This basic Sourdough Bread Recipe produces an artisan loaf with a crisp crust and chewy crumb. It is best baked in a Dutch oven, but the recipe is very flexible and adaptable.
I think that this recipe for crusty sourdough bread is reason enough for making a sourdough starter. The wild yeast in sourdough starter makes an exceptionally delicious loaf of bread.
Because the bread freezes really well, I make a loaf of this Sourdough Bread each time I need to feed my sourdough starter.
What is Sourdough Bread?
Any bread that you make with a sourdough starter is a “sourdough” bread. There are a few key steps that will produce a light, crusty and chewy bread that is the quintessential loaf we all imagine when we hear “artisan sourdough bread ” .
What does the “hydration” percent mean for sourdough starter?
Hydration percent means the ratio of water to flour used for feeding your starter. If you feed your starter with equal weights of flour and water then your starter is 100% hydration. If you feed your starter with twice as much flour as water the hydration level is 50%.
- Active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- Warm water
- Unbleached all purpose flour
How to make Sourdough Bread
- The dough can be mixed by hand or on a stand mixer.
- The dough starts our quite sticky but will become more cohesive as it ferments.
- Stretch and fold the dough several times during the initial fermentation.
- The dough will become more lively and aerated as it ferments.
- Refrigerate the dough overnight. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Use cupped hands to form the dough into a smooth ball.
- Set the dough aside to rise for 2-3 hours until it doubles in size. The exact rise time will depend on the temperature of the dough and the ambient temperature.
- If you don’t have a proofing basket you can put the dough directly onto a piece of parchment paper for rising.
- Flip the loaf onto a piece of parchment paper, score the top, then use the paper to lower the loaf into the preheated Dutch oven.
- After 20 minutes baking the loaf is well-risen but still pale.
- Remove the lid and continue baking another 20 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
- Remove the loaf from the Dutch oven.
- If the crust is not quite brown enough you can return the loaf to the oven to finish baking until deeply golden brown and very crisp.
Timeline for making sourdough bread:
- If your starter needs feeding, do that the night before or early in the morning of the day you want to make the dough.
- Mix the dough in the afternoon. Allow it to ferment at room temperature all day and refrigerate the dough in the evening before going to bed.
- The dough can stay in the refrigerator for 2-3 days at this point.
- Take the dough out first thing in the morning and shape the loaf.
- Leave the loaf at room temperature to rise for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
- You should have fresh bread by lunch time.
Pastry Chef tips for making artisan Sourdough Bread at home
- A wet dough is a sticky dough and can be a bit fussy to handle. Because this bread has a long, slow fermentation, the bread has time to develop plenty of gluten without lots of kneading.
- The more lively and active your starter is, the better loaf you’ll produce. Use your starter after it’s been fed and just before it’s reached it’s peak rise.
- If you are working with a starter that is not 100% hydration you’ll need to adjust the amount of flour/water in the dough to allow for the difference.
- The Dutch oven creates a moist environment that develops that thick, crispy crust on the bread. Any oven-safe, heavy pot with a lid will work if you don’t have a Dutch oven.
FAQs for making sourdough bread at home:
Yes, start the dough early in the morning and skip the refrigeration step.
You can proof the dough right on the parchment paper that will go into the Dutch Oven.
Use any heavy, oven-safe pot with a lid, or slide the parchment onto a sheet pan to bake. The crust might not be quite as crisp as it is when baked in a Dutch oven.
You could try and shape this dough into a baguette. But I suggest you try this recipe for Sourdough Baguettes instead.
The bread keeps for 2-3 days at room temperature.
Yes! Store the loaf or slices in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Since you’ve got your starter fed, peruse the entire list of My Best Sourdough Recipes. Have fun!
I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.
If you want to make a loaf with the crispiest crust ever, try making Sourdough Semolina Bread.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe
- 8 ounces active sourdough starter (1 cup (100% hydration))
- 8 ounces warm water (1 cup)
- 12 1/2 ounces unbleached all purpose flour (2 1/2 cups)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- Rice flour for proofing basket
- Combine the starter, water and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Mix with the paddle on low speed until it forms a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.8 ounces active sourdough starter, 8 ounces warm water, 12 1/2 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
- If using a stand mixer, change to the dough hook. Add the salt and the rest of the flour and mix until the dough begins to form a ball around the hook. If mixing by hand add the flour using a wooden spoon and/or a plastic bowl scraper. This dough is quite sticky.1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature.
