This is my favorite everyday artisan sourdough bread recipe.
While it requires patience and dedication, bread baking has become a serious passion of mine. I created a sourdough starter nearly two years ago and now bake bread approximately 1-2 times a week. I absolutely love it.
After making sourdough bread for nearly two years, I’m sharing my favorite everyday Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe with you. I’ve tested many sourdough recipes. This particular method and recipe has produced the best results for me.
This high hydration sourdough bread is made with 80% high-protein bread flour and 20% whole wheat flour, which yields an airy, chewy, and open crumb.
RECIPE NOTE: This sourdough bread recipe offers a rough timeline, but will need to be adapted to meet your specific conditions. Ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour type (as well as other variables) affect fermentation and play a very important role in bread baking.
SOURDOUGH STARTER: THE BASICS
- 1 SOURDOUGH STARTER: THE BASICS
- 2 HOW TO MAKE ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD:
- 3 ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD INGREDIENTS:
- 4 BAKER’S PERCENTAGES:
- 5 EXAMPLE BREAD BAKING TIMELINE:
- 6 Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe
You can also ask a fellow baker or bakery for some starter or even buy it online. Starters are active organisms and require daily feedings, unless they are refrigerated for short periods. The time commitment and work is minimal, but absolutely necessary for its viability.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID:
Once you have an active sourdough starter and a few basic tools, you can start making sourdough bread. How exciting is that?!
How do I know if my starter is ready to use?
– You will need an active, mature sourdough starter to make this bread. It should be on a predictable feeding schedule. This will vary, but it should double or triple in volume between feedings.
– Ideally, your sourdough starter should require at least one, preferably two, daily feedings on 1:5:5 ratio. While you can make bread with less active starters, you’ll need to watch the dough carefully and most likely have to extend bulk fermentation significantly.
The most common mistake for new sourdough bakers is poor fermentation and under-proofing, which is often the result of a weak or young sourdough starter. Under-proofing produces dense, gummy, and poor crumb structures.
If your sourdough starter is sluggish, I recommend building up its strength with another week or two of feedings before baking again. Sourdough bread baking is a learning process and requires a lot of patience, as well as trial and error.
HOW TO MAKE ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD:
Important Note: Many sourdough bread recipes call for preparing an off-shoot levain (eg. starter) for baking. I prefer to use a portion of my ripe, just peaked starter. This eliminates one extra step, as well as works better for my normal feeding schedule and preferred baking timeline.
This choice is up to you and can be tweaked/adapted to fit your schedule or starter feeding schedule, but please plan accordingly. Either way, you’ll need to account for the starter amount in the recipe below (90 grams), as well as the normal amount required to maintain your mother (main) starter.
To prepare to bake the following morning, I scale up the previous night’s feeding to the following:
+ 12 grams ripe starter
+ 60 grams flour
+ 60 grams water
*Note: This is a 1:5:5 ratio. You will need to adapt or tweak this to ratio to fit your own starter activity level.
*Note: For a printable recipe and example baking timeline, please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of this post.
STEP 1: PREPARE THE AUTOLYSE
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours. Add the filtered water (90°F/32°C) and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined and no dry bits are visible. It will be sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or plastic wrap and rest at 80°F/26°C for a minimum of 1 hour or as long as 2 hours. This step hydrates the flours and helps with gluten development and dough structure.
I use my Brod & Taylor Proofing Box to maintain a relatively high ambient fermentation temperature. It is an amazing tool, but not necessary for sourdough baking. However, I recommend finding a warmer spot in your kitchen (was 74°F-76°F) for resting your dough. Cooler ambient temperatures will slow down fermentation and might extend bulk fermentation significantly.
*Planning Tip: Since this recipe doesn’t call for preparing an off-shoot levain, I mix and prepare the autolyse roughly one hour before my normal morning starter feeding time (ie. when my starter is ripe and has just peaked).
STEP 2: ADD RIPE STARTER AND REST FOR 30 MIN
While this test isn’t fool-proof, your sourdough starter should pass the ‘float test’ when it’s ready to be used in your dough. Place a tiny spoonful of your ripe starter in a jar of water, it should float. If it sinks, it is not ready to use and usually requires additional time. Check and test again 15 to 20 minutes later.
