It seems like everyone is either sweets baking away their blues or caffeinating at a high rate while they’re stuck at home during Covid. But small batch baking treats and coffee aside, I think the biggest thing that everyone is doing right now is baking sourdough!

Are you a fan of sourdough? A long time ago I didn’t like it. That was back in the day when people’s sourdough loaves were literally sour. Artisan bread has come a long way from then and now sourdough is complex, rich, and seriously good. I’m pretty sure anyone who has had a really good sourdough has thought about making sourdough at home. After all, all you need is flour and water.

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately you’ve probably noticed lots of empty shelves. Paper products and cleaning supplies are missing. Eggs are hit or miss, flour is hard to come by and there is not yeast. What’s a new bread maker to do? Make your own! Gather wild yeast and start a sourdough starter. Yeast is everywhere, you just need to harness it.


How to make small batch sourdough |

What is Sourdough?
Sourdough is loose term that refers to bread that’s been made with a wild yeast starter rather than commercial yeast. Contrary to the name, not all sourdough tastes sour at all. Sourdough starter can be used to make all kinds of yeasted breads: sourdough cinnamon buns, sourdough, babka, essentially anything that uses yeast can be made with sourdough.

What is Yeast and Why is it Wild?
Yeast are the little beasties that brings your bread to life! Yeast is what makes breads light and fluffy. Basically it eats the sugars in flour and releases carbon dioxide, which makes bread rise.

There’s wild yeast everywhere around us. It’s in the air, in flours, in trees, on fruit, it’s everywhere.

How to make small batch sourdough |

What Can I Bake With My Yeast/Sourdough Starter?
You can use sourdough starter/yeast to bake anything! Sourdough bread obviously, but also things like pizza crust, focaccia, rustic loves, sandwich bread, baguettes, pretzels, doughnuts, and the list goes on. Anything yeasted is a go.

What About Sourdough Discard?
When you feed your sourdough (more on that later) you need to take away some of the sourdough mixture otherwise you’ll end up with too much sourdough. The amount you take away is called “discard.”

What Can I Make With Sourdough Discard?
When you have a sourdough starter there’s always going to be discard otherwise you’ll end up with a giant vat of living breathing sourdough starter that will eat you out of house and home. Even with a small sourdough starter, you’ll have discard. But, the good news is that there are tones of things you can make with it:
pancakes, waffles, English muffins, crumpets, popovers/Yorkshire puddings, cake, banana bread, quick breads, crackers, muffins, corn bread, naan.

Why You Should Make a Small Sourdough Starter
Right now flour is a hot commodity. Because there will inevitably be sourdough discard the best thing you can do if you want to make sourdough is make a small sourdough starter. Having a smaller starter means less discard and less flour to feed. A small starter will be more than enough for a home baker to bake multiple loaves of bread because you can use your starter to create a levain, which is an offshoot of your starter. The best part though is that you won’t need a huge amount of flour at the beginning. It’s a low investment scaled down starter.

How to Make a Small Batch of Sourdough Starter

What You Need

  1. Flour – It’s easier to start a sourdough starter with freshly milled flour but you can most definitely do it with AP flour. If you have whole wheat or rye flour on hand, a 50/50 mix of flour is best.
  2. Water – Room temperature filtered water or tap water that’s left out overnight so that any chlorine in the water disappeared.
  3. A container – I like to use a small, tall, straight sided glass container so I can see exactly how much my starter grows and when it needs to be feed. You’ll need a jar with a lid but don’t put the lid on tightly, so gases can escape.
  4. Kitchen Scale – Technically you could eyeball your starter and use tablespoons but if you’re going to be baking sourdough you’re probably going to want to invest in a kitchen scale. A kitchen scale will give you accuracy and help you bake consistent loves.
  5. Rubber spatula – This isn’t technically a “need” but it makes it really easy to mix your starter and scrape down the sides of your container.

Day 1
In the morning, make a flour mix as food for your starter: Take an empty container and mix in 200 grams of all purpose flour and 200 grams of rye or whole wheat flour. Set aside.

Take your jar and put it on the kitchen scale and tare (that is, minus the weight of the jar). Add 15 grams of your flour mix and 15 grams of water. Mix very well until all the dry parts are incorporated. Lightly cover and keep in a warm spot in your kitchen, ideally 80°F-85°F (26°C or higher). If your kitchen is cold, you can help the starter by warming up the water to 80°F (26°C). Let the mixture rest for 24 hours. Make a note of the time.

Day 2
It’s time to feed your starter! You want to do this the next day, at the same time that you created your starter. Place a bowl (or jar) on the scale and tare. Stir your starter then add 5 grams of your starter, 15 grams of the flour mix, and 15 grams water to the bowl (or jar) on the scale. Mix very well until everything is uniform.

The original jar will have some discard in it that you’ll need to get rid of. At this point you can’t really use it to make food (plus it’s so tiny) so just compost it and wash your jar.

Put the new sourdough starter in the jar (if you used a bowl), place the lid on loosely and put it in a warm spot for 24 hours.

Day 3
This is the day that you’ll probably see some very small bubbles breaking the surface of your starter. But if you don’t, don’t worry about it and stick to the schedule, sometimes starters just take a while to get going. At the same time as you did the feeding the other day, place a bowl (or jar) on the scale and tare. Stir your starter then add 5 grams of your starter, 15 grams of the flour mix, and 15 grams water to the bowl (or jar) on the scale. Mix very well until everything is uniform.

