Easy & Beautiful Artisan Sourdough Bread

A straightforward technique for a classic, artisan-style loaf of sourdough bread with big holes and sour flavor.

If weird terms, crazy equipment, and overly technical recipes overwhelm you, try my version. It succeeds where others fail.

Please note that the process, while simple, requires a little planning. You’ll need about 24 hours from start to finish (but very little of that is hands-on.)

Below the recipe, you’ll find a schedule and more tips for success. A great sourdough recipe for a beginner.

artisan sourdough loaf with big holes.

Easy Artisan Sourdough Bread

An easy artisan style sourdough loaf with an open crumb and crisp crust. This recipe needs to be started more than 24 hours ahead of serving
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 day
Serving Size 12 slices


  • 7 ounces bubbly, fed sourdough starter (¾ cup + 1 tablespoon)
  • 15 ounces bread flour (3 cups)
  • 9 ounces room temperature water (1 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoons salt


  • Mix and autolyze. Combine all ingredients except the salt into a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or spatula to create a sticky dough.  Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30-60 minutes.
    ingredients mixed in bowl.
  • Knead in the salt. After the resting period, measure the salt and add it to the dough. Knead gently on the counter (or right in the bowl!) until the salt is worked in. Place in a clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rest at warm room temperature, ideally 80-90 degrees, for 1 hour.
    mixing and covering dough.
  • Stretch and fold. After the hour rest, do 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 two more times for a total of three folds, each spaced an hour apart. Cover the bowl for a final 1-hour rest at warm room temperature.
    process of stretch and folds for sourdough bread.
  • Cool proof. 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 (rice flour is best) and place the 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 the fridge overnight, for 12-18 hours.
    shaped dough placed in banneton.
  • Slash. In the morning, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. (You can preheat a Dutch oven, or you can bake with a cold Dutch oven) 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 lame or very sharp knife. Place this sheet carefully into a Dutch oven (again, hot or cold, your choice) and cover with the Dutch oven's lid.
    3 images showing loaf being floured and slashed.
  • Bake. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 20 minutes more.
    round loaf in dutch oven.
  • Cool. Remove bread from the Dutch oven and peel off the parchment. Allow to cool at least 3 hours before slicing.
    round loaf cut into slices


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.
Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

sandwich on artisan sourdough bread

A challenge that you’ll love. 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” “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.

Perfected throughout the years. 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.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

You’ll need the following for this sourdough bread:

  • mature well fed sourdough starter
  • bread flour
  • room temperature water
  • diastatic malt powder OR sugar
  • salt
  • large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper
  • Dutch oven


step one: how to get an open crumb loaf with good height

I eventually learned that to get an airy, open sourdough loaf, I needed more water in my recipe. One big problem with this! It makes the loaf flat. So how do we balance this?

Well, you just have to give the dough a little strength. This is normally accomplished through kneading in a traditional dough. But with wet dough, it doesn’t work as well. We need to build strength another way, through the stretch and fold technique.

step two: how to do the “stretch and fold”

After you knead the dough and it starts rising, it is so wet that it will just spread out into a blob and look like this:

sourdough dough rising in white and green bowl

But we need to give it structure, so we fold it back up. Like this:

hand in bowl pulling up ball of bread dough

You keep folding it up on all sides until it looks like a ball again. An hour later, it will be a blob once more, and you reshape it.

Step three: dutch oven technique for steam

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 it 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.

Day One

5 AM: Wake up, feed starter

9 AM: Autolyse (mix everything except salt in a bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes.)

9:30 AM: Knead in salt.

10:30 AM: First fold

11:30 AM: Second fold

12:30 PM: Third fold

1 PM: Shape loaf, place in banneton, and put in the fridge

Day Two

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.

🥫 Storage instructions

Sourdough bread is best enjoyed the day it is made but can be stored in a paper bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in aluminum foil or place it in a freezer bag. It will keep for up to 1 month.

🔍 FAQs

Can I use other types of flour?

You can use all-purpose, bread, or whole wheat flour.

