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- ⏰ Sample Schedule for Sourdough Bread:
- 🛠 Tools needed to Bake Sourdough Bread:
- 🛒 Ingredients needed to Bake Sourdough Bread:
- 👨🏫 Baker's Percentage Table:
- 🍞 How to Make My Everyday Sourdough Bread:
- Sourdough Bread Recipe FAQ:
- My Everyday Sourdough Bread Recipe
My Everyday Sourdough Bread is the best sourdough bread recipe that I consistently come back to. Others have had tremendous success using this recipe because it’s detailed and walks you through making sourdough bread from home step-by-step.
The bread is golden and crunchy on the outside with a soft, custard-like interior with an open crumb that melts in your mouth. I call it My Everyday Sourdough because I could literally eat it every day. Can’t beat that, huh?
Sourdough baking is a journey, especially as a home baker! Everyone bakes sourdough differently, and you can make it as simple or complicated as you want it to be. I intentionally created the sourdough recipe guide below to be as detailed as possible in my process with a wide range of home baking skills in mind from beginners to more advanced home bakers.
If you make this sourdough bread, be sure to leave a star review/comment below or tag me on Instagram with your bread bakes!
👉 If you like this post, be sure to check out my Sourdough Sandwich Bread, my Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread, Spelt Sourdough Bread, Black Sesame Sourdough Bread, or Beginner’s Einkorn Sourdough Bread recipes.
⏰ Sample Schedule for Sourdough Bread:
Below is my typical schedule for baking this sourdough bread recipe. These times are adjustable, and most of the steps are hands-off. I find this schedule works well if you work from home or on the weekends.
You might be unfamiliar with some of these terms if you’re new to sourdough baking, but I discuss each one in more detail throughout the guide.
|Preheat oven: 10am|
|Score & Bake: 11am-12pm|
|Let cool and slice!: 2pm|
For example, you will only need to make minor adjustments to the schedule if you work a 9 am-5 pm workday schedule away from home. Here’s a sample adjustment in that case:
- Build the levain in the morning before you leave so it is ripe by the time you arrive home (you likely want to use less starter, so it takes longer to ripen).
- Start the autolyse when you arrive home.
- Shorten autolyse and some of the mixing rest times.
- Continue with bulk fermentation, so it is proofing in the evening and into the refrigerator by the time you sleep.
- Bake the next day whenever it fits your schedule or up to 48 hours later.
🛠 Tools needed to Bake Sourdough Bread:
Click the toggles below for my recommendations, comments, and possible substitutions. See my updated favorite sourdough bread-baking tools here.
I write my recipes by weight in grams because it is the most accurate and precise way to measure baking ingredients. Measuring by volume (i.e., cups) can vary significantly from person to person. For example, my cup of flour might weigh 120g. Another person’s cup of flour might weigh 145g. Those differences add up in baking.
A baking scale is essential for any baking. This Escali scale is the one I use. It’s simple and has long battery life.
You only need one medium-sized mixing bowl for this recipe. This Vollrath stainless steel mixing bowl is my favorite because it has a flat bottom that remains stable while mixing. Stainless steel is my recommendation for most people because it’s easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and virtually indestructible.
Clear glass bowls are another sound option because you can effortlessly see through the glass to gauge fermentation activity and rise.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Baking sourdough bread requires baking at hot temperatures. Therefore, you will need a large, heavy-duty baking vessel. There are many excellent options in a wide price range depending on your preferences and budget.
- I bake my sourdough bread in the Challenger Bread Pan. I would recommend it if you’re looking to take your homemade bread baking to the next level and you bake a lot of bread. Built by and for sourdough bakers, it traps steam better, gives excellent oven spring, and is large enough to bake batards, boules, and even a couple of demi baguettes. It is an investment, especially for a beginner, but it’s a game changer.
- The Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven is an excellent, affordable cast iron option that I would recommend to any level of a bread baker. It’s versatile and can be used as a typical dutch oven for cooking. You can also flip it over and use the “lid” as your shallow bread base for baking. That way, you can easily score your dough in the pan without worrying about sidearm burns. You are limited to making boules (rounds) with this option.
- The final option I’d also recommend for beginners is a more traditional, classic dutch oven like this one from Lodge. If you have another brand of a dutch oven, it will work too, but you have to make sure the knob is oven safe up to 500ºF or buy a replacement knob. Just be careful as you lower your bread into the preheated dutch oven with its high sides. I’ve seen some use specially made silicone mats with handles for this purpose.