Pop the starter in a clean jar (if you used a bowl) and let rest in a warm spot for 24 hours.

Day 4
Day 4 is the day we will feed twice: once in the morning and once at night.

In the morning you should probably start to see some more sides of growth. The level of your mixture will have risen and fallen and you’ll see streaks on the side of the jar where the starter has grown.

Feed your starter: place a bowl (or jar) on the scale and tare. Stir your starter then add 5 grams of your starter, 15 grams of the flour mix, and 15 grams water to the bowl (or jar) on the scale. Mix very well until everything is uniform. Pop the starter in the clean jar (if you used a bowl) and let rest in a warm spot for 12 hours.

Note: If you have two jars by the way, you don’t have to use a bowl, you can just mix the starter into the clean jar.

After 12 hours, feed the starter again the same way: take 5 grams of starter and mix with 15 grams flour mix and 15 grams water. Discard the extra, and let the starter rest in a warm spot until the next morning.

Days 5 & 6
Keep feeding and discarding twice a day, in the morning and evening (12 hours apart).

Day 7 and Forevermore
Place a bowl (or jar) on the scale and tare. Stir your starter then add 5 grams of your starter, 15 grams of the flour mix, and 15 grams water to the bowl (or jar) on the scale. Mix very well until everything is uniform. Pop the starter in a clean jar (if you used a bowl) and let rest in a warm spot for 12 hours. By this point you can feel your starter all purpose flour and not have to feed it rye. The rye flour is just what helps it grow in the beginning. I actually feed my starter a mix, but I have successfully fed him only all purpose as well.

Hopefully by now you have a starter that is rising and falling in the jar. You’ll know if your starter is alive if it grows, almost doubling in size with an good amount of bubbles, then falls down around the same time consistently towards the bottom of the jar. You’ll want to feed your starter every 12 hours, but keep an eye on it because every starter is different and it’s best to feed your starter right after it starts to fall after peak maturity, before it starts to fall.

If you starter is not growing, don’t fret. As long as it isn’t moldy, you can still continue to harness wild yeast. Sometimes it might take a little longer to get a sourdough starter growing, maybe even up to two weeks. There are so many factors to consider: your flour, the temperature of your water, the temperature of you kitchen, how fast your starter is feeding, and the list goes on. If your starter isn’t rising and falling, be patient and continue feeding it two times as day until it starts rising and falling predictably.

I first tried my hand at sourdough three years ago. It took a while (over a month!) for me to be happy with the strength of my starter. But when I finally made a loaf of bread I was SO PROUD. There really is something magic about making bread out of just flour, water, and salt.

How to make small batch sourdough |

How to Bake a Small Loaf of Sourdough

Now that your starter is rising and falling predictably with lots of bubbles throughout, it’s time to bake a loaf of bread! We’re going to make a fairly small loaf that’s just about right to feed 2-4 people. It’s a basic white loaf sourdough with a bit of rye for structure and flavor, based off of one of my favorite sourdough bakeries, Sea Wolf Bakers in Seattle. They use barley flour in their white sourdough (based off rumors on the internet anyway) but because I don’t have any barley flour right now or in the foreseeable future, I went with substituting rye. I’m going to be trying an all purpose loaf in the future, so I’ll update this post when I do!

What you need to make a small batch sourdough loaf:

  • kitchen scale
  • active sourdough starter
  • flour: all purpose and rye
  • mixing bowl
  • bench scraper
  • proofing basket or bowl
  • rice flour to dust the proofing basket/bowl
  • clean kitchen towel (or liner for your proofing basket)
  • dutch oven (I use a fourneau oven)
  • parchment paper
  • oven mitts

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Build a levain – this is just a fancy way of saying that you’ll take a bit of your active sourdough starter, feed it, and let it grow until it is at or just after peak maturity. You want to do this about 10-12 hours the night before you start your loaf.
  2. Mix the dough – In a bowl, mix together the flour, water, and levain and let everything rest for 1 hour.
  3. Mix in the salt – evenly mix in the salt then let everything rest for another hour.
  4. Stretch and Fold + Bulk Fermentation – Let the dough rise, covered, in a warm spot for 2 hours. During the 2 hours, complete four sets of “stretch and folds.” After the stretch and fold, the dough is left to rise/ferment. At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough should have risen slightly (this will vary depending on the brand of flour you used) and there should be some bubbles on the sides of the bowl.
  5. Preshape – Preshaping helps with the final shaping of your loaf and gives strength and structure to your loaf.
  6. Shape – This is where you’ll shape your loaf, degassing slightly and creating tight surface tension so you final baked loaf will have a nice structure and oven spring.
  7. Overnight Ferment – Your now shaped loaf will get popped into the fridge for an overnight retard. The coolness of the fridge will slow down the yeast and improve the overall flavor of the loaf, giving it more complexity. It’ll also help with the coloring of the crust.
  8. Bake – Finally you get to bake! Preheat your oven to 500°F for minimum an hour, with a dutch oven inside. When the oven is heated, remove your loaf from the fridge, flip it over, score, and bake.
  9. Rest, then slice and enjoy – One of the keys to good sourdough is letting it cool to room temperature, at least 1-2 hours, until the crumb is set and everything is cool. If you slice into your loaf too soon, you might get a gummy crumb.

How to make small batch sourdough |

Cheers to you and your sourdough journey. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get sucked into the world of sourdough and soon will be googling things like hydration, autolyse, final dough temperature, and the like. It can get obsessive, which is perfect for times like this.

