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Sourdough Bread Recipe

Sourdough bread is a classic staple with its distinctive tangy flavor, crusty exterior and soft, chewy interior. It's a versatile bread, great for sandwiches, toast, or just slathered with butter. This recipe will guide you through the process of creating your own homemade sourdough using simple ingredients and traditional methods.

Sourdough Bread Recipe
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While most ingredients for this recipe are common pantry items, the one you might need to find is the mature active sourdough starter. This is the heart of sourdough bread, giving it that characteristic tangy flavor. You can either make your own, which takes about 5 days, or buy it pre-made from a bakery or online.

Key Ingredients for Sourdough Bread Recipe

Warm water: Used to activate the sourdough starter and hydrate the flour.

Mature active: This is the sourdough starter, providing the yeast and bacteria that make the bread rise and give it its signature flavor.

Bread flour: This high-protein flour is ideal for sourdough, giving the bread its structure and chewiness.

Whole wheat flour: Adds a slight nuttiness and additional texture to the bread. It also contributes to the health benefits of the bread.

Kosher salt: Enhances the flavor of the bread and helps control yeast growth during fermentation.

One reader, Kiersten Noriega says:

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This sourdough bread recipe is a game-changer! The step-by-step instructions were easy to follow, and the end result was a beautifully crusty and flavorful loaf. The bread had a perfect texture and a delightful tangy flavor. I'm thrilled with the outcome and can't wait to make it again!

Kiersten Noriega

Mastering Sourdough Bread Baking Techniques

How to activate the sourdough starter: This involves feeding the sourdough starter with equal parts flour and water to activate the natural yeast and bacteria, allowing it to ferment and become active.

How to fold the dough: This technique involves gently stretching and folding the dough to develop gluten and create structure in the bread. It helps to strengthen the dough and trap air, resulting in a light and airy texture in the finished bread.

How to shape the dough for proofing: Shaping the dough for proofing involves creating surface tension to help the bread maintain its shape during the final rise. This step contributes to a better oven spring and a more uniform crumb structure in the finished loaf.

How to slash the dough before baking: Slashing the dough allows for controlled expansion during baking, preventing the bread from bursting at weak points. It also adds an aesthetic touch to the finished loaf.

How to test for doneness: To ensure the bread is fully baked, tapping the bottom of the loaf to listen for a hollow sound is a common method. This indicates that the bread is well-baked and ready to be cooled.

How To Make Sourdough Bread

Our sourdough bread recipe is perfect for those starting out on whipping up a tasteful bread! Use them in sandwiches or munch on them as afternoon snacks.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes
Set and Rest Time: 17 hours
Total: 18 hours 50 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1⅔cupswarm water,plus 1 tbsp, divided, plus more for dipping
  • ½cupmature active
  • 3cupsbread flour,or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • cupwhole wheat flour,or all-purpose flour
  • 1tbspkosher salt,plus ¼ tsp

Instructions

  1. Add 1⅔ cups of warm water and the sourdough starter to a medium bowl.

  2. Stir with a rubber spatula to dissolve the starter.

  3. Add the bread flour and whole wheat flour. Use a spatula or clean hands to mix until combined and there are no dry spots.

  4. Cover with a clean cotton kitchen towel, then let sit in a warm place for 60 minutes.

  5. After resting the dough, add the salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon of water. Use hands to incorporate the salt, squishing the dough through the fingers to evenly distribute.

  6. Set a bowl of water nearby. Once the salt is incorporated, dip a hand in the water to prevent sticking.

  7. Use the wet hand to stretch the dough from the edge of the bowl upwards, then fold toward the center.

  8. Repeat a total of 8 times, rotating the bowl slightly after each fold.

  9. After the folds, carefully lift the dough up, flip it over, place it back in the bowl and tuck the edges under the dough.

  10. Scrape down the edges of the bowl, then cover with the kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 60 minutes.

  11. Repeat the stretching and folding process 2 more times, waiting 60 minutes after each folding session before beginning again.

  12. There should be signs of fermentation in the form of an increase in volume and bubbles along the edges and top of the dough. Wait a little longer, up to 30 more minutes between folds, if there are no signs yet.

  13. 1 hour after the final stretch and fold, dip hands in the water.

  14. Slide hands into the bowl at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Partially lift the dough from the bowl, then let it fold under itself.

  15. Rotate the bowl and repeat the lifting and fold under 5 to 6 times, until the dough has begun to come together in a ball.

  16. Carefully lift the dough onto a clean surface. Lightly sprinkle the dough with the dusting flour.

  17. Using a bench scraper, or lightly floured hands, carefully rotate and drag the dough towards self along the surface, building the tension until there is a round, taut ball of dough. Lightly flour the dough.

