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Butter For All’s Sourdough Master Recipe

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Now that you have your starter in tip-top shape it’s time to play with this one recipe that can do oh-so-many things! Photo collage showing all the different styles of bread the master recipe can make.

People make sourdough so much more complicated than it needs to be. Sure, you can expand into more detailed and dramatic recipes as your skills progress, but don’t ever forget the humble roots of good bread: flour, water, starter, salt, touch, and time!

This simple recipe will change the way you make sourdough bread. Knowing this one formula will allow you to try different shapes, styles, and flavors with ease.

The Perfect Ratio

This formula is so easy to work with. The dough is the perfect hydration for beginners but more seasoned bakers will also appreciate the flexibility and easy handling. I typically don’t need any additional flour during shaping unless I’m rolling this dough out (like in these delectable market cinnamon rolls). 

A close-up of perfectly formed sourdough cinnamon rolls with sugar glaze.

This recipe was developed for a strong bread flour (one that is high in protein). But if you read on you will see some examples of this formula with multiple whole grain flours. 

Tried and Tested

I’ve scaled this formula from one loaf to 25. I get a consistent bake every time with great development and flavor. 

A traditional sourdough boule with a great ear.

Versatile Beyond Comparison

From pizza to pita, this one dough proves itself over and over again!

Multiple baked goods made from the sourdough master recipe.

It even makes a perfect sandwich loaf. 

A beautiful golden-brown sandwich loaf.

And gorgeous hamburger buns or dinner rolls.

Shiny brown sourdough buns in the forefront with other baked goods surrounding them.

ALL these incredible baked goods were made with the same master recipe. 

Sourdough cinnamon rolls, pizza, pita, buns, and a boule.

One recipe that can do it all! What will you try?

Sourdough sandwich loaf, buns, and pita bread.

Shaping and Baking 

The only thing that changes this recipe from one baked good to another is the shaping and baking technique. Mixing the dough, kneading, and the bulk fermentation is standard across the board.

The basic formula makes one 888-gram loaf, or eight 111-gram buns, rolls, or pitas. 

Take a minute to watch me shape six totally different styles of baked goods with this one dough!

Watch these other videos for some shaping tips and techniques:  

Shaping Boules

Shaping Pitas

Shaping Buns

A beautiful boule made with the sourdough master recipe.

Great Bread No Matter the Flour

Not only did I test many different shaping styles with this master recipe, but I also took it one step further and documented the boule process with six flour varieties side by side.

  1. Organic High Mountain High Gluten Flour from Central Milling
  2. Organic Sifted Hard Red Spring Wheat Flour from Camas Country Mill 
  3. Organic Whole Wheat Einkorn from Jovial 
  4. Organic Dark Rye Flour from Great River Organic Milling
  5. Organic Kamut Flour from Camas Country Mill 
  6. Organic Spelt Flour from Food To Live

Mixing Observations

The einkorn needed about 25 grams of additional water added at mixing. This gave a pliable dough. 

Even though Kamut and rye were also very stiff doughs, I decided to see what would happen without extra water.

This is what the six different doughs looked like after an overnight bulk fermentation at room temperature (68℉) and shaping into boules. 

Six bannetons with six different unbaked bread doughs.

After about 4 hours of proofing, all doughs were nearing double. 

Six bannetons with different risen doughs.

Proofing Observations

The einkorn had started to over-proof. It fermented so much faster than the other flours! Perhaps due to that added hydration and the bran to sugar ratio in the flour. It was the first to go in the oven, and while it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing loaf, it was delicious! I would bet it would perform better in a loaf pan. 

The rye and Kamut dough needed a little more time, probably due to their density and resulting lower hydration. They were baked last. 

Here is a side-by-side comparison of how the crumb looked on all six loaves.

Side-by-side comparison of six different bread crumbs.

