Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe

My favorite everyday artisan sourdough bread recipe. For more visuals and guidance, check out my sourdough bread video series on Instagram.

Open Crumb in Artisan Sourdough Loaf

 
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 finally 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 and most consistent 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.

Artisan Sourdough Loaf


Sourdough Starter: The Basics

To make homemade sourdough bread, you’ll need an active sourdough starter. I recommend Maurizio’s guide on creating a sourdough starter or Baker Bettie’s beginner guide.

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. 

For more guidance and tips, check out my complete guide with my favorite sourdough tools and resources.


Sourdough Starter in Jar

Common Mistakes To Avoid:

Once you have an active sourdough starter and a few basic tools (see a full list below), 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 rise and fall predictably throughout the day between feedings. 
  • Ideally, your sourdough starter should be active enough to require at least one, preferably two, daily feedings. While you can make bread with less active starters, you’ll need to extend bulk fermentation time to get good results.
  • 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 a poor crumb structure.
  • If your sourdough starter is sluggish, I recommend building up its strength with another week of feedings before trying again. Sourdough bread baking is a learning process and requires patience.

Homemade Sourdough Batard on Rack

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 an extra step and works better with my normal feeding schedule/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, as well as the normal amount required to maintain your mother (main) starter. 

Homemade Sourdough Starter

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. 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 do 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. 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 dimple the starter into the autolyse mixture, then use your thumb and fingers to pinch the dough (pincer method) until the starter is well incorporated. Cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 30 minutes. 

Mixing Sourdough Starter into Autolyse

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. Cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 15 minutes. 

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 be done in 15-minute intervals. The remaining three will occur in 30-minute intervals. 

To complete a stretch and fold, dip you hands lightly in water (*this will help the dough from sticking) and grab one side of the dough with both hands. Gently pull and stretch it upwards (without tearing) and fold over the opposite edge of the dough. Repeat from the other side.

Then rotate the bowl and repeat on both sides. This entire process is one stretch and fold set. Stretch and folds help build strength and extensibility in the dough, and encourage good crumb structure. Cover and rest the dough at 80°F/26°C between each set. 

Stretch and Fold Sourdough Dough

The dough will be very slack at the beginning of bulk fermentation. You’ll notice it building more strength as you complete more stretch and folds (see images below). Note: The dough will not rise or expand much during this period. 

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 2 hours, or until it has risen at least 50%. There should be some gas bubbles on the edges of the bowl, and the dough should be slightly rounded on the edges. It should look aerated. The total time will vary depending on ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour type. 

STEP 6: PRE-SHAPE

Carefully transfer the dough, without degassing, onto a clean countertop. 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. The dough should feel aerated and almost bouncy. The key is to do this step quickly and as gently as possible. Rest the dough, uncovered, for 20 minutes. 

STEP 7: FINAL SHAPE

Dust the banneton basket lightly with rice flour. Lightly flour the surface of the dough. Use a bench knife to gently lift it and flip it flour side-down onto your countertop. Shape into a round or shape into a batard, 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. 

Sourdough Dough in Oval Banneton Basket

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 10BAKE 

Once the oven and baking vessel have preheated for an hour, remove the banneton from the refrigerator and uncover. Transfer the dough to the baking vessel – see recipe for more detailed instructions – and score. 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. 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

Baker’s Percentages: 

Use the following baker’s percentages to tweak and adapt this sourdough bread recipe to suit your own flour, hydration, or yield preferences. I recommend sticking to the same salt and sourdough starter percentages.  

  • Bread Flour: 79.5%
  • Whole Wheat Flour: 20.5% 
  • Water: 79.5% 
  • Sourdough Starter: 20%
  • Salt: 2%

Recommended Equipment and Tools:

For this recipe, you’ll need at least the following: 



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. 

DAY ONE:

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 2 hours (or longer), depending on ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour variety. 

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. 

DAY TWO: 

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.

How to Store Sourdough Bread:

You’ll be amazed by how quickly you go through a loaf. If you do happen to have leftovers, please reference my guide on how to store bread.

