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Easy Homemade Sourdough Bread

homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

This Easy Homemade Sourdough Bread makes a beautiful loaf with a crispy crust and a pillowy soft inside. I’ve even included a hack to make sure your bread is perfectly proofed every time!

Homemade sourdough bread recipes often get over complicated. I think partially because there’s TOO MUCH information out there and everyone has a different opinion (including me I guess! lol). My best advice is to pick ONE recipe, stick with it, and keep trying until you perfect it. I tried to simplify this recipe as much as possible but as always, feel free to leave comments with any questions you might have!

homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

What do you need to make sourdough bread?

The first thing you need is an active sourdough starter. This is basically your “activator”. You can make one yourself but it takes at least 2 weeks of daily feedings. Or, you can do what I did and just buy some starter or ask a someone to share theirs with you. I bought a dehydrated one on etsy for about 7 dollars and it was ready to use in 2 days. You’ll also need the items below:

  • A large bowl
  • A food scale (I know it seems obnoxious to use a scale but I promise this is actually much easier than dirtying a bunch of measuring cups)
  • Parchment paper
  • A dutch oven or roasting pan with a lid
  • Optional: a 2 ounce container with lid for easy proofing

Active sourdough starter

When you’re going to make bread, you want to make sure you have an active bubbly starter. I feed mine the night before I’m going to bake.

How to know when your starter is ready to use?

Assuming you have an established starter, as long as it’s been fed and has doubled in size or almost doubled within the past few hours, it will work. You don’t need to worry about “is it in the middle of rising or falling…” It doesn’t matter! As long as you fed it within the last 12(ish) hours-it’s fine. Sometimes I feed mine at 8pm and sometimes I feed it at 11pm. I still bake with it around 7am the next morning. You don’t need to be super strict with this!

active sourdough starter

How to make easy homemade sourdough bread:

When you’re starter has doubled and you’re ready to make bread, you’ll want to get out your large bowl, scale, and your ingredients. The first step is mixing together the starter and water. It’s ok if there’s still lumps, you just want to break it up a bit. Then you can add in your flour. Also, if you go over or under a few grams on your measurements….IT’S OKAY!

water and sourdough starter

mixing sourdough

Next add in your flour and mix together. It will be VERY sticky at this point but just do your best to mix it until you see no more dry flour spots. If you’re using the container hack below, do it as soon as you’ve mixed your flour in. Then set a timer for 30 minutes.

How to know when your sourdough has perfectly proofed: 

**Ok here’s the “HACK” that I found and use every single time I bake sourdough. It’s actually called the “aliquot method” but I’ll be referring to it as the “container method” just because that’s what I call it at home. As soon as you mix the flour into the starter/water mixture, your proofing has started. So right after you mix and set that 30 min timer, you’ll take your 2 ounce container and add 40 grams of your dough to it. Wet your fingers and spread the dough evenly in the container then cover it and add it to the center of your main dough. You want it in the center so it keeps the same temperature and gives you an accurate rise.**

aliquot method sourdough

After the first 30 minute timer has gone off, you can add in the salt and do your first set of those famous “stretch and folds”! This is actually really easy and just takes about a minute each time.

How to do a stretch and fold:

Pull the small container out of the dough and set it aside. Wet your hands, grab one side of the dough and stretch it up as far as it will go without tearing then fold it back over the center of the bowl, do small quarter turns of the bowl and repeat this 4 times as you turn the bowl. When finished, place the 2 ounce container back in the center of the dough, cover, and place back in your warm location. REPEAT this 4 times every 30 minutes for a total of 2 hours. (And yes, this counts as part of your proofing time)

stretch and folds, sourdough stretch and fold

Once all of your stretch and folds are done, you can place the dough back in it’s warm spot to continue to proof. If you have an oven with a “bread proof” setting, you can basically cut your proofing time in half. That’s what I use and it only needs to proof for a about 4-5 hours total. If your home is cold, it can take several hours to overnight in order to properly proof. You can use the chart below to give you a guideline on time but I find the easiest way is to use the small container.

sourdough proofing chart guide

You can see in the photo below that the dough in container is almost bursting out and the rest of the dough is nice and bubbly!

proofed sourdough

Don’t pay attention to the fact that I have 2 piles of dough here! I just made a double batch but this recipe is for ONE loaf. 🙂

You want to lightly flour a board or your counter top and dump out the dough onto it. Then pull and stretch it out the best you can into a rectangular-ish shape.

how to shape sourdough

Next you’ll take each side and fold it in like a letter. Again, this does NOT need to be perfect.