Baking and Crumb Observations

  1. The high-gluten flour gave a beautiful lofty loaf with perfect texture and a very mild flavor. 
  2. The sifted hard red is my flour of choice — all the flavor of whole grain with a delicate chewy interior. This is the flour I used to develop this master recipe so it will always work out well!
  3. The einkorn had a nice open crumb and a very nice sour tang. You can see the effect of over-proofing in the long gap under the upper crust.
  4. The rye was dense and chewy, perfect for thin slices topped with butter.
  5. The Kamut was also fairly dense but nicely developed with a deep golden color and nutty, buttery flavor. 
  6. The spelt had a decent open crumb with good flavor and beautiful color. I thought it baked a little on the dry side though, so it might be a good choice for an enriched whole grain dough or at the least it needs a little more hydration. It may have also over-proofed slightly as you can see a few bubbles right under the crust.

Takeaways 

I normally wouldn’t bake boules with 100% whole grain. I often advise people to use 50% bread flour and 50% whole grain. This is especially important if you want to shape your dough into pitas, pizza, or rolls. 

However, 100% whole grain loaves can be successful as boules and sandwich loaves. 

This was a great test that proved this master recipe’s flexibility. All the bread was delicious and got devoured.

The Master Recipe

This recipe was developed for finely milled stone-ground hard wheat like the sifted hard red spring wheat from Camas Country Mill. But as I demonstrate above, it can work really well with a variety of white and whole grain flours! 

This table provides you with not only the ingredient weight in grams but also in ounces, volume, and baker’s percentages. 

Master recipe graph showing measurements in grams, ounces, volume, and percentages.

Baker’s Percentages

Baker’s percentages are useful for scaling recipes up and down with ease.

Note that the total flour weight is always 100% and every other ingredient is represented as a percentage of the total flour weight. No matter how much flour you use, it is 100% and all the other ingredients are scaled accordingly. 

Using the table above, let’s scale a recipe together using baker’s percentages. 

I need 30 hamburger buns for a dinner party. I know that the master recipe makes eight 111-gram buns. What do I do?

First, find the total formula weight, the number of buns I need times the weight of one bun: 30 x 111 = 3330 

Once we know the total formula weight or the total flour weight it is easy to find the conversion factor that we will use to scale all the ingredients.

The conversion factor is 1% of your flour weight. 

To find the conversion factor we take our total weight and divide it by the total formula percentage: 3330 ÷ 195.15 = 17.06 is our conversion factor. 

Now multiply the conversion factor by the ingredient percentage to get your formula for 30 buns. 

Flour — 17.06 x 100 = 1706 grams

Water — 17.06 x 65.05 = 1110 grams

Starter — 17.06 x 27.47 = 469 grams

Salt — 17.06 x 2.63 = 45 grams

Similarly, if you know the total flour you’d like to use you can divide that amount by 100 to get your conversion factor. This is helpful if you have a specific amount of flour to use up that is more or less than the specified amount. 

I may write more about baker’s percentages in the future, but for now I hope this gives you an idea of how helpful they can be!

Measuring by Volume

I’ve gotten the volume measurements as close as possible, but please note that they are always approximate. You may need to adjust hydration by adding flour or water to your recipe.

Baker’s percentages also don’t work with volume measurements. So baking by weight has the benefit of being easily scaled in addition to greater accuracy.

Sourdough buns, pita, loaf, boule, cinnamon rolls, and a pizza all displayed on a table.

Multiple baked goods made from the sourdough master recipe.

Butter For All's Sourdough Master Recipe

Yield: 888 grams (1 loaf, 1 large pizza, or 8 individual servings)
Scaling, Mixing, and Kneading Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Fermentation Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 55 minutes

Memorize this simple formula and you'll always have a sourdough recipe on hand that can make great bread, pizza, pitas, hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls, and more.

