A step by step recipe and video tutorial on making artisan sourdough bread. This recipe is high-hydration, uses lots of fun gadgets, and always yields a beautiful and delicious result.
I have been working on this recipe for approximately five years, when I first got my little hungry jar of starter in the mail. I fed it, read about it, experimented with it, and then got frustrated with it. My loaves were flat, hard, stupid looking, and I hated them. Recipes said things like “oven spring” and “banneton” and “lame”. It was a whole new world, sourdough baking, and I was not ready.
My starter got tucked in the fridge and starved to death, may it rest in peace.
A year ago, I tried again. I kept the starter on the counter so I could not kill it. I gathered recipes and altered them. At first, I mostly did things with commercial yeast added, like my sourdough rolls. Over time, the starter matured and I began to tackle loaves without yeast.
IT WAS A DISASTER.
Higher hydration led to flat loaves with no shape. Lower hydration led to loaves that just looked like normal bread but that took forever. I hated them both.
how do you make sourdough bread more airy?
I eventually learned that to get an airy, open sourdough loaf, I needed more water in my recipe. This leads to a slack dough that wants to flatten out, so a few things are needed to correct that.
Over time, I combined a few techniques to make something that works for me. It is high hydration, with a long “folding” process to build up the strength of the dough and give it shape. The high hydration leads to an artisan style open crumb, and the strong dough keeps it round. I first learned the technique on this website, a great sourdough resource.
The next part of the recipe that helps the wet dough’s tendency to flatten out is steam. A Dutch oven is perfect for this as it traps the steam created by the bread as it bakes. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can preheat a baking sheet in your oven and pour water on it to create steam.
And finally, a secret ingredient called diastatic malt powder helps the dough spring up even more in the oven. It also helps brown the crust.
I firmly believe that everyone has their own way of making sourdough bread. Although there is nothing like a good recipe that can be followed exactly, for some reason sourdough bread is different. It is probably something to do with the fact that everyone’s starter is a little bit different, and that technique is so important. I offer my method and recipe as a starting point for you, in the hopes that you will eventually tweak it and make it your own. I guess that’s why is is called “artisan” not “scienceisan.”
I’m done now.
a few notes before you begin baking artisan sourdough bread:
Perhaps I’m not done.
I would not try to make this recipe if you are new to bread baking. Start with something really simple and then move on to sourdough.
This recipe requires a mature starter, at least a few months old. Make sure it is well fed and extra bubbly before you start. I feed mine the night before I want to make this bread, and then again when I wake up first thing in the morning.
Speaking of… this is a long process. So much so that there is a schedule for it.
5 AM: Wake up, feed starter
10AM: First fold
11 AM: Second fold
12 PM: Third fold
1 PM: Shape loaf, place in banneton and put in fridge
9 AM: Preheat oven and remove dough from fridge
10 AM Place dough in Dutch oven and bake
11 AM Remove from oven and allow to cool
5 PM: Serve with dinner
Long does not mean hard! Baking this bread fits into the rhythm of your day and is just a few minutes of work here and there.
are you with me? Here’s the REcipe, and a Video showing the dough at each stage.
- 7 ounces mature, well fed starter
- 12 ounces bread flour
- 9.25 ounces room temperature water
- 1/2 teaspoon diastatic malt powder OR sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the salt into a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or spatula to create a very wet dough. It will be so wet it won't even be sticky. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 30-60 minutes.
- After the resting period, measure the salt and add it to the dough. Knead gently on the counter for 40 turns until the salt is worked in and the dough begins to feel sticky. Place in a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover with the towel and allow to rest at warm room temperature, ideally 80-90 degrees, for 1 hour.
- After an hour, do ONE knead/ fold motion of the dough. This can be done right in the bowl or on the counter. You are trying to reshape the dough back into a round ball, even though it will want to relax back out to a flat shape. Shape it once and then cover and allow it to rest for another hour.
- Repeat step three, two more times, for a total of three kneads/ and folds, each spaced an hour apart. Cover the bowl for a final 1 hour rest at warm room temperature.
- Your dough should now be puffier, but may not have doubled in size (or even close). It is now time for the second proof, which is a cool rise in the fridge overnight. Dust a banneton or bowl with a tea towel VERY generously with flour and place your dough into it. Remember that what is on the bottom of the bowl will be the top of your loaf.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight, for 12-18 hours.
- In the morning, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle a sheet of parchment with cornmeal, then dump your dough into the center. Gently lift off the basket or bowl. You should have a rounded loaf and the bottom should now be on the cornmeal coated parchment. Dust again with flour and slash with a lane or very sharp knife. Place this sheet carefully into a dutch oven and cover with the dutch oven's lid.
- Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 30 minutes more
- Remove Dutch oven and remove the loaf from the parchment. Allow to cool at least 3 hours before slicing.
Sourdough bread will stay fresh at room temperature 2-3 days. It freezes very well as a whole loaf if allowed to fully cool before wrapping and freezing.
Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 157 Total Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 399mg Carbohydrates: 32g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 5g