Bread Lame or Sharp Knife
You will need a sharp tool to score your dough before baking. Most bread lames (“LAHM”) come with a razor blade to score the dough.
I’ve used a few other lames, but my favorites are Wire Monkey’s collection of bread lames. I use the UFO Real Bread lame and love that it is circular and easy to grip. They offer a lot of control and are easy to store, with an array of colored holsters and accessories. Wire Monkey is also based in Connecticut near me and is a small, family-run company- another reason to love and support them!
A bench scraper helps shape and transport your dough. It’s also one of my most used general kitchen items. I use it for everything from getting smooth sides when icing a cake, scraping off dried or sticky dough from a surface, cutting brownies evenly, to scooping chopped ingredients from a cutting board.
Banneton Proofing Basket
After your bread is shaped, it needs a place to rest for the overnight proof to help it keep its shape. I recommend a lined proofing basket (banneton) for this purpose. This round or oval banneton will work for most sourdough bread recipes.
If you don’t want to invest in a banneton, you can line a 9″ mixing bowl with a lightly floured tea towel. I find it doesn’t hold the bread’s shape as well, though, and is more likely to stick.
Temperature is critical in how fast or slow your bread proofs. You can control many aspects of your baking schedule by changing the temperature alone. For example, if you’re in a variable climate like I am, your bread will take longer to proof in the winter and will proof faster in the summer. Even a few degrees can significantly affect the time it takes for your bread to ferment correctly.
If you want to be more consistent, start using a thermometer which will guide you throughout the process. I recommend getting a high-quality instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen because you will use it for everything. In addition, it will be the last kitchen thermometer you ever need to buy!
Oven safe gloves
You will need a pair of sturdy, flexible oven gloves to withstand 500ºF preheated cast iron. These Grill Armor gloves are a good choice because they come in multiple sizes and allow you to pick up a heavy cast iron vessel skillfully.
Optional but helpful:
Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer
If you bake a lot and your kitchen temperature fluctuates wildly like mine, the Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer makes things much simpler by keeping your dough at a constant temperature. It was a game changer for keeping my sourdough yeasts active and healthy.
Reusable Bowl Lids
Oven temperatures can run warmer or cooler by as much as 25ºF. This can throw off baking times in a recipe dramatically. An oven thermometer will stop the guesswork and help all of your baking be more consistent and precise. Once you know the actual temperature of your oven, you can calibrate it as necessary.
After all your hard work, having a beautiful, high-quality, sharp bread knife to cut your bread is a joy. A good bread knife will easily slice through the crunchy exterior and glide through the custardy inside. This Lamson bread knife is my favorite. Lamson is the oldest cutlery manufacturer in the United States since 1837 and is still made near me in Western Massachusetts. They have a generous lifetime guarantee and are made from high-carbon, German stainless steel.
🛒 Ingredients needed to Bake Sourdough Bread:
Click the toggles below for my recommendations, comments, and possible substitutions.
I bake almost exclusively with King Arthur Bread Flour. In the Northeast, King Arthur Flour is accessible, unbleached, and usually the highest quality flour at major supermarkets and grocery stores. It is at 12.7% protein content, so keep that in mind if you use a different brand. Higher protein flour will absorb more water. A lower protein content flour, like all-purpose flour, will absorb less water.
Whole Wheat Flour
This recipe is made with 7% whole wheat flour. Whole wheat adds nutrients and a more earthy and complex flavor to this sourdough. A little bit goes a long way, and I find this small amount added to the bread makes it all the more delicious.
Rye Flour (optional but helpful)
Rye flour is packed with nutrients that sourdough yeasts love. So I feed my starter a bit of rye flour each time for an added boost.
The small amount of rye in this recipe kickstarts fermentation, contributes to a slightly more acidic flavor, and helps give the crust a barely amber color. It’s a small amount (only 9 grams in the recipe!), but I notice if it’s missing.
I use unfiltered well water. Some swear by only using filtered, spring, or bottled water for sourdough and not processed, chemically treated tap water. When I lived in Boston, I never noticed any differences in tap water use. I say use whatever you’d be comfortable drinking!
Probably the most forgotten and overlooked ingredient in sourdough baking is salt! Without salt, your bread will taste flat. Salt also helps the bread hold gases and its gluten structure as it ferments. Otherwise, the bread structure itself will be flat.
