Homemade Sourdough Bread

Recipe Date: July 9, 2024
Difficulty: Medium
Measurements: Imperial (US)

This recipe makes a gorgeously browned loaf with amazing texture and flavor. Active time for this recipe is about 2 hours. However, during that span, there’s a lot of down time. After the first 2 hours, you have long stretches where you can go about your business. If you don’t have a starter or can’t snag some from a friend, you can order one from King Arthur and follow their instructions to activate it. I like to use locally milled artisan bread flour but if you’re looking for a high quality commercial bread flour, reach for organic King Arthur bread. Its consistent protein content makes it a reliable flour to bake a beautiful loaf. If you don’t have a starter and waiting around for sourdough isn’t your thing, you can substitute dry commercial yeast with additional flour and water for the starter. The second rise time will be faster than for a starter –  about 2 hours. Note: Total time depends on how long your final proof is. This is a long process with lots of down time. Yield: One 2 pound loaf


  • 100g bubbly, active starter or 3g (¾ teaspoon) of dry commercial yeast
  • 400g (1¾ cups) warm water, or more (plus 50g of water if using commercial yeast)
  • 500g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour (plus 50g of flour if using commercial yeast)
  • 50g wheat bran (NOT wheat germ)
  • 12g (2½ teaspoons) kosher salt
  • Rice flour for dusting the banneton


1. Stir the starter (or yeast) and water together in a large bowl with a large fork until evenly combined. Mix in the flour, wheat bran and salt with a sturdy wooden spoon.

2. When it gets too hard to use the spoon, use your hands to form a shaggy dough. The dough should hold all the dry ingredients. If there is still a lot of dry flour in the bottom of your bowel add a little water until the flour is combined but the dough is still shaggy. Cover with a damp towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.  

Stretch and Fold: After 30 minutes, grab one side of the dough and pull it up and over the dough and tuck under the opposite side. Move the bowl one quarter turn and repeat pulling the side of the dough up and over until you’ve turned the bowl 360 degrees. You will have performed this series of folds 4 to 5 times with the dough. Let dough rest for another 30 minutes and repeat the stretching and folding action. Repeat 2 more times for a total of 4 stretch and fold series.

First rise. Bulk fermentation: After the last series of folds. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C) or even less if you live in a warm environment. If you are using commercial yeast it could take 12 hours and up to 18 depending on the temperature of your kitchen.The dough is ready when it increased 50% in volume. The surface should have a few bubbles and the dough should jiggle when you move the bowl from side to side. If your kitchen is warm this may take less time. Go by increase in volume not just time. 

Shaping the dough: Use a scraper to gently turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently shape it into a round: fold the top down to the center, turn the dough, fold the top down to the center, turn the dough; repeat until you’ve come full circle. Flip the dough over and If you have a bench scraper, use it to push and pull the dough to create tension, then flip the dough over again so seam side is up.

First Rest: Let the dough rest seam side up for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or banneton (proofing basket) with a flour sack or linen towel. Dust the towel with rice flour. (Rice flour doesn’t burn, but regular flour is ok to use.)

Final Shape: Use a bench scraper or your hands to shape the loaf again as in the first shaping. Place the shaped dough into the lined and floured form, seam side up.

Proof (long second rest/rise): Cover the dough and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. For commercial yeast dough. Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. I reuse produce bags to slide the form into and loosely tie the end.

Bake: Place a 5 quart Dutch oven in your oven and preheat your oven to 550°F (290°C). Cut a piece of parchment to fit the size of your pot. Note: Lodge makes a great pocket-book friendly Dutch oven. A great alternative to the pricey Le Creuset ones.

Score: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the top of the loaf. Hold your blade at a 40 degrees angle and score deeply. You can do a simple straight across or an X. Grab the edges of the parchment and gently lower the loaf into the Dutch oven.

Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven. Immediately lower the oven temp to 450F (230C). Bake the dough for 35 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, lower the temperature to 425F (218C) and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes more. If your loaf isn’t browning, lift it out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.

Bread will stay fresh up to 5 days stored at room temperature well-wrapped. It freezes beautifully just be sure to keep it wrapped while it is defrosting so it doesn’t dry out. Pop it in a 400F oven for 15 minutes after defrosting to revitalize the crust or use as is.

Banneton may be purchased from The Vineyard Kitchen Larder.