Ellen's Beginner White Sourdough Loaf Recipe

Ellen's Beginner White Sourdough Loaf Recipe

This is my foolproof white sourdough recipe from my new cookbook Simple Sourdough. Like all the sourdough recipes in my cookbook, this is one that anyone can make no matter what your baking knowledge or skill set - I think you will find this loaf a breeze! This recipe creates a beautiful soft and fluffy crumb with the perfect crunchy crust (thank you Dutch oven!) and a sexy shape (thank you proving basket!). I get that it sounds like a lot of steps when you read the recipe, that’s why we’ve filmed a video showing you exactly how I do it, step by step! And you’ll see it’s totally achievable. Simple Sourdough really makes sourdough baking accessible to all - click here to find out more. Happy sourdough baking! Ellen x

Don't have a sourdough starter? Click here.

Makes 1 Large Loaf

+ vegan
+ vegetarian
+ soy free
+ nut free
+ dairy free
+ egg free


100g active sourdough starter (recipe in Simple Sourdough cookbook)
400g warm (preferably filtered or purified) water
600g white bakers flour
2 tsp fine salt
Rice flour, for dusting*

Materials Needed

Proving basket
Dutch oven
Scoring lame or sharp serrated knife


  1. Place active starter (p. 36 Simple Sourdough) and water in a large mixing bowl. Mix with silicone spatula until well incorporated.
  2. Add flour and salt, continue mixing until well combined. It is normal to be quite dry and hard to mix at this stage; this will change over time so do not add more water. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes. If you’ve got one of our silicone baking mats, they make the perfect proving covering - simply drape across the top of your bowl.
  3. After 30 minutes, do your first pull, stretch and fold method (p. 47 Simple Sourdough or click here), then re-cover and let rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat this step two more times so you conduct the pull, stretch and fold method three times altogether, leaving 30 minutes rest between each.
  4. Cover and leave to prove** until your dough has tripled in size, roughly 8-16 hours (depending on the temperature). If temperature is warm, this can occur within 8 hours, but if cold, this can take up to 16+ hours.
  5. Once dough has reached desired size, dust your proving basket with a generous amount of rice flour and set aside.
  6. Using rice flour, lightly flour your work bench or silicone baking mat. Scoop out your dough onto floured surface. Lightly flour your fingertips and pick up the dough edge furthest from you, pull up the edge of the dough, stretch slightly and fold into the middle of the dough towards you. Now grab the dough edge closest to you, pull up, stretch and fold into the middle away from you. Repeat this motion with the left and right side of the dough, so you have a tight folded square-like parcel (click here for video).
  7. Immediately lift your dough and place gently in your floured proving basket, the smooth bottom in first (the side that has been flat on your benchtop). Cover and let sit for 1 hour. If you’ve got one of our silicone baking mats, they make the perfect proving covering - simply drape across the top of your proving basket.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 240°C. Place Dutch oven in the oven (including lid) while preheating.
  9. After your dough has rested for the hour in your proving basket, carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven (it will be hot!) and heavily flour the bottom with rice flour. You want the whole base covered to ensure the dough doesn’t stick. Wet one hand and tip dough out of basket onto that hand, then quickly place into your hot Dutch oven (work fast and don’t worry if you ruin the shape a little; it will still look gorgeous when baked and, of course, be careful of your extremely hot Dutch oven!). Dust the top with rice flour ensuring all the dough is lightly covered, then score your bread (p. 29 Simple Sourdough).
  10. Place lid on Dutch oven and return to oven (lid will still be hot!). Bake for 25 minutes.
  11. Remove lid and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, then turn out the bread. I like to hold the pot with one protected hand and use a silicone spatula in the other to flip out the bread. Transfer bread to a cooling rack and let cool for minimum 40 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy! There’s nothing better than your freshly baked sourdough, still warm out of the oven. The bigger and airier the holes, the better the loaf, but remember - just have fun with it! We recommend slicing using our Perfect Slice Bread Knife (but only when ready to serve), and store in our Breadwinner Bread Bag to keep your loaf as fresh as possible for as long as possible!

*you can buy rice flour or make your own - mill white rice for 3 minutes, speed 10 in your thermo cooker.

**Proving notes:

If it’s cold and you want to speed up your proving so you can bake it within a 8-10 hours, there are two ways I like to create a warm environment - warm your oven up to 37C, turn off and then place your dough in there or fill good quality heatproof jars with boiling water and place in a fridge bag with your dough, this created a warmer environment for the dough to prove, or of course place your dough in a sunny spot or in a warmest room of your house. Never place your dough to prove on a hot surface such as a hot water bottle as you need the heat to be even around the dough not just underneath it.

If you want to slow your proving process down, at any point you can put it in the fridge. This is really handy to know as your dough might be rising quickly but you have to leave the house to go to work or run errands soon, pop it in the fridge and dramatically slow down how quickly it proves. If you do this you do not need to bring it back to room temperature before shaping and baking, you can bake the cold dough into delicious bread.

For more proving tips and tricks, see our Simple Sourdough Cookbook.

If you have any bread left after a few days (I doubt you will!), simply slice up and place in a reusable zip-lock bag and freeze. Grab a slice and toast from frozen. It will keep perfectly for up to 6 months.