  18. Cover with the towel, and let rest for 30 to 40 minutes.

  19. Dust a proofing basket or a medium bowl lined with a cotton towel lightly with flour.

  20. After 40 minutes, the dough should look relaxed and have spread out slightly.

  21. Lightly flour the top of the dough again. Using the bench scraper, or a silicone spatula and lightly floured hands, carefully flip the dough over, so the unfloured part is facing upwards.

  22. Fold at 12 o’clock towards the center, then 6 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and 9 o’clock, then each of the remaining 4 diagonal corners.

  23. Carefully transfer the dough, seam-side up, to the prepared proofing basket or bowl. Pinch the seams to seal. Cover the bowl with the towel.

  24. Leave at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator while preheating the oven.

Baking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

  2. Place a Dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker in the oven while it preheats. Make sure the has come up to temperature before baking, at least 30 minutes.

  3. Prepare a piece of parchment paper about the size of the bottom of the baking vessel. Place the parchment over the proofing basket and gently flip the basket over so the dough drops onto the parchment.

  4. Carefully remove the baking vessel from the oven. Use the parchment paper to carefully lift the dough into the pan. Use a sharp paring knife or bread lame to slash the top of the dough a few times.

  5. Cover the vessel with the lid and carefully place it in the oven.

  6. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

  7. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is amber brown.

  8. Remove the bread from the oven and carefully transfer to a wire rack. Tap the bottom of the bread, if it sounds hollow, the bread is well-baked.

  9. Let the bread cool completely, at least 2 hours, before slicing with a serrated knife.

  10. Serve, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Store the loaf cut-side down on a cutting board, or in a plastic bag. The loaf can be frozen, or pre-slice, then freeze and pull out slices as needed.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 351.14kcal
  • Fat: 1.76g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.27g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.16g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.78g
  • Carbohydrates: 71.13g
  • Fiber: 3.68g
  • Sugar: 0.32g
  • Protein: 11.96g
  • Sodium: 412.08mg
  • Calcium: 20.39mg
  • Potassium: 140.36mg
  • Iron: 4.20mg

Pro Tip for Perfecting Your Sourdough Bread

When working with sourdough dough, it's important to maintain a warm environment to encourage fermentation. If your kitchen is naturally cool, consider placing your dough in a turned-off oven with the light on for warmth. This can help speed up the fermentation process and yield a better rise in your bread. Also, when folding the dough, be gentle to avoid deflating the air bubbles that contribute to the bread's texture. Lastly, remember to score the top of the dough before baking. This allows the bread to expand in the oven without tearing the crust.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Sourdough Bread

Prepare the ingredients: Gather and measure all the ingredients before starting to make the sourdough bread. This will help streamline the process and prevent any last-minute scrambling for items.

Use a stand mixer: Consider using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to knead the dough. This can save time and effort compared to kneading by hand.

Plan ahead: Schedule the sourdough bread-making process around your daily routine to allow for longer resting periods without disrupting your schedule.

Preheat the oven: Ensure the oven is preheated and ready to go before the final proofing stage to minimize waiting time.

Batch preparation: Consider making a larger batch of sourdough bread dough and freezing portions for future use. This can save time on future bread-making sessions.

Streamline the process: Familiarize yourself with the recipe and techniques to work more efficiently and confidently while making the sourdough bread.

Optimize fermentation: Monitor the fermentation process closely to ensure the dough is proofed adequately, reducing the need for additional waiting time.

Efficient shaping: Practice shaping the dough to achieve a uniform and smooth surface, which can save time during the final proofing and baking stages.

Substitute Ingredients For Sourdough Bread Recipe

  • warm water - Substitute with milk: Milk can be used as a substitute for water in bread recipes to add richness and a softer texture to the bread.

  • mature active - Substitute with sourdough starter: Sourdough starter can be used as a substitute for mature active in a sourdough bread recipe to maintain the sourdough flavor and leavening properties.

  • bread flour - Substitute with all-purpose flour: All-purpose flour can be used as a substitute for bread flour in a sourdough bread recipe, although the texture may be slightly different.

  • whole wheat flour - Substitute with rye flour: Rye flour can be used as a substitute for whole wheat flour in a sourdough bread recipe to add a nutty flavor and denser texture.

  • kosher salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can be used as a substitute for kosher salt in a sourdough bread recipe, providing a similar level of saltiness and flavor.

Presenting Your Homemade Sourdough Bread

  1. Artful scoring: Score the top of the bread with intricate patterns using a sharp paring knife or bread lame to create an aesthetically pleasing design.

  2. Elevated plating: Present the sourdough bread on a rustic wooden board or a handcrafted ceramic platter to add a touch of sophistication to the presentation.

