Easy & Beautiful 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

An easy and straightforward technique for a classic, artisan style loaf of sourdough bread with big holes and sour flavor. Perfect for sandwiches or serving with a meal.

loaf of artisan sourdough bread on white wood surface

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What makes this the best artisan sourdough

sandwich on artisan sourdough bread

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.

Are you unfamiliar with the world of sourdough? Visit the beginners guide to sourdough baking, or get started with a sourdough starter of your own from scratch!

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 a wet dough, it doesn’t work as well. We need to build strength another way, through the stretch and fold technique.

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.

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 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.

Day One

5 AM: Wake up, feed starter

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

9:30 AM: Knead in salt.

10:30AM: First fold

11:30 AM: Second fold

12:30 PM: Third fold

1 PM: Shape loaf, place in banneton and put in 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.

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Looking for something faster?

Here’s the recipe

round loaf of bread in red dutch oven

Easy Artisan Sourdough Bread

Print Recipe
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 mins
Cook Time:50 mins
Total Time:1 d
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Ingredients

  • 7 ounces mature well fed starter
  • 15 ounces bread flour
  • 9 ounces room temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon diastatic malt powder OR sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the salt into a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or spatula to create a wet, sticky dough.  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. 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 (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 fridge overnight, for 12-18 hours.
  • In the morning, preheat your oven to 425 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 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 30 minutes more
  • Remove bread from Dutch oven and peel off the parchment. Allow to cool at least 3 hours before slicing.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: bread
Cuisine: American, european
Keyword: artisan bread, high hydration sourdough bread, sourdough bread
Servings: 12 slices
Calories: 128kcal
Author: Katie Shaw
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @heartscontentfarmhouse so I can see!

You can do it!


Click here to subscribe By on May 15th, 2019

18 thoughts on “Easy & Beautiful Artisan Sourdough Bread”

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply
  3. 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!

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  4. 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!

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

      Reply

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