Ingredients

  • 455 grams (3 1/4 cups) organic strong flour
  • 296 grams (1 1/4 cups) water
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) active starter
  • 12 grams (2 teaspoons) salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, stir all ingredients together to form a shaggy dough.
  2. Alternate kneading and resting the dough in 1-minute intervals until it's smooth and elastic.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a covered bowl to ferment.
  4. Let the dough rise to double in volume, around 8 hours (overnight) in cool room temperature (68°F)
  5. Deflate, portion, and shape the dough as desired.
  6. Cover the dough and let it double again at room temperature.
  7. Bake loaves at 400℉ for 35 minutes or to an internal temperature of 200℉. Pizza and other styles and shapes will require specific baking times and temperatures.
  8. Cool loaves completely before slicing.

Notes

  • This master recipe can be used with a variety of wheat flours for different styles and shapes of bread or rolls.
  • Adjust hydration as needed.
  • Adjust baking times and temperature as needed.
  • Recipe yields one loaf or eight 111-gram servings.

Recipes You’ll Enjoy

Dark Rye Sourdough Bread With Molasses and Caraway

A basket of dark colored sourdough rye bread with caraway seeds on top.

Light Rye Sourdough Boule With Caraway Seeds

A soft a fluffy crumb makes this Light Rye Sourdough a wonderful bread for toasting or sandwiches!

Kamut Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Perfectly sliced Kamut sourdough bread with butter and jam.

Honey Whole Grain Sourdough Bread

Soft slices of whole grain sourdough await real raw butter.

Sweet and Soft Honey Oat Sourdough

Cutting into the crumb of this Honey Oat Sourdough reveals a light and airy texture!

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

 

Beth

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Hi Courtney! I went to your session at Wise Traditions and am excited to try this recipe! Just wanted to clarify with the first 8 hour rise...are there any stretch and folds in that time, or just set it and forget it for 8 hours? I feel like most recipes usually call for so much more hands on time for autolyse and stretch and folds every 30 minutes for about 2 hours. Have I been overdoing it this whole time?! Thanks for your help!

Beth

Sunday 30th of October 2022

@Butter For All,

So, I made two loaves: one garlic parmesan sandwich loaf and one batard, both using a random assortment of flours (whole wheat, spelt, rye, and bread flour). They both came out DELICIOUS! I ended up using my proofing bulb, which raised the temp to about 76-78 degrees, so my bulk fermentation and proofing times were quite shortened. I fed the night before and then started the process in the AM and baked by the PM. I LOVE that this bread is so hands-off and I don't feel like I needed to be around alllllll dayyyyyy working on it! Thank you for a great recipe!

Butter For All

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Hi Beth!

It's great to hear from you! The recipe is written to be as utilitarian as possible. You can add additional stretch and folds if you wish, it definitely wont hurt and will help build gluten. It's really up to you and how much time you want to spend with the dough. This dough is a little bit tighter than a higher hydration dough so it doesn't feel as slack when you are working with it. I usually just do a few kneading and resting rotations in the first 30 minutes or so and then let it do it's thing overnight! I'll be really excited to hear how it goes for you!

Happy Happy Baking!

Courtney

Jeff Krayniak

Wednesday 26th of October 2022

Young lady I am a 67 year old graduate of the CIA...have made many many sourdoughs. Your recipes are hands down the best I have used. The flavor texture and looks is consistent every time. I'm not one to comment but felt compelled too. Good Luck in the future

Jeff Krayniak

Butter For All

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Hi Jeff!

It's comments like these that keep me writing recipes! I really appreciate you leaving a note. It absolutely made my day.

Happy Baking!

Courtney

Julie

Monday 10th of October 2022

When kneading dough do I use the folding method in the bowl or do I use flour as I knead?

Butter For All

Monday 10th of October 2022

Hi Julie!

You shouldn't need and additional flour with this recipe. But it does depend on the flour used. I do a few rounds of a modified stretch and fold in the bowl, and then a little kneading on the bench. If the dough is sticky after a few rounds of stretch and fold then you can add a little flour or skip bench kneading and continue with bowl kneading only. The recipe is very flexible and forgiving. You can't really mess it up! Have fun baking, Courtney

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