Homemade Sourdough bread is a worthy journey into Artisan bread making. The adventure begins with wild yeast starter and continues into the vast and rich history of bread baking. Recently, I brushed off my bread making skills and ventured into this alien bread baking world. I have learned a LOT about wild yeast and the Tartine long rise method of baking Fabulous Sourdough Artisan hearth breads right in my own dutch oven at home.
If you are interested in baking 100 percent whole wheat sourdough bread hop over to our post on Beginners Whole Wheat Artisan Sourdough Bread after you read this post and watch the video we made on the process. I put helps and information into the sourdough whole wheat bread post specific to working with whole wheat flour.
This Sourdough bread is made from my wild yeast starter. This is a long rise Tartine Style bread. That means it is a lean bread. Very crusty with a tender, creamy well developed crumb. Dave LOVES this bread (as do I, our children and grandchildren too).
Artisan bread making is a HUGE subject. I will gloss over the top a bit here with resources for you (and, yes a recipe). Even so, you may need a cup of coffee and some pondering time as you go through this post. It will take some time…
First some inspiration:
I’m sharing comments from my emails from readers that used this recipe and shared their results. We LOVE your feedback on all of our recipes. It helps others as well.
“Hi I just had to write and tell you how happy I am to have stumbled upon your site and find the recipe for the sourdough bread. I have been making this type of bread for a while now but not always getting the results I wanted. Either it was flat, too sour or just a poor loaf. But I took out my old starter this week and feed it determined to have a go at it again. Well I found your site, easy directions and off I went. I just cut the first loaf and it is simply delicious. My husband loves bread, but not always sourdough bread, loved it too. Thanks so much for making it so easy to read and do. The results were great!!!!!! I just made another batch to bake tomorrow. Thanks again, you took the ‘SOUR’ experiences out of sourdough baking for me!!!!! DAPHNE”
My father made sourdough things (pancakes were great, bread was better, pizza dough, too) when I was a growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Lately, I wanted to revisit that. I acquired a commercial starter culture and set that going. Then I found your beginners recipe.
Worked great. Reminded me a lot of making focaccia bread – very hydrated and the stretching and folding technique was similar. I used cheesecloth and ground rice in ceramic bowls instead of the bannetons. I think I’ll get some of the latter.
thanks for the wonderful recipe and discussion. Now for the experimentation…
It’s great to see other baker’s results with this recipe. A few have shared pics on Instagram too and tagged me in them. This recipe works well for beginners.
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FYI, I am NOT a novice to bread making. I made many, many breads for my family for years. I still do make other yeasted breads. My whole wheat bread and Irish Oat Bread are Fall and winter mainstays at our house. They make great sandwiches and toast 🙂
I even had my own (commercial yeast)sourdough starter stored in my grandma’s Brown Betty crock behind my old Mc Clary Wood Stove (You can see it in this post) WAY back in the day. I made bread, pancakes and lots of other goodies with that starter. But it was not THIS starter or THIS style of bread. I hand kneaded those loaves or used my Bosch universal. I’m just recently using this stretch and Fold method with a long cold rise. What a difference!
These are a whole different class of bread. Wild yeast breads have exemplary texture and flavor when properly made. Learn the methods to make these breads and you will be a bread baking star in your foodie circle.
My new understanding of the long cold rise and the stretch and fold method and my Le Creuset Dutch Oven make a bread I have LONGED to make…forever. Dave and I love artisan breads. These gorgeous breads are so flavorful and crusty. Dave is lobbying me to stay on the trail of new and delicious wild yeast sourdough recipes. And so I shall…
My Sourdough journey began with My blogger Friend Karen Ker. Her breads made me want to bake them too! She is a wonderful bread baker. Check out Karen’s Kitchen Stories and join her FB Group Artisan Bread Bakers for inspiration and information on artisan bread baking.
Supplies Needed to help with Sourdough Bread Baking:
If you make loaves like this for a while you will get MUCH better results from a few purchases. The loaves are so good and will pay you back. All you need is flour and salt and a few supplies to bake some pretty amazing breads.
