Sourdough Bread

This sourdough bread is easy to make with only starter, bread flour, water, and salt, and the finished artisan loaf has a crunchy crust and tender crumb. Here’s how to make it.

Halved slices of sourdough stacked on top of each other on a white and grey marble surface.

There’s no shortage of sourdough bread recipes available, many of which involve many complicated steps. While they can produce outstanding results, they can be intimidating for those of us who are new to baking bread and somewhat fussy and impractical for all of us. This simple sourdough recipe requires less than 30 minutes of your time and the finished loaf has the same crunchy crust and tender crumb of a classic artisan sourdough.–Angie Zoobkoff

Sourdough Bread

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 12 H, 30 M
  • Makes 1 round loaf
4/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Artisan Sourdough Made Simple cookbook

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Ingredients

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Directions

In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk the starter and water together. Add the flour and salt. Combine until a stiff dough forms, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. The dough will feel dense and shaggy and it will stick to your fingers as you go. Scrape off as much as you can, using a bench scraper if you have one.
Tester tip: Keep in mind that this bread takes about 12 hours to complete, so start the process early in the morning or in the evening to allow for an overnight rest.
Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to your preference.
Grab a portion of the dough and fold it over, pressing your fingertips into the center. Repeat, working your way around the dough, until it begins to tighten and form a fairly smooth ball, about 15 seconds.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature. This will take 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C), although it may be as short as 6 hours in a very warm climate. The dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has doubled in size.
Tester tip: Because this dough rises while you’re asleep, you won’t be tempted to rush the process or check on it every 5 seconds to see if it’s ready. (No, you’re not the only one who does that.)
Once the dough has doubled in size, gently coax it onto a lightly floured work surface. To shape it into a round, start at the top and fold the dough over toward the center. Turn the dough slightly and fold over the next section of dough. Repeat until you’ve come full circle. Flip the dough over and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl with a towel and dust with flour. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Using a bench scraper, place the dough into the bowl, seam side up.
Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough is ready when it looks puffy and has risen slightly but has not yet doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Have ready a large lidded baking pot, such as an enamel-coated Dutch oven or clay pot. Adjust the oven rack so the Dutch oven or pot just fits beneath the top of the oven with the lid on. Cut a sheet of parchment paper to the size of your baking pot, leaving enough excess around the sides to remove the bread.
Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release the dough. Sprinkle the dough with flour and gently rub the surface with your hands.
Using the tip of a small, serrated knife or a razor blade and holding it at an angle to the dough, score the dough with a cross-cut pattern or any way you’d like. Use the parchment to transfer the dough to the baking pot.
Bake the dough, covered, on the center rack for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the loaf from the pot and bake directly on the oven rack until the crust is crisp, 5 to 10 minutes.
Using the parchment, transfer the bread to a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour before slicing. Kindly note that sourdough is best consumed on the same day it’s baked, which shouldn’t be a problem with this lovely specimen. To maximize freshness, cool completely and store at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to 1 day.
Print RecipeBuy the Artisan Sourdough Made Simple cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I’ve been rediscovering the joy of baking sourdough bread during this pandemic, so this recipe seemed like a good one to try as it’s a little different than the other “no-knead” recipes I’ve been making. Other recipes I’ve tried require one to heat the pot and a sheet pan at the same time as you preheat the oven, then carefully drop the risen dough into the pot then add a cup of hot water into the pan to create steam to bake the bread. This recipe is much safer, and just as easy, with the same results IMHO.

I generally bake breads using a mix of white and whole wheat bread flour (75:25 ratio). However, as this was my first try with this recipe, I followed the directions exactly. Everything comes together easily and the result is a wonderfully crusty bread with a nice crumb and not too many air pockets.

I made my own starter using a ratio of 75% white flour and 25% wheat flour with 100% hydration.

If you’re adventurous, feel free to kick it up a notch using some other flour in the dough, but take care to use a larger percentage of white bread flour over exotic grains like rye or flax seed.

My hands-on time was just 15 minutes overall. Total time was 2 hours plus an overnight rise (close to 12 hours). I used a Romertopf clay pot and top for baking.

I love making sourdough bread. I already follow a particular pattern when making my usual loaves every few weeks, which I tend to bake, slice, and freeze as soon as they're cool enough. I always use organic flour and I prefer to use King Arthur Bread Flour combined with some heirloom wheat variety like Einkorn. My usual process is more finicky and very hands-on and takes twice as long as this recipe, so I was really interested in trying a simpler, shorter version and comparing it to my usual style.

