Are you looking for an everyday sourdough bread recipe that's easy and not overly complicated?
Well look no further! We've put together a delicious and simple sourdough bread recipe that you can make overnight with minimal effort!
We will guide you, step-by-step through the entire process so that you can start baking your very own, homemade sourdough bread!
I've heard it time and time again, sourdough bread seems too time consuming and hard. A lot of people give up because most of the instructions you find on the internet are long and complicated.
That's why we decided to come up with a recipe for those that have tried sourdough bread baking in the past and have given up hope.
This is truly a beginner's sourdough bread recipe!
With this recipe, you'll get a feel for how to bake sourdough bread before you try more advanced techniques.
WHAT IS SOURDOUGH BREAD?
Sourdough bread is naturally leavened bread, made from only 4 ingredients, sourdough starter, flour, salt and water.
The first thing you need to do in order to bake sourdough, is to make a sourdough starter.
A sourdough starter is a combination of flour and water where wild yeast and bacteria grow to make the bread rise when it is baking. There is no need for commercial yeast when making sourdough bread!
The sourdough starter will take you about 7-10 days to get going. Once you've got a mature and healthy starter, you won't have to go through that process again as long as you take care of it!
Make sure to head on over to our "How to make a Sourdough Starter" tutorial after you read this article to get yours started today!
Check out our Kitchen Essentials page for all of the tools we use to bake sourdough bread!
Step by step instructions
Before we dive into the details, let's take a look at the 6 basic steps you will take to prepare a basic loaf of sourdough bread.
- Feed your sourdough starter 12 hours in advance. To a clean jar add 10g starter + 25g water + 25g flour and let rise until doubled.
- Mix the dough and Autolyse: Add all of the ingredients to a mixing bowl and use a stiff spatula or your hands to work the ingredients together until it forms a shaggy mass. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Stretch and Fold: Perform 2-3 sets of stretch and folds.
- Bulk Fermentation: Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment for 7-10 hours on your kitchen counter or in a 65-70°F (18-21°C) area of your home.
- Shape and Second Rise: Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a tight ball. Center the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, seam-side down. Place the dough, along with the parchment paper into a bowl and cover. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Score and Bake: 30 minutes before you're ready to bake, Preheat the dutch oven to 450°F (232°C). Score the top of the dough and use the parchment paper as a sling to transfer the dough to the dutch oven. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes. Let bread cool completely before slicing.
Tips for successful sourdough baking
There are a few areas that we will break down in a little more detail.
- Kitchen Temperature
- Active Sourdough Starter
- What kind of flour to use
- Bulk Fermentation
- How to perform a stretch and fold
- How to final shape the dough
- Second Rise
- Dutch oven or baking vessel
- How to score bread
You'll want to let the dough bulk ferment in a 65-70°F (18-21°C) kitchen. If it's warmer than 70°F, you'll want to check your dough around the 7 hour mark.
If left too long in a warm environment, the dough may "over-proof" and you'll have a flat loaf once baked.
Active Sourdough Starter
It's important that your sourdough starter is at its peak of activity when it's added to the dough. I recommend feeding your starter about 12 hours before you plan to mix the dough with our 1:4:4 ratio.
Do not use starter that is not active and bubbly! It will produce a flat loaf.
What kind of flour to use in sourdough
The type of flour you use is important when baking sourdough bread. You'll want to choose a bread flour that is unbleached and unbromated. Bread flour is perfect for bread baking because of it's high protein content, typically 12-14%.
I prefer to use a brand like King Arthur for consistency in my baking. All the recipes that I create and test are made with this brand of flour. They label their bags of flour with the protein content so there's no guessing.
There will be times you may only have all-purpose flour on hand. It is perfectly ok to use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour to bake sourdough bread. The results will not be as optimal, but you will still have delicious bread for your family!
Don't have a kitchen scale to measure flour?
Use the scoop and level technique to measure your flour if you do not have a kitchen scale. To do this, use a spoon to fluff up the flour in the bag. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup until it is heaped on top. Take a butterknife and level off the top. This should give you the most accurate measurement for flour.
Because flour is measured by weight in these recipes, if the flour is scooped straight out of the bag with the measuring cup, there will be more flour than called for in the recipe.
This is the longest part of the sourdough bread baking process. This is the time that the gluten will develop and the dough will start to rise.
This recipe uses a small amount of starter, 50g, so that the dough can sit out for a long time at room temperature without over-fermenting.
Performing a series of stretch and folds to the dough during bulk fermentation adds volume to the final loaf. This is a step that can be repeated after the autolyse, up to 4 times, spaced 30 minutes apart.
