, that is to say when it has started to bubble, refresh it when it is at its maximum growth. Do this 2 or 3 times in a row to see if it goes up each time.

Spot the moment when it is at its maximum, just before it begins to descend: it is then that it must be refreshed. When you make bread, this is also when you put it in the dough.

How do you spot the maximum growth?

If you have observed the leaven well, and taken notes, you know roughly how long it takes to rise and fall at a given temperature. Here are other clues:

It is at its maximum growth when the bubbles burst on the surface. It is that he will not rise higher.

The frequency of refreshes:

If you bake bread every day, it will be optimal for maintaining the shape of the leaven, since it will at the same time be refreshed every day. The more it works, the more it is fit: is life not beautiful?

If you don't bake bread every day, which is the case for the majority of people who are not bakers, you will refresh it several times the day before the day before the kneading. The right time is at its maximum growth. If you make bread only once a week, it doesn't matter, it can survive by staying cold as explained HERE (clic link).

It may have a crust on the surface, it doesn't matter. When refreshed, mix it with the rest, or remove it and keep only the soft heart. Even if there is only a very small amount of leaven left, it will start again. I have already successfully refreshed mine when there were only traces left on the walls of the jar. In the past, we used to scrape the kneading blades to make the leaven of the next batch.

If you don't use it and refresh it often, you'll need to throw it out at some point, or else you'll end up with pounds of sourdough. I keep about 150 grams, which is enough to make 1 loaf of 500 g of flour.

You can also offer it to a friend who is lazy to prepare it and hatch it from the start. You can also keep the excess in the fridge and make it into pancake, waffle or donut batter.

How much flour should you add to each refreshed?

It must be fed in a minimum proportion of 1:1 each time (in flour). This means that for a portion of flour contained in the leaven, it is given a portion of flour in the refreshment.

Examples for liquid and hard leaven:

You have 100 g of sourdough with 100% hydration. It therefore contains 50 g of flour and 50 g of water. You will need to add 50 g of flour and 50 g of water to the next refreshment. So we make it double every time.

If your leaven is a hard leaven, for 100 g of leaven, you have 66.6 g of flour and 333.3 g of water (or for 150 g of leaven: 100 g of flour and 50 g of water). You refresh with these same quantities, which you can round up to 65 and 35, we don't take care of the commas.

It's a minimum, because you can also give it more than that, if you need it.

For example, if you need 200g of leaven for use and you have 50g in your jar (25g of water and 25g of flour).

You can either refresh it in two stages, a first time with 25 g and 25 g, a second time with 50 g and 50 g

Or refresh it in one step with 75 g of flour and 75 g of water. But be aware that it will take a little longer to reach its optimum than with a 1:1 ratio.

It is useful to know to manage the growth times: if you refresh the night before to use it in the morning, with experience you will see how much flour supplement to give it to be operational after this long rest.

What hydration to give it?

Liquid leaven, 100% hydrated: this is the easiest for maintenance because you always put the same weight of water as flour.

Advantage: it is easy to calculate.

Disadvantages: it will be necessary to recalculate the bread recipe according to the hydration of the sourdough, otherwise we will have a dough that is too hydrated, sticky, impossible to work with. The leaven goes up less in its jar and it is more difficult to visualize the moment when it is at its optimum. It gives more acidic doughs.

Semi firm leaven starter hydrated at 60%: the proportion of 60% water is compared to the flour. Example: in a leaven which weighs 160 g, there are 100 g of flour and 60 g of water. It will have to be refreshed in these proportions.

Advantage: this hydration is that of a standard bread dough, so there will be no need for adaptation. It is the traditional sourdough, used in this way by bakers for millennia. The leaven goes well in its jar.

Disadvantage: requires a small calculation for 60% refreshed.

Hard leaven, 50% hydrated: half the water compared to the flour. In 150 g of leaven, there are 100 g of flour and 50 g of water.

Advantage: the calculations are easy for the refreshed. We divide the weight of flour by 2 to get the weight of water. The leaven is more resistant to temperature variations and prolonged absences.

Disadvantage: it will be necessary to adapt the hydration of the bread dough. But it's less annoying to make a mistake with this one than with the 100%.

We think of its comfort:

If you use it often, that is to say every 2 or 3 days maximum, you can leave the sourdough at room temperature. Provided that it does not exceed 25C.

If this is your case, just put yours in a corner of your kitchen. But the longer the time between two refreshments, the more you will need to refresh before baking. This is also the case if the temperature is high, because its metabolism is accelerated with heat.

