Sourdough Baguettes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 14 oz each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

The Traditionalist in me was Rather Skeptical about the very idea of sourdough baguettes. After all, for centuries all breads were made with sourdough of one sort or another, and it was only after the long gradual evolution that made baguettes possible—the availability of whiter flours, reliable yeast, steam-injected ovens, and urban populations—that at last the ephemeral baguette found its place. Finally, a bread with crisp crust (and lots of it), tender crumb, and above all, a complete lack of acidity. The first taste of a baguette must have been so startling to people who had only known acidic breads, a true taste revelation. Keeping all that in mind, while writing curriculum for a class called Baguettes Six Ways for the King Arthur Baking Education Center, I decided to include a sourdough baguette. This formula is the result, and it is quite an interesting contrast to the other five from that class. While I would never wish to forsake non-acid baguettes, this sourdough baguette does find a bit of space amongst its brethren in the baguette firmament. All the commercial yeast can be omitted, in which case the bread will be denser and have a more pronounced flavor.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 15%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 20 lb 10 kg 2 lb 100 %
Malt Powder .02 lb .01 kg ¼ tsp .1%
Water 14 lb 7 kg 1 lb, 6.4 oz 70 %
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz 2 %
Yeast .1 lb, fresh .05 kg, fresh ½ tsp, instant dry .5%
Total Yield 34.52 lb 17.26 kg 3 lb, 7.1 oz 172.6 %

Liquid Levain

Bread Flour 3 lb 1.5 kg 4.8 oz (1⅛ cups) 100 %
Water 3.75 lb 1.875 kg 6 oz (¾ cup) 125 %
Mature Culture (Liquid) .6 lb .3 kg 1 oz (2 T) 20 %
Total 7.35 lb 3.675 kg 11.8 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 17 lb 8.5 kg 1 lb, 11.2 oz (6⅛ cups)
Malt Powder .02 lb .01 kg ¼ tsp
Water 10.25 lb 5.125 kg 1 lb, .4 oz (2 cups)
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .1 lb, fresh .05 kg, fresh ½ tsp, instant dry
Liquid Levain 6.75 lb 3.375 kg 10.8 oz (all less 2 T)
Total 34.52 lb 17.26 kg 3 lb, 7.1 oz


  1. Liquid Levain: Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F.
  2. Mixing: Mix using the autolyse technique by adding the final dough flour, final dough water, and the liquid levain to the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Cover the bowl and let stand for 20 to 60 minutes. Distribute the salt and yeast over the surface of the dough, and mix on second speed for 1½ to 2 minutes. Dough strength will be modest, and the dough will be slightly loose. Desired dough temperature: 75 to 76°F.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: 2 hours.
  4. Folding: Fold the dough after 1 hour. However, if the dough seems weak, two folds can be given, at 40-minute intervals.
  5. Dividing and Shaping: Divide the dough into 14-ounce pieces. Preshape lightly into rounds and leave on a lightly floured work surface, seams up, covered with plastic. Once the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 30 minutes, depending upon how tightly it was preshaped), shape into baguettes. Place them between folds of baker’s linen, leaving enough space between each one so they can expand without tearing during final fermentation. Cover the loaves with baker’s linen and plastic to protect them from air currents (or place on bread boards and put the boards into covered speed racks).
  6. Final Fermentation: approximately 1 hour at 76°F.
  7. Baking: With normal steam, 460°F for 24 to 26 minutes.