How to perform a stretch and fold
I like to perform 2-3 sets of stretch and folds 30 minutes apart at the beginning of the bulk fermentation.
- Wet your hand in order to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Reach under one side of the dough and pull it straight up.
- Pull the dough over itself to the opposite side.
- Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the stretch and fold process until the bowl has turned a full circle.
For this recipe, only one set of stretch and folds are necessary, so if this is your first time, stick with one set until you get familiar with the process!
The dough is finished with the bulk fermentation when it is about 50% larger in size and has bubbles around the edges of the bowl. This will take anywhere from 7-10 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the maturity of your starter.
How to final shape bread dough
You'll shape the dough and let it rise one more time. This time it will only rise about 20%. I usually shape my dough around the 9-10 hour mark and then let it rest for the second rise 30 minutes before preheating my oven.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Starting the side of the dough nearest you, pull the edge up and towards the middle.
- Repeat with the right edge of the dough.
- Repeat with the left edge of the dough.
- Finally pull the side of the dough farthest from you up and towards you.
- Turn the dough over and cup with your hands. Gently pull the dough towards you turning and pulling until you get a tight skin on the outside of the dough.
Place the dough ball onto a piece of parchment paper and use the paper as a sling to lift the dough and place in it into a small bowl for the second rise.
- You can pick up the dough with your hands or use a bench-scraper.
The bowl will help to give structure to the dough during the second rise.
Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic to keep the dough from drying out.
The second rise will usually be 30 minutes up to 1.5 hours total, before scoring and baking.
Dutch oven or baking vessel
Commercial kitchens use a steam-injected oven to bake sourdough bread. You will need a baking vessel that can capture the moisture in the dough in order to create a steamy environment.
I like to use a dutch oven because it serves many purposes in my kitchen and it's perfect for baking sourdough bread.
A dutch oven acts like a commercial steam oven by trapping the steam from the dough during the first 20 minutes of baking.
This steam helps to produce a good "oven spring" or rise to the bread.
About 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the dutch oven to 450°F (232°C) inside the oven.
TIP - If you don't have a dutch oven, you can use two bread loaf pans, one as the base and one as the "lid". Shape your loaf into an oval shape and let it have the final rise in the bread pan. Make sure to grease the loaf pan before placing the dough inside.
Optional - Use a spray bottle with water to lightly mist the top of the dough after scoring and before placing cover on the dutch oven to increase oven spring and form a bubbly crust.
How to score sourdough bread
Right before you bake the bread, you will score the top of the dough in order to control the "oven spring".
If you skip this step, the bread will bust open during baking at its weakest point. This could be the top but it's usually the side of the dough.
To score the dough, use a razor or a very sharp knife to make a 1/4 inch deep cut into the top of the dough that is 4-5 inches long.
After you've scored the dough, use gloves to remove the hot dutch oven from the oven. Carefully remove the cover and use the parchment paper as a sling to place the dough into the preheated dutch oven. Put the cover on the dutch oven and bake at 450°F (232°C) for 20 minutes.
Remove the cover and continue to bake the bread for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is your desired color.
Transfer the baked loaf to a cooling rack where you will let it cool completely before slicing.
If you slice the bread while it's still hot, the crumb will become gummy.
Sample sourdough baking schedule
To help you get an idea of a timeframe you'll need to bake a loaf of sourdough bread, I'm sharing my baking schedule with you.
- 8:00 AM - Prepare active starter "levain" - add 10g starter, 25g flour, 25g water to a jar. Cover and set on counter to ferment.
- 8:00 PM - Mix dough and let rest one hour.
- 9:00 PM - Perform a set of stretch and folds.
- 9:30 PM - Perform a second set of stretch and folds. Cover bowl and let rest on kitchen counter overnight.
- 6:00 AM - Do a final shape, cover dough and let rise 30 minutes.
- 6:30 AM - Place dutch oven into the oven and preheat at 450°F (232°C) for 30 minutes.
- 7:00 AM - Bake dough in dutch oven, covered 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the crust is to my liking.
It's important to practice patience when you are first starting out. Sometimes the process can seem harder than it really is, but once you get the hang of it, you'll never look back!
Tips for baking in warm and/or high humidity
When baking in warm and/or high humidity areas, it's often a good practice to use less water and bake a little longer than the recipe calls for. Reduce the water by 50 grams in the initial mix and then slowly add the remaining water until you achieve the correct hydration level. Bake the bread about 5-10 minutes longer with the lid on, before removing for the remaining bake time. This will take some trial and error!