Add the ripe, just peaked sourdough starter. Use your fingertips to spread the starter over the autolyse mixture. Fold the edges of the dough into the center to fully incorporate the starter.
Use your thumb and fingers to pinch the dough (pincer method) repeatedly until the starter is well incorporated. Don’t be delicate. You want to work quickly, but fully incorporate the mixture. Cover once again and rest at 80°F/26°C for 30 minutes.
STEP 3: ADD SALT AND REST FOR 15 MIN
Sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough. Use your thumb and fingers to pinch and incorporate the salt into the dough (you should not feel any granules at the end of mixing). Be thorough. Depending on the coarseness of the salt, this mixing step usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
If you’re struggling with higher hydration doughs and dough strength, there are two additional mixing methods that can try: slap and fold or the Rubaud method.
Cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 15 minutes before preforming the first stretch and fold set.
STEP 4: BULK FERMENTATION (6 SETS OF STRETCH AND FOLDS)
We’ll preform a total of six stretch and fold sets during the first two hours of bulk fermentation. The first three will take place in 15-minute intervals. The remaining three will occur in 30-minute intervals. Stretch and folds help build strength and extensibility in the dough, and encourage good crumb structure.
To complete a stretch and fold, dip you hands lightly in water (*this will help the dough from sticking). Be careful not to incorporate much water as this is already a high hydration dough. Grab the top portion of the dough with both hands. Gently pull and stretch it upwards (without tearing) and fold over the opposite edge. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees and repeat from the other side.
Rotate the bowl 90 degree and repeat once again on both sides. This entire process is one stretch and fold set. After performing the stretch and folds, I like to gently lift the dough to round it nicely in the bowl.
Cover and rest the dough at 80°F/26°C between each set.
The dough will be very slack at the beginning of bulk fermentation. You’ll notice it building more and more strength as you complete more stretch and folds. Note: The dough will not rise or expand much during this first period.
If your dough is lower in hydration or starting to fight you, stop performing stretch and folds and allow it to rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation. The purpose of stretch and folds is to build strength, but if the dough is already strong, additional sets can have an unintended effect of pressing out gas bubbles.
STEP 5: BULK FERMENTATION (continued)
After you have preformed the stretch and folds, allow the dough to rest, covered, at 80°F/26°C for an additional 1.5 – 2 hours, or until it has nearly doubled in size. The total bulk fermentation time will vary tremendously based on your ambient kitchen temperature, dough temperature (FDT), flour type, and several other factors, so watch it carefully. Always follow the dough’s lead!
Judging the right point to end bulk fermentation and move to the pre-shape period requires practice and trial-and-error.
At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be well aerated and there will be many gas bubbles on surface, as well as on the edges of the bowl. The dough should be slightly rounded on the edges of the bowl, if the dough is flat, you most likely didn’t build enough strength in the dough.
Generally, I like to end bulk fermentation when the dough is just under double in size. This has produced good results for me and this guideline works well for this specific sourdough process and timeline.
STEP 6: PRE-SHAPE
Carefully transfer the dough, without degassing, onto a clean countertop. It will be sticky. Use a bench knife to gently shape the dough into a round, pulling it gently towards you on the countertop to create some surface tension and strength.
As you do this, you’ll notice that the dough comes into a shape and starts to feel bouncy. The key is to do this step quickly and as gently as possible. Rest the dough, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has relaxed slightly for the final shaping.
STEP 7: FINAL SHAPE
Dust the lined banneton basket lightly with rice flour. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with bread flour. Use a bench knife to gently lift it and flip it flour side-down onto your countertop. Shape into a batard (oval) or shape into a round depending on your basket and baking vessel.
Gently pick up the shaped dough, flip, and transfer into your floured banneton, with the seam side facing up. Drape a linen over the basket (to capture any condensation) and cover the banneton with a plastic bag. Seal with a clip and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
STEP 8: FINAL PROOF
Place covered banneton in the refrigerator and retard dough for 15 to 16 hours at 38°F/3°C. This slow and cold fermentation stage helps develop flavor and improves the final crust texture.