- After 60 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You're basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast. Cover the bowl and every hour or so repeat the procedure.
- After about 2 hours the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and dump it onto floured surface. Without kneading, use your cupped hands to form the dough into a smooth ball. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes. If the ball flattens during the 20 minutes fold it onto itself and form the ball again. This step will help you check if your dough is elastic enough to help it’s shape during the final rise and baking.
- Uncover the dough and knead 1-2 times. Reshape the dough into a smooth ball and place the dough into a well-floured proofing basket (I use a mix of 1/2 rice flour and 1/2 all purpose flour in the basket) or directly onto a sheet of parchment paper.
- Cover the dough and leave in a warm place until it's almost doubled in size and it springs back slowly when poked, about 2 hours depending on the room temperature and dough temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a Dutch oven with a lid into the oven to preheat.
- If the loaf is in a proofing basket, place a sheet of parchment over the dough and gently flip it over. Use a single edge razor or very sharp knife to cut a 1/4" deep X across the top of the loaf. Remove the preheated pan from the oven and remove the lid. Use the parchment to lift the loaf into the Dutch oven.
- Replace the lid on the pot and slide it into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid from the Dutch oven. The loaf should be well risen and pale in color.
- Continue baking another 20 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned and beginning to crisp. Remove the pan from the oven. Use the parchment to lift the loaf out of the pan. Use the parchment to place the loaf directly onto the rack in the oven. Bake another 5-10 minutes until the loaf is deeply browned and very crisp. Total baking time is about 40-50 minutes.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
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Saturday 15th of April 2023
I make 7 loaves at a time. Some of my loaves do not rise as much as I’d like but the holes, taste, crust is good. What would cause some loaves to rise less than others?
Sunday 16th of April 2023
@Eileen Gray, 7 times the batch but it is a recipe from Kristen’s fool proof so not yours. I made your rolls and I’m very happy with them so will also try your bread recipe. I struggle with the poke test and knowing when processing is ready for fridge. It’s usually around 7 hours from when I add the leaven. Thank you for your recipes and help.
Sunday 16th of April 2023
Do you make a 7x batch or split the dough into 7? So many factors could affect the rise. Ambient temp, dough temp, condition of the starter. Do all the loaves comes from the same batch of dough?
Sunday 9th of April 2023
HELP?? how much more flour do you use. It says"add the rest of the flour". How much?
Sunday 9th of April 2023
You start with 2 1/2 cups of flour as listed in the recipe. In step one you add 1 1/2 cups. So there is 1 cup left. That is the rest of the flour.
Monday 27th of March 2023
My first fully successful sourdough. Very tasty. Perfect crust!
Saturday 11th of March 2023
I believe that after mixing it, one might do the stretch and fold process every 20 minutes, then resting covered over two hours.
Further, this is a very wet dough and, depending on the time of year and your flour, might be impossible to handle. My flour likes 65% as a maximum hydration level.
Further, this makes a smaller loaf. Most other recipes call for 500g of flour and the amount of water necessary (65-75% hydration) to make the dough workable.
One last note, if you're not in any hurry and are going to cold proof for 8-48 hours, use half or less of the starter - some use only 50g. 300g (1-cup) of 100% hydrated starter is a lot but I'm giving this amount an initial try. I use a very active rye starter and it's capable of doubling in 2 hours and ready to use.
I've already had to adjust my flour amount up to almost 400g to make it workable so keep that in mind.
Sourdough baking has a learning curve and failures along the way. however, even those failures are flavorful and can be used as is or to make breadcrumbs or croutons. Save and use or dry your discard. Discard makes a good starter base to give away. It will spring back to life in 2-3 days or 4-6 feedings. Use fine rye flour for the best sourness and strength.
One last note: It's not necessary to maintain a quart jar of starter like shown on many blogger sites. Maintain a 1/4 cup or less to use as an inoculation two days prior to baking. It will be ready to use and the discard minimal. Once well established, you can feed it once every two weeks or so. It will perform well for you without the hassle. Perfectionists claim to even take theirs along on trips. Good grief - get a life.
Have fun with this process and don't give up. It is an edible art.
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
so you put in fridge overnight? not on the counter?
Thursday 2nd of February 2023