Baking Terminology

If you are new to sourdough baking, knowing baking terminology will help you to understand the methodology behind the techniques. In this glossary, you will find most often used baking definitions and terms in homemade sourdough bread recipes.


Sourdough starter (or simply called starter) is probably the most frequently used term in sourdough baking . A starter is a mix of flour and water that naturally ferments. The starter is fed indefinitely, and when the bread is to be made a small amount of this starter is taken to create an off-shoot, or levain, that will eventually be used in making bread and cease to exist when baked in the oven.


Autolysis (also called Autolyse or delayed salt method) is the process when the dough does the hard work. This const in mixing flour and water and leaving the dough for one hour to kneads for you. Delaying the salt allows the gluten to grow, resulting in a flexible and rich in aromatic gases pockets dough. Adding the salt after autolyze, the dough contact and get more strength and elasticity.


Leaven (French term Levain) is made at the beginning of every baking process. Leaven is obtained by mixing your sourdough starter with flour and water and leaving to maturate a few hours. The enzymatic activity starts, and yeast eats sugar from the flour producing CO2, resulting in an airy dough.

Bulk Fermentation

This is the first rise of the dough as a single cohesive mass and takes place after mixing the flour, salt, and levain. The fermentation process during this step is critical and provides flavor to the dough in the form of alcohols & acids and also leavens the dough through gaseous byproducts.

Baker’s Percentage

A way of expressing formulas in which the flour weight represents 100% and all other ingredients are a percentage of the flour weight.

Baker’s Math


An oval-shaped loaf.


A French-style basket, similar to the German brotform, designed to hold and shape a rising loaf. When the loaf has fully risen, it’s turned out of the banneton onto a pan or hot stone to bake.

Round and Oval Banneton Proofing Bakets on a table