For example a leaven which has rested for a week will require 3 or even 4 successive refreshes before its use. A 2-day leaven will be satisfied with 2 previous refreshes before being operational.

Also note that the leaven gets used to the conditions in which it lives. There are leavens kept cold that work very well, and leavens that stay at room temperature and work very well too. Yeasts and bacteria are different from yeast to yeast. Yours will be absolutely unique. Even if I gave you a little of mine, after several refreshes, it would become different from its original strain.

Should I close the jar lid?

We read everything and its opposite on the internet. That he must breathe, that he should not be put in metal ... This is absolutely false. Do not confuse a leaven with a dog or a cat. There is no need to breathe or go for walks!

In the presence of air, yeasts multiply. In the absence of air, fermentation begins. That is to say that the yeasts make the products that we want to obtain in bread: the aromas, and the CO2 that will make the dough swell.

So, we are going to do two things: when we add water to the leaven, we will take care to mix vigorously by beating the mass to introduce air. Then add the flour, mix well and close the jar. The vigorous mixture will give bacteria and yeast their dose of oxygen to allow them to multiply. When they have consumed all the air, they will start fermentation. They will produce the bubbles that you will see through the glass. These bubbles will lift the dough which will increase in volume.

The jar, if it is tightly closed with the rubber, will go into slight overpressure. And this, along with the fact that it will be saturated with CO2, will ensure the conservation of the leaven. A sourdough stored in a closed jar can be stored much longer than another leavened in an open jar. It will not need to be refreshed as often.

In addition, closing the jar prevents flies or midges from walking on the leaven.

We monitor its health by smell:

Its smell will guide you to know when it absolutely needs to be refreshed. In normal times, it should emit a sour and vinous odor, between yogurt, vinegar and raw sauerkraut. Some people smell white spirit or glue, but it should never be unpleasant.

When it has not been refreshed for several days, this odor intensifies. It stings the nose and becomes between vinegar and refined munster ... A sourdough that smells strong is a hungry sourdough, remember. When I talk about the tart smell, it should always be nice, even when it pulls on the munster. If the sourdough starts to smell rotten or moldy, that is to say if its smell is really unbearable when you put your nose above the jar (but then really appalling, you can not miss this kind of 'odor), throw it out, it would be a sign that it has been colonized by mold or worse.

What if you go on vacation?

Before leaving, we will read HERE (clic link) and everything will be fine!

Your first sourdough bread

Your leaven swells well when refreshed: I imagine you are impatient to make your first sourdough bread!

Here is a method to make a simple sourdough bread with wheat flour, it is the basic bread, the one I make daily, or almost. It is perfect for beginners, because the dough is hydrated enough for the bread to have nice bubbles, but not too much, so that it is easy to work.

In order not to make this post too long and boring, I will explain the method overall, and I will come back later in other posts on details that will allow you to perfect each step. Know that, inevitably, you will improve with the kneading, and even if the first bread does not live up to your expectations, the next will be better, and again and always better. The dough will teach you better than me how to work it. You will feel it in your hand, you will see how far it must be kneaded, without hurting or breaking it.

What is extraordinary and exciting with leaven is that each bread is different: with the exact same ingredients, you will never make two identical breads!

The method I am telling you about is said to be live: the growth takes place directly in the warm and is not delayed in the cold. This is best suited for a beginner leaven.

Leaven preparation:

If you don't have a master leaven, click HERE to see the method on video, to make one.

Before starting this first sourdough bread, if you have a liquid master leaven, you will need to turn it into hard leaven. This is simple:

   Take 100 grams of liquid leaven. Refresh it with 50g of flour and about 10g of water. Mix well.
   Let it grow between 25 and 28C, until maximum growth.

(Read HERE, click, for what to do with your discarded sourdough. This may be the last time you discarded leaven.)

You get 150 to 160 g of firm leaven which is your main leaven.

   If you don't bake the bread right away, place this leaven in a 25 cl jar, closed, and in the fridge. Read HERE, click, for more details.
   If you are baking bread right away, go straight to the next step: leaven "tout point".

(If you absolutely want to keep your leaven liquid, you have to recalculate the proportions of the bread recipe according to the hydration of the leaven. On this page you will find: CLICK, a calculator that allows you to calculate the quantities of water and flour, bread, and different leavenings.)

