A Beginner's Sourdough Bread Recipe - Home Grown Happiness (2024)

ByElien

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This is a beginner’s sourdough bread recipe, perfect for starting your sourdough journey. In this post, I will show you how to make this simple sourdough bread step-by-step. The process is spread out over two days.

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There’s a bit of understanding about sourdough bread. This is a beginner’s sourdough bread recipe, but the fundamentals should still be read through. Once you’ve done that, you’ll understand how to make sourdough bread and create the perfect loaf every time.

If you have issues with your bread, check out mySourdough Bread Troubleshooting Guide.

See my whole Sourdough Bread Process on Youtube

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough breadrises without the need for commercial yeast. Instead, it uses a collection of wild yeasts. When the bread is baked, the yeast will be responsible for the rise of the bread as it releases carbon dioxide. Alongside the wild yeast, bacteria are also at work. Sourdough bread is often easier to digest than other bread types because it undergoes afermentationperiod.

The bacteria, which is the lactobacillus strain, is also responsible for the sour tang in sourdough bread. This is due to the lactic acid and acetic acid they produce.

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The starter and levain

Seehow to make a sourdough starterhere.

Before you learn how to make sourdough bread with a starter, you’ll need an active sourdough starter. I keep mine at100% hydration. This means equal weights of water and flour are fed. I ensure it has a low acid content and is used before it collapses. Too much acid can make the dough hard to work with. Keeping your starter refreshed regularly and using a small amount of seed starter each time can keep the acid load low.

When feeding the sourdough starter, I use a ratio of 1:2:2 (1 part starter, 2 parts flour, and 2 parts water) or 1:3:3 depending on when I want to use it. That’s all measured inweight.

  • A starter fed at 1:2:2 should double or triple within 6 hours when kept at a room temperature between 21-26 °C (or 69-78°F).
  • A starter fed at 1:3:3 will take longer, and this is usually what I feed my starter if I want it to rise overnight. This slows down the rise

A levain

I create a levain for many of my recipes.

A levain is an offshoot of your main starter, created specifically for the bread dough you’re preparing. It is a mixture of flour, water, and a small portion of an active sourdough starter. The whole thing will be used in the recipe.

The amount of sourdough starter to keep after making bread varies based on your method and desired starter quantity. Here’s one approach to managing your starter and creating a levain:

  • From your jar of established starter, measure out two amounts. One is for your bread dough (a levain), and the second amount will be used to create a fresh jar of starter for future use.
  • For the levain, measure the amount needed for your bread recipe in a small bowl. Feed it and transfer this mixture to a clean jar. Set this aside for bread-making.
  • With the remaining starter in the original jar, measure approximately 30g-50g (or less if all that remains) and feed this. Place this mixture into a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator.

Don’t worry if you have a small remaining starter; even the tiniest bit can be built into a larger one. Discard any leftover starter from the old jar (or save it up to use in discard recipes.)

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Ingredients

Here is a rundown of the basic ingredients for this simple sourdough recipe. See the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for the amounts.

  • Bread flouror all-purpose flour(with a high protein content of at least 11%.)
  • Active sourdough starter –Mix the starter with flour and water to create a levain. This is the name for the separate mixture of sourdough starter, where the entire thing will be used in the dough.Don’t have a sourdough starter yet? Learn tomake a sourdough starter.
  • Water
  • Salt– Flavor enhancer and helps with dough structure.

Baking equipment

I use a cast-iron combo cooker which is fantastic. It works as a Dutch oven, trapping steam. Mine is from Lodge Cast Iron though other brands make similar cookers.

Baking sourdough in a Dutch oven is an important piece of equipment as the steam it traps during the baking stage allows itto rise to its full potential before the crust forms.

Alternatively, a large pot with a lid can be used, but it won’t give the same results as cast iron which holds the heat well.

Other equipment I use –

  • A kitchen scale – This is helpful to get consistent results in baking.
  • Proofing basket – You’ll need a bowl for the dough to hold its shape while it proofs. I use atraditionalbanneton basket lined with a floured towel.
  • Bench scraper – Very helpful when moving the dough around on a work surface.
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Baker’s schedule (overview)

This is a high-level overview and example of the timing of what goes into the process of theSourdough bread Schedule. These exact times of day can be adjusted to suit your schedule.

Further down are more detailed instructions.

  1. 8 am– Feed your starter and create a levain.
  2. 12 pm– Autolyse
  3. 1pm– Add in starter
  4. 1.30- 4:30 pm– Perform 6 sets of stretch and folds, one every 30mins.
  5. 4:30-Bulk Ferment
  6. 8 pm– Shaping. Put in the fridge overnight
  7. The next day– Baking

Step-by-step instructions

Levain

Mix together the levain ingredients in a bowl and stir well until thoroughly mixed. Add it to a clean jar or glass and cover it with a loosely balanced lid or damp towel.

Leave it to sit until it has at least doubled.

