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Ava Roth's Basic Sourdough Country Loaf

HG Cooks

Basic Sourdough Country Loaf

Recipe by Ava Roth adapted from Tartine Country Loaf

As we go ‘back to basics’, learning how to make things we take for granted might be a welcome distraction. We turned to Toronto artist Ava Roth (some of you may have seen her encaustic paintings displayed at HG Home), who, when not painting and making honey from her backyard apiary, makes her own sourdough. Ava's adapted, simplified sourdough recipe from San Francisco's Tartine may inspire you to finally make your first loaf. In another Toronto home, leveraged buyouts and private equity attorney Wendy Del Mul is spending her time in isolation cooking. She has perfected homemade butter (Wendy recommends 45% grass-fed cream from Sheldon Creek Dairy) among other recipes she's normally too busy to try. If you decide to try your hand at homemade bread or butter, we'd love to hear - or see - how it went.

Makes 2 loafs


Day 1: Feed Your Starter

  • Two days before you want to bake your bread, place 75 grams of starter in a small container with 150 grams flour and 150 grams of warm water and mix well. To make your own starter, this article from shows you how.

  • Leave at room temperature or slightly warmer all day, and then feed again at night.

Tip: If you typically keep your starter out at room temp, skip 'Day One’ of these instructions and begin with building your levean at 'Day Two'

Day 2: Make the Levean

  • The next morning, add 1 heaping tablespoon of your starter to 150 grams of warm water.

  • Mix and let rest 4-6 hours at room temp or slightly above. This is now your levean.

Make the Dough

  • Combine 200 grams of the levean with 700 grams of water, and stir to disperse.

  • Add 900 grams all purpose or bread flour and 100 grams whole wheat flour, and mix well with a clean hand into the sticky wet dough (the rest of the levean can be put in your fridge and is now your new starter).


  • Cover dough with a dish towel and set aside at room temperature or above for 30 minutes.

Final Mix

  • Add 20-25 grams of salt and mix very well by hand until salt is totally incorporated

  • Your dough should feel very sticky and wet, but still manageable – if you feel you can add more water, add up to 50 grams warm water at this time and stir to incorporate.

Bulk Fermentation/Rise and Aeration by Turning

  • Cover with cloth and set aside for 30 min. Then, every 30 minutes for 4 hours, wet your hands and stretch and fold (beginners, please watch this video of how to do a ‘stretch and fold’ inside the bowl).

Divide and Shape

  • Place dough onto a lightly floured counter and cut into two without tearing the gluten strands.

  • Form into a rough ball shape, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

  • Dust proof your proofing baskets (learn what this is here) extremely well (rice flour is ideal).

  • Shape dough balls with a bench scraper into boules – pull into a rectangle, roll and tuck into ball, turn on bench, creating tension on surface (beginners, please watch video)

  • Place into floured baskets, seam side up and cover well.

Final Rise

  • Place in the refrigerator overnight to ferment anywhere from 12 to16 hours.

Day 3: Bake

  • Preheat oven with two dutch ovens or cast iron skillets inside at 500ºF for at least one hour.

  • Gently turn bread out of baskets (bowl with tea towel inside) and onto a pizza peel or flat plate, and score your bread (beginners, watch this VIDEO for tips).

  • Place bread gently into hot containers and lower oven to 450ºF for 20 minutes.

  • Uncover and bake a final 20 minutes.

  • Remove bread from dutch ovens and let rest on a cooling rack for at least an hour before cutting into it.

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