This easy Sourdough Bread recipe is perfect for beginners or as a quick-to-prep everyday bread – the dough is simple to make and easy to handle, the bread is baked in a loaf pan and yields a wonderfully crusty bread, perfect for sandwiches.
Feed starter: The night before, combine ingredients for fed starter in a medium jar, cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter overnight.
Dissolve starter: On baking day, remove 1 ½ cups (300g) of fed starter and dissolve it in 2 cups (500ml) hand-warm water in a large measuring jug.
Combine with flour: Place 6 ¼ cups (800g) all-purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour in water/starter mixture while stirring with clean fingers.
Add salt: Once all of dissolved starter has been added, sprinkle over salt.
Knead: Stretch/fold bread dough in bowl for 3-5 minutes, until coming together.
Add oil: Slowly work in oil, then stretch/fold dough in bowl for another 3-5 minutes, until smooth.
First rise: Place dough, seam down, in bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2-4 hours, until at least 50% increased in size.
Knead: Remove dough to a lightly oiled work surface, stretch and fold 8 times.
Shape: Lightly oil a 4x16 inch (10x40cm) loaf pan (OR two 4x8 inch (10x20cm) pans; divide dough in half for next steps for two pans). Stretch/fold dough only from top and bottom (not from the sides) 3-4 times to create a log, place in prepared pan.
Second rise: Tightly cover pan with plastic wrap, then let sit at room temperature for another 2-4 hours, until dough fills pan.
Bake: Heat oven to 440°F (230°C). Remove plastic wrap from pan and bake bread for 30-35 minute, until deep golden and crusty on top. Remove from oven and from pan immediately and allow to cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
Flour: We mostly use all-purpose flour for this recipe. We have made the recipe with half whole wheat, half all-purpose flour very successfully. We have also tried all whole wheat (and all whole spelt), which both come out a little denser.
Sourdough starter: I use a sourdough starter at 75% hydration. If yours is at 100% hydration, I recommend reducing the water added to the fed starter by ¼ cup.
Olive oil: This is the oil we always use in this sourdough bread. Feel free to use a different vegetable oil if you prefer.
Water: We use hand-warm tap water for this recipe. If you use cold water, the dough will take longer to rise (which can be nice if you need it to take longer, or if you want to maximize flavor).
The needed flour/water amount can vary a lot depending on different factors (altitude, humidity, season, exact flour used, extact starter used…). Use the flour/water in the recipe as a guide, but then alter by feel. The dough should be smooth, very stretchy and good to handle. But it should still be a little tacky.
Make sure to measure your flour correctly! I fully recommend a kitchen scale when baking bread. You can get them pretty cheap on Amazon, (affiliate link, I make a commission for purchase made after clicking through) this one has tons of great reviews. With measuring cups, make sure to spoon your flour into the cup, then level it off with the back of a knife. Do not scoop the flour with the cup! You could end up with 50% more flour than you need!
The stretch/fold technique sounds intimidating, but it’s really simple. You just grab one side of the dough rectangle, pull it out, then fold it over the dough as if you were folding a towel. Check out the short video clips in the post above for visual reference.
Lightly damp or lightly oiled hands get less messy when stretch/folding your dough.
Do not add more flour just because your dough feels too sticky initially, you need to thoroughly stretch/fold it to correctly assess hydration.
Make sure to give your sourdough enough time to rise, it really needs the time to develop and to yield a flavorful bread.
CountertopOnce cooled, store the bread wrapped in a clean kitchen towel on your counter for up to 3 days. We have a bread box we keep it in.FreezerYou can also freeze your sourdough bread. I highly recommend freezing it pre-sliced. Separate single slices with way paper, that way you’re able to remove only what you need from the freezer!Place the bread in labelled and dated freezer bags or containers, seal and freeze for up to 3 months.To defrost, remove the bread from the freezer bag/container and thaw on a rack on the counter for several hours, until fully defrosted. You can lightly toast it for a freshly-baked taste!