I like to use finely ground sea salt as it dissolves quickly. I have used Kosher salt before, but it takes much longer to incorporate during mixing. Please do not use iodized or table salt. It can contribute a metallic flavor to the bread.
Optional but helpful:
White Rice Flour
I use white rice flour to dust my bannetons because the fine, gluten-free granules prevent the dough from sticking to the liner.
If your bread often has a very tough bottom crust after baking, adding a bit of cornmeal to your pan or the bottom of your dough can provide a thin protective layer to prevent burning.
👨🏫 Baker’s Percentage Table:
I include a baker’s percentage chart so you can readily scale a recipe up or down. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the formula is 100%. The other ingredients are noted in relation to the total weight of flour (in this case, 430g total flour). This is why the percentages below will add up to over 100%. The King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated if you’re interested and would like to learn more.
|Bread Flour||390 grams||90.7%|
|Whole Wheat Flour||31 grams||7.2%|
|Rye Flour||9 grams||2.1%|
|Sourdough starter||30 grams (see note below)||7%|
If you do not want to build a levain, use about 80-90g starter instead.
🍞 How to Make My Everyday Sourdough Bread:
I’ve intentionally made the guided walkthrough of my process as detailed as possible for a wide range of home bakers. I will be as technical and exact as I can with my baking conditions and indicators, but sometimes with sourdough, you have to go with your gut and modify something.
As always, adjust as needed for your schedule or preferences.
1. Build the levain- 8:00am
Measure 30g sourdough starter, 30g bread flour, and 30g water. Place an empty jar on a scale and tare it (set it to 0). Then, add each ingredient to the jar.
Mix, cover, and let set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until bubbly and ripe. The levain should at least double in size during this time.
Note: Please refer to my guide on How To Make A Sourdough Starter if you do not have a sourdough starter. Read more about the difference between a starter and a levain. Learn how to make a more vigorous sourdough starter with my sourdough starter tips guide.
2. Autolyse- 12:00pm
Autolyse (commonly pronounced “auto-lease”) is the process of mixing a portion of flour and water and letting it rest.
This step will jumpstart gluten formation, and the bread dough will be easier to mix later, among other benefits. At a minimum, a 30-minute autolyse is sufficient. I typically autolyse for at least an hour.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add 360g bread flour, 31g whole wheat flour, and 9g rye flour, and mix.
Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour in 310g of warm water.
Mix the flours and warm water just until it comes together. It’s okay if there are a few dry bits left. The dough will be extremely sticky during mixing. You can mix with your hands, a spatula, or a dough whisk.
Cover and rest an hour or up until the levain is ripe.
At the beginning of autolyse, the dough will be shaggy and rip easily if pulled because there is minimal gluten development. However, by the end of autolyse, the dough will be more extensible with time alone, and most of the flour should be absorbed.
3. Mix- 1:00pm
Mix the levain and salt in two separate steps with a 30-minute rest. Mixing the two separately will help each incorporate better into the dough. Salt also slows down fermentation, so the half-hour rest in between kickstarts fermentation.
Add all of the ripe levain to the mixing bowl. Dimple the levain into the dough and mix to combine.
To incorporate the levain, I use my fingers as pincers and stretch and fold the dough continuously on top of itself while rotating the bowl throughout. This takes about five minutes. The dough will still be wet and shaggy.
Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
After resting for 30 minutes, sprinkle 9g of sea salt and the remaining 6g of water on top of the dough. Dimple the salt and water into the dough. Begin mixing the dough.
There are many mixing methods you can use, including using a machine. However, I prefer to combine all my bread by hand and will typically stretch & fold my dough onto itself while rotating the bowl throughout.
In the beginning, the dough will be squishy and still quite wet. It might even be slightly soupy. As you mix, the dough will become stronger and smoother. Mix until the salt and water are thoroughly combined, the dough is silky, and you cannot feel any individual salt granules between your fingers. This process can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes or longer.
Cover and rest for 15-20 minutes.
4. Bulk Fermentation (including coil folds)- 2:00 pm (4 to 5 hours at 78ºF)
Bulk fermentation is the dough’s first rise. This stage is critical as the sourdough yeast begins to multiply and create gases in the dough. Bulk fermentation is also the time to build more structure and strengthen your dough through a series of coil folds.
While you develop gluten in the mixing stage, this is the chance to perform a series of gentle coil folds to create even more structure and strength in the dough before shaping.