Oh, and the very most important thing about creating a sourdough starter: don’t forget to name it! Everyone has a name for their starter because they’re just like pets. You feed them, love them, and in return they feed and love you too :)

Happy sourdoughing!

UPDATE: I have made this loaf multiple times as an all purpose only loaf, so if you only have all purpose dough on hand you can definitely make it :)

How to make small batch sourdough |

How to make small batch sourdough |

Sea Wolf Inspired Small Batch White Sourdough Loaf

A small sourdough loaf (for 2-4) based off of Seattle’s Sea Wolf Bakery. Crusty crunchy crust and a creamy open crumb.
4.91 from 21 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
overnight rest 12 hours
Total Time 13 hours 40 minutes



  • 10 grams sourdough starter mature
  • 40 grams all purpose flour
  • 40 grams water


  • 245 grams all purpose flour
  • 19.5 grams rye flour
  • 187.5 grams water
  • 52 grams levain mature
  • 5.5 grams salt


  • The night before, 10-12 hours before you want to start making your loaf, make a levain by mixing together 10 grams of active starter, 40 grams all purpose flour, and 40 grams of water. Mix well and let rest, lightly covered, in a warm spot.
  • The next day, when the levain has just reached peak (or just after peek), start your loaf: In a bowl, mix together 245 grams all purpose flour, 19.5 grams rye flour, 187.5 grams water, and 52 grams levain. Mix well, making sure there are no dry flour spots.
  • One hour later, mix in the salt and let rest for 1 hour.
  • Do a stretch and fold, then let the dough rest for 2 hours, lightly covered, preforming 1 full set of stretch and folds every half an hour. You should do a total of four sets, including the first set.
    To stretch and fold: lightly wet your hands and gather your dough at the top of the bowl and lift with two hands towards the ceiling, lifting and stretching enough so that you can fold the dough over on itself, tucking it into the opposite side. Rotate the bowl 180° so that the side that you tucked in is now on top and repeat the stretch and fold. Rotate the bowl 90° and then do the stretch and fold again. Rotate the bowl 180° again (so you’re on the opposite side of where you just tucked in the dough) and complete the last stretch and fold. You should have completed a stretch and fold on each “side” of the bread. Do the stretch and folds every half and hour, over the course of 2 hours.
  • After the last stretch and fold, it’s time for bulk fermentation. Let the dough rest, covered for 1.5 hours to 2 hours, letting it rise, strengthen, and develop flavor. At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough should have risen a bit (this will vary depending on starter strength and flour choice) and there should be some bubbles forming at the edges. The surface of the dough should be slightly shiny and when you shake your bowl, it should move and jiggle a little.
  • Preshape: lightly flour your work surface and pour out your dough. Use a bench scraper to gently scrape and turn your dough, pulling it towards you, to develop some surface tension while shaping into a rough round circle. Let rest for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • After 30 minutes, prep your proofing basket or banneton by lining with a clean kitchen towel liberally dusted with 50/50 all purpose and rice flour. Set aside. Shape your dough: lightly dust your work surface and hands. Use a bench scraper to flip the dough over so that the bottom of the dough (the part that was touching your work surface) is now facing you and the smooth side of your dough is on the work surface.
  • For a round: lightly flour your hands and stretch the dough into a rough rectangle, folding the top down towards the bottom and the bottom up towards the top. Fold the sides in and flip everything over so that the seams are on the bottom. Cup your hands together around the dough and gently pull towards your body, creating surface tension. Use your bench scraper and scoop underneath the shaped loaf and place it in your proofing basket, seam side up.
    For a batard: gently stretch the dough out into a rough rectangle, then bring the two sides in and overlap them in the center. Tuck the top part of the rectangle over on itself, tucking and folding until you make an oval shape. Use your bench scraper and scoop underneath the shaped loaf and place it in your proofing basket, seam side up. Pop the basket in a plastic bag (or cover lightly making sure that the covering doesn’t touch the dough). Let rest on the countertop for 30 minutes, then place in the fridge overnight.
  • The next morning, place your dutch oven (keep the lid on a separate rack) in the oven and preheat by setting it to 500°F for one hour. When the preheat is done, take your loaf out of the fridge and unwrap. Cut a piece of parchment paper out a bit bigger than the size of your proofing basket. Place the parchment paper down on the loaf and flip the basket out on to a cutting board. Lightly brush away any excess flour. Score with a very sharp knife or a lame at a 45° angle.
  • Very carefully pull out your dutch oven using oven mitts and use the parchment paper underneath your loaf to drop the loaf into the dutch oven. Carefully cover with the hot lid. Turn the heat down to 475°F and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, carefully remove the lid of the dutch oven and continue to bake for another 10 minutes, rotate the dutch oven, then bake for a final 10 minutes.
  • When the bread is done, the crust should be golden and the internal temp should be over 208°F. Carefully remove the dutch oven from the stove (or carefully reach inside it and grab your loaf) and let cool for at least 2 hours before slicing and enjoying!


  1. Sigrid says:

    Hi, I recently got into baking bread with sourdough. As you mentioned above, there is going to be a lot of sourdough after a while. As I don‘t want to always through it away (food waste!) you mentioned one can bake other things with it. Can you give some recipes for that? Or do you just put a certain amount of sourdough in the pancakes dough, for example? I am a bit on uncertain terrain here …
    Thanks a lot in advance!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi sigrid,
      i don’t have any sourdough discard recipes here, but there are plenty on the internet! i find that with the very small starter that i use i don’t really have much discard. i will be putting up some crackers soon!
      i’ve heard that you can just use the discard in pancakes, just use your typical pancake recipe but hold back a bit of the flour and liquid. hope that helps a bit and i’ll be putting some discard sourdough posts up soon!