High altitude baking tips
If you live at a high altitude, 5,000-11,500 feet above sea level, you will need to use a sourdough recipe developed for high altitude baking for best results. Visit Butter and Air for their expertise on high altitude sourdough.
How to store and freeze
Store your bread at room temperature, wrapped in a kitchen towel or beeswax wrap. You can also store the bread, slice down, on a cutting board with a cake stand top covering the bread.
It is not recommended to store sourdough bread in the fridge as it will become hard.
Freeze full loaves or individual slices wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and inserted into a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Plan on baking several loaves before things really start to make sense!
You'll have to make a few mistakes along the way to learn, but the good news is that you can always "eat your mistakes". They usually end up tasting good even though they might not look like it!
If you really want to treat yourself, make sure to read our tutorial for homemade butter and cultured butter. Nothing beats fresh butter on sourdough bread!
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I'll be happy to help. Make sure you PIN this recipe and share it with your friends! Thanks for stopping by!
Beginner's Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Kitchen Scale
- Mixing Bowls
- Kitchen Towels/Plastic wrap to cover bowl
- Sharp Razor for scoring
- Parchment Paper
- 5 quart Dutch Oven
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sourdough starter or "levain" (active)
- 1 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon (350 g) water
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) fine sea salt
- 4 cups (500 g) bread flour (unbleached)
- Prepare sourdough starter in advance: You will need to prepare 50g of active starter (aka levain) before you begin mixing the dough. To a clean jar add 10g starter + 25g water + 25g flour and let rise until doubled. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the maturity of your starter, this can take anywhere from 4-12 hours.
- Mix the dough: Transfer the 50g of active starter and 350g water into a large mixing bowl. Stir to distribute the starter evenly. Add 500g bread flour and 10g sea salt to the bowl and use a stiff spatula or your hands to work the ingredients together until it forms a shaggy mass, making sure that there are no dry bits of flour. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Stretch and Fold: Pick up the dough on one side and stretch it up and over itself. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this step until you have turned the bowl a full circle. The dough should form into a tight ball. (If you have time, let the dough rest 30 minutes and repeat the stretch and fold process 1 to 2 more times. This will help to build volume in the final loaf)
- Bulk Fermentation: Cover the bowl and let the dough ferment for 7-10 hours on your kitchen counter or in a 65-70°F (18-21°C) area of your home. The dough should have risen by 50% and show signs of fermentation, bubbles on top and sides of the dough.
- Shape and Second Rise: Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball by pulling 4 sides of the dough into the middle of itself. Turn the dough seam side down and gently cup the dough, pulling and twisting until it forms a tight skin. Center the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, seam-side down. Place the dough, along with the parchment paper into a bowl and cover. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until it has risen by about 20%.
- Score and Bake: 30 minutes before you're ready to bake, Preheat the dutch oven to 450°F (232°C). Right before baking, use a sharp razor to score the top of the dough. Using the parchment paper as a sling, transfer the dough to the dutch oven. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 210°F (99°C). Let the bread cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled before slicing.
- Tips for baking in warm and/or high humidity areas - When baking in high humidity and/or warmer areas, it's often a good practice to use less water and bake a little longer than the recipe calls for. Reduce the water by 50 grams in the initial mix and then slowly add the remaining water until you achieve the correct hydration level. Bake the bread about 5-10 minutes longer with the lid on, remove the lid and bake until done. This will take some trial and error!
- Use the scoop and level technique to measure your flour if you do not have a kitchen scale. To do this, use a spoon to fluff up the flour in the bag. Use a spoon to scoop the flour into a measuring cup until it is heaped on top. Take a butterknife and level off the top. This should give you the most accurate measurement for flour.
- The best kitchen temperature is between 65-70°F (18-21°C) for best results. If your kitchen is colder, bulk fermentation will take longer and if it's warmer, it will take less time than called for in the instructions.
- To help increase oven spring and get a bubbly crust, use a spray bottle with water to lightly mist the dough after scoring and before placing cover on the dutch oven.
- Wait until the loaf is completely cooled before slicing. If you cut into the loaf while it is still hot, the crumb will have a gummy texture.
- If you live at a high altitude, use a sourdough recipe specifically written for high altitude sourdough for best results.
- Store your bread at room temperature, wrapped in a kitchen towel or beeswax wrap. You can also store the bread, slice down, on a cutting board with a cake stand topper covering the bread. It is not recommended to store sourdough bread in the fridge as it will become hard.
- Freeze full loaves or individual slices wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and inserted into a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.