STEP 9: PREHEAT THE OVEN AND PAN
Preheat your Challenger Pan, Dutch Oven, or combo cooker (with lid) in a 500°F/260°C oven for at least 1 hour.
STEP 10: BAKE
Once the oven and baking vessel have preheated for an hour, remove the banneton from the refrigerator and uncover.
Poke Test: Test the dough for proper proofing by lightly flouring one small section (while the dough is still in the banneton). Press your finger lightly into dough. A properly proofed dough should very SLOWLY spring back and still leave a light indentation. That is a sign of a well proofed dough that is ready to be baked. If it springs back quickly and completely, it is under-proofed (return to the fridge, covered, for an additional hour or so). If the dough compresses and doesn’t spring back at all, it is over-proofed. Unfortunately at that point, it’s hard to make up for in that stage of the process – but it will still taste delicious!
Transfer the dough to the baking vessel – see recipe for more detailed instructions – and score the loaf. Bake at 500°F/260°C with the lid on for 25 minutes.
Remove the lid, reduce the oven temperature to 475°F/240°C (*note: if your oven runs hot or your loaves are browning too quickly, reduce the temperature to 450°F/232°C) and continue to bake uncovered for an additional 15-25 minutes or until the crust is deep golden and caramelized. I like to rotate the pan several times throughout baking to ensure even color.
Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing. This will take several hours. Enjoy!
ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD INGREDIENTS:
- 350 grams bread flour (preferably organic)
- 90 grams whole wheat flour (preferably organic and stone-ground)
- 350 grams 90°F/32°C filtered water
- 90 grams ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 9 grams kosher salt or fine sea salt
- white rice flour, for dusting
Use the following baker’s percentages to tweak and adapt this sourdough bread recipe to suit your own flour, hydration, or yield preferences. Please know the timeline might change. I recommend sticking to the same salt and sourdough starter percentages.
- Bread Flour: 79.5%
- Whole Wheat Flour: 20.5%
- Water: ~79.5% (*this is a rough hydration percentage – true hydration takes into account the flour and water in your starter)
- Sourdough Starter: 20%
- Salt: 2%
EXAMPLE BREAD BAKING TIMELINE:
Use the example timeline to plan your schedule for weekday or weekend sourdough baking. This timeline can also be found in the printable recipe box below.
8:30 AM – autolyse (mix flours and water). allow mixture to rest, covered, at 80°F/26°C for 1 hour, or as long as 2 hours.
9:30 AM – add mature sourdough starter, mix thoroughly. cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 30 minutes.
10:00 AM – add salt and mix thoroughly. cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 15 minutes.
10:15 AM – 10:45 AM – stretch and folds #1, #2, #3 (every 15 minutes). cover and rest at 80°F/26°C between each set.
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM – stretch and folds #4, #5, #6 (every 30 minutes). cover and rest at 80°F/26°C between each set.
12:15 PM – 2:15/3:15 PM – allow dough to rest, covered, at 80°F/26°C for the rest of the bulk fermentation period. this period will range from 1.5 – 2 hours (or much longer), depending on ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour variety. Generally, I like to end bulk fermentation when the dough is just under double in size. This has produced good results for me and this guideline works well for this specific sourdough process and timeline.
2:15/3:15 PM – pre-shape. leave uncovered at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2:35/3:35 PM – final shape. transfer to rice floured banneton basket, cover with a plastic bag, and seal. allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before transferring to the fridge.
3:45 PM – 7:45 AM – retard dough (final proof) in refrigerator at 38°F/3°C for 16-17 hours.
6:45 AM – preheat Challenger Pan, Dutch Oven, or combo cooker in 500°F/260°C oven for at least 1 hour.
7:45 AM – remove dough from the fridge, transfer to preheated pan, score, and bake at 500°F/260°C with the lid on for 25 minutes.
8:10 AM – remove pan lid, reduce oven temperature to 475°F/245°C and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until deeply caramelized. allow loaf to cool completely – this will take several hours – before slicing and serving.