    2. Aaron says:

      This is a great, super quick and easy recipe for crumpets:

      Otherwise, a quick google search for sourdough discard recipes will turn up hundreds of potential recipes.

  2. HS says:

    thanks for writing this post. very detailed and insightful! would you be able to share how do you keep the starter alive? i’m reading it as one wld need to feed it twice a day? or is that just for Day 7? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      in the beginning, i’d say for the first two weeks or so, it’s better to feed your starter twice a day to keep it’s strength up. later on, when it’s falling and rising very predictably, you can pop it in the fridge 3-4 hours after feeding, then just take it out and feed it the night before you want to bake :)

      1. HS says:

        Thank you!

  3. Shane says:

    Hey, have been following you for awhile, amazing recipes!. Question: where did you get that Hario jar? Thanks Shane

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi shane,
      it’s a jar i repurposed – there’s this famous pudding place in japan called marlowe and when you buy their pudding it comes in a reusable hairo jar. i love it so much :)

  4. Whitney says:

    My starter is named Audrey III (after Little Shop of Horrors) cause he’s always saying “Feed me!”

    1. Stephanie says:

      heehee sourdough starters sure do eat a lot!

  5. Jamie says:

    Hello! How long should the overnight fermentation in the fridge go for? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jamie,
      i let it go for over 12 hours and it was fine – the coldness of the fridge slows down the fermentation

  6. Lauren says:

    Hey I’m super excited to try this! I recently tried a sourdough start that didnt turn out so I’m hopeful! For the flour for the actual bread making.. if I cant get rye flour have you made if with just all purpose? Are there other flours you have used or recommend?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi lauren,
      i have successfully made this loaf with only all purpose, so that will work for sure. you can use whole wheat if you like as well :) there are so many different kinds of fun flours out there like einkorn or spelt but you don’t necessarily need them. hope that helps!

  7. Maggie says:

    Hello! Forgive my very specific question, but I want to get this right: regarding your starter feeding instructions, when you say, “Scoop out 5g and then mix in 15g flour and 15g water,” does this mean mix those in to the 5 grams you’ve scooped out? Or add them to the starter from which you removed the 5g? Thanks! So glad for a *small* recipe.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi maggie,
      thanks for asking, i will clarify it in the post, but what i mean is: in a small bowl, mix together 5 grams of the stater, 15 grams flour, and 15 grams water.

      1. Maggie says:

        Rad, that’s what I figured – thanks so much!

  8. Leona says:

    Hi, I love your blog! Your pictures are all so beautiful :) I was wondering what size bannetone you use – is it a smaller one? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi leona,
      thanks so much! yes, it’s a smaller banneton, about 8.5 x 4.5. i got it on amazon (here’s the link) but they don’t sell it anymore!

  9. Suzy Wintjen says:

    I have a hard time finding parchment paper that is ovenproof over 425 – have you found some? Or do you just use the regular parchment paper?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi suzy,
      i just use regular parchment paper but trim it to the banneton size so that there’s not much that’s exposed to the oven heat. hope that helps!

  10. May says:

    This is such a great blog. I don’t own a kitchen scale and am wondering if this recipe can be provided with standard measurements (e.g. cups, tsps., etc). Thank you :-)

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi may,
      i haven’t made this using cups and tbsp so i can’t really answer accurately :( it’s really hard to judge how much flour is getting packed into a cup measure – it’s one of the reasons why so many bread recipes out there depend on weight measures.

      for the sourdough starter, you can definitely just use tablespoons and teaspoons, but when it comes to the actually loaf, i’m not too sure how to help!

      1. May says:

        Hi there! No problem. I ended up getting a scale and wow, game changer! Now i can start. Thank you!

  11. Sarah says:

    I’ve been following the steps and after the bulk fermentation, my dough is still very “runny” and unable to hold its
    shape. It’s impossible to shape it. What am I doing wrong?

    After baking, the crust is extremely hard like a rock but the inside is ok.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi sarah,
      i would try holding back some of the water when you’re doing the initial mix. it could be that your flour can’t take as much water – every flour has a different make up. try using 180 grams of water instead of 187.5 grams. if the dough feels too dry, add in the last bit of water while you’re mixing in the salt. also, just to make sure, did you add the entire levin build? you only need 52 grams of it, you will have leftover levain.

      as for the crust, try brushing your loaf with water before popping it into the dutch oven. the steam will make the crust a bit softer. if you have a clean spray bottle, you can spray some water in the dutch oven as well to create some extra steam. how you store the loaf after baking can help soften up the crust too. popping it into a ziplock bag will soften it up a bit :)

      hope that helps!

  12. Katrina says:

    I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a recipe for smaller starter, loaves, AND a recipe/method based off Sea Wolf sourdough, which is the best I have ever had. THANK YOU! I will be working on my starter, but had a few questions. I saw one method of mixing the salt into the dough by dissolving it in a little water and then incorporating it. Would you recommend that? Or do you just knead the salt in? Can a regular 6 quart Dutch oven be used to bake the bread? Do you slide the parchment paper into the Dutch oven? I think so based on the comments I read, I was imagining this could be difficult or scary with a very hot pan. Thank you!!! If you had a video of your stretching/shaping technique, I would watch it. :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi katrina,
      you can definitely hold some of the water back to dissolve the salt and then add it in. sometimes i just go ahead and sprinkle the salt on right after i mix the dough and let it sit on the surface so it dissolves. people usually hold the salt back so that it doesn’t interfere with the rise so just sprinkling it on the surface works – it dissolves because of the moisture in the dough but doesn’t inhibit growth because it’s just on the surface. sometimes i just knead it straight into the dough. bread is both finicky and very forgiving :) as for the parchment paper, just drop the parchment paper into the pan with the loaf, using the parchment paper as a kind of sling. for stretch and folds, i follow full proof baking’s stretch and fold method and for shaping, i go with this video. hope that helps!