Now comes the day of the knead: we start by preparing the leaven "tout point".

   Take out your firm master leaven and put it in a large bowl
   Refresh it with 100 g of flour and 60 g of water
   Let stand warm for 3 to 4 hours at 25-28C, until bubbles burst on the surface and the leaven has at least doubled in volume.

We can proceed to the knead


    A large deep dish and your hands, or a dough mixer with the pigtail dough hook
    A horn to scrape the dough and cut it
    A basket and a thick tea towel
    A board for baking
    A baking sheet or stone (recommended), or a cast iron casserole dish
    An incisor or razor blade


    Your sourdough at maximum growth: 150 g
    500 g of wheat flour T65 to T 80, preferably organic
    300 to 400 g of non-chlorinated water (depending on the absorption quality of the flour, the more complete it is, the more water is needed)
    8 g of sea salt
    Plain flour for the work surface and a handful of fine semolina for baking

The choice of flour is very important:

Do not use commercial baking flour, such as Francine or the like, as it is not suitable for baking. Also, do not use commercial bread mixes. If you have a mill near you, don't hesitate to visit it. Many sell to individuals. There are also excellent flours on the internet. If this is not possible, organic flour T 65 can be found in organic stores, or in large and medium-sized stores, which may also be suitable.

The water:

The amount of water is difficult to predict because each flour is different. In addition, beginners always have difficulty working with very hydrated dough. So start with the minimum amount of water (300 g) and increase as you knead. This is how you will learn, and you will end up working with very hydrated doughs (up to 80 or 90% !!!) like the pros, to have lighter breads.

Remember that to remove chlorine, all you need to do is leave the water to stand in the open air for an hour or two.


If you have a food processor with a dough hook (kenwood or kitchen aid type) now is the time to use it. Otherwise, your two hands white with flour will be more than enough.

Kitchen machine:

Put in the bowl of the food processor the water, only 300 g then the leaven, the flour and finally the salt. Knead for one or two minutes at minimum speed, just to form a dough. Stop the robot for 2 minutes. Knead 10 min at speed 1 then about 5 min at speed 2, AT THE HIGHEST MAXIMUM. It is very important to knead at a very low speed so as not to heat the dough. From time to time, you have to stop the kneader and detach the dough from the hook with a horn, to bring it down and make the kneading more efficient. At the end, the dough must come off completely from the bowl, which must be "clean".

When the dough comes off, and only then, add the remaining water in small amounts, continuing to knead until the dough comes off again after each addition. Depending on how well your flour is absorbed, you may not add all the water. The dough should not become runny and it is better to use less water than too much. Stop kneading when the dough comes off the bottom of the bowl.

By hand:

Kneading does not take more time, because your hand is wider, therefore more efficient than the hook of the robot. Also do the autolysis as above. Add the salt and the leaven.

Knead until the dough comes off the worktop. Make the gesture of stretching and folding the dough on itself. Do not pull to the breaking point. At first, it sticks a lot to your hands and the table, then gradually you will feel it become more dynamic, as if it resisted your gesture. And then it's going to come off the table when you stretch it. Avoid adding flour to work it. Stop kneading when the dough comes off by itself from the worktop when you pull it out.

Blowing: 3 min

Whether you have kneaded in a food processor or by hand, turn the dough over on the lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands too. Slightly flatten the dough into a square wave and fold it back on itself by stretching the corners and bringing them towards the center, so as to enclose an air pocket inside. Do this 2 or 3 times, no more. This will give more body to the dough, it will be more elastic and less likely to spread out.

'Pointage': 3 to 4 hours of rest

This is the name of the first fermentation. Make a pretty ball with the dough, and place it, bottom down, in the container used for kneading. It is completely unnecessary to oil or flour. Cover with a cloth and let sit for about 3-4 hours in a warm place. It must have doubled in size. If it's cold, it can last longer. If it's hot, less long. At 25C, it will last approximately 4 hours, at 28C 3 hours.

The shaping: 3 min

After the 'pointage', turn the dough over on the very lightly floured work surface. Give the bread its final shape, by folding the dough towards the center, and turning it in your hands, trying not to let out the gas inside.

The primer: 1 to 1 hour 30 hours of rest

Place the dough in a basket covered with a well-floured cloth. This time put the bottom up. Cover with another cloth, and let sit until it swells again. The duration depends on the ambient temperature. The optimum is between 25 and 28C.