Autolyse

An autolyse is when flour and water are mixed together, and the flour is left for a period of time to hydrate. An autolyze hydrates the gluten and helps to create an elastic dough. Start this at least 30 minutes before your starter is ready to use, but up to a few hours in advance. It doesn’t need to be done, but it does make a difference.

Combine the water and flour in a large bowl to start the autolyse. Use wet hands to mix it into a rough dough. No kneading is required, but ensure all the dough is wet.

Cover the bowl with a plate or damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.

If you’re wanting to add anyseeds, they can be added at this point too. I like adding ground turmeric, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, or poppy seeds to my bread for some variation.

Add levain and Salt

Now it’s time to add in the salt and the doubled levain. Use wet hands to mix this well and form a sticky mound of dough.

Tip the dough into a flat glass or ceramic tray and let it rest for 30 minutes before moving on to the next step. It will flatten out a bit.

Coil Folds

I use a coil-fold method to work my dough. You’ll need to fold your dough every 30 minutes for three hours to develop the gluten in the dough.

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Using wet hands, gently coax the sides with your fingers and lift it from the middle and back onto itself.

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Turn your tray and repeat on all sides until it forms a ball. If the dough sticks too much to your hands, wet them again

The pictures above are of folds in the second round of coil folds, where the dough is already quite elastic. Repeat this every 30 minutes for three hours. Initially, the dough will be very sticky and wet, but after a few folds, it will hold together more and become elastic.

If your starter was in optimum condition, you should easily feel the improvement in elasticity as your folds go on.

You can also use a regular stretch and fold method. This is where you take one side of the sourdough dough and, stretch it up, then pull it over itself. Repeat on all sides of the dough.

Bulk Fermentation

After all your folds, let the dough ferment and rise. How long this takes depends on the warmth of your room. If my kitchen is too cold, I place my bread in the oven that is off with a dish of boiled water. This creates a humid proofing spot.

Your dough should bulk out by around 50%. That does not mean it doubles, but it has to bulk out by around half the amount. Don’t rush this dough rise step. It very much depend on the temperature of your kitchen.

Under-fermented and over-fermented dough

Bulk fermenting here issuper important! An under-fermented bread will be dense, may seem undercooked, or have a very thick and chewy crust. A lack of bulk fermentation can cause an under-fermented dough.

On the opposite end, if your dough starts rising too much, you risk over-proofing, and it will weaken the gluten structure you’ve built up. This will result in a collapsed dough that’s very hard to shape and bakes flat.

Bulk ferment timing can vary depending on the warmth of your room.An average bulk ferment for me (after the folding of the dough) is at least 3-4 hours. In the depths of winter, it can be 6-7 hours long, and in the height of summer, only 2 hours.Watch the dough and not the clock.

It is normal for your dough to stretch back out and fill the dish again, but it should feel bouncier and fuller.

Shaping And Cold-Proofing

Now it’s time for the shaping of the dough and the slow, cool ferment, which is when your dough will proof in the refrigerator for anywhere between 8-20 hours.

Line a banneton basket or bowl with a clean kitchen towel and flour it well.

  • Tip your dough carefully on a lightly floured work surface and gently form it into a rectangle. Take care at this shaping stage not to squash the dough too much.
  • Take the bottom third of the dough and fold it up so it meets the middle.
  • Take the right side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle, then take the left side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle.
  • Take the top third of the dough and bring it down to meet the bottom. This makes a sort of ball shape.
  • Stitch this ball together by grabbing some dough from the top left and a little from the top right and bringing them together to meet in the middle. Carry on doing this down the length of the dough. When you reach the bottom, grab a flap of dough and carry it over the stitched dough to meet at the top.
  • Now gently grab this ball and gently roll it towards you on the bench. This will create some surface tension. All the while, take care not to de-gas your dough too much.

Add the shaped dough into the floured basket with the seam-side facing up. If the dough spreads out in the basket, you can stitch it together by grabbing a little bit from the top left and a little from the top right and bringing them together to meet in the middle. Repeat all down the length of the dough.

Place it in the refrigerator, and cover the top of the dough with a tea towel.

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Baking Day

Preheat the oven and Dutch oven to 450°F/230°C for at least 30 minutes until well-heated.

Remove the hot Dutch oven and flour the bottom well. Take the dough from the fridge and carefully flip it out of the basket into the Dutch oven.

If baking this in a large pot, it’s best to tip your dough onto a piece of parchment paper. This way, you can lower it into the pot. Brush it with a little flour (this flour is optional).

Score the dough using a razor blade or a very sharp knife.

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Bake covered in the hot oven for 20 minutes. Capturing the steam inside the pot helps the bread rise to its full potential before the crust sets.

Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15-25 minutes, depending on your preference.

Here’s the hardest part: let the sourdough cool before cutting it. This is because if you cut a sourdough too early, it tends to be a little ‘gluey’ in texture. The steam needs time to escape the bread first. It will make it a lot easier to cut too.

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Related posts

Want more Sourdough bread recipes? Try my Chocolate Sourdough Bread, sourdough baguette recipe, dinner rolls, or sourdough bagels!

Want sourdough recipes that are not bread? Try my sourdough bao buns or sourdough chocolate cake.