      1. Katrina says:

        Thank you! This is so helpful!

  13. Purnima says:

    Hi, I do not own a Dutch oven, but want to make the bread beginning today. I am ready with the levain. Is there an alternate vessel I can use?
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi purnima,
      the purpose of the dutch oven is to create an extra hot environment with steam so that the loaf has a bunch of oven spring and bakes up nice and tall. if you don’t have one, you can still bake the bread on a regular sheet pan in the oven. it might not be as fluffy though. if you have a clean spray bottle, you can try spritzing some water in there to add some extra steam :)

      1. Purnima Patel says:

        Thank you Stephanie. I have made your recipe 4 times now with great results and instead of a Dutch oven I used a chicken roaster and it is working fine. I think I have graduated to a bigger loaf because this one disappears in a jiffy! Can I safely double the amounts in the recipe for a bigger boule?
        Thank you!

        1. Stephanie says:

          hi purnima,
          yes definitely you can double the amounts for a regular size boule :)

    2. Raymond W. says:

      Hi there. I have been baking sourdough bread for about 8 years now. I have never used a Dutch Oven. First off because I didn’t have one, and then because I never felt the need to use one.
      The other thing is that I bake my bread in loaf pans. I have had flops over the years, but it always get eaten.
      As for the the size of the loaf you want to bake, when using a scale it is so easy to adjust your recipe to be bigger or smaller, more so if you are using a metric scale.
      I do like the recipe given here. And it is easy enough to adjust what kind of flours you use. And then you can start playing with adding extras like cheese, raisins, seeds, carrots, or just about what ever you fancy.
      You just have to play with your recipe, and when trying something new, only make 1 loaf.

  14. Thanks for the recipe, I will try it for sure. I love baking everykind of bread by myself, it’s looking really delicious. :)

  15. Katie says:

    Hi Stephanie!
    Thank you so much for this post! I was curious if the photos on the post are of the small batch loaf? My came out much smaller, but I imagine it could also be because my starter isn’t quite ready. That’s what my instincts are telling me, but I wanted to try a loaf anyways and see how it worked.
    Also – I didn’t have rice flour on hand, but I had rolled oats in my pantry. I pulsed some of the oats in a food processor and mixed with some AP flour and it worked like a charm in the banneton. Thought I’d share in case anyone was looking for an alt for the rice flour.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi katie,
      thanks for the tip on the oats! i imagine it would add a nice flavor too :)
      this is a photo of the small batch loaf! if yours came out smaller it could possibly be due to shaping or your starter not being as active. i recommend feeding it extra before the day of your bake, which will encourage your starter to be even more active. here’s a sample schedule and feeding ratio, adjust as needed
      8 am 1:2:2
      3 pm 1:2:2
      10 pm 1:5:5
      hope that helps!

      1. Jo says:

        Hi, following this schedule, do you discard every time you feed?

        1. Stephanie says:

          hi jo,
          yes, discard every time you feed!

  16. Christine says:

    Hi! Can I use stone ground whole wheat flour instead of rye flour? If yes, should i sift it before adding with the other flour or it would work perfectly fine without being sifted?

    I have tried making a sourdough bread before but the gluten didn’t develop much. I think it was because i used bleached flour but also it could’ve been other factors. It ended up flat and did not spring at all. Would appreciate the help very much. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes you can totally use stone ground whole! i think it’ll be okay unsifted :) as for your other loaf, it could have just been that your starter wasn’t strong enough. hopefully you get some good results!

  17. Veronica says:

    Hi! I’m on day 10 with my starter but it has only been fed with AP flour because that is all I have. Not surprising but it’s not growing yet. Is it still ok if I try to bake a loaf of bread since it has been 10 days? I do see bubbles but just some and it definitely isn’t doubling and going back down. And, I forgot to feed it last night. Is it still ok??

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi! unfortunately if it’s not doubling it won’t be able to add any lift to a loaf of bread. if you forgot to feed it, don’t worry, just try to be consistent.

  18. Katrina says:

    Hello! I made my first loaf and enjoyed the process. My loaf was also tiny, but I like the size. The outside was nice and crunchy, but the inside was more dense and did not have a lot of open crumb. I read that is because I didn’t build enough dough strength. Is that because I did not stretch and fold well? What other things can contribute to this, and any tips for next try? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie says:

      if your loaf was dense and didn’t have a very open crumb, it could be due to lack of dough strength but also maybe your starter being weak. when you did the stretch and folds, did the dough hold it’s shape right away? is your starter consistently growing/doubling at the same time every day? let me know and i can help troubleshoot!

