Simple Sourdough Bread Recipe for Non-Bakers

 

Are you a lover of sourdough bread but always wondered if there was a way to make simple sourdough bread at home? Have you maybe looked into it and got overwhelmed by the complicated nature of a sourdough bread recipe? I strongly encourage you to give making simple sourdough bread at home another try. You cannot beat the taste of a homemade loaf of sourdough right out of the oven. If there was a way to make simple sourdough bread at home, wouldn’t you want to give it a try?

 

Simple Sourdough Bread loaf

My Gorgeous Simple Sourdough Bread

What do you think your family and friends would say if you showed them this gorgeous loaf of bread and told them that you made it from scratch without any store bought yeast? I can safely say they would be quite impressed. This brings me to the purpose of this post. I have a sourdough bread recipe that anyone, even a non-baker with little to no baking or bread making experience can make.

Now I would never lie to you and I will tell you upfront that while this is a simple sourdough bread recipe, it is not quick and does require some patience and time. However, I have simplified it as much as I could and promise you that you will not be disappointed in the final product as long as you carefully follow the steps I have outlined here and don’t give up. If, however, this is your very first time making bread or you don’t have a lot of patience, check out my Soft and Easy Dinner rolls that take much less time and effort

You might be wondering, “If this bread isn’t made with any store-bought yeast, how does it rise?” Well, the answer to this question is, You are going to be making your very own sourdough starter from the natural yeast found all around us.

THE STARTER

Sourdough Starter

Active and Doubled Sourdough Starter

If you have made sourdough bread before and already have a starter, you can skip to the actual recipe below and start making your dough. Otherwise, I will outline the exact steps you must take to make your very own starter! Don’t worry! This is going to be fun! : ) You’re already on your way to making simple sourdough bread.

  1. Find a non-metallic container with a lid (preferably glass like the one shown in the pic)
  2. Add a few spoonfuls of flour (whatever you have on hand)
  3. Add a splash of bottled water
  4. Stir with a plastic or wooden utensil
  5. Cover with a thin cloth or napkin (I use a rubber band to secure it onto the top of the jar)
  6. Leave it on your counter at room temperature
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 twice daily (or at least once) for about 2 weeks

Note: As you are feeding the starter, the volume will be continuously increasing. Therefore, you will want to throw away some (or almost all even) of your starter at least every other time you feed it. Unless you want to let it move you out of house and home.

The ultimate goal here is to have a starter that, after being fed, can double in volume in less than about 6 hours. To monitor this, I like to use a rubber band that is level with the starter right after being fed. This makes it very easy to see how much it has increased in volume over time. My starter this time around was particularly active and was able to complete the progression you see below in only three hours.

Sourdough Starter #1

Sourdough Starter After Feeding

Sourdough Starter #2

Sourdough Starter One Hour after Feeding

Sourdough Starter #3

Sourdough Starter 3 Hours After Feeding

Your starter may very well be ready to make bread and can complete the growth test in less than 2 weeks and if you so choose you could attempt making a loaf with it. I just recommend two weeks because I find if you wait a full two weeks before trying to make bread, you have a better chance of getting a great outcome on your very first try.

A VERY IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER:

DO NOT THROW OUT YOUR STARTER

EVEN IF:

  • IT SMELLS TERRIBLE
    • As all kinds of bacteria and yeast are being trapped in your container and fighting it out, the smell will go from bad to possible awful, to not bad, and then eventually to good.
    • Even if your starter smells completely awful, just feed it and continue the process, don’t throw it away!
  • IT DEVELOPS A BROWN LIQUID
    • This is totally normal and is called hooch. The development of hooch usually means that your starter is hungry and needs to be fed.
    • Stir back in the hooch and continue discarding and feeding your starter
  • YOU AREN’T SEEING ANY ACTIVITY
    • Even if the activity seems to slow down or almost stop and you haven’t seen many bubbles or signs of fermentation, do not fret.
    • As the environment becomes more acidic, the bad bacteria start to die off and the yeast and good bacteria take over. It can then take some time for the activity level of this good bacteria to pick up. You might notice that as your starter starts to smell better, the activity level slows. This is completely normal and to be expected.
  • IT LOOKS MOLDY
    • This is the number one reason I hear people throwing away their starters. If you see mold starting to develop on your starter, just scrap away all visible mold and continue feeding! Do not throw it away.