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A Beginner's Sourdough Recipe

Yield: 8 people

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Proofing Time: 15 hours

Total Time: 16 hours 10 minutes

This easy sourdough bread recipe is so straight forward. All you need is a little patience and time. It uses a coil fold to create its structure.

Ingredients

Levain (this will all be used in the dough.)*

  • 30g sourdough starter
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 60g water

Dough

  • 460g bread flour or all-purpose flour (with a protein level of at least 11%)
  • 330g water
  • All the levain
  • 8-10g salt

Instructions

Levain

  1. Mix together the levain ingredients in a bowl and stir well until thoroughly mixed. Add it to a clean jar or glass and cover it with a loosely balanced lid or damp towel.
  2. Leave it to sit until it has at least doubled.

Dough

  1. Around an hour before the starter has finished rising, combine 460g flour and 330g water in a large bowl. Use wet hands to mix it into a shaggy dough ball, then cover the bowl with a plate or damp kitchen towel. Leave it to sit on the bench.
  2. Add the doubled levain and the salt to the dough and combine them together using wet hands. It will form a sticky dough. Place it in a flatter dish.
  3. Over the next three hours, stretch and fold this dough every 30 minutes using a coil fold (see the video in the post above.) Always use wet hands. It is normal for your dough to stretch back out after each fold.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm spot, ideally around 77°F/25°C, until bulked out by around 50%. You can create a warm proofing spot by placing the bread dough in a turned-off oven and adding a dish of boiled water at the bottom. Replace the water as it cools down.
  5. This step is very important; you must watch your dough, not the clock, to ensure it has bulked enough.

Shaping

  1. Line a banneton basket with a towel and flour it well.
  2. Tip your dough carefully on a lightly floured work surface and gently form it into a rectangle. Take care at this shaping stage not to squash the dough too much.
  3. Watch the short video in the post above on shaping to see how to shape, as written instructions are very hard to decipher. I have tried to explain them.
  4. Take the bottom third of the dough and fold it up so it meets the middle. Take the right side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle.
  5. Then, take the left side of the dough and fold it to meet the middle. Take the top third of the dough and bring it down to meet the bottom. Now you have a sort of ball shape.
  6. Stitch this ball together by grabbing some dough from the top left and a little from the top right and bringing them together to meet in the middle.
  7. Carry on doing this down the length of the dough. When you reach the bottom, grab a flap of dough and carry it over thestitcheddough to meet at the top. This will again create a sort of ball.
  8. Now gently grab this ball and roll it gently towards you on the bench. This will create some surface tension. All the while, take care not to de-gas your dough too much.
  9. Place in the floured bowl or basket, seam-side up.

Cold Proof

  1. Cover with a floured tea towel and place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven and Dutch oven to 450°F/230°C for at least 30 minutes until well-heated.
  2. Remove the hot Dutch oven and flour the bottom well. Take the dough from the fridge and carefully flip it out of the basket into the Dutch oven.
  3. If baking this in a large pot, it's best to tip your dough onto parchment paper. This way, you can lower it into the pot. Brush it with a little flour.
  4. Score the dough using a razor blade or sharp knife.
  5. Bake in the pot covered with the lid for around 20-25 minutes. Cast iron pots hold the heat really well and don't need quite as long as other Dutch ovens.
  6. Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 15-25 minutes more, depending on your preference.
  7. Let the sourdough cool for at least two hours before slicing.

Notes

*A levain is an offshoot of your main starter, created specifically for the bread dough you're preparing. It is a mixture of flour, water, and a small portion of an active sourdough starter. The whole thing will be used in the recipe.

The amount of sourdough starter to keep after making bread varies based on your method and desired starter quantity. Here's one approach to managing your starter and creating a levain:

  • From your jar of established starter, measure out two amounts. One is for your bread dough (a levain), and the second amount will be used to create a fresh jar of starter for future use.
  • For the levain, measure the amount needed for your bread recipe in a small bowl. Feed it and transfer this mixture to a clean jar. Set this aside for bread-making.
  • With the remaining starter in the original jar, measure approximately 30g-50g (or less if all that remains) and feed this. Place this mixture into a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator.

Don't worry if you have a small remaining starter; even the tiniest bit can be built into a larger one.

If you want to start your starter the evening before so you can start folding earlier the next day, feed your starter at 1:3:3 or 1:4:4 before you go to bed. Cover the jar with a tea towel and keep it in a warm place overnight.

For example, 30g seed starter, 90 g flour, and 90g water, or 20g seed starter, 80g flour, and 80g water. The more flour is fed, the longer the rise will take.

Are you having issues with your sourdough bread? Check out my Sourdough Bread Troubleshooting Guide.

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 8Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 223Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 3885mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 9g

Elien

I'm Elien. I love baking, especially with sourdough, and I'm passionate about sharing my recipes with you! You will find me spending most of my days either recipe testing in the kitchen, photographing food in my living room, or out in the garden. I'm so happy to have you here!

A Beginner's Sourdough Bread Recipe - Home Grown Happiness (2024)
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