Take the bottom of the dough that’s closest to you and roll it up into a ball. If it sticks, you can use a scraper or a spatula to move it along.

how to shape sourdough

Once you have your dough in a ball, gently cup your hands around it and push it in a circular motion to create tension on the outer “skin”. After rolling it, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to relax the dough, then roll again into a tight circle.

how to shape sourdough

After you’ve finished shaping, you can line a bowl with a kitchen towel or use a banneton basket and sprinkle with flour. Place your dough inside, smooth side down, then cover and refigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. (the longer it’s in the fridge, the more sour the flavor will be.)

sourdough in floured banneton

When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees with your pot and cover inside as well. While the oven is heating, you can prepare your loaf. Place a piece of parchment down and flip your dough onto it. Sprinkle with flour and spread the flour evenly over the loaf with your hands.

Use a sharp knife, razor, or bread lame to cut an “ear” into your loaf. That’s just the name for this semi-circle that gives the loaf a place to expand. You can also cut a design if desired.

how to score a sourdough loaf

how to score a sourdough loaf

Once the oven and the pot are heated, you can lift the dough using the parchment paper and place it in the pot. Then add in 3-4 ice cubes between the sides of the parchment and the pot. Add the loaf to the oven, lower the heat to 450 degrees and bake for 20 minutes covered then 30 minutes uncovered.

homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

Now here’s the hard part…you have to wait to cut into the loaf for about 2 hours. This allows the dough to fully finish cooking so it’s not gummy inside. I’m not saying I’ve always waited the full 2 hours…but it’s ideal. 😉

How to store a sourdough loaf:

My favorite way to store ours is to just slice it and add it to a zip-top bag for up to 5 days. Just make sure it’s completely cooled so it doesn’t steam up the bag. I also sometimes just throw the whole loaf under a glass dome and keep it cut side down. We go through it very quickly so it stays fresh. If I’m giving it away, I wrap it in parchment paper first, then add it to a bag without slicing it.

homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

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homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

Easy Homemade Sourdough Bread

Coco and Ash
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 100 grams active sourdough starter
  • 325 grams water
  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams salt

Instructions
 

  • The night before you want to make your bread, feed your starter so that's it's bubbly and active in the morning.

Mixing the dough:

  • The next morning, add the active starter and water to a large bowl and combine with a whisk or fork. Add in the flour and mix together just until you see no more dry white flour. It will be very shaggy and messy. Set a timer for 30 minutes and place your bowl in a warm area.

Optional container method for easy proofing:

  • As soon as you mix in your flour, take your 2 ounce container and place it on your food scale and zero the scale out. Add 40 grams of your shaggy dough to the small container. Wet your fingers and smooth out the dough into the container then close the lid.
  • Place your filled 2-ounce container in the center of your dough (see photos above) and cover everything with either a damp towel or plastic wrap.

Salt and Stretch/Folds:

  • After the 30 minutes, uncover your dough (you can set the 2 ounce container aside) and you're going to add in your salt and do your first set of stretch and folds then add your small container back in. (See above for how to do your stretch and folds)
  • REPEAT STRETCH AND FOLD on your dough every 30 minutes until you've done it 4 times. (2 hours) Be sure to keep the small container in the center after each time.
  • Bulk Fermentation:
  • After the last stretch and fold is done, leave the dough alone in a warm location until the dough in the 2-ounce container is pressing up against the lid. This is how you'll know when your dough has "proofed" enough. If you did not use the container method, you're looking the dough to be almost doubled in size.
    (this can take anywhere from 3-16 hours depending on the temperature of your location. Mine only takes about 3 hours using the "bread proof" setting on my oven. But in the cold months on a counter it can take MUCH longer).

Shaping:

  • Once your dough has proofed, it's time to shape. Lightly sprinkle your surface and your fingers with flour. Spread your dough out into a rectangle. Fold each side in like a letter (see photos above) Then roll up into a ball.
    Take your hands and place them near the bottom of the dough ball and gently drag the ball across your surface to create tension on the surface of the dough ball.
  • Let the dough rest on the counter for 10 minutes then repeat the last step of tightening the dough by dragging it across the surface as you hold the bottom of the dough ball.
    (if you have too much flour on your surface, you won't be able to create any tension. You want just a tiny bit so it's not sticking but still slightly pulling.)
  • Plave your dough ball (smooth side down) in a bowl lined with a floured towel or cloth napkin. Cover and refrigertate for at least 1 hour or over-night.

Baking:

  • Pre-heat your oven with your dutch oven pot inside to 500°.
  • Lay out a piece of parchment paper then turn your dough ball over on to the paper.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and smooth the four with your hand. Use a sharp knife, razor, or bread lame to cut whatever shape you desire. This is a necessary step to give the bread a place to expand.
  • Lift the dough using the parchment and place into the hot dutch oven. Carefully add 3 ice cubes into the pot along the outer sides of the parchment.
  • Re-cover the pot, lower the heat to 450° and bake, covered, for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, remove the over and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Allow the finished loaf to cool for at least 2 hours before cutting. It will still be cooking while it sits.
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment!

homemade sourdough bread, easy sourdough bread, easy sourdough loaf

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