This easy sourdough artisan bread recipe is mixed together, kneaded in a stand mixer and left to rise with minimal hands-on time. The magic happens when it's cooked in an enamel cast-iron pan, which gives it a perfect crispy crust and delicious soft interior.
You can find more easy bread recipes on the Best Bread Recipes page!
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Ever since I grew my first sourdough starter and explored how to make sourdough bread, I've wanted to be able to make a really good loaf of artisan sourdough bread like my favorite regular yeast easy artisan bread.
Although I had a few successes with bread shortly after beginning to bake with sourdough, I realize now that the reason I thought it was so great was just because it didn't look like the disaster from the previous week! (See the "Important Note" below to know when your starter is ready to make a loaf of bread.)
What I really wanted was a sourdough bread recipe that had a crispy crust with nice holes inside, but that was still easy to make. One similar to my super easy artisan bread which bakes in an enameled cast iron pot.
NOTE: What I mean by 'easy' is a simple, everyday kind of sourdough bread recipe that uses cups to measure, few steps, and very little science involved. If you'd like to get really into sourdough - which can quickly become complicated (and frankly, overwhelming to me), I've found Northwest Sourdough to be very thorough and not too hard to follow for those wanting to dig a little deeper.
NEW! How to Make Sourdough Artisan Bread Video:
Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread Recipe
I searched for a couple years to find a technique that would produce a loaf of artisan sourdough bread that was all the things I wanted. When I found a great recipe from Gina at Homejoys I knew right away that it could be adapted to be even easier, use my favorite enameled cast iron pot, and consistently turn out good loaves.
And it did! This is truly the easiest sourdough bread recipe that anyone can make.
I want to say, too, that for me an easy bread is always made with a stand mixer, but this recipe can be made by hand - you will just have to work a bit harder.
Look at that crust! That's bread-beauty right there, isn't it? Blistered and cracked and bubbly. This may be the best sourdough bread recipe!
Yeah, I can get all giddy about bread crust - kind of like when I dance in the kitchen when the eggs don't stick in a cast iron pan. I really am about the simple things around here!
The sliced loaf pictured above was made with whole wheat bread flour (verses the previous loaf, which was made with whole wheat white flour), so the crust isn't quite the same, but still passes the test.
And the interior is full of holes, chewy, and with just a touch of sourness. Perfection.
I have gotten many comments on this recipe along the lines of, "great flavor, but it was so flat," or "I let it rise all day and it didn't double." Here's what I learned on my sourdough journey:
You cannot make bread with a new starter. It needs time to grow and strengthen to be able to rise bread.
You may be able to rush it if you're doing a lot of feedings, but it may take weeks or up to a month for the starter to be strong enough to raise bread.
How do you know if a starter is strong enough to raise bread?
Here's the test I use and find the easiest:
If your starter doubles in less than 6 hours, it is strong enough to raise bread.
If you don't have a way to measure, use a piece of tape on the outside of your container - anything that allows you to see if it's doubled. When it's doubled, you can confidently use this recipe!
Wait, what do I do with all the starter I'm making, feeding, and removing during this time?
Make recipes that don't need strong rises like regular breads:
- whole wheat sourdough crackers
- sourdough English muffins
- sourdough waffles
- sourdough cheese batter bread (use this when you're this close to making bread - the batter doesn't need to rise as much, but still gives a nice bread).
Shop this sourdough bread recipe:
- This is a great quality, decently priced enameled cast iron dutch oven, similar to the one I use. Here's another option for a bit less that's very similar, too.
- Here's a rising bucket that holds a lot and is easy to see when your starter is doubling.
- This is my favorite brand of white whole wheat flour (made from hard white wheat).
- And I use this brand for hard red wheat flour ('regular' whole wheat). My starter is fed with this.
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Timing Tip for How to Make Sourdough Bread
The timing of sourdough bread was hard for me to figure out in the beginning, since it takes longer to rise than regular yeast breads, so I thought I'd give you a typical timeline to have a loaf for dinner.
