How I do Sourdough ~ Part 4

In this post, we'll shape the dough, and bake it. And then eat! After that, we'll have to go back to Part 1. Because this bread disappears pretty quickly around my house.


Now, we left our dough ball in the Kitchen Aid mixer for a couple of hours. This rise really helps make the second rise, when it is shaped, nice and strong. This makes your loaves have less big holes, which makes for a nice crumb. But, a quick note about the first is not necessary. Meaning, if I'm leaving early in the morning for the rest of the day, I'll skip that rise and shape the dough before I leave. My loaves will be a little holey-ier (made up a word right there) but it's not the end of the world when you still get to eat sourdough bread. I do think my dough will have a better rise if I shape it first than if I let it rise in the bowl for longer than 2-3 hours. So even if I'll only be gone for 4 hours, it's better to go ahead and shape the dough before I leave.


Ok? Moving on. Shaping the dough (is going to be really difficult to describe) takes a little practice, but the way I shape it is much more forgiving than if you were trying to make a boule. First, turn the dough out on to an oiled surface. Just drizzle a little olive oil on your counter, the dough won't stick to it or your hands and it won't get too dry either, like with flour. Cut the dough in half; I use a dough scraper, but you can use a sharp knife if you don't have one. That thing is handy, though. If some of your dough sticks to the counter, it'll scrape it right up.

We're making two loaves, so you'll have to do everything from this point on twice. Squish out the first half into a rough rectangle. Take the bottom of the rectangle and begin to roll it toward the top, but after each roll, squish the front of the roll down into the dough rectangle. It doesn't have to be a lot of squishing, it's just so you don't wind up with a spiral baked loaf of bread. When you get to the end of the roll take the two ends and fold them together into the center. Now gently pull the outsides of the roll toward the bottom and into the inside. This gives it a nice "skin" which will keep the dough from rising funky. And repeat with second half.

I use two loaf pans with parchment paper. It makes much less of a mess than just using the loaf pans because the bread will stick to the loaf pans, but the parchment paper is quick and easy to lift out to cool and it won't stick. I also put a little olive oil on the parchment paper and make sure the top of the loaf has some on it. You don't want the top of your loaves to dry while it's rising because it won't rise as high. Cover the loaves with a cloth that you've either dampened in some water or sprayed down with a water spray bottle. My husband likes to take my water spray bottle, so sometimes I don't have it. I much prefer to use it, though. Now leave these on the counter for the rest of the day. If I do this shaping before lunch, the loaves will be ready to bake around dinner time, maybe after. Yes, it takes a long time to rise. But remember? The sourdough is working on that flour to make it digestible for you.

When my loaves are high enough for me, or I just can't wait any longer, I preheat my oven to 500 degrees. When it is good and hot, I spray down the loaves with hot water. Not much, just enough to dampen the dough. I put them in the oven and turn it down to 450. Then set the timer for 20 minutes. One thing you'll notice about baking these is that your oven has hot spots. I try to avoid those hot spots so my tops don't get too brown. If you can't avoid them, you may need to rotate the pans around about half way through.

And they are done! Bread perfectionists will now tell you to wait 45 minutes or so until the bread is cool so you can taste the flavor. But there isn't anything like hot bread from the oven, so I say dig in. It'll get easier to cut the longer it cools, but that first slice is so good. The kids and I can finish off the first loaf before the other cools when it's hot like this.

That took 4 posts and a lot of words! But it's really not that much work. Only a few minutes, here and there. Sourdough is very forgiving too; it will thrive in certain conditions, but will still do well in less. And there are many variations to the way I make our bread! After I got comfortable with it, I've been able to play around with it and experiment. Sometimes I make the bread so that I have to shape it before I go to bed, so it rises all night. Then I bake in the morning. And there are several fun ways you can shape the loaves. Plus all the other things you can do with sourdough...rye, pizza, crepes. (Yep, I said crepes!) I plan on sharing more of what I do with sourdough so stay tuned! (Maybe subscribe?)

Other Posts in this Series:

Here's Part 1
Here's Part 2
Here's Part 3

I'd love to help if you have any problems or questions! Don't be afraid to ask!


  1. Wow, your bread looks AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your techniques on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week :) When I get my starter, I will be sure to come back for some pointers...

    1. Thanks Jes! It is delicious bread. And it only costs about 50 cents per loaf. Thanks for hosting the link up each week!

  2. Jennifer...Yum! I love homemade bread and sourdough is a favorite here. You shared great directions and photos. I will definitely go back and read part 1 & 2 so I can try it. Thank you for sharing at Monday's Musings. (Tweeted and pinned)

    1. Thanks Naomi, for the link up and the shares! We've been out of our bread for a couple of days now, and you'd think there was nothing to eat in this house by the way everyone is acting. I need to make some more!

  3. Did I miss how to saturate your barm from scratch. I tried starting a sourdough with whole wheat and it was a disaster. I have used sourdough starters that people gave me to do amish bread, but they had sugar. I would like one that doesn't have sugar.

    Charlotte Moore

    1. I've never tried making a barm from scratch, so I didn't feel like I could do a post on it. From what I know of it, you should probably try starting with bread flour. It's easier to saturate and doesn't take as long to activate. You just leave equal parts filtered water (non-chlorinated) and flour out on the counter. I think you should cover it with a coffee filter, rather than a lid. It takes a couple of days, and sometimes I've read there is an initial bubbling that isn't the real thing and can be confusing. Some people use a little fresh grape juice or citrus juice to kill off that bad bacteria. There's two types of bacteria that can be activated, the first is bad, and the second is the yeast. Cultures for Health also sells a sourdough starter that you might want to look into. I hope this helps!

  4. The barm you keep in your refrigerator; is it stored covered or uncovered?


I have affiliate links on this blog! This means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This does not affect the price of your purchase, but it is a wonderful way to support my family and me through this blog and to keep this blog up and running. So we thank you!