  19. Karen vito says:

    Can I store my unused starter in the fridge for later use? And what is the procedure for when i want to re use it?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi yes, you can definitely store it in the fridge.
      when you want to reuse it, take it out of the fridge 1-2 days before and feed and discard as you normally would, if it was just living on your countertop. you’ll get best results if you feed it twice a day :)

  20. Fabiana MacCord says:

    Hello, I’m a huge fan of this small batch recipe – the Sea Wolf Inspired Small Batch White Sourdough Loaf. It never failed for me and helped building up my confidance on baking sourdough :) I shared your post with so many friends and it became our key recipe for success. Therefore I feel ready to start baking bigger loaves – I also purchased a large dutch oven, and would like to know if this recipe would work simply by using double the amount of all ingredints? Also, I’m not use if I bt doubling up the dough i would have to double the baking time in the oven. If you could advice me, I’d appreciate it. Cheers.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi fabiana,
      thanks for the kind words and i’m so happy you are deep into the sourdough world! just double the ingredients. as for bake time, keep the initial covered bake time the same. after you take the lid off you’ll need to bake the loaf about 20 minutes longer. the first uncovered bake will be 20 minutes, then the second after rotating is another 20 or so. the total bake time will be about 1 hour. hope that helps!

  21. Veronica says:

    Hi! I tried my first loaf with mostly successes. My only issue is that the inside was a bit chewy. Where did I go wrong?

    1. zalmy says:

      i’m not sure but either 1 you didn’t let it cool enough it needs to be completely cooled down (it’s the hardest part ) or 2 no clue hope this solved your problem stay safe!! :-)

    2. Stephanie says:

      hi veronica,
      like zalmy suggested, how long did you let your loaf cool down for?
      also, it could possible be that it was underbaked – was the color on the loaf good?

      1. Veronica says:

        Yes the colour was good, I only waited about 45 mins. That could definitely be the reason. I made my second loaf this morning and haven’t cut it yet so hopefully it isn’t as gummy!! Thanks for this recipe! Do you have recipes for larger loafs? I think I’m ready hehe.

        1. Stephanie says:

          hi veronica,
          i don’t have any recipes for larger loaves! this loaf can totally be doubled and baked longer though :)

  22. Wanting says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I have a 8.5inch dutch oven but I would still prefer to make a small bread. May I check if this would cause the dough to expand sideways while baking? Do you have any suggestions on how I can use this dutch oven with your recipe?

    1. Stephanie says:

      i think that might be a tiny bit too small as the loaf will expand and touch the sides of the pan. if you don’t have a dutch oven big enough, you can bake it straight in the oven, it just might not have as much oven spring. try spritzing the loaf with water before baking to give it some extra steam. hope this helps :)

  23. michelle says:

    this recipe was wonderful; i made my first sourdough loaf today, and it was a success! thank you for the detailed instructions! :)

    1. Stephanie says:

      this makes me SO happy :)
      sourdough success!!!

  24. Michelle Hotchkiss says:

    Hi! I don’t have any rye flour, only all-purpose. Do I use the same weight of AP as the rye to substitute? I’ve read that rye absorbs liquid differently so that makes me wonder if more or less AP is needed as a substitute. Thank!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi michelle,
      you can definitely try with ap flour – just use the same amount! it might take a while longer to get your starter going so give it some extra time :)

  25. Cassie Nix says:

    I’ve resisted making bread because I’m afraid if the fuss. But I love sourdough and especially small loaves, so I decided to give it a go. I’m only at day 2 of my mini starter but it’s already 2.5x the original size. Is that normal? ?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi cassie,
      sometimes starters are really active in the beginning and then slow down a bit. hopefully your starter is just extra ambitious :)

  26. Annie says:

    Amazing small loaf recipe!! Much better than the big loaves for 2 people. Question- do you know if the loaf will still work if you bulk ferment in the fridge for a few days, if you needed to make ahead?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi annie,
      i haven’t tried bulk fermenting in the fridge for over 24 hours – most likely you will get less oven spring and there won’t be as much dough strength. sometimes when i push the fridge ferment even by a couple hours, my dough starts to look a bit more slack, so i wouldn’t recommend it.

  27. Joanne says:

    5 stars
    I modified your recipe by adding a mixture of hydrated raw seeds to the dough. The recipe worked flawlessly except my scale doesn’t weight .5 of anything. But that didn’t seem to affect the success of my boule.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi joanne,
      adding seeds sounds amazing :) so happy you made a small boule!

  28. Kimberly Luce says:

    4 stars
    Hello I am currently still building my starter however I have a question on the steps for baking.
    You mention 10-12 “before baking” to start the Levain.
    The next morning “baking day” you mix 52 grams of levain, and other ingredients and walk us through mixing, resting. Adding salt, more resting, then stretch and folds ( 4 times over a 2 hr period ), then let the bulk fermentation occur for 1 1/2-2 hours.
    After doing all that your instructions go into “preshaping” -then rest
    Then prep proof basket and shape again – rest 30 more min
    – here is where I get confused
    You mention to place it in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator “overnight”!!!!!
    Why can’t we bake it that day?
    We started the process 10-12 hour “before” baking? So in actuality you spend one day peeping, shaping, stretching and folding but you Don’t bake it that day?????

    Am I reading your instructions wrong?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kimberly,
      you’re not reading the instructions wrong :)
      the entire recipe takes 3 days unless you have a very active starter in which case it can take 2 days. the overnight rest in the fridge is for the final rise and to develop flavor. it also helps the crust brown. i like baking the next day so i have bread in the morning. hope that helps a bit!