How to do a coil fold:
- Each set is a series of four-folds.
- Lightly wet your hands and tuck them under the center of the dough.
- Gently lift and stretch the dough until you can fold a portion of the dough underneath itself. Don’t stretch it so far that it tears.
- Repeat this coil fold three more times in the bowl to complete the set, rotating the bowl in between.
- At the end of the set, the dough should be a somewhat taut, plump round in the bowl.
- Cover in between sets.
Perform six sets of gentle coil folds during bulk fermentation: The first two sets are in 15-minute intervals. The second two in 30-minute intervals. And the last two in one-hour intervals. Let the dough rest, covered for the remainder of bulk fermentation.
You can cover the bread dough during bulk fermentation with a damp kitchen towel or a reusable bowl lid.
Note: If the dough hasn’t spread to the sides of the mixing bowl in between coil folds and the dough seems very strong when you lift it, you may want to delay or skip one or two of the folds during bulk fermentation.
How do you know when bulk fermentation is complete?
Knowing when bulk fermentation is finished can be challenging. The dough should be smooth and rounded, feel full of air, and you should see some visible air bubbles on the dough. If you shake the bowl, it should wobble and jiggle.
A clear bowl is helpful to use during bulk fermentation to gauge the rise and fermentation activity around the dough. An exact rise percentage is difficult to estimate, and the other indicators are more vital, but the dough should rise about 30-50%. The before & after images below show the differences between the dough at the start and end of bulk fermentation.
For more bulk fermentation tips, see my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide.
At a constant 78ºF, bulk fermentation should be complete between 4 to 5 hours.
If your dough is colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. If your dough is warmer, bulk fermentation will be faster. As a general guide, add 15-20 minutes for each degree in either direction.
Note: It’s better to end your bulk fermentation slightly early and compensate with a longer bench rest or a more extended overnight proof if you’re unsure when bulk fermentation is complete. If you overproof at this stage, it is difficult to course correct, and you will have a wet, very sticky, and sloppy dough that will be hard to shape.
5. Shape: 6:00pm
After bulk fermentation, the bread needs to be “shaped” into its final form before its overnight rest and baking.
The most typical way to shape sourdough is as a batard (oval) or boule (round). This depends on your baking vessel. I prefer batard loaves, but if you have a round dutch oven, you will likely need to shape your bread as a boule.
Shaping high hydration bread takes practice. There are many ways to shape bread, but my preference (and what I think is the easiest shaping method) is a letter fold and roll up. The process is similar for both batards and boule. The video embedded below shows a batard shaping, but I also have a shaping video for a boule.
- Lightly flour the top of the dough and the bench, or counter.
- Loosen the sides of the dough with your hands or a bowl scraper.
- Turn the mixing bowl or bulking container upside down and let the dough slowly drop onto the counter.
- Mist your hands and bench scraper (the water will prevent sticking).
- Slide the bench scraper underneath half of your dough and place your other hand on top of the dough. Stretch the dough over and up. Fold the half to the center like a letter (or hot-dog style as I learned in elementary school!).
- Repeat on the other half of the dough. Instead of folding the dough to the center, fold it almost entirely over the other side of the dough. This will create a rectangle package/letter of dough.
- Mist your hands again if needed. Place your hands in a small claw or C shape under the short side of the dough nearest you. Your fingertips should be on top with your thumbs under the dough. Pull the dough gently towards you, up, and around. Roll the dough up a few times like a jelly roll.
- When the dough is rolled up, it should be a taut rectangle or oval package with the seam down. If you notice any large bubbles that have formed, pop them with your fingers or a toothpick.
- Slightly dust with flour and bench rest for 30 minutes on the counter.
Note: As this recipe is only for a single loaf and the dough should be rather strong at this point from coil folds, I skip a “preshaping” step. If you’re doubling this recipe to make two loaves, divide the dough in half with a bench scraper at the end of bulk fermentation and shape each half into a taut round. Let the dough bench rest on the counter for about 30 minutes before shaping.
After the dough is shaped and rested for 30 minutes, transfer the dough to a floured banneton. I lightly flour my proofing basket with rice flour and bread flour to prevent sticking.
- Flour your hands and bench scraper.
- Slide the bench scraper under the shaped dough and quickly turn it over. The bottom seam is now the top.
- With both hands or a bench scraper, gently lift the dough. Place the dough into the banneton like laying a baby into a crib.