  3. Garnish with herbs: Sprinkle a few fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme on the serving board to add a pop of color and a hint of fragrance to the overall presentation.

  4. Accompany with flavored butter: Serve the sourdough bread with a side of flavored butter, such as roasted garlic or herb-infused butter, elegantly presented in a small ramekin or on a marble slab.

  5. Artisanal bread basket: Line a woven basket with a linen napkin and arrange the freshly baked sourdough slices in an overlapping pattern for a charming and inviting display.

  6. Custom bread cutting: Offer a personalized bread-cutting service at the table, where a skilled server expertly slices the sourdough bread with precision, adding a touch of theater to the dining experience.

  7. Incorporate edible flowers: Adorn the bread with delicate edible flowers such as nasturtiums or pansies to introduce a whimsical and elegant element to the presentation.

  8. Serve with artisanal olive oil: Provide a small dish of premium olive oil for dipping, accompanied by a drizzle of balsamic reduction for an upscale and flavorful addition to the bread service.

Essential Tools for Baking Sourdough Bread

  • Medium bowl: A medium-sized bowl is used for mixing the ingredients and allowing the dough to rest during the fermentation process.
  • Rubber spatula: A rubber spatula is used for mixing the sourdough starter and flour together, ensuring all ingredients are well combined.
  • Clean hands: Clean hands are used for mixing the dough and incorporating the salt, as well as for stretching and folding the dough during the fermentation process.
  • Cotton kitchen towel: A clean cotton kitchen towel is used to cover the dough during the resting and fermentation periods, providing a warm and moist environment for the sourdough to develop.
  • Bowl of water: A bowl of water is used to wet the hands during the stretching and folding process to prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Bench scraper: A bench scraper is used to handle and shape the dough, as well as to transfer the dough to the proofing basket or bowl.
  • Proofing basket: A proofing basket, also known as a banneton, is used to support the dough during its final rise, shaping the loaf and creating a decorative pattern on the crust.
  • Parchment paper: Parchment paper is used to transfer the shaped dough into the preheated baking vessel, preventing sticking and aiding in the transfer process.
  • Dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker: A Dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker is used for baking the sourdough bread, creating a steamy environment that helps develop a crispy crust and a moist interior.

Storing and Freezing Sourdough Bread

Here are the detailed storing and freezing guidelines for sourdough bread:

  • Allow the sourdough bread to cool completely before storing, at least 2 hours after baking. This prevents moisture from building up inside the loaf, which can lead to a gummy texture.
  • Store the cooled bread at room temperature in a bread box, paper bag, or loosely covered in a cotton towel for up to 3 days. Avoid storing in plastic bags, as this can cause the crust to soften and become chewy.
  • For longer storage, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • To freeze, wrap the bread tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Label with the date and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw frozen bread, remove from the freezer and let thaw at room temperature for several hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • To refresh the crust of refrigerated or thawed bread, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the unwrapped loaf directly on the oven rack and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the center is warmed through.
  • For best results, slice the bread as needed rather than pre-slicing before storing. This helps maintain the texture and moisture of the loaf.

Reheating Leftover Sourdough Bread

  • The best way to reheat leftover sourdough bread is to preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the bread on a baking sheet and lightly spritz it with water using a spray bottle. This will help to rehydrate the crust and prevent it from becoming too dry during the reheating process. Bake the bread for 5-10 minutes, or until it's heated through and the crust is crispy again.

  • Another great method for reheating sourdough bread is to use a toaster or toaster oven. Simply slice the bread to your desired thickness and toast it until it's warm and crispy. This method works best for smaller pieces of bread or if you only need to reheat a few slices at a time.

  • If you're in a hurry, you can also reheat your sourdough bread in the microwave. Place a damp paper towel over the bread to prevent it from drying out, and microwave it on high for 15-20 seconds at a time until it's heated through. Keep in mind that this method may result in a slightly softer crust compared to the oven or toaster methods.

  • For a delicious twist on reheated sourdough bread, try making croutons! Cut the bread into small cubes, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and your favorite herbs or spices, and bake them in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they're golden brown and crispy.

  • If you have a panini press or sandwich maker, you can use it to reheat your sourdough bread while giving it a delightful crunch. Brush the bread with a little butter or olive oil, place it in the press, and cook it until it's heated through and crispy on the outside.

Interesting Trivia About Sourdough Bread

The process of making sourdough bread involves the use of naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria, which gives the bread its characteristic tangy flavor and chewy texture. This natural fermentation process also makes sourdough bread easier to digest for some people, as the bacteria and yeast help break down gluten and phytic acid. Additionally, sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index compared to other types of bread, which means it causes a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar levels. This makes it a favorable option for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

The Economics of Homemade Sourdough Bread

The cost-effectiveness of this sourdough bread recipe is high. The main ingredients, such as flour and water, are affordable and readily available. The recipe yields a delicious and versatile bread that can be enjoyed in various ways, making it a worthwhile investment. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this recipe a solid 9 for its simplicity, flavor, and versatility. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $5-$7, making it a budget-friendly option for homemade bread.

