aka levain, preferment, sponge, poolish, or biga

  • active starter ~1 Tbsp (needn't be precise)
  • white flour 20g
  • whole wheat flour 20g
  • water 40g
Mix and leave out at room temp

This makes 80g of leaven, with a little left over for the next time. You may want to scale down as low as 60 for very warm climates or if you want to slow things down. In the winter, I usually go up to 100g.

8 - 24 hours. Longer will be more sour.

Final Dough


  • leaven 80g
  • white flour 400g
  • whole wheat flour 100g
  • water 375g
Mix and let sit 20-30 minutes. Feed the remaining leaven and set aside for next time.


  • salt 10g

Add in salt, mix thoroughly.

Stretch & fold 4 or 5 times, waiting at least 20 minutes between each. This counts as part of the bulk fermenation phase.

The total amount of flour is consistent, although you can play with the proportions and types. White flour makes for loftier bread, whole grain flour gives more flavor.

Wetter dough is harder to work with, but gives a more open crumb (think ciabatta). Try 350g water for something easier to work with, or bump up to 400g, particularly with more whole grain flour.

Bulk Fermentation
Let rise until doubled, 3 - 12 hours depending on temperature. You can put it in the fridge to slow it down if needed.

Divide and Shape

At this stage you can also switch to making pizza or focaccia. I'll often do a loaf of bread and one or the other.

Bench Rest

Lightly flour your countertop. Dump the dough out and cut into multiple loaves if you're making more than one. Gently work it into a round. Wait ~30 minutes


Dust the top of the dough with a little flour. Flip over and gently stretch out. Fold the bottom third up, then the right third, left, and finally top. Roll over so the seam is down. Slide across countertop with hands and/or bench knife to build tension.

Dust banneton and dough with rice flour. Put dough in banneton with the seam-side up. Dust that side with more rice flour and cover with a towel.

Let rise until roughly doubled. This should be 2-6 hours at room temp, or put in the fridge to rise overnight. Use the poke test to know when it's ready; it should spring back slowly when you poke it. As it rises it'll strain the structure of the dough - too long and you risk collapse when you transfer and score.



Preheat the oven and dutch oven to 500°


Pull the base of the pan out of the oven. Carefully dump the dough into the pan. Score with a razor or sharp knife.


Put the lid on the pan, return to oven and bake 25 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 450°. Remove the lid from the pan and cook until the bread is nice and dark. 10-20 minutes.