Optional but helpful: Stitching the dough (6:30 pm)
High-hydration sourdough tends to spread out during shaping. So, I stitch my dough in the banneton to make even more taut dough, especially at such high hydration. The video and steps below are for a batard, but I also have a boule stitching video.
- To stitch the dough, pinch opposite sides of the dough on the side nearest you and quickly cross them over each other in the center.
- Immediately move up slightly from the stitch and continue stitching the dough until you reach the opposite end of the loaf.
- Pop any large air bubbles that might form.
- The dough should have a seam in the middle at the end of stitching. The sides of the dough should be rounded and stretched.
Cover and rest the dough for 30 minutes.
Note: After shaping your dough, if you believe it’s under-proofed, this is a good time to let your dough proof longer at room temperature in its banneton.
6. Cold Overnight Proof: 7:00pm
The cold-proof, or retard, slows down fermentation and will give the sourdough a more complex flavor. Proofing it overnight also allows you to bake it at a later time.
Cover the banneton and place in a cold refrigerator for a long, overnight proof.
I typically bake my sourdough 12-18 hours after placing it in the refrigerator. The longer and slower the bread proofs, the sourer it will be, but you run the risk of over-proofing. I keep my refrigerator as close to 37ºF as possible, and I’ve extended the retard up to 48 hours successfully.
7. Bake: Next day at 10:00am
Preheat the oven to 500ºF for one hour. Cast iron needs this time to heat thoroughly.
Scoring Dough: 11:00am
Purposefully slicing a part of the dough surface, known as scoring, helps control how the dough will expand when it goes into the hot oven. Otherwise, your dough will rupture in unexpected places.
I use a bread lame with a sharp razor blade to score my dough. You can also use a sharp knife, but it is more likely to drag than a lame made specifically for scoring dough. Please see my tools needed section for recommendations.
- Remove the banneton from the refrigerator and turn the dough out slowly on a piece of parchment paper the size of the banneton (or score directly in the preheated base of the pan if it has low sides).
- I like to score one extended cut that will flap open in the oven (works for both batards and boules). This is a simple and effective scoring that is dramatic and minimalist:
- Start at one short side of the dough furthest from you. Quickly and swiftly, score the dough about ¼”-½” deep and at a shallow angle (around 30-45 degrees).
- Score in a slightly curved line or crescent shape to the other end of the dough nearest you.
- There are many scoring designs and patterns. I encourage you to start simple and feel free to add other designs and patterns to your scoring as you get more comfortable. Intricate patterns like stars, spirals, snowflakes, etc., are all beautiful!
I often post videos on my Instagram of me scoring and baking in action if you’re interested in seeing more.
Carefully remove the preheated baking vessel and lid from the oven wearing oven-safe gloves.
Transfer the scored dough into the baking vessel. For a low-sided vessel like the Challenger Bread Pan or Lodge double dutch oven, you can use a pizza peel or bread peel to slide the dough onto the base of the pan (or score directly in the pan). If using a tall-sided dutch oven, wear oven-safe gloves and carefully lower the dough with parchment into the dutch oven.
Optional but helpful: For added steam which assists with oven spring and a shiny, brown crust, I drop two ice cubes into my pan or lightly mist my dough.
Place lid on vessel and place into the oven at 500ºF.
Bake at 500ºF with the lid on for 20 minutes. Baking with the cover on traps steam and replicates a steam-injected oven that professional bakeries use for their bread. The hot oven will quickly allow the gases trapped in the dough to rise exceptionally fast. This is called “oven spring.”
After 20 minutes and wearing oven-safe gloves, remove the lid.
The dough expanded dramatically in the first 20 minutes in the photo above, but the crust itself is parbaked and pale. It still needs longer to bake.
The flap I created from shallow scoring made what is called a sourdough “ear.” A sourdough ear is developed from a properly fermented loaf (likely, but under proofed dough can create an ear too), shallow scoring, steam, and hot initial baking temperature. These factors can give your bread a great ear and significant oven spring.
Lower the oven temperature to 450ºF. Bake with the lid off for another 20 minutes or until the crust is dark brown and golden. If you want to check the internal temperature, it should be between 200-210ºF.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before slicing.
Note: I don’t typically bake in a convection oven. However, if you do, you can still make this recipe. To bake sourdough bread in a convection oven, lower the temperatures by 25ºF and shorten the baking times by a few minutes.
Waiting for the bread to cool might be one of the most challenging parts of this process, but it’s essential!
