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High altitude sourdough bread recipe

High altitude sourdough bread recipe

Baking sourdough bread at high altitudes presents a unique set of challenges due to lower air pressure and drier conditions. However, with the right techniques and adjustments, you can achieve delicious, crusty loaves with airy crumb even at high elevations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the science behind high altitude baking and provide a step-by-step recipe for crafting the perfect high altitude sourdough bread.

Understanding High Altitude Baking:

High altitude baking requires adjustments to compensate for reduced air pressure and moisture levels. At higher elevations, the lower atmospheric pressure affects several

key factors in bread baking:

  • Yeast Activity: Yeast behaves differently at high altitudes due to lower air pressure. It becomes more active and ferments faster, which can lead to over-proofing if not managed properly.
  • Evaporation: With drier air at high altitudes, bread dough tends to lose moisture more quickly during fermentation and baking. This can result in dry or dense loaves if not addressed.
  • Rising Time: Dough rises faster at high altitudes due to reduced air pressure. As a result, it’s crucial to monitor the proofing process closely to prevent over-proofing.

Adjustments for High Altitude Sourdough Bread:

To adapt your sourdough bread recipe for high altitudes, consider the following adjustments:

  1. Flour and Liquid Ratios: Increase the hydration level of your dough by adding slightly more water than usual. This helps counteract the faster evaporation rate at high altitudes and keeps the dough moist during fermentation.
  2. Yeast and Fermentation: Use less yeast or sourdough starter than you would at lower altitudes to slow down the fermentation process. This prevents the dough from over-proofing and maintains a balanced rise.
  3. Kneading and Dough Handling: Be gentle with your dough to avoid excessive degassing, which can lead to dense loaves. Use a light touch during shaping and shaping to preserve the air bubbles and structure.
  4. Baking Temperature and Time: Increase the baking temperature slightly to promote better oven spring and crust development. Keep a close eye on the bread while it bakes, as it may require less time in the oven due to faster evaporation.

Now, let’s dive into a high altitude sourdough bread recipe:

High Altitude Sourdough Bread Recipe:

High altitude sourdough bread recipe

High altitude sourdough bread recipe

Baking sourdough bread at high altitudes presents a unique set of challenges due to lower air pressure and drier conditions. However, with the right techniques and adjustments, you can achieve delicious, crusty loaves with airy crumb even at high elevations.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 13 hours 30 minutes
Course Breakfast
Servings 12 12


  • 400g bread flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 350g water (adjust as needed for hydration)
  • 100g active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 10g salt


  • Mixing and Autolyse:
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water. Mix until all the flour is hydrated, but do not knead the dough.
    Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This autolyse period allows the flour to fully absorb the water and develop gluten naturally.
  • Adding Starter and Salt:
    After the autolyse, add the active sourdough starter to the dough. Use your hands or a dough scraper to incorporate the starter evenly.
    Sprinkle the salt over the dough and continue mixing until it is fully integrated.
  • Bulk Fermentation:
    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough ferment at room temperature (ideally 70-75°F or 21-24°C) for 4-6 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
    During bulk fermentation, perform a series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours. This strengthens the dough and redistributes the yeast activity.
  • Shaping:
    Once the dough has doubled in size, gently transfer it to a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half if making two loaves.
    Shape the dough into tight rounds or batards, being careful not to deflate the dough too much.
  • Proofing:
    Place the shaped loaves in floured proofing baskets or bowls, seam side up.
    Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them proof at room temperature for 2-4 hours, or until they have visibly expanded and pass the finger dent test.
  • Preparing the Oven:
    About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 450°F (232°C). Place a Dutch oven or baking stone on the middle rack to preheat along with the oven.
  • Baking:
    Once the oven is preheated, carefully transfer one loaf to the preheated Dutch oven or onto the preheated baking stone.
    Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or razor blade to allow for expansion during baking.
    Cover the Dutch oven with its lid or create steam in the oven by spraying water with a spray bottle and quickly closing the oven door.
    Bake the loaf covered for 20-25 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
    Repeat the baking process with the second loaf if baking two loaves.
  • Cooling and Enjoying:
    Once baked, transfer the loaves to a wire rack and let them cool completely before slicing. This allows the interior crumb to set properly.
    Slice and enjoy your freshly baked high altitude sourdough bread with butter, olive oil, or your favorite toppings.


Keyword High altitude sourdough bread recipe


  • Serving: 1slice
  •  Calories: 157kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 32g 
  •  Iron: 1mg
  • Calcium: 8mg
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Potassium: 53mg
  • Sodium: 325mg
  • Fat: 1g 
  • Protein: 5g 
  • Saturated Fat: 1g


Baking sourdough bread at high altitudes requires patience, experimentation, and a deep understanding of the baking process. By making thoughtful adjustments to your recipe and techniques, you can overcome the challenges posed by lower air pressure and drier conditions. With practice and perseverance, you’ll master the art of high altitude sourdough baking and enjoy delicious homemade bread that reflects the unique flavors of your environment.

  1. What constitutes high altitude for baking purposes?
    • High altitude generally refers to locations above 3,000 feet (about 900 meters) above sea level. However, adjustments may be needed even at lower elevations depending on local conditions.
  2. Why is baking sourdough bread challenging at high altitudes?
    • High altitudes have lower air pressure and drier air, which affect the behavior of yeast, dough rising, and moisture retention during baking.
  3. How does high altitude affect sourdough fermentation?
    • At high altitudes, sourdough ferments faster due to lower air pressure and increased yeast activity. This requires careful monitoring to prevent over-proofing.
  4. What adjustments should I make to my sourdough recipe for high altitude baking?
    • Adjustments include increasing hydration, reducing yeast or starter amounts, and adapting proofing and baking times to account for faster fermentation and evaporation.
  5. What is the role of hydration in high altitude sourdough bread?
    • Higher hydration levels help compensate for faster evaporation at high altitudes, keeping the dough moist and promoting better rise and texture.
  6. How can I tell if my sourdough bread is over-proofed at high altitudes?
    • Over-proofed dough may become slack and lose its structure. It may also have a sour smell and fail to rise properly during baking.
  7. Why is scoring important in high altitude sourdough baking?
    • Scoring allows the dough to expand properly during baking, preventing uneven rising and promoting a desirable oven spring.
  8. Should I adjust oven temperature for high altitude sourdough bread?
    • Slight adjustments to oven temperature may be necessary for high altitude baking to ensure proper crust formation and oven spring.
  9. How can I prevent my high altitude sourdough bread from becoming too dense?
    • Proper dough handling techniques, including gentle shaping and minimal degassing, help maintain air pockets in the dough, preventing density.
  10. What are some common pitfalls to avoid when baking sourdough bread at high altitudes?
    • Common pitfalls include over-proofing, inadequate hydration, insufficient gluten development, and underbaking due to faster evaporation.

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