The Ultimate Guide to Sourdough Bread

To say that sourdough bread has been around for a long time is a vast understatement. The oldest sourdough bread dates back to 3700 BC. This bread has secured its place in human history. It’s traveled the world, moving from culture to culture, working its way into beloved recipes and countless kitchens along the way.  So this article’s purpose is to give you the ultimate guide to making savory sourdough bread.

Bread, in general, is such a staple in culinary history. It’s difficult to know where or when it truly began. Fortunately, you can be part of it. Many people say that baking is a science and cooking is an art. Breadmaking is certainly both. Knowing what you’re doing is important, the measurements matter, but no two loaves of bread are the same. Every baker puts their own special spin on their creations.

Use this guide as a place to start. Get the basics of sourdough bread and take them to whatever heights you want!

Two Types of Sourdough Bread

The first type of sourdough bread uses a liquid starter that can be built up in a short time to make multiple batches of bread for family gatherings and holidays.  It is often called Southern Sourdough Bread.  It has a unique sweet and savory flavor that families love.  Southern Sourdough can be used with all different types of flour, even gluten-free.  So if you have a family member who is sensitive to gluten, the starter is gluten-free!  You can use the dough for many variations such as cinnamon rolls and Italian Skillet Bread.   If you want to learn more about Southern Sourdough Bread, check out our online class.  The class is a series of videos to which you will have unlimited access after purchase.

The second kind of sourdough bread is produced with a flour and water starter.  This sourdough makes a wonderful savory loaf to use for sandwiches or bowls for soups.  It is fairly dense and easy to slice.  We will be discussing how to make a starter and bread for this type of sourdough in this article.

The Starter for the First Kind of Sourdough

If you’ve heard anything about sourdough bread, you’ll know it begins with a starter. Do you have any other bakers in the family or in your friend group? Ask them to share their starter! Some people aren’t quite lucky enough to have that option, though, here’s a simple way to make your own.

  • Grab a large container, either plastic or glass. Take half a cup of flour and half a cup of water (preferably spring water). Combine them in the container until they’re smooth.
  • Cover the container loosely. You can use plastic wrap for this or whatever lid your container came with. Take care not to cover it too tightly.
  • Once every day, you’ll feed your starter. To do this, take about four ounces of water and flour (all-purpose flour or rye flour) and stir it in. Repeat daily.
  • After a few days (typically four to six) it should double in volume. You’ll notice that famous sour smell, too. If you feed your starter and notice it doubling in size within four hours, you’ll know that it’s ready for your bread recipe!

Yes, making your own starter is that simple. It’s critical to feed your starter every day and observe it for changes. Bubbling is a great sign, as is the sour smell.

Once you have your starter ready, you can store it on the countertop or in the fridge. If you reach for it often, it’ll be fine on the countertop. Otherwise, pop it into the fridge for safekeeping. You’ll need to reactivate it a couple of days before using it again. To do so, just sit it on the counter and feed it once per day for two days.

The Bread

Once you have your starter, it’s time for the main event! To make a gorgeous, filling loaf of sourdough bread, you’ll need:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 large mixing bowl

Get your ingredients and your starter together and you’re ready to begin.

  1. Combine the five cups of flour and two cups of water in your large mixing bowl. Stir or knead together.
  2. Cover and leave to rest. This usually takes somewhere between 40 to 50 minutes.
  3. Add half a cup of your sourdough starter and one tablespoon of salt. Gently knead these into your mixture.
  4. Cover and allow to rise. It should double in size. Check your loaf after 12 hours, but it could take longer to reach the appropriate size.
  5. Once it’s doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Work it in toward the center a few times, folding it down toward the middle, then transfer it to an oiled bowl.
  6. Let the dough rise again. Once you can leave an indent with your finger or the dough offers minimal bounce-back, it’s ready! Let it rise longer if the dough springs back too quickly when you touch it.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Put your dutch oven inside during preheating.
  8. Put your dough into your dutch oven and cover. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the dutch oven cover and bake for 30 minutes longer or until the bread is browned.
  10.  Allow your bread to cool for 20 minutes, preferably in the propped open, warm oven.
  11. Slice your bread and enjoy!

How to Use This Type of Sourdough Bread

With a gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread on your hands, the options are endless. Of course, you could cut into it and enjoy a warm slice of fresh-baked bread with butter. Sometimes, that’s the most delicious thing in the world! If you plan to bake sourdough bread again, though, try mixing things up. There are plenty of creative ways to use this delicious, filling bread.


Sometimes, you can’t beat an iconic sandwich. Fresh bread takes them to a whole new level! Try out these ideas to make the most of your sourdough bread and bring out its unique, tangy flavor.

  • Prosciutto and Egg Sandwich – This open-faced sandwich is delicious and filling. It leans into the rustic nature of sourdough bread and is simple to prepare.
  • The Monte Cristo – If you’ve never had a Monte Cristo sandwich, you’re missing out! This funky take on a ham and cheese sandwich has Gruyere cheese, béchamel sauce, and sweet jam for dipping.
  • The California Club – Delicious chicken, melty cheese, and bright avocado slices make the perfect pairing for your sourdough!

Bread Bowls

Bread bowls are functional and delicious. It’s hard to beat that combination. Use them for dips, soups, chili, or whatever your heart desires.

  • Cheesy Broccoli Soup – Is there anything more comforting than cheesy broccoli soup? Yes! Cheesy broccoli soup in a bread bowl takes it to a new level.
  • Ranch Spinach Dip – Skip the chips and put your dip into your sourdough bread bowl instead!

Final Thoughts

Making your own sourdough bread is incredibly satisfying. If you keep your starter fed and active, you’ll be well supplied with sourdough bread as long as you want! Check out Stoney Creek Farm to learn more tips and tricks for making your own food, homesteading, farming, and more. Follow us on Youtube and check out our online Southern Sourdough Bread Class!