Is Sourdough Bread Healthy or Unhealthy?

The sourdough bread recipe is relatively healthy, as it uses whole wheat flour in addition to bread flour, which adds fiber and nutrients to the loaf. Sourdough bread is also known for its lower glycemic index compared to regular bread, making it a better choice for blood sugar management. The fermentation process involved in making sourdough bread also helps to break down gluten and improve digestibility.

However, there are a few ways to make this recipe even healthier:

  • Increase the proportion of whole wheat flour to bread flour, or use entirely whole wheat flour for a higher fiber content
  • Reduce the amount of salt used in the recipe, as high sodium intake can contribute to health issues like hypertension
  • Experiment with adding other nutrient-dense ingredients, such as seeds (e.g., flax, chia, or sunflower) or nuts, to boost the bread's nutritional profile
  • Consider using a variety of ancient or heritage grains, such as spelt, einkorn, or rye, which offer unique flavors and additional nutrients compared to traditional wheat flour

By incorporating these changes, you can enhance the overall healthfulness of the sourdough bread while still enjoying its delicious taste and texture. Remember, moderation is key, and even a healthier version of bread should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Editor's Opinion on This Sourdough Bread Recipe

This sourdough bread recipe is a classic and well-crafted method that yields a beautifully textured and flavorful loaf. The detailed instructions guide the baker through the process, ensuring a successful outcome. The use of whole wheat flour adds depth to the flavor, and the folding technique helps develop a strong gluten structure, resulting in a lovely, airy crumb. The high-temperature bake creates a crisp, golden crust, adding a delightful contrast to the soft interior. Overall, this recipe is a testament to the art of sourdough bread-making and is sure to impress anyone who tries it.

Enhance Your Sourdough Bread Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with a rich, roasted garlic flavor that pairs perfectly with the tangy sourdough bread.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Tender asparagus grilled to perfection and topped with a bright and zesty lemon flavor, complementing the hearty sourdough bread.
Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts: Caramelized Brussels sprouts drizzled with a sweet and tangy balsamic glaze, adding a burst of flavor to each bite of sourdough bread.

Recipes Similar to Sourdough Bread

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad: This hearty salad is packed with roasted vegetables and fluffy quinoa, making it a satisfying and nutritious meal.
Braised Beef Short Ribs: Tender, fall-off-the-bone beef short ribs braised in a rich and flavorful sauce, served with creamy mashed potatoes for the ultimate comfort food.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding: A refreshing and tropical dessert made with creamy coconut milk, sweet mango, and nutritious chia seeds, perfect for a light and healthy treat.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Sourdough Bread

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: For a delicious and savory appetizer, try making stuffed mushrooms filled with a flavorful mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. These bite-sized treats are perfect for entertaining and will surely impress your guests.
Bruschetta: Create a refreshing and vibrant bruschetta appetizer by topping crispy slices of baguette with a colorful mixture of diced tomatoes, basil, and balsamic glaze. This classic Italian dish is a great way to start off any meal.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. This elegant dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic dinner at home.
Apple Pie: Savor the warm and comforting flavors of a classic apple pie, with a flaky golden crust and a hint of cinnamon. Serve it a la mode with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate sweet treat.

Why trust this Sourdough Bread Recipe:

This sourdough bread recipe is a tried and tested classic, using sourdough starter for a robust flavor and airy texture. The combination of bread flour and whole wheat flour adds depth and complexity to the bread. The careful folding and resting process develops the gluten structure, resulting in a chewy and tender crumb. The high baking temperature and use of a dutch oven create a beautifully caramelized crust. With its detailed instructions and traditional techniques, this recipe promises to deliver a delicious and authentic sourdough bread experience.

Want to discuss this sourdough bread recipe further? Head over to the Baking and Desserts section of our forum and share your experiences, tips, and any modifications you've made to perfect your own sourdough loaf.
FAQ:
How long does it take to make sourdough bread using this recipe?
The entire process takes about 10-12 hours, including resting and fermentation time.
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour?
Yes, you can use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, but the texture and rise of the bread may vary slightly.
Can I bake the bread without a dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker?
While using a dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker yields the best results, you can still bake the bread on a baking sheet. Just make sure to create steam in the oven by placing a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.
How do I know when the bread is fully baked?
You can tell the bread is fully baked when the crust is a deep golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Can I freeze the sourdough bread?
Yes, you can freeze the sourdough bread. Once it has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil before placing it in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature when ready to eat.

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