Skip to Content

Artisan Sourdough Bread

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.

a loaf of artisan sourdough bread on a cutting  board

I think that this recipe for crusty sourdough bread is reason enough for making a sourdough starter.

Because the bread freezes really well, I make a loaf of this artisan Sourdough Bread each time I need to feed my sourdough starter.

How to make Artisan Sourdough Bread at home:

Any bread that you make with a sourdough starter is a “sourdough” bread. But 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 ” .

To make a light and moist bread, you’ll need to make a fairly wet dough with well-developed gluten.

A wet dough is a sticky dough and can be a bit fussy to handle. But because this bread has a long, slow fermentation, the bread has time to develop plenty of gluten without lots of kneading.

I made the dough once completely by hand using the “no knead” method where you just mix the ingredients until combined. I made it another time letting the dough knead for 5 minutes on the mixer. The two loaves were very similar.

So I adopted a process to use the mixer to make the dough, but I don’t continue kneading the dough after it’s mixed. If you don’t have a stand mixer the dough can be mixed by hand for a truly “no knead” dough.

I also give the dough a couple of quick kneads before the final shaping.

If the holes in the baked bread are very large I think it’s harder to eat with a filling or spread. A few quick kneads will knock out some of the larger air bubbles. You can skip this step if you like an irregular crumb.

The other key to making an “artisan” loaf is baking the bread in a Dutch oven. This process was created by Chad Robertson of Tartine fame, and it has transformed home bread baking.

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.

Timeline for making basic 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.

Scroll through the step by step process photos to see exactly how to make Sourdough Bread:

a mixing bowl filled with sourdough bread dough and a dough hook.
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.
side by side photos showing how to "fold" sourdough bread dough during fermentation.
The dough is “folded” several times during the initial fermentation. The dough will become more lively and aerated as it ferments.
a bowl of sourdough bread dough after a night in the refrigerator.
After a night in the refrigerator, the dough is ready for shaping and baking.
hands shaping sourdough into a ball
Use cupped hands to form the dough into a smooth ball.
sourdough before and after rising in a bread basket
The dough before and after rising. If you don’t have a proofing basket you can put the dough directly onto the parchment for rising.
a loaf of risen bread dough in a dutch oven
Flip the loaf onto the parchment paper, score the top, then use the paper to lower the loaf into the preheated Dutch oven.
sourdough loaves baking in a dutch oven, after 20 minutes and after 40 minutes
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.
a loaf of sourdough bread on a sheet of parchment paper baking directly on the oven rack
Remove the loaf from the Dutch oven and return to the oven to finish baking until deeply golden brown and very crisp.

FAQs for making sourdough bread at home:

Can I bake the bread the same day I make the dough?

Yes, start the dough early in the morning and skip the refrigeration step.

What if I don’t have a proofing basket?

You can proof the dough right on the parchment paper that will go into the Dutch Oven.

What if I don’t have a 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.

Can I use this dough to make baguettes?

You could try and shape this dough into a baguette. But I suggest you try this recipe for Sourdough Baguettes instead.

How long does Sourdough Bread stay fresh?

The bread keeps for 2-3 days at room temperature.

Can I freeze Sourdough Bread?

Yes! Store the loaf or slices in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

a closeup shot of the crust of a sourdough bread
a cutting board with slices of sourdough bread

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 love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

a loaf of sourdough bread on a piece of parchment paper

Basic Sourdough Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rising Time: 12 hours
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 5 minutes

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224) active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 240ml) warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz, 336g) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • Rice flour for proofing basket

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature.
  4. After 30 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 after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again.
  5. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes turn the dough one more time. By now 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Cover the dough and leave in a warm place until it's almost doubled in size and it springs back slowly when poked, about 1 1/2-2 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Laura

Tuesday 3rd of May 2022

Thank you so much for your recipes!

I have been baking with my starter for a while but they have never been so perfect.

I have even achieved the coveted big holes!

:)

Geri Tischer

Friday 18th of February 2022

I was just given sour dough starter by an actual baker\neighbor. I m not sure where to start as far as making sour dough bread. I 've made bread before but not sour dough. Any advice? Thank you.

Nick

Saturday 26th of March 2022

@Eileen Gray, Similar situation got a starter from a friend and super excited to use it. Checked out a bunch of your articles and they have been a huge help, thank you!

Started with 1.7oz of started from her and now have a ball of dough forming to bake tomorrow and have 8oz I just fed to get a nice batch to play with.

Can't wait to try a bunch of your other recipes with the discard and such!

Eileen Gray

Saturday 19th of February 2022

If you read this post about making a sourdough starter and this post about feeding a starter it will give you some background information. Sourdough is a huge topic and there are a million ways to work with sourdough. My best advice is to just bake, bake, bake and be patient with yourself.

Jean

Thursday 10th of February 2022

I really love your recipes and have had good results with many of them. I have a couple questions for this one. First, I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour, which of course produced a denser but still good loaf. Do you think kneading the dough for five minutes would produce more rise? Also, would this recipe work for hard rolls? I want to add that other so called sourdough recipes I find online use commercial yeast and that is not sourdough!

Jean

Saturday 12th of February 2022

@Eileen Gray, Thank you, I think the kneading helped a bit. Thanks also for the link to the baguette recipe!

Eileen Gray

Thursday 10th of February 2022

You can knead the dough for a couple of minutes to develop the gluten. When I was testing my Sourdough Baguette recipe I often switch between kneading and no-knead methods. I personally like the texture of the dough with a few minutes of kneading.

Melissa Causby

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

I've made several of your recipes and love them, but am having trouble with this one. If after the step #6 the ball won't hold shape on the second try, what should I do?

Malka Peyman

Saturday 6th of November 2021

I love the way the Dutch oven works,but is there any way to get a round loaf using this recipe?

Malka Peyman

Monday 8th of November 2021

@Eileen Gray,

Yes. Is it possible to keep it from flattening out?

Eileen Gray

Saturday 6th of November 2021

By round do you mean higher and almost a ball shape?

Skip to Recipe