TRUST THE PROCESS AND KEEP GOING!

Now that you have an active sourdough starter that can double in less than 6 hours, we can start the process of making our simple sourdough bread dough! Finally!

Feed your starter as normal, but this time, as soon as it achieves it’s maximum volume, conduct a float test to see if it is ready to make bread.

FLOAT TESTING

If a starter is active enough to raise a loaf of bread it should be able to pass a float test. This means that if you drop a small dollop of starter into some room temperature water, it should float. As you can see below, the first photo is a failed float test and the second is a successful float test which indicates the starter is ready to use.

Float Test #1

Failed Float Test

Float Test #2

Successful Float Test

MAKING THE SIMPLE SOURDOUGH BREAD DOUGH

Starter Pour

Making the dough – Adding Starter

Now that our sourdough starter is ready to use, we can begin to make our dough. Begin with dumping almost all of your sourdough starter (about 1 Cup) into a large bowl. I usually just leave behind whatever sticks to the container and doesn’t come out on its own. Then, add some water and flour to your remaining starter, mix it up, and place it in the fridge to use for making bread next time. Feed your refrigerated starter about once a week if not making bread regularly. If you prefer not to feed it so often, keep it in the freezer.

To your starter, add 2 Tbsp of sugar and 3 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive oil and whisk everything to combine well. I add these to yield a softer dough and a little extra flavor but you can leave it out if you want to make a plain sourdough without any additions. Traditional sourdough bread is made with only flour, water, and salt but you can get creative if you choose. Now you want to add one cup of water and, again, whisk it well to combine.

It’s time now to add the flour. Start with 3 cups of flour. The type of flour you use is up to you. In this recipe to make it easy, I used plain, white flour but you can use a combination of bread flour and any whole grain or wheat flour. Just keep in mind that if you use a significant amount of whole grain flour, you may need to increase the amount of water used to achieve the same level of hydration.

Once you have mixed in the first 3 cups of flour and there is no longer any visible dry flour in your dough, add the other 1/2 cup of flour and mix until incorporated. Now cover and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. This is what is called Autolyse and is when the flour is given time to absorb the liquid and allow the gluten to start forming. We will add our salt in after the Autolyse as it can interfere. Add 1.5 Tsp of salt along with 1 Tbsp of water to your dough and mix until well combined.

STRETCH AND FOLDS

Stretch and Fold

Stretching and Folding the Dough

Now that we have our bread dough, we need to spend some time building its strength and developing its gluten structure while also letting it complete the fermentation process. To do this, we will complete a series of stretch and folds every 30-45 minutes. To complete a stretch and fold, wet your hands, slide one hand under the dough, grasping it with your fingers. Stretch the dough upwards and fold it back onto itself. Rotate the bowl slightly, grab another section of the dough and repeat the same process four times. Then, cover the dough and let it rest for about 30-45 minutes.

This process is called bulk fermentation and helps with the final texture and taste of our bread.

Note: This process can be adjusted according to your availability. If you are making bread on a particularly busy day where you will not be at home, reduce the number of stretch and folds to two or skip them completely and just leave your dough out at room temperature for at least 4-6 hours. Don’t stress about it and just do what you can.