  29. Kimberly Luce says:

    Thank you Stephanie
    Yes very helpful to understand the whys! I just started my day 6 this morning.
    I do need some clarification – I keep trying to catch and see when the starter is rising (at its peak). So far I haven’t had any luck. You mention feeding it just after it’s peak before it falls. Any suggestions on how to capture this moment

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kimberly,
      it’s just a question of keeping an eye on it. did you put a rubber band on your container? all starters are different, especially with the temperature you’re keeping it at. i suggest taking a peek at it after 4 hours and seeing where it is. if it has doubled from where the rubber band is, you can go ahead and feed. if it hasn’t risen much at all, just keep checking it on the hour. i know, it’s a bit annoying, but starters are like pets, you just have to learn their quirks :)

      1. Kimberly Luce says:

        5 stars
        ? Thank you

  30. Evelyn Pope says:

    Hi Kim,
    I’m just getting started here with sourdough baking, I’m rounding up what I need to start with and found your blog most helpful. I’m going to begin small until I get the hang of it and discover it’s so delicious I need to make more ! My question is, the size of my Dutch oven will fit dough from a 7” Banneton, no larger, and will your recipe here be too big for that ? If so how would I adjust the proportions of everything to make that size. Thanks in advance,

    1. Stephanie says:

      this is stephanie, the author of this post. this recipe makes a loaf that’s a little over a pound of dough. the banneton i use it in is about 8.5 inches, but the dough doesn’t fill the entire basket. it will probably fit in a 7 inch, but you can always use the bakers’ percentages to scale the recipe down a bit!

      Total dough weight = 509.5 g
      245 grams all purpose flour 100%
      19.5 grams rye flour 8%
      187.5 grams water 76.5%
      52 grams levain mature 21%
      5.5 grams salt 2%

  31. Almond says:

    5 stars
    This was one of my best loaves! And I love the size. I’ll be making it again. Sorry if this is a silly question- if the levain is just water, flour and starter, and starter is just water, flour and starter, what’s the difference between those two? Why not just feed the starter the night before rather than making a levain, isn’t it the same thing?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi almond, it’s not a silly question at all!! it is essentially the same thing, but since i keep such a small starter, it’s just a way of saying, feed the starter a lot so you have enough levin/starter to make your loaf :) it’s a little confusing but it’s just because i don’t keep a lot of starter around. hope that helps answer your question and yay to it being one of your best loaves!!

      1. Almond says:

        It does answer it, thank you so much! Off to try and get an “ear” this time :)

  32. Rachel Harrington says:

    5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe that has not let me down yet! Have made this 3 times with equally lovely results. Easy to fit in to my schedule and the perfect size for two people! And there is no discard regret! Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi rachel,
      yay! this makes me so happy. isn’t it the best, having sourdough for 2?!

  33. Joanne says:

    5 stars
    Thank you, Stephanie! I made this twice already and got great results. I really appreciate the low-waste perspective and wonderful boost during quarantine times.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi joanne,
      thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! yay for small batch sourdough!!

  34. Mary says:

    What sized Dutch oven do you use?

    1. Stephanie says:

      i use a fourneau bread oven but this small batch loaf will fit in a 7 quart!

  35. Elle says:

    5 stars
    The first time I made this loaf, total disaster. I’ve been baking sourdough for almost a year and it was the worst one since I started. But in hindsight I think my starter was not active enough since I hadn’t used it in a couple of weeks. Just took my second try of this recipe out of the oven and its tall, dark, and has a great ear. Feeling optimistic. Leaving a review to remind people that sourdough recipes are so variable based on so many factors. In fact, I barely followed this recipe at all, just used the quantities listed and the steps, but the times were totally different. Thank you for sharing hopefully my loaf lives up to its looks and I can confidently make mini boules going forward!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi elle,
      so happy to hear that your loaf was tall with some nice ears! you’re absolutely right, sourdough baking is about experience and timing – every kitchen is different and every starter has a different strength. what a great reminder to try again. i’ve had so many flops LOL. hope your lil boule is everything you dream of :)

  36. Beth says:

    Can I use bread flour instead of AP for this recipe.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi beth, you can definitely use bread flour :)

  37. Beth says:

    Also, if I want to make a regular sized loaf, vice small batch, can I just double the ingredients for everything (to include the levain)? Or can you recommend a similar recipe for a full loaf. I really wanted to make your small batch, and I love your easy to follow instructions, but I only have a larger dutch oven.

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can bake this in a large dutch oven. if you wanted to double it for a large loaf, double everything :)

      1. Beth says:

        Thank you, Stephanie. I think I miss understood a comment I read above. I thought a small loaf in a large dutch oven would fall flat and spread. I’m happy to hear that is not the case and can’t wait to make your small loaf.

  38. Beth says:

    Hi Stephanie, I’m new to SD baking and starters and I’m curious if there is a reason why your SD starter ratio is different than the majority I’ve seen. Most of what I’ve seen is 1:1:1 (i.e., 10g starter/10g flour/10g water). I am currently following your small batch SD starter recipe above using a rye/bread flour mix and I’m on day 6 with almost no activity. I’m not too concerned, but just curious if there is a reason you only use 5g of starter to 15g of flower/water.

    1. Stephanie says:

      i use a lower amount of starter to fresh flour and water just so that it has more food! that way i’m not constantly checking up on it and it doesn’t have as much of a chance to go past peak maturity :)

      the ratio you feed your sourdough (i do 1:3:3) controls how fast and when it will peak. i always want to catch my starter before he starts falling so i feed at a lower ratio so he has more food to go through. if you go with a 1:1:1 your starter will peak more quickly and you’ll have to feed him more often. to be honest though, sourdough starters are very hearty creatures! if you want to feed yours equal amounts, go for it, just keep an eye and discard and feed after peak maturity but before it falls for too long. hope that helps!!

