This Sourdough bread recipe uses our Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter recipe, or you can purchase our ready made wet starter, but you can use any starter that is at 100% hydration (equal parts water to flour). I call this the Best Sourdough recipe because it so versatile, forgiving, easy for beginners yet looks professional, delicious complex flavor, mild tang, perfect crispy chewy crust, and a moist tender open crumb. And the best part about it? There is absolutely NO kneading involved. This wet, sticky dough is folded (using a letter fold technique) instead of kneading in order to keep flour addition to a minimum. The stretching and folding helps to form strong gluten strands that trap the gasses, resulting in the perfect holy open crumb – exactly what you would expect good sourdough to have. I also love this recipe because it makes TWO large loaves. One to eat now and one to pop into the freezer for another day (just defrost completely before slicing).
Below is the basic base recipe – but once you get comfortable and efficient with your Sourdough, you can start to experiment with adding various flours to make it multi-grain or complimenting your loaves with different flavors such as cranberry cinnamon walnut, herbs de provence (a favorite in my house), lemon white chocolate, garlic and feta, and so on…
Yield: (2) two pound loaves (approx 915 g each baked)
Desired Dough Temperature during fermentation: 78 degrees
Timing: For 12 hr fridge proof and to bake the loaves around 9:30 A.M. – Start your dough between 4 and 5 P.M. on the day before you intend to bake. If you’re making multiple batches, or it’s cooler in your house, or you just want to extend the fermentation for deeper flavor and more open crumb – start your dough earlier in the day. I usually make 3 batches (6 loaves) and I start around 2-2:30 pm. Adjust your starter feed times accordingly to make sure your starter is at its peak when you begin your dough.
what you will need to make this bread
- High quality all-purpose flour, bread flour, rye flour (can also be made with all bread flour, all all-purpose flour, or any combination of the two – just use what you have. It won’t make much difference in the final product)
- Semolina or Brown Rice Flour (optional – for dusting the loaves before scoring)
- Bench scraper (optional, but handy)
- Bread peel (optional)
- Kitchen scale
- Stand mixer
- 2.5 gallon rectangular plastic food storage container with lid (Find on Amazon)
- 2 Bannetons/Brotforms or bread proofing baskets (Find on Amazon)
- Razor blade, or lame for scoring (Find on Amazon)
- Large baking stone (Find on Amazon)
- 360-363g ripe sourdough starter at 100% hydration
- 604g water @ room temperature
- 1018-1020g total flour (I use a combination of about 10% rye, or whole grain wheat, 40% bread flour or strong 00 type flour, 50% organic all-purpose flour. You can also use ALL all-purpose flour for a very light, creamy loaf. It will be airy and delicious, it just won’t have as much nutrition)
- 26g sea salt or kosher salt
- olive oil or avocado oil (for the folding containers)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh out the starter and then add the water. Stir the starter and the water together briefly to form a slurry and dissolve the starter into the water
- Add the various flours you intend to use for a total weight of about 1020 g flour
- Using the dough hook, mix together on low/med speed until combined and just pulled away from the side of the bowl (about 1-2 minutes). The dough will look shaggy
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let autolyse (rest) for 30-45 minutes. (if you’ve started late in the day or are in a rush – go 30. If you have the time to spread out the autolyse to 45 min, go for it!)
- After autolyse, add the salt to the dough and mix on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until it looks nice and smooth (medium level gluten development)
- Coat the bottom of your large plastic container with a small amount of oil (I use olive oil or avocado oil) so the dough doesn’t stick during bulk fermentation
- Transfer your dough to the lightly oiled container and fold the sides over from the bottom up to form a very rough ball shape. Flip the dough ball over and place the cover over the container loosely
- Ferment for 2.5 hours or 150 minutes in a warm spot (I use the proof setting in my oven during the colder months)
- Perform complete folds on the dough at 50 and 100 minutes (*see note below)
- Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and divide into two equal pieces. Pre-shape each piece into a ball or boule, gently working out any large gas bubbles as you shape
- Let the boules bench rest, covered with a tea towel, for 15 minutes
- Shape each piece into your final shape: batard (oval), boule (round), baton/baguette (long)
- Place your loaves, seam side up, into bannetons (linen-lined, tea towel lined, or unlined for pretty lines on final loaves)
- Slip the bannetons into plastic bags (grocery store plastic bags work perfectly) and tie at the ends
- Proof your loaves at room temperature for 1 hour
- Place the loaves, still in the plastic bags, into the refrigerator for 12-14 hours or overnight
*how to fold the dough
Envelope tri-fold: Without removing the dough from the oiled container, take one side of the dough in both hands and pull (stretch) the dough up as high as it will go without ripping it and then fold it back over into the middle of the dough. Rotate the dough and repeat on the other side to form a rectangle “envelope” style fold. Turn the dough a quarter turn and perform the stretch and fold one more time. Finally, turn the whole “rectangle” of dough over onto the other side (so that it will be folded the opposite direction the next time. This is considered one complete fold. Perform this technique at 50 minutes and again at 100 minutes of fermentation. You will notice that with each fold the dough becomes stronger and a little less easy to pull and stretch.
If after the 150 minutes of fermentation, the dough doesn’t seem puffy or strong enough. Go ahead and perform another fold and another 50 min fermentation. If I am not in a rush, I typically always perform 3 complete folds and ferment for 200 min to strengthen the dough further.
- In the morning, about an hour before baking time (around 8:30 A.M.), place your baking stone in a cold oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Also preheat a shallow pan underneath the rack with the stone or on the very bottom rack of your oven (or use the steam bake setting on your oven, or lava rocks – whatever you intend to use for steam to develop the crust in the first 15 min of baking)
- When it’s time to bake (9:30 A.M.) place a piece of parchment paper that will fit the size of your loaf and the size of your baking stone onto a bread peel (or the underside of a cookie sheet if you don’t have a bread peel) and remove one of the loaves from the refrigerator
- When the oven is pre-heated, pour about a cup of very hot water onto the preheated pan on the bottom of your oven – to create steam.
- Turn the cold proofed dough out of the banneton and directly onto the parchment paper
- Sprinkle the loaf with any gluten free flour (I use brown rice flour) and smooth over the top (optional, but makes scoring easier)
- Using a lame or razor blade, score the loaf by making two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf, or one long smooth cut, or three diagonal cuts (see video below)
- Slide the loaf still on the parchment paper off your bread peel onto the hot pizza stone and immediately place a few ice cubes next to the loaf on the stone. close the oven door quickly to not lose too much of that precious heat
- Turn the oven down to 475 degrees and set a timer for 15 minutes
- Rotate the loaf and turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake another 14-15 minutes, rotating the loaf half way through baking during this time
- Allow to cool completely before slicing
- Note: if your baking stone is large enough, you can bake two loaves at a time using the same methods above!