It covers the basics on the best way to store, refresh, and freeze artisanal sourdough bread. 

Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe

Artisan Sourdough Bread Recipe

Yield: 1 (890 grams) Sourdough Loaf

This is my favorite go-to everyday artisan sourdough bread recipe. Naturally leavened, this bread is prepared with a combination of high-protein unbleached bread flour (80%) and whole wheat flour (20%). This high hydration dough yields an airy, chewy, and open crumb with great flavor. This recipe yields 1 round or batard loaf (890 grams), but can easily be doubled. Note: This is a high hydration sourdough bread recipe and requires an active, mature sourdough starter. If you are new to sourdough bread baking, I recommend reducing the hydration (ie. water) slightly (eg. 330 grams water = 75%). This will make the dough easier to handle and make it a bit easier to build strength in the dough. If you reduce the hydration significantly, reduce the number of stretch and folds to 4 total (30 minutes apart). While homemade sourdough requires little active time, it does require long inactive time and adequate planning. To plan accordingly, reference the baking timeline in the recipe notes below.

Prep Time: 1 days
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 1 days 3 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 350 grams unbleached bread flour (preferably organic), plus more for dusting
  • 90 grams whole wheat flour (preferably organic)
  • 350 grams (90°F/32°C) filtered water
  • 90 grams ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 9 grams Diamond Crystal kosher salt or fine sea salt
  • white rice flour, for dusting your banneton basket