  39. Beth says:

    Thanks, this does help. I am on day 5 (and my second day of doing 2 feedings a day) and I’m not seeing any rise and fall or bubbles – so I thought maybe it was the ratio. I’ll see how the next few days go.

  40. Benson says:

    5 stars
    I have an active, energetic starter but had experienced some underwhelming loaves until I found your recipe. Now my loaves are reliably beautiful with deep flavor. Thank you for such a thorough treatment.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi benson,
      thanks so much for the comment and happy you’re happy with your loaves!

  41. Donna Towle says:

    This was by far the BEST sourdough recipe that I’ve made so far. Can I just double the recipe to make a larger or two smaller loaves? and can I freeze one after baking?

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can absolutely double the recipe for two loaves or even one larger loaf! and yes, they freeze quite well, just be sure to wrap tightly. i actually like to slice and individually wrap the slices so i can just pull slices out instead of the whole loaf :)

      1. Donna Towle says:

        5 stars
        Thank you Stephanie! I really appreciate the quick reply!

    2. Raymond W. says:

      5 stars
      You can also make buns as well. I make mine in a muffin tin because then the buns are nice and crispy all around.
      With the recipe given here, you should be able to make 6 (80g) – 8 (60g) buns depending on how big you make them. I take a little shot of olive oil and brush the muffin tin, then sprinkle with corn meal.
      The buns can be made in the evening and then cook in the AM. Or you can make then in the AM, and let them sit for about 2 – 3 hours to double in size.
      Since these are in a muffing tin, I put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven, and spritz the buns just before baking at 400 F. And I bake them for 22 – 25 minutes.

  42. Donna Towle says:

    5 stars

  43. Abitha says:

    Am on day 5, once you’ve made a loaf can you just keep feeding the leftover starter? Have heard some people keep theirs in the fridge and only feed once a week to keep growth at bay.

    1. Stephanie says:

      you can definitely keep the starter in the fridge and feed weekly, but i would keep it on the counter and make sure it’s quite strong and rising and falling predictably before doing that :)

      1. Abitha says:

        Thank you, I’m very excited! Thank you for this very thorough recipe too, so appreciated ❤️

  44. Half-Blood Princess says:

    My dough is wet and sticky after bulk fermentation. Any idea where did I go wrong? :(

    1. Stephanie says:

      it’s a pretty high hydration dough – did you use weight measures and how strong was your starter?

  45. Lizzy says:

    Hi there!! I’m really looking forward to seeing how this works out for me!! Two questions – what temp do you typically work at and is there anything you recommend using the remaining 38g of levain for? Thank you!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      i work at just regular room temp (about 72°F) and for the remaining levain i collect it until i have enough to make sourdough crackers: Small Batch Sourdough Crackers

  46. Jen says:

    5 stars
    Hi Stephanie, Loved this recipe! I’ve been looking for a fav smaller load recipe and I think I’ve finally found it!! Question – I wanted to go more Whole Wheat flour – is it a simple swap out or can I sub some of the AP flour with WH flour for a blend? Thanks!! Jen

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jen, i would start with a blend first!

  47. Latisha says:

    Hi! I love your blog and have just created my starter (day 1) with 15g of the flour mix and 15g of water – is it supposed to have a pasty consistency at first? Thank you!

    1. Stephanie says:

      it’s pretty pasty at first!

  48. Donna says:

    5 stars
    I would love to make three loaves for Easter, could you give me the measurements to triple it? TYIA

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi donna, do you want to make three small loaves all at the same time then divide and shape theM? if so, just multiply all of the ingredients by 3 and then before you shape, divide the dough into three. hope that helps!

      1. donna says:

        thank you!

  49. Donna says:

    5 stars
    Best recipe I have found by the way! Bravo! Does it matter if I use dark or light rye flour?

  50. Kerry says:

    5 stars
    I have been using this recipe for since the original post in 2020 and I love it. It is easy to adjust and experiment with the types of flour. My only issue is the bottom keeps getting over cooked. I switched from using a roasting pan with two little loaves to a Dutch oven and same problem. I don’t have this issue with any other baking. Any suggestions?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kerry,
      i have several suggestions but trouble shooting can be tricky. you can try baking them without the cast iron or roasting pan and seeing if they do okay on a regular baking sheet covered with something domed and heatproof. you can also change the timing – if the bottoms are getting overcooked it may be that they’re in the oven too long. or once they’re already “set” after begin baked in the dutch oven, you can carefully remove them and just bake them directly on the oven rack. i suspect that the cast iron bottom is getting too hot and causing the bottoms to get overcooked. i hope this helps! if it doesn’t, please come back and let me know what you tried and we can try to figure it out :)

  51. Judi M says:

    I’ve been making at least 1 loaf of sourdough per week since I created my sourdough starter during the pandemic. I have been making the loaves in my bread maker from a recipe I found online. I would like to make some “mini” loaves to give as gifts. I can use the bread maker for the kneading and rising…but do you have a recipe for the actual loaves? (i.e., how much dough for each mini pan)

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi judi, it depends on how big the pans are :) how big are your pans?

  52. Kathy says:

    Have you don’t this recipe with regular all purpose flour ? How did it turn out ?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi kathy, i’ve baked loaves with all purpose only but making a starter usually needs another type of flour :)

  53. Vicki says:

    This is the best and my favorite recipe. I’d like never to be without it!

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