I must say the results really speak for themselves...an incredible crunchy crust, an interior that isn't dense but modestly open, and the glorious flavor and texture of my bread blend for the flour (which this time was 50% Einkorn and 50% Dove Farms Organic Bread Flour).

It took about 15 minutes of active time to prep the starter and then mix all the ingredients together when the starter was ready. It took another 15 minutes total to shape the bread for the second rise and prep it for the oven as well.

There’s about 3 hours of waiting for the starter to activate, 6 hours of waiting for the dough to double, and another hour of wait time before the bake, which is another hour. (I actually started this in the morning and baked it in the evening of the same day. Because it’s a good 10°F warmer here in the Caribbean than the proofing temperature recommended in the recipe, I wanted to keep a closer eye on the rise of the dough and work with it according to feel rather than strict timing. And 8 to 10 hours out of the fridge for a long proof here just sounded like too much.)

The outcome was certainly worthy.

In future, I would adjust the bake times. I found the crust got slightly too dark on the bottom and the edges of the ears started to burn, which is why it came out early. I would keep the lid on for 25 mins, then do 25 minutes with the lid off and 5 mins out of the pan for a total time of 55 minutes at 450°F. I baked this in a lidded ceramic-coated cast iron pan about 12 inches in diameter that’s deep enough to perfectly fit a rising round loaf of this size.

I might also try higher hydration and add another 50g to 150g of water. In that case, I would increase the initial contact time to work the dough from the 15 seconds recommended for a single set of “stretch and folds” to a good minute or two of slap and folds with one stretch and fold about 15 minutes later. This would still be a relatively easy bread, but a little more needy than the one described here.

As it is, I think it’s a wonderful recipe, I just caution people to adapt based on the temperature of their environments and the intensity of their ovens.

I cut this round loaf in half first, then cut each half into 12 slices. I would say this makes 12 servings.

THIS is the sourdough you've been looking for! I’ve tried quite a few sourdough recipes in my quest for the "perfect" loaf and most have been a sad failure, but not this recipe! This one has that amazingly chewy and crunchy crust and that wonderfully chewy, airy interior that you expect from really good sourdough. Absolutely delicious! This is NOT a quick recipe, as you need to plan ahead for the overnight rise and for feeding your starter if necessary, but the results are more than worth it!

I used a starter that I've had going for quite a while that I knew was a good one with a 1:1:1 ratio (starter, flour, water) feed. The first mixing took about 90 seconds to bring it together as did the second turning. I used my bread scraper to turn the dough so I didn't lose as much dough to my fingers.

Our house is a little cool so I let it rise for 12 hours, starting it before bed and finishing the next morning. You DO need a covered baker for this recipe. I used a 3 1/2-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven that I placed in the oven while it preheated. I didn’t adjust my oven rack and probably should have moved my oven rack up one notch as the bottom ended up a bit darker than I like but that's easily adjustable.

My finished loaf ended up with beautiful "ears" (the crunchy little spikes that show up from proper slits) and was a beautiful golden color. Unfortunately, my parchment didn't fare well and I ended up dumping the bread out and flipping it over onto my oven rack since the paper was disintegrating when I tried to lift the bread. Minor inconvenience for such a wonderful result.

The hardest part is waiting that hour to slice! I would say this loaf would probably make 12 servings... although it won't serve that many here as we're devouring it too quickly!

This recipe is a definite keeper. The ingredients are simple and basic. And for those lacking yeast, the recipe does not require yeast. The end result was a delicious loaf of bread! Two people ate over half of this loaf for dinner.

There’s not a lot of work involved in making this loaf. While it takes time, doing it overnight is a great time-management method.

I used my own starter, which I have had since 2012. Based on other sourdough recipes that I make, this recipe used not much starter. I think this may have affected the rise as the dough never doubled. I checked the dough at 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, and then at 14 hours before moving on to the next step. There was some rise, probably 1 1/2 times the original, but not double.

There was, however, more rise during the baking. The next time I make this recipe, I’ll use a little more starter and less water to see if I can get a little more rise.

I used an enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven. While the size is indicated on the bottom of the pot, I couldn’t decipher it, though I’m pretty sure it’s 8 quarts.

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Comments

    1. Sadly, AnnieTN, no. The results just won’t be the same. We understand the frustration right now at not being able to get your hands on specific flours–believe me, we know–and I’d love to tell you it’s fine but I know you’ll be disappointed. Baking is such a precise science that the difference in protein content between the flours really does make a difference. Hold onto the recipe for when you can get your hands on some…

    2. I made sour dough rolls using regular flour. They came out just fine and with good flavor and a crunchy crust.

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