Sourdough Bread Recipe

Sourdough Bread Recipe

Sourdough bread has become a culinary icon, celebrated for its distinctive flavor, chewy texture, and artisanal appeal. This ancient bread-making technique, dating back thousands of years, involves a natural fermentation process that imparts a unique tanginess to the bread. As a testament to its enduring popularity, sourdough has experienced a resurgence in recent years, captivating home bakers and professional chefs alike.

The Basics of Sourdough:

At its core, sourdough is a type of bread made using a naturally occurring mixture of flour and water to create a fermented dough. The magic ingredient is the wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria present in the environment, which colonize the mixture and initiate the fermentation process. This symbiotic relationship between yeast and bacteria is what gives sourdough its distinct sour flavor and leavening properties.

The Starter:

The heart of sourdough lies in the starter, also known as a “levain” or “mother dough.” This is a mixture of flour and water that captures and nurtures the wild yeast and bacteria from the environment. Over the course of several days, the mixture is regularly fed with additional flour and water to encourage the growth of the microorganisms, creating a robust and active starter. A well-maintained starter is crucial for achieving the desired rise and flavor in sourdough bread.

The Fermentation Process:

Once the starter is ready, it is incorporated into the bread dough, which typically consists of flour, water, and salt. The dough is then left to ferment, allowing the wild yeast and bacteria to work their magic. During this fermentation period, the dough develops its unique flavor profile, texture, and rise. The slow fermentation of sourdough, often taking several hours or even days, contributes to its complexity and depth of taste.

The Artisanal Touch:

One of the defining characteristics of sourdough is its artisanal nature. The process requires patience, skill, and a deep understanding of the dough’s behavior. Bakers often engage in techniques such as folding and shaping the dough to develop its structure and create the desired crumb. The use of high-quality, preferably stone-ground, flour also enhances the flavor and nutritional profile of the bread.

Health Benefits:

Beyond its delicious taste and artisanal charm, sourdough bread offers some health benefits. The long fermentation process breaks down gluten and phytic acid, making the bread more digestible. Additionally, sourdough has a lower glycemic index compared to conventional bread, which can contribute to better blood sugar control.

Varieties of Sourdough:

Sourdough is a versatile canvas for culinary creativity, leading to a plethora of variations. From classic country loaves to specialty breads infused with herbs, seeds, or grains, the possibilities are endless. Bakers around the world have put their own spin on sourdough, creating regional specialties that reflect local tastes and traditions.

Sourdough bread, with its rich history and intricate process, stands as a testament to the marriage of science and art in the world of baking. Beyond its delicious taste and artisanal appeal, sourdough represents a connection to our culinary roots and a celebration of time-honored traditions. Whether baked in a professional kitchen or by an enthusiastic home baker, each loaf of sourdough tells a story of patience, skill, and the alchemy of fermentation. As we savor the tangy bite of a well-made sourdough slice, we connect not only with the present moment but also with the bakers and generations that have cherished this bread throughout history.

Classic Sourdough Bread Recipe


For the Starter:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup mature sourdough starter

For the Bread Dough:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Day 1: Creating the Starter

  1. In a clean glass or plastic container, mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour with 1/3 cup lukewarm water until you have a thick, smooth paste.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of your mature sourdough starter to the mixture. Mix well, cover loosely, and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2: Feeding the Starter

  1. Discard half of the starter mixture.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of bread flour and 1/4 cup lukewarm water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover loosely, and let it sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.

Day 3: Final Feeding and Dough Preparation

  1. Discard half of the starter once