Sourdough baking with training wheels: a sourdough bread with added yeast

Photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash
Baking true sourdough breads consistently takes a lot of practice and until you’re ready to dive into the deep end, it’s OK to supplement your sourdough starter with some commercial yeast when you’re baking bread. While it’s true that this lessens the amount of full sourdough flavor, it provides a safety net and gives you great practice.

These instructions call for the use of bread pans. A lot of people find it easier to use them when they're starting out because they allow a baker to control the shape of a finished loaf. This recipe will work just as well with a free-form loaf but if you're new at this, start out with bread pans.

Beginner Sourdough Bread


295 ml water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
470 ml ripe sourdough starter
510 to 570 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. Combine the water and the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add 500 grams of the flour and the salt, then stir to make a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about ten minutes. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed if the dough becomes too sticky, but try to avoid adding too much. The dough is finished kneading when it comes together into a smooth ball that's slightly tacky to the touch and holds a ball-shape in your hand. This video shows you how to perform a “window pane test” to see if a dough has been sufficiently kneaded. It’s a nearly universal technique in bread baking and I swear by it.

  3. Wipe out the mixing bowl and return the dough to the bowl and cover. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into rough balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans.
  5. Shape each half into an oblong loaf. Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans and cover loosely. Let the loaves rise until they're starting to puff over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively, put your loaves in the refrigerator and let them rise slowly overnight.
  6. When you see the loaves just starting to reach the rim of the loaf pans, begin preheating the oven to 450°F.
  7. Slash the top of the loaves a few times with a sharp knife or baking lame, and slide them immediately into the oven. For a crispier crust, spritz the loaves with water using a handheld water sprayer before placing them in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.)
  8. Shake the loaves out of the loaf pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.
The odds are this loaf will come out OK if you follow these instructions closely. However, use this beginner's recipe over and over as you practice making bread. Bread baking isn't something you can pick up right away, it's more a passion project that you will get better at the more you do it. Sourdough baking is its own kind of demanding and this bridge to true sourdough is a great place to start.

Please see my other sourdough posts: Sourdough is a philosophy more than a recipe and Magic in a mason jar: make a sourdough starter from scratch.