Supplies that Make your bread baking life easier and for best results:
- Measure your ingredients by WEIGHT. Flours especially need weight rather than volume measures for the most consistent results. I actually began measuring by weight when baking these breads. Here’s my G Dealer scale. It works great and it’s reasonably priced. Salt will have VERY different volumes as well depending on the variety of salt in your kitchen. I use sea salt for this recipe.
- You will need a dutch oven or other HIGH HEAT (to 500 degrees) oven safe skillet with a lid. Chad Robertson prefers a cast iron skillet combo. I use my Le Creuset oval Dutch oven (gifted to me by my Lovely In laws).
- I am SO happy I bought this dough scraper set. They are VERY helpful working with high hydration doughs. The bowl scraper is genius. This is a sticky dough and the bowl scraper (when wet) slides that dough around like a dream.
- Bannetons are for the final long rise often done in the fridge. They come with handy cloth liners that fit to help keep the dough well formed. The finished bread has lovely ridges in if you remove the cloth liners and just flour the baskets.
- A lame knife for scoring your loaves. Also really helpful in releasing the dough to rise properly.
YOU TUBE VIDEO Of Beginners Artisan Sourdough Bread:
We made a video of the ENTIRE process of making this recipe for you. We compressed the 24 hours it takes to complete this recipe into about 6 minutes long. We show you the techniques used in this recipe and every step in order. Let us know in the comments if it helps you out. And Please subscribe to our you tube channel.
The Long Rise Tartine Style Sourdough Bread Method:
This is a basic sourdough bread recipe from a wild yeast starter. It uses the long cold rise and the stretch and fold technique we have discussed. Once you master this process of bread making a whole new baking world will open for you. You will be able to make sourdough porridge breads and Add nuts, cheese, peppers or dried fruits to change it up. Or Use different flours in your starter and breads for endlessly different textures and flavor combinations. Then there is the art of scoring bread and learning stenciling too. A very creative world indeed. And fun!
TIPS to Keep in Mind:
- Use a proper bread flour like King Arthur bread flour or high protein flour like Montana White flour. When I started making sourdough I used my all purpose flour. The bread was delicious BUT it did not give me the form or the rise I prefer. I was schooled on this by our contributor Sasha Hunter our bread baker extraordinaire friend. Sasha taught me a LOT and recommended these flours in the process of learning her Milk and Honey Sourdough Sandwich bread recipe. Thank you Sasha!
- Expect the dough to be sticky. WET HANDS really help when handling this dough. The stretch and fold process transforms the dough from a sticky shaggy mess to a workable dough. But it will always be slightly sticky with 100 percent white flour and High hydration.
- MEASURE YOUR INGREDIENTS BY WEIGHT FOR BEST RESULTS! Your climate, flour type, season of the year…all sorts of stuff changes the way a bread baking recipe works. This is especially true of this type of bread. High hydration loaves can be tricky. Help yourself out and weigh the ingredients. I have made this recipe several time now. The last time I used volume and checked the volumes on my scale. VASTLY different from the recipe weights given. WEIGHING is best for consistent results.
- Begin with a healthy leaven that bubbles and floats in a cup of water. (More on that below.)
- Autolyse at least an hour. (This is the resting stage. it’s Important for complete dough hydration and good fermentation- you can rest the dough up to four hours). Do NOT skip this step.
- Temperature affects ferment rate. Keep the dough at around 80 degrees for the quickest bulk rise. HOWEVER, Some flours are easy to over ferment (Like Whole Wheat flour) and other flours need a warmer temp (Not too warm though) to get properly fermented. Learn your dough as you handle it. Watch it go through the stages. If it gets slack and won’t rise the dough might be over fermented.
- It should pass the windowpane test as I describe in my whole wheat yeast bread tutorial.
- The Final Rise. I have had the best luck with an overnight rise in my fridge. Cold temperature (55 degrees F) and long rise (12 to 15 hours) give the dough a chance to develope better texture and flavor in the final rise. I have made this bread with a four hour final rise too. I do notice an improvement with the overnight rise.
- Learning how to properly form your dough into loaves is one KEY to building the rise in your loaves. It’s all about keeping the dough arated while you work it and building tension in the surface of the dough. Practice makes perfect!
- Using your own home milled flours has some challenges you need to prepare for. Go to the * at this post bottom for more on that. I ran into this with my home milled whole wheat flour, so fair warning!