Instructions

  1. New to sourdough baking? I highly recommend reducing the hydration in this recipe if you are new to sourdough baking. This is a high hydration dough and can be challenging to work with (and build strength in) if you're not an experienced baker. If you're looking for an easier to handle dough, I recommend reducing the water quantity to 320-330 grams.
  2. IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not prepare an off-shoot levain for my sourdough baking, as this baking timeline and method works well for my schedule, as well as my starter's feeding schedule. This choice is up to you and can be adapted/tweaked to fix your schedule, but please plan accordingly. Keep in mind that you'll need to account for the starter quantity in the recipe (90 grams), as well as the normal quantity needed to continue to maintain and feed your starter.
  3. Autolyse: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours. Add the 90°F/32°C filtered water and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Cover with a clean shower cap or plastic wrap, and rest at 80°F/26°C for 1 hour or up to 2 hours. This step hydrates the flours and helps build dough structure.
  4. Add Starter and Rest: While this test isn't fool-proof, your sourdough starter should pass the 'float test' when it's ready. Place a tiny spoonful of your ripe starter in a jar of water, it should float to the top. If it sinks, give it more time (15 to 20 minutes) and test again. Add the starter on top of the autolyse mixture. Use your fingertips to dimple the starter into the surface of the dough, then use your thumb and fingers to pinch the dough (pincer method) until the sourdough is evenly incorporated. Cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 30 minutes.
  5. Add Salt and Rest: Sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough. Use your thumb and fingers to pinch and incorporate the salt thoroughly (you shouldn't feel any granules at the end of mixing) into the dough. Depending on the coarseness of your salt, this might take a couple minutes. Be thorough. Cover and rest at 80°F/26°C for 15 minutes.
  6. Bulk Fermentation: We will preform a total of 6 sets of stretch and folds (see blog post for further instruction) in the first two hours of bulk fermentation. The dough will not rise much during the stretch and fold period, but it should gain more strength. Dip your hands in water (to prevent sticking) before each fold. Preform the first 3 sets of stretch and folds in 15-minute intervals, covering and resting the dough at 80°F/26°C between each. Preform the remaining 3 sets of stretch and folds in 30-minute intervals, covering and resting the dough at 80°F/26°C between each. *If your dough is strong and elastic, you can reduce the total number of stretch and folds to 3 or4.
  7. Bulk Fermentation (continued): Allow the dough to rest, covered at 80°F/26°C, for an additional 2 hours after the last stretch and fold - watch it carefully - or until it has roughly doubled (total bulk fermentation time = 4 to 4.5 hours). There should be some gas bubbles on edges of the dough and the dough should be slightly rounded on the edges. It should look aerated and jiggly. The total time will vary depending on ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour.
  8. Pre-Shape: Transfer the dough, without degassing, onto a clean countertop. Use a bench knife to gently shape the dough into a round, pulling it gently towards you on the countertop in a circle to create some tension on the skin of the dough. The dough should feel aerated and almost bouncy. Do this step as quickly and gently as possible. Rest the dough, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes. Pre shaping gives the dough some extra tension and strength (and is particularly important if you are doubling the recipe and preparing two loaves, as you'll need to divide it prior). Allowing it to rest allows the gluten to relax slightly before preforming the final shape.
  9. Final Shape: Dust a 9-inch round or 10 or 11-inch oval banneton basket with rice flour (be extra liberal if you are not using a cloth or linen liner). Dust the surface of the dough lightly with bread flour. Use a bench knife to gently lift and flip it flour side down onto your countertop. Depending on your preference, banneton, or baking vessel, shape the dough into a round or batard. *Tip: I recommend this guide on shaping rounds or shaping batards for further guidance and visuals. Gently pick up the shaped dough, flip, and transfer into your floured banneton, with the seam side facing up. Drape a kitchen linen over the banneton and place the banneton in a plastic bag (*I use a clean plastic produce bag). Seal with a clip and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  10. Final Proof: Place covered banneton basket in the refrigerator and retard dough for 15-16 hours at 38°F/3°C. This slow and cold fermentation stage helps develop flavor and improves the final crust texture.
  11. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your Challenger Pan, Dutch Oven, or combo cooker (with lid on) in a 500°F/260°C oven for at least 1 hour.
  12. Bake: Once the oven and baking vessel have preheated for an hour, remove the banneton from the fridge and uncover. *Note: If you are using a Challenger Pan or combo cooker, you can skip parchment and carefully invert the basket directly into the preheated base before scoring. I like to lightly sprinkle the bottom of the pan with semolina, but this is optional. If you are using a traditional Dutch oven: Place a large piece of parchment over the banneton, then top with a thin cutting board. Invert and flip carefully, so that the banneton is upside down, setting it down onto your countertop. The dough should release, right side up, from the banneton onto the parchment. Trim any excess parchment paper, creating two handles on both ends for lifting the dough. Use a bread lame to score the dough (1/2-inch deep), carefully transfer into the preheated pan, cover tightly with the lid, and place in the oven. Bake covered at 500°F/260°C for 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the lid. The dough should have risen and expanded considerably, and the crust should be set, but only lightly golden in color.
  14. 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.
  15. Carefully remove the bread from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing. This will take several hours. Slicing into warm bread will result in a gummier texture and cause the bread to stale faster. For more tips, read this guide on how to store, freeze, and refresh sourdough.

Recipe method inspired by The Perfect Loaf.

Notes

How to Adapt This Recipe:

  • Feel free to adjust the flour type percentages and hydration to suit your preferences, using the same total flour weight as a guide. Higher quantities of whole grain flours will yield a denser, less open crumb and may affect total bulk fermentation time.

Example Baking Timeline:

  • DAY ONE:

    8:30 AM - autolyse (mix flours and water). allow mixture to rest, covered, at 80°F/26°C for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.

    9:30 AM - add 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 to rest, covered, at 80°F/26°C for the rest of the bulk fermentation period. this period will range anywhere from 2 to 3 hours (or longer), depending on ambient temperature, starter strength, and flour variety. 

    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 about 16 hours. 
  • DAY TWO: 

    6:45 AM - preheat challenger pan, Dutch Oven, or combo cooker in 500F oven for at least 1 hour. 

    7:45 AM - remove banneton from fridge, transfer dough to preheated pan, score, and bake at 500°F/260°C, covered, for 25 minutes. 

    8:10 AM - remove pan lid, reduce oven temperature to 475°F/240°C, and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes or until deeply caramelized. allow loaf to cool completely (this will take several hours) before slicing. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 366mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g
A Beautiful Plate provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietician.

Share your Beautiful Plate!

post it on instagram and tag it #abeautifulplate.