Sourdough bread on a cooling rack
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5 from 2 votes

How to Make Sourdough Bread (Including Sourdough Starter Instructions)

Sourdough bread has a thick, chewy crust and soft, airy interior. It is comforting, savory and so easy to make using only using flour, salt, and water. Learn how to make your own starter, maintain it, and turn it into a loaf.
Course: Bread
Keyword: Sourdough Bread
Author: Stephanie Patterson

Ingredients

Sourdough Starter

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Sourdough Loaf

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Instructions

Sourdough Starter

  • Fill a larger plastic or glass container with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Stir until thoroughly combined into a smooth batter. Cover with a loosely screwed on lid or plastic wrap.
  • “Feed” your starter 4 ounces of water and flour, stirring until combined, every 24 hours. It should start to smell sour after a few days, but room temperature can affect how quickly it activates. The texture will change from a pancake dough batter to an airy, lighter batter over the first 5 days.
  • By day 5, or once it smells sour and is airy and doubling in volume, it is ready to use in your preferred sourdough bread recipe.
  • Continue to feed the starter daily with 1/3 cup each of both flour and water. Always leave at least 2 tablespoons of starter behind as you use it for baking.

Sourdough Loaf

  • In a large mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir together 5 cups flour (675 grams) and 2 cups water (506 grams). Use your hands once it becomes too difficult to stir.
  • Cover and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, stir in 1 tablespoon salt (13 grams) and 1/2 cup of your starter (100 grams). Mix in by hand until combined, but do not do any extra kneading.
  • First Rise: Cover and let rise 12-24 hours, until double in size. Colder temperatures require the longer end of this range, while summertime warm temperatures require around 12 hours. This is done overnight.
  • Second Rise: turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured service. Fold it over a few times into the center. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl or to a floured proofing basket. Let it rise for 3-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you poke it lightly with your finger and the indent remains, or only very slowly springs back while still leaving an indent. If the dough springs right back, it needs more time to rise.
  • Put a dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Flip your dough from your basket/bowl onto a large piece of parchment paper. Use that excess parchment paper to help lift the dough into the dutch oven. Put lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake until bread is a deep brown, approximately 30 more minutes.
  • Once the bread is a deep brown, turn off oven and crack the door. Let your bread cool in the cracked oven for 20 minutes before removing from oven and dutch oven, and putting on a cooling rack. Let the bread cool completely to allow texture and flavor to develop completely before slicing.

Notes

  • PRO TIP: Put a baking sheet under your dutch oven  when you remove the lid, and bake for the remaining time this way. This will ensure the bottom of the bread doesn’t get too dark or burn. 
  • If you want to only make bread once each week or less, keep your starter stored in the fridge. 2 days before you’re ready to make bread, remove it from the fridge and feed and leave on the counter. 24 hours later, feed it again. It could take anywhere from 2-5 hours for the starter to be fully active and ready to use after that second feed. Once it is fully active and doubled in size, you are ready to bake. Make sure to feed your starter after each discard or use.