Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe for Beginners continues from the previous article, Sourdough Starter Recipe for Beginners. Now that you’ve successfully made your sourdough starter, let’s get baking.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of the sourdough series, this is not a long-winded essay, no waffling and recounting life stories, just easy to follow step by step instructions. If you’re after information on what is sourdough bread, lengthy explanations of the fermentation process, top 10 reasons why you should bake your own sourdough bread and other miscellanea, you won’t find them here. This article is a practical, step by step guide that always gets me baking in no time.
For the purpose of keeping this sourdough bread recipe simple, I’m not adding any flavourings such as herbs, olives, dried fruit or spices. Occasionally, I use the following from my garden: native thyme, a variety of basil, fennel seeds, rosemary, thyme, sage, sun-dried cherry tomatoes and caramelised garlic cloves.
Baking sourdough bread is a two day process but don’t let that put you off. I’ve created a schedule that works for me like clockwork and makes baking a breeze. Feel free to use it or modify it as it suits you.
Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe
Recipe and method by The Gourmantic Garden
- 500g white flour + extra for dusting
- 12g fine sea salt
- 400g warm filtered or non-chlorinated water
- 90g sourdough starter fed 8-10 hours earlier (or unfed for a more sour taste)
- flavourings (optional) such as herbs, olives, dried fruit, spices
- kitchen scales
- 2 large mixing bowls
- measuring cup
- baking paper
- kitchen towel
- Dutch oven or casserole dish with a tight fitting lid (Note: I use a casserole dish as I don’t own a Dutch oven. For the purpose of the instructions, I will only mention Dutch oven.
- sharp paring knife
- conventional oven (not fan forced)
- cooling rack
Sourdough Bread Baking Steps
STEP ONE: 7PM – FEED STARTER
- Take the starter out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
- Feed the starter (remove half a cup as discard, add ½ cup flour and ¼ cup warm filtered water, mix well). Rest the lid on top and leave it at room temperature for approximately 12 hours. Alternatively, use it straight from the fridge for a more sour taste.
STEP TWO: 7AM – MAKE DOUGH
- In a large glass mixing bowl, combine 500g flour and 12g salt (and any flavourings if using).
- In a measuring cup, combine 90g of sourdough starter with 400g warm filtered water using a fork until well combined.
- Add the milky liquid to the dry ingredients and using a fork, stir until combined and a thick dough forms but don’t overwork it. The dough will look a little rough.
- Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
STEP THREE: 7.15AM – 2 SETS OF STRETCH & FOLD
- After 15 minutes, using wet hands, take one corner of the dough, pull it up and fold it into the middle of itself. Wet your hands again, turn the bowl about 45 degrees and repeat. Stretch and fold for 30 seconds.
- Wet your hands again and turn the dough over so that the ‘seam’ side is down. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, repeat the above.
STEP FOUR: 7.45 AM – PROOF
After the last stretch, cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and leave it to proof on the kitchen counter for 8-12 hours. It should end up slightly domed and almost doubled in size. The timing will depend on the ambient temperature.
STEP FIVE: 4.55PM – PREPARE THE SHAPING BOWL
Cut a piece of baking paper slightly larger than the Dutch oven, lightly dust it with flour and place it beside a clean mixing bowl.
STEP SIX: 5PM – 2 SETS OF STRETCH & SHAPE
- Using a wet spatula or plastic dough scraper, loosen the dough from the edges of the bowl by sliding it down the sides of the bowl.
- Using wet hands, slide them on either side of the dough gently and lift it straight up in the air about 30-50cm high and gently place it back down, folding it on top of itself.
- Wet your hands again and give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat.
- Leave the dough to rest, covered with damp tea towel for 15 minutes then repeat.
- For the final lift and stretch, wet your hand, lift the dough and transfer it seam side down to the baking paper prepared earlier. Use a wet plastic dough scraper to shape it if required. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and seeds if using.
- Gently lift the dough by the baking paper and lower it into the clean mixing bowl.
STEP SEVEN: 5.30PM – CHILL
Place the uncovered dough in the fridge for a minimum of one hour or overnight.
STEP EIGHT: 6.30PM – SCORE & BAKE
NOTE: The following oven temperatures and times are ideal for my oven and Corningware casserole dish. You may need to adjust them depending on yours.
- Place your Dutch oven with the lid in the oven and heat it to 260oC (not fan forced).
- Oil or wet your paring knife and score the dough where you want it to puff up. Lightly dust it with flour (optional).
- Once the oven has reached the temperature, carefully take out the Dutch oven, remove the lid and holding the baking paper with the dough by the corners, gently lift the dough and lower it into the Dutch oven. Put the lid back on, place it in the oven in the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, it should be puffed and lightly golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 210oC, open the oven door, carefully remove the Dutch oven lid and continue baking uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust looks golden.
- Remove the bread, place it on a cooling rack for one hour before cutting or using.
Tips on Sourdough Hydration
Sourdough hydration is a term used to describe how much water is in a sourdough bread recipe. To calculate the hydration level, you simply divide the amount of water grams by the flour grams. My recipe uses 400g (not ml) of water and 500g flour:
400g water/500g flour = 80% hydration
The higher the hydration, the wetter the dough and the more open the crumb and thinner crust. I wouldn’t recommend going over 85% hydration. If you want an easier shaping dough with a slower fermentation, more spring to the touch, opt for a lower hydration, ideally between 70-75%.
Congratulations! You’ve just become a sourdough baker.
If you make this recipe, don’t forget to tag @the.gourmanticgarden on instagram.