If you cut into the sourdough too early, you risk the open crumb interior not being fully set, which might have a gummy texture. Cutting into hot bread also releases a lot of steam, making your bread dry out faster.
Slice and enjoy!
I love this bread on its own but also with butter and flaky salt, dipped in a cozy soup, as grilled cheese, or reheated as morning toast with jam. It’s best in the first two days as it gets harder to slice.
If I want to save any for later, I cut the entire loaf and keep the slices in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer. Reheat slices in a toaster oven for a few minutes, and it will taste just as fresh as on day one!
Sourdough Bread Recipe FAQ:
Why is my bread dense and gummy inside?
Dense bread can be a few factors, but most likely is due to under proofing or an underactive starter. If your dough or ambient temperature throughout the process is cooler than 78ºF, it will probably take longer for your bread to ferment. If your starter is brand new or isn’t healthy & active, it can also slow down fermentation. A weak starter doesn’t have enough “happy” yeasts to perform well. Be sure to read my How to Make a Sourdough Starter Guide where I walk through the process of making your starter and maintaining it for optimal health.
Why does my bread have a large tunnel/hole near the top or deflate after baking?
This is likely due to over-proofing your dough. Overproofed bread will often have large tunnels or holes near the crust and might even deflate in the oven. This is because the yeasts will run out of food to eat with an over-proofed bread, expand quickly in the oven, and then deflate- creating these tunnels or large holes. Check out my bulk fermentation guide for more information on under or over-proofing dough.
Why is my dough very wet and hard to shape?
This might be due to over proofing or not enough gluten development. If the dough is over-proofed, it starts to break down gluten, and your dough will be very slack and difficult to shape. The mixing and coil folds in this recipe should give your dough enough strength during shaping, but you can always add more coil folds if needed during bulk fermentation if the dough still seems slack during your last coil fold.
High hydration sourdoughs like this are more challenging to shape than your typical loaf bread, and the dough will stick sometimes. You have to adjust as you go. Just check out my boule shaping video to see how sticky the dough was during shaping. I had to spray more water in the middle of shaping to keep my bench scraper and hands from sticking. So take a deep breath and move on.
You can also try adding a little less water next time and follow the same process.
Can I double the recipe?
Yes! Feel free to double this recipe and make two loaves. The only difference is that you will need to “preshape” the dough by dividing it in half after bulk fermentation. After separating in half, shape each into a taut round and let bench rest for 30 minutes before continuing with shaping.
Why didn’t my bread turn out exactly like the recipe?
When baking sourdough, there are so many factors that can affect the outcome of your final bread. These factors include the environment, your starter, ingredients used, elevation, humidity, etc. Unfortunately, home bakers do not have the same luxury of professional baking kitchens that produce hundreds if not thousands of breads a week with often top-of-the-line and expensive professional equipment.
This recipe is adaptable and used as a guide- not every piece has to fit like IKEA furniture! Take what you can from this guide, change things up, experiment, and make notes throughout the process, so you know what you did differently. Then, have fun with it and keep baking!
Can I make this sourdough recipe gluten-free?
This is not a gluten-free recipe, and you cannot substitute gluten-free flour in this particular recipe (I have used buckwheat flour instead of whole wheat and rye with decent success, though). Some studies show that naturally leavened breads are easier to digest and cause fewer issues for those with gluten sensitivities or Celiac disease, but more research is needed.
How should I store my sourdough?
I like storing my bread wrapped in a tea towel and placed in a paper bag or a linen bag with the crumb down to prevent drying. I find the crust gets a little chewier in a plastic bag. The bread can dry out slightly after the first couple of days, so I like to reheat slices in a toaster oven for a couple of minutes.
To store the bread for later, slice the bread, place the slices in freezer-safe bags, and freeze the bread! Then, reheat slices in a toaster oven. As long as it doesn’t get freezer burned, it will last a very long time.
My crust is really hard. How do I slice the bread?
Depending on your baking method, the crust on homemade sourdough bread can range from thin & crackling to thick & crunchy. If you prefer that your crust be thinner, take the bread out slightly earlier or bake 25ºF lower.
If your crust falls on the thicker end of the spectrum, slicing it can be more difficult (especially the bottom crust) and dangerous with a dull knife. Instead, invest in a high-quality, sharp bread knife (my recommendation is in the tools needed section). Cut with a slow sawing motion, do not press down too much on the bread as you cut, and let the knife guide itself.