Let’s start with the wild yeast starter. Why Wild?
Wild yeast starters provide a much Better, Fuller, more Complex….AMAZING flavor and texture than commercial yeasts can. You can easily build your own wild yeast starter. But plan ahead. Give yourself about a week to get it ripe and bubbly. And all the sourdough discard you will create? I have lots of sourdough discard recipes in the works!
After the starter is active like this one, it’s time to build the leaven for the bread.
136 Calories / SLICE
- Fat 1% 0 g
- Carbs 8% 29 g
- Protein 7% 4g
Make your own delicious bakery quality artisan sourdough breads at home. This recipe is a good start for new sourdough bakers. It's a long process but an easy one. These breads are so worth it!
- 525 grams water-80 degree F. -NO chlorine 2.22 Cups
- 200 grams Very active starter - make sure it floats 1 + Cup
- 20 grams salt 1 Tablespoon
- 700 grams All purpose Flour (or bread flour) 5 1/2 Cups
Make the STARTER AHEAD (This can take up to a week or more) AND DO NOT USE UNTIL IT IS ACTIVE ENOUGH TO FLOAT A TEASPOON ON A CUP OF WATER. Continue the recipe
Pour the water into a large bowl.
Add the ripe starter to the water and mix thoroughly with a whisk or by hand until the floating cloud of starter is mixed completely into the water
Add the flour to the leavened water and mix with the dough bowl scraper or other spatula. At the end use wet hands to form a shaggy dough ball.
Let it rest (autolyse stage) about an hour. This stage can be extended without worry up to four hours.
After autolyse, add the salt to the bread dough. Use your hands to pinch and stretch the dough gently until the salt is mixed into the dough.
Using your wet hands pull the dough from under the dough ball up and stretch it gently as you pull it over the dough ball top. Release. Repeat this process as you give the bowl quarter turns until the dough is stretched and pulled from each quarter of the bowl.
Over the next 2 1/2 hours repeat the stretch and fold every 30 minutes. The dough will change from a slimy ropy mass to a billowy dough with many air pockets and definite body as you stretch and fold it. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH AT ANY TIME. Those air bubbles create the excellent crumb and flavor.
The dough should become an elastic resilient dough that passes the window pane test.
Allow the dough to bulk rise IN THE BOWL at room temperature an hour or SO until it rises by 30 percent or so.
Cover the bowl of dough with a plastic bag and set it in the fridge for 12 to 15 hours (Or overnight). It should continue to rise slowly so give it room in the bowl.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter in the bowl for two hours or until the dough reaches room temperature (or pretty close). The dough will soften and gently rise (a tiny bit) as it warms.
On a clean unfloured counter pour out the dough into a large mass. Flour the top of the dough lightly but evenly.
- Divide the dough mass in half with your metal dough scraper.
BEING CAREFUL NOT TO OVERWORK THE DOUGH-Form each half into a dough ball. The most efficient way to do this is to use the counter as your pivot point. Scrape in a circle around the dough (leave it unturned, flour side up). The unfloured counter will hold the dough center and create tension as you circle the dough with the scraper forming a ball. Repeat to form two dough balls. The DOUGH edge should be round and the dough ball should have some form and resilience to it.
Let the dough balls rest for 20 to 30 minutes. They will spread out but should not fall off at the edge of the pancake. If they do, reform the loaves and bench rest them again to build the structure of the dough better.
Gently slide the dough scraper under one of your dough balls and flip it over so it rests on the floured side.
Now gently stretch and pull the dough over from the bottom to 1/3 up the loaf. Stretch and pull the dough from the sides to the dough middle. For the final stretch take the dough from the top of the ball and pull it all the way down to the bottom. Form a seam. Pinching the seam if necessary.
Place the dough seam side up in your rice floured, cloth lined banneton or bowl.
Rise in the fridge 2 to four hours.
Set a baking stone (if you have one) on your oven bottom rack. Set your dutch oven with it's lid on next rack up (lower third of oven). PREHEAT oven to 450 degrees F. for at least 30 minutes.
Keep the formed loaf in your banneton in the fridge until you actually need to place it in your preheated dutch oven. Cold dough will aide the oven spring.
