The Perfect Loaf Sourdough Bread

The Perfect Loaf Sourdough Bread

Meet Maurizio Leo, a sourdough blogger turned New York Times Best Selling Author. We asked him to design his own flour blend as a tribute to his invaluable contributions to the sourdough home baking community. Now, we have Maurizio’s sourdough bread recipe to showcase it. Bake it the same day for a mild taste or proof it in the fridge for a more complex flavor. The result is a divine crust and rich depth of flavor.

What You'll Need


Kitchen scale


Dough Scraper

Tea Towel

2 Oval Proofing Baskets

Parchment Paper

5-quart (or larger) Dutch oven (1 or 2)


73 grams The Perfect Loaf flour

73 grams water

36 grams ripe sourdough starter


924 grams The Perfect Loaf flour

1 gram Diastatic malt powder (optional)

625 grams water


Up to 50 grams water

18 grams fine sea salt


Desired dough temperature: 78°F (25°C)

Prepare the levain (9am)

To make the levain, mix the levain ingredients in a jar and leave them covered at a warm temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), to ripen for 5 hours.

Autolyse (1pm)

Warm or cool the autolyse water so that the temperature of the mixed dough meets the FDT (final dough temperature) of 78°F (25°C) for this recipe.

Place the flour, malt powder (optional), and water in a large bowl. Use wet hands to mix until no dry bits remain; the dough will be shaggy and loose.

Use a bowl scraper to scrape down the sides of the bowl to keep all the dough in one area at the bottom. Cover the bowl and place it near your levain for 1 hour.

Mix (2pm)

Add the salt and 181 grams of prepared levain to the top of the dough that was just in autolyse and use a splash of water to moisten. With wet hands, mix thoroughly.

Add the remaining water (up to 50 grams) if the dough feels like it can handle it.

Next, knead the dough for a few minutes using either the slap and fold technique or folds in the bowl. For this dough, I kneaded for about 5 minutes until the dough smoothed and became elastic.

Transfer the dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.

Bulk Fermentation (2:30-5:30pm)

At a warm room temperature, 74-76°F (23-24°C), bulk fermentation should take about 3 hours.

This dough will require 2 sets of stretches and folds during bulk fermentation. After the first 30 minutes, wet your hands, grab one side of the dough, and lift it up and over to the other side. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees and repeat. Then rotate the bowl a quarter turn and stretch and fold that side. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees again and finish with a stretch and fold on the last side. The dough should be neatly folded up in the bowl.

Cover and repeat these folds once more after 30 minutes.

Then let the dough rest, covered, for the remainder of bulk fermentation.

Divide and preshape (5:30pm)

After 3 hours, the dough should be well-risen in the bulk fermentation container and puffy to the touch. The edge where the dough meets the container should be domed downward, showing strength and rise.

Fill a small bowl with water and place it next to your work surface. Scrape the dough onto a clean counter. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and preshape the pieces into loose rounds.

Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Shape (6pm)

Flour the top of the preshaped rounds and your work surface.

Using your bench knife, flip one of the rounds over onto the floured area.

Using floured hands, shape the dough into a bâtard (oval).

Gently transfer the dough to a 14-inch-long oval proofing basket, seam-side up.

Repeat with the remaining round.

Proof (6:30pm-9am, overnight)

Cover the baskets with a large, reusable plastic bag and seal shut. Place the baskets in the refrigerator to proof overnight.

Bake (9am)

Place an oven rack in the bottom-third of the oven.

Place Dutch oven on middle rack of oven and preheat your oven to 450 F for 30 minutes.

When the oven is preheated, take one of the proofing baskets out of the fridge, uncover it, and put a piece of parchment paper over the basket. Place a pizza peel or inverted baking sheet on top of the parchment and, using both hands, flip everything over. Gently remove the basket and score the dough, then transfer to the preheated Dutch oven.

Place in the oven, cover with the lid, and bake for 20 minutes. After this time, remove the lid (you can keep it in the oven or remove it) and continue to bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf should have an internal temperature of around 204°F (95°C), and the crust should be deeply colored. Let the loaves cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Repeat for the second loaf.

Makes 2 loaves.

Recipe courtesy of The Perfect Loaf blog. Visit The Perfect Loaf for a more detailed guide for this recipe.

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