To have this sourdough artisan bread ready for an evening dinner:
- Feed your sourdough starter the night before you want to bake.
- Start the sourdough artisan bread recipe the next morning.
- Let the dough rise until early afternoon before baking and cooling in time for dinner.
That said, I have been known to rush it when I've forgotten to feed the starter the night before. If you find yourself in that situation, you can feed the starter right when you get up in the morning and let it sit until it is bubbly, about a couple of hours, and then proceed with the recipe.
Made this way, the bread doesn't have quite the optimum time to cool, so you'll have a warmer loaf with a bit more squished crumb - but we've sure never minded.
Sourdough Artisan Bread FAQs
Can you proof this bread in the fridge overnight?
Yes, the second rise can happen in the fridge. Let the dough come to room temp for about an hour before shaping and heating the pot for the 40 minutes.
How do I bake this without a dutch oven?
You will have the best results with a dutch oven or some type of pot with a heavy lid. But if you don't have one, here's how to bake it:
After shaping the loaf on the parchment on the counter (or in a small skillet), place either a baking stone, cast iron skillet, or cookie sheet into a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Creating Steam: To try and get the crust we all love, you'll need to create some steam (that's what the dutch oven does - it traps the steam): put a pan with water on the bottom rack to heat while the stone heats OR spray the dough with water right before putting in the hot oven to bake and see which you like best. Also, if you have any deep lid that will fit over the dough and allow to rise, you can add that OR try tenting aluminum foil over the top.
Baking: Slash and use parchment corners to transfer dough to your hot stone and bake 15 minutes, turning the dough halfway, and then bake until done, another 15 to 20-25 minutes.
When do I add other chopped ingredients, like herbs, dried fruit, nuts, and olives?
These add-ins can be kneaded into the dough at step 2, after the first step of letting the dough sit for 15 minutes.
Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread Recipe
- 3+ cups (360-400 gr) flour white whole wheat, whole wheat, unbleached, or a combo
- 1 ¼ cups (296 ml) warm water*
- 3/4 cup (177 ml) active sourdough starter 75%-100% hydration (I prefer 75%)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey**
- 1 ½ teaspoons (9 gr) salt
- Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl) just until combined and then let sit for 15 minutes.
- Using a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes. (TIP: You may add more flour as needed, a little at a time, to create a dough that's still clinging to the bottom of the bowl, but also clearing the upper part of the bowl. It should be tacky, but not cling to your finger.)
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours, turning and folding the dough once or twice.
- Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours. TIP: I do this right over the bowl my hands oiled from the dough, which is usually enough - add more oil to your hands if needed.
- After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet, sprinkle the dough with flour and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment. Shape it in your hands right over the parchment. I often flour my fingers after setting on the parchment and use my fingers to push the edges under the loaf to get the shape I want and make it more compact. Make sure there's a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier. TIP: I often shape the dough in a small skillet to keep the edges from spreading as much as a cookie sheet.
- To Bake with a Dutch Oven: While the shaped dough is resting, set an empty enameled cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees (alternately, you can use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2-3 places) and transfer it to the hot pot (or stone) by holding the edges of the parchment to gently lower into the pot (the bread will bake while on the parchment).
- Replace the hot lid and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- To Bake without a Dutch Oven: After shaping the loaf on the parchment on the counter (or skillet), place either a baking stone, cast iron skillet, or cookie sheet into a cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.Creating Steam: To try and get the crust we all love, you'll need to create some steam (that's what the dutch oven does - it traps the steam): put a pan with water on the bottom rack to heat while the stone heats OR spray the dough with water right before putting in the hot oven to bake and see which you like best. Also, if you have any deep lid that will fit over the dough and allow to rise, you can add that OR try tenting aluminum foil over the top.Baking: Slash and use parchment corners to transfer dough to your hot stone and bake 15 minutes, turning the dough halfway, and then bake until done, another 15 to 20-25 minutes.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.
Looking for more sourdough bread recipes & ways to use your starter?
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