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