Remove one banneton from the fridge. Place the dough in your preheated dutch oven. I do this by flipping it into the dutch oven as gently as possible seam side down.
Alternate method: Place high heat safe parchment paper over the banneton. Turn the banneton upside down so the dough falls gently onto the parchment paper.
Score the loaf with your lame knife or a razor blade or sharp scissors. Scoring helps the dough rise better.
Now pick up the scored loaf with the edges of the parchment paper, if using, and gently and carefully place it into your VERY hot dutch oven.
Put the lid on the dutch oven and return it covered to your preheated oven.
Bake 30 minutes at 450 degrees.
Now REMOVE the lid (and parchment paper if using). Steam should come out. Hopefully the bread is a light golden color with a nice rise and set crust. Bake an additional 10 minutes UNCOVERED or until the loaf thumps hollowly and the surface gets dark(Caramelized darker than you are used to maybe) and the scored areas look shiny. (To prevent over browning turn the parchment paper (or foil) upside down over the loaf as it finishes in the oven.)
Remove the dutch oven. Place the finished loaf on a cooling rack. Do NOT cut it for at least an hour to set the crumb.
Return the dutch oven (with it's lid on) to the oven at 450 degrees F and preheat for 15 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining loaf.
To tell if your bread is properly done. Look at the crust and LISTEN to it cool. The crust should be 'shattery' which means as it cools it will crack. You can see it and hear it. This is bread music 🙂 also a dull sounding bread is probably not completely baked. When you cut the loaf is should have a creamy but springy crumb with lots of aration.
WATCH your dough as it goes through the stages of fermentation. This dough can easily over ferment at high room (Or oven proofing) temperatures. If your dough gets slack, unworkable and won't form or rise it is probably over fermented. At this point I suggest you Make pizza with it instead of loaf bread 🙂
To avoid over fermentation keep the room temperature (or oven) at 80 degrees or less. Whatever flour you are using will influence this process. Learn to work with the dough you are creating.
This bread freezes VERY well. After it is completely cooled double wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and set in the freezer. I have done this several times. Defrost at room temperature wrapped or unwrapped. Slice and eat.
For best results store your sourdough bread loaves in a bread box (I use my dutch oven with the lid slightly cocked). That beautiful crunchy Sourdough crust gets soft in an airtight container or plastic sack. Once cut just set the bread cut side down to protect the crumb. These loaves hold very well for at least three days. Freeze the other finished loaf if you can't eat it right away.
I am using my ceramic round bowls lined with linen dish cloths for my bannetons. The high hydration doughs like these tend TO STICK to those cloths. To help with I scrub rice flour into the cloth. And leave an extra bit of it in the banneton bottom. Once the dough is in the banneton I add a bit more rice around the side of the loaf to keep it from sticking during the rise.
IF your dough sticks a bit to the banneton cloth, use a sharp knife to pull it away and add some rice flour to the sticking spot. Now it should invert without too much trouble. For really tough sticks, cut the dough away and repair it carefully by pressing it to reshape it before baking. Careful of burns if you are doing this in a hot pot.
* If you mill your own whole grains READ THIS:
- As freshly milled flour ages past about 12 hours, enzymatic activity begins and causes unpredictable results in bread rise.
- Whole grains also can ferment quickly and become OVER fermented.How to solve the problems Green Grains can create in your homemade sourdough loaves. (read Girl Meets Rye’s post for more detailed information.)
- Use your freshly milled grains before 12 hours or WAIT three weeks and oxidize your home milled fresh flours.
- To oxidize your home milled flour Store the fresh milled flour in a canister with an open weave top so oxygen can get in and oxidize the grain naturally. This neutralizes the enzymes that are screwing up the flour for bread making. After oxidation is complete, use the home milled flour as store bought.
- Use your freshly milled grains before 12 hours or WAIT three weeks and oxidize your home milled fresh flours.
Further Resources on sourdough bread baking:
These books all were very helpful to me. They are probably available in your local library but make valuable resources to keep on hand.
This beginner Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe made from TheKitchn recipe by Emma Christensen. She has put together an EXCELLENT step by step tutorial which I have followed and highly recommend. Her recipe is an adaptation of Chad Robertson’s Basic Country Sourdough.