SHAPING THE SIMPLE SOURDOUGH BREAD LOAF

Loaf Shaping

Shaping the Simple Sourdough Loaf

Once the bulk fermentation is complete, we must now shape our dough and place it in the fridge overnight to proof. Flour your counter and scrape out all your dough onto your work surface. Gently stretch out the dough into a square shape. Fold the dough towards you and pinch the edge. Rotate the dough slightly and continue folding the outer edge towards you until a ball of dough is formed. (Watch the video for more clarification on how to do this) To seal the bottom and tighten the outer skin, gently pull the ball of dough towards you. Rotate it, and repeat. You will feel the ball tightening as you do this.

Finally, place the dough in a bowl or basket lined with a piece of parchment. Place this bowl or basket in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge overnight.

BAKING THE SIMPLE SOURDOUGH BREAD LOAF

When you are ready to bake your bread the following day, take it out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for approximately 30 minutes. Once you can poke your finger in the dough and the dough does not quickly fill in the hole made by your finger, it is ready to bake.

To bake your sourdough, you can use any large saucepan or Dutch oven that will fit the loaf of bread and has a tightly fitting lid. Place whatever pan you have chosen to use, with the lid on, into the oven and preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it will go. This is 525 degrees F for my oven. When the oven is preheated, carefully take out the pan, remove the lid, and place the dough, with the parchment, into the pan. Quickly score the top of the bread with a knife, place the lid back on, and put it back into the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature of your oven to 450 Degrees F and set a timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, transfer the bread from the pan to a cookie sheet and place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes at 450 Degrees F. Allow it to cool completely before slicing. I know it’s hard, but try to have some self-control. : )

A NOTE ABOUT THE CRUMB

Because this dough has a relatively low hydration level, didn’t have much of an oven spring/rise, and had added ingredients such as the olive oil, it will have a nice soft crumb but not have the large holes that some sourdough bread has. If you desire a more open crumb (larger holes), you can experiment with increasing the amount of water used and try and get the bread to spring/rise more in the oven when baking.

Sourdough Toast

Simple Sourdough Bread with Fresh Mango

This simple sourdough bread recipe has such a lovely taste and is excellent used as a bread for sandwiches. My favorite way to eat it, however, is toasted, with butter, and next to some fresh fruit.

I hope you can see through reading this post that anyone, no matter what experience level or equipment owned can make amazing sourdough bread. However, if you are interested in obtaining some more professional equipment for making even more amazing sourdough, check out this amazing Boule Set from Craftsy that comes with everything you need to make sourdough bread like a professional at home! I just ordered myself one and cannot wait until it arrives. Click Here to Check it Out!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and will give it a try! Please let me know if you do make it! Post a comment below or send me a picture to my Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram (links are below). Also, don’t forget to subscribe to BlueEyedChef.com and The BlueEyed Chef Youtube Channel so you can be the first to get updates about new recipes.

Simple Sourdough Bread for Non-Bakers

This recipe will show you how to use your sourdough starter to make some delicious and gorgeous sourdough bread at home!

Servings 8
Author The BlueEyed Chef

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Sourdough Starter
  • 3.5 Cups Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1.5 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Tbsp Water

Instructions

  1. Add Sourdough Starter to a large bowl

  2. To starter, add sugar and olive oil and mix well to combine

  3. Add water and whisk together until well combined

  4. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until no longer visible

  5. Add last 1/2 Cup of flour and mix until combined

  6. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes

  7. Add 1 Tbsp water and salt and mix until incorporated

  8. Complete 4 stretch and folds, allowing the dough to rest for 30-45 minutes in between each

  9. Dump dough on floured surface and shape into a ball.

  10. Place dough into a parchment lined bowl or basket and leave in the fridge overnight inside a plastic bag.

  11. Remove from fridge and allow to rest for 30 minutes on the counter

  12. Place pot in the oven and preheat to hottest temperature (500-525 F)

  13. Place bread with parchment into hot pot, place lid on top, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

  14. After 30 minutes, transfer the dough from pot to a cookie sheet and bake for 15 more minutes. 

  15. Let cool completely before slicing..Enjoy!!