This is my preferred method for slicing and produces half slices:
First, cut the bread crosswise in half. Next, lay each half face down on a cutting board with the interior crumb on the bottom. Now make vertical slices from the heel of the bread. This method can slice through the bottom crust without squishing your bread while slicing.
For whole slices, you can turn the bread on its side or upside down to cut. If it’s unsteady, cut off a small portion to create a flat bottom to stabilize your bread.
My Everyday Sourdough Bread Recipe
- 1 Banneton proofing basket, (oval linked here or a round banneton depending on baking vessel)
- 1 Cast Iron Dutch Oven, (I use the Challenger Bread Pan linked here with fantastic results, but a Lodge Double Dutch Oven another cast iron dutch oven works well too)
- 1 Brød and Taylor Folding Proofer, (optional but helpful)
- Build the Levain:In a clean jar, mix the starter, flour, and water.Cover and set the jar in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until doubled in size and bubbly. Alternatively, skip making a levain and use 90g of active sourdough starter when you mix the dough.30 grams Sourdough Starter, 30 g Bread Flour, 30 g Water
- Autolyse:About an hour before the levain is ready, begin autolyse.In a medium mixing bowl, mix the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and optional rye flour (substitute with whole wheat flour if you don't have rye). Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in 310g of warm water.Mix together the flour and water just until it comes together and there are minimal dry bits of flour left. The dough will be very sticky during mixing.Cover and rest an hour or until the levain is ripe.316 grams Water, 360 grams Bread Flour, 31 grams Whole Wheat Flour, 9 grams Rye Flour
- Mix:Add all of the levain to the mixing bowl. Dimple the levain into the dough and mix to combine about five minutes. The dough will be wet and shaggy. Cover and rest 30 minutes.Sprinkle the salt and remaining 6g water on top of the dough (this helps dissolve the salt). Dimple the salt and water into the dough and mix until combined, smooth, and you cannot feel any individual salt granules between your fingers. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.Cover and rest 15 minutes.Levain, 9 grams Sea Salt
- Bulk Fermentation (4 to 5 hours at 78ºF):Perform six coil folds during bulk fermentation (please refer to guide above for video and description of coil folds).The first two folds are in 15 minute intervals.The second two are in 30 minute intervals.The last two are in one hour intervals.Cover and rest until the end of bulk fermentation. At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be smooth, rounded, feel full of air, have visible bubbles, and should wobble/jiggle if shaken. The dough should rise about 50%.
- Shape:Lightly flour the top of the dough in the mixing bowl and the bench/counter. Gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl and turn the bowl upside down for the dough to slowly drop onto the counter.With the help of a bench scraper, shape the dough into a batard (oval) or boule (round). Refer to the guide above for videos and descriptions of each shaping method.Lightly dust the top of the shaped dough with flour and rest for 30 minutes uncovered.Lightly flour the banneton to prevent sticking. Using the bench scraper, quickly turn the dough over on the counter (the bottom seam will be on top now). Transfer the dough to the banneton. At this point, you can stitch the dough in the banneton if it still seems very slack. Please refer to the guide above for a video and description of stitching.Cover and rest about 30 minutes.
- Cold Overnight Proof:Cover the banneton and place in a cold refrigerator to proof overnight or up to 48 hours.
- Bake:Preheat the oven for an hour at 500°F with the Dutch oven and lid in it.Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Using a bread lame or sharp knife, score the dough. The score should be ¼-½" deep and at a shallow angle (about 45°). Wearing oven safe gloves, remove the very hot baking vessel from the oven.Transfer the scored dough on or into the baking vessel and cover with the lid.Note: For added steam which can assist with oven spring and a blistering crust, I add two ice cubes to my Challenger Pan right before placing the lid on. You can also lightly mist your dough with a mister.Bake at 500°F for 20 minutes.After 20 minutes, remove the lid.Lower the oven temperature to 450°F and bake for another 20 minutes with the lid off or until the crust is dark brown and golden.Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack at least an hour before slicing.Slice and enjoy!
- From making the levain until the overnight proof, try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible. I use a bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. The colder it is, the longer it will take for the dough to ferment. The warmer it is, the faster it will take. See my Bulk Fermentation 101 guide for more information.
- Store the bread in a linen bag or a paper bag. After the second day, it will be more difficult to slice, so freeze slices beforehand in a freezer-safe bag. Reheat in a toaster oven.
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