Cooking: 1 hour

A little after the start of the last fermentation, preheat the oven to the maximum (at least 270C), placing the rack with a baking sheet or a bread stone on the bottom shelf. If you have a stone, it is necessary to preheat at least 45 minutes to provide the bread with a thermal shock which will give it a nice crust. At the end of preheating, place in the oven, at the very bottom, a container containing about 25 cl of hot water.

The finger test

How do you know that the dough has risen enough? Do the finger test: press your index finger into the dough to make a small hollow.

   If the hollow closes immediately: the dough has not risen enough.
   If the hollow closes, but slowly: the dough is ready to bake.
   If the hollow does not close at all: the dough has risen too much. hurry and put it in the oven to save what is possible, the risk is very great that it will spread out like a pancake ...

When it is time to bake, sprinkle the dough with durum wheat semolina and then invert it on a small wooden board that you will use to bake. Incise crosswise with a razor blade, to allow it to develop well during cooking.

Bake without panicking

Then, very quickly, open the oven, place the board containing the bread where the bread should be, and pull it out sharply so that the bread slides into the right place.

If this operation scares you, you can also invert the bread directly on the baking sheet out of the oven, slit it and then put it in the oven. Your bread will have a crust perhaps a little less beautiful, and will puff less, but for the first time, it will be good anyway.

5 minutes after closing the door, lower the thermostat to 225C. You don't need hot air. Cooking takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the oven. Watch the color of the crust. It should be very dark golden. Bread is eaten well cooked! If the crust is too pale, the bread will keep for a shorter time and will be indigestible (and afterwards we blame gluten!). It is cooked when it sounds hollow when patted on the bottom.

Above, the bread is halfway through cooking. It will only rise for the first 10 minutes, then the swelling stops and the crust begins to color.

The bread only has to be removed and cooled on a rack before tasting it. Always wait for complete cooling before starting it, at least 2 hours, otherwise you will experience pain due to the ingestion of carbon dioxide, which will not yet be evacuated. (And we will blame gluten again!)

Once out of the oven, let the bread cool on a rack, and then, ... listen to it sing!

Also check out the series of posts I wrote on how to bake sourdough bread like in the 18th century, it's not that different, and you will learn a lot of useful things for beginners. The start is HERE, then you will follow the links in the posts.

My summary of all this:

Normally my leaven is in the fridge. I take it out a few days in advance. I feed it the first evening (remove 50 g and add 25 g water, 25 g flour).
Then for 2 or 3 days, twice a day, around 9 a.m. and around 9 p.m. (25 g water, 25 g flour - removing 50 g of the mix every time). The day before the big day, I take 50 g of the leaven, in a bowl, and I put my jar in the fridge for the next time.
To the bowl, I add 60 g of water, mix well, and 90 g of flour. Make a ball, mix well and knead a little.
Cut a cross on top with scissors, cover and keep it cool until morning. In the morning it increased in volume.

The bread :

Ingredients (2 breads or 1 large ball):

500 g flour
150 g leaven
8 g salt
300 g of water, no chlorine (possibly a little more if necessary)


In the mixer bowl, put the flour and water, mix well and let stand 30 to 60 minutes (autolysis) covered.
Add the other ingredients and knead for at least 10 minutes at low speed (add a little water if necessary - I did not have to).
On a lightly floured table, stretch and fold the dough, trying to trap a little air, and finish with a nice smooth ball (with a soft brush, brush off the excess flour during this operation so as not to add it to the dough).
Put the ball in a bowl, covered with a damp cloth for 3 to 4 hours so that the dough doubles in volume.
Using a bowl scraper, gently remove the dough from the bowl.
Delicately make 3 or 4 pull/fold to trap a little air in the dough then place it upside down in a basket (if ball) or divide it in half and shape 2 breads (see videos 2, 3 and 4 above).
I then place my 2 breads on a generously floured pizza peel (so that the dough does not stick during the next 1 to 2 hours).
Cover and let stand 1 to 2 hours. The dough will spread a little, that's normal.
Put the pizza stone in the oven and preheat it for ~45 min at 250C [480F] or better 270C [520F] if possible.
Program 3 jets of steam or place a container filled with boiling water at the bottom of the oven.
Make deep cuts on the bread using a razor blade and slide the breads with a gentle yank on the stone.
Cook 10 min at 250/270C (steam jets), then lower to 230C [450F]. A ball will take 45 to 50 minutes to bake, the breads are ready after ~30 minutes (check it while baking).
Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.