Can I make this bread using a bread machine?

No – artisan sourdough bread is made using traditional methods and cannot be made in a bread machine.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Use a starter that is well-developed and has a good sour flavor.
  • Mix the dough by hand for the best results. A machine might over-work the dough and produce smaller holes.
  • Allow the dough to rise for several hours, or even overnight, for a better flavor and texture.
  • Allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size.

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

loaf of artisan sourdough bread on white wood surface
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Recipe Rating


  1. hi, ive looked several times and i cant see the ingredients and how to make this sourdough bread that uses diastatic malt, could you send it to my email please
    thanks for giving it out, ive been wanting to use this bag of diastatic malt i sent for, linda

  2. Wonderful recipe! I’ve tried several others found on the web, and yours by far gave me the best results. You’ve got a great way of explaining the steps, and easy to follow. Thank you so much!

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for this amazing recipe and most importantly the instructions. I have been making loaves for about 2 months and this is the first time it’s come out like it should. I’m so proud and excited to try more of your recipes.

    1. hi maggie!! i am so happy you finally found success! I hope you love all my recipes and good luck! if you’re looking for something more hands off, try the stand mixer sourdough next! 🙂

    1. Yes that will work fine! Just keep in mind you’ll need to have a lot of starter ready at once. It can do thhe first rise all together, then divide and shape.

  4. 5 stars
    After trying many pandemic recipes for Artisan Sourdough I settled on your version with the printed ingredient amounts of 7 oz starter, 9 oz water and 15 oz bread flour. Many many loaves later I watched the video to see how it explained stretch and fold (trying to teach DH remotely!) for the recipe. Surprisingly it has differing amounts of water and flour that makes a much wetter dough. Which do you recommend?

    1. I recommend the one you are using! I changed it to become less wet. I find the wetter dough has big holes but is flatter overall, sort of hit or miss, and not worth the trouble. 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I have this recipe hanging on my fridge because I make it that often. I just noticed that it only has 2 votes, but this bread deserves some more ratings. It’s a staple at our house. I’m currently a mother of 2 kids under the age of 2. That hardly leaves me time to do too much, let alone bake sourdough. Finding a recipe that truly is easy while also appearing as if I broke my back in the kitchen to make this BEAUTIFUL loaf is exactly what this recipe is. It’s near effortless and yields quite a stunning loaf. I’ve looked at other recipes, but always come back to Heart’s Content because I can’t seem to find a recipe that doesn’t require so many steps and scheduling. My mom brain doesn’t really put sourdough as a priority. One day, I’d love to delve into more challenging recipes, but this one fits perfectly into my current lifestyle.

    1. Hi Sydney! Thank you so much for the nice comment. :). I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipe and that it’s making your sourdough life easier. Keep baking!

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve been trying my hand at sourdough since the start of pandemic….reading recipes….looking for something I like but not too complicated. I made this recipe and it was the BEST loaf I’ve made yet! I was so pleased with it…it was beautiful on the outside and the inside, and raised wonderfully! I’m so excited. It was VERY crusty, and was a bit of a chore to cut, but I stood it on end, and I have a good knife! Thanks so much. I also use your pizza recipe and am addicted!

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! It’s the best one I’ve found looking anywhere on the internet, even bread books (although I only have one or two that I’ve referenced, but whatever, I need look no further).

    I’m able to make really great sourdough loafs (big holes, great flavor) as a beginner without a whole lot of maintenance. I also love how it fits into a working schedule.

    Will continue to use this as long as I’m working from home during SIP 🙂

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Hi sue I actually bought my starter from King Arthur flour. It comes in a small jar and is ready to use in a few days. If you want to make your own, they have a nice tutorial on their website as well!

  8. I did sourdough for a while, and then it began to feel like another child that had to be fed and tended to. We went out of town and of course it died. My son is interested in learning, and has given it a try with sad results. I will show him your instructions and see if he wants to give it a go!

    1. Never give up Angela! P.s. don be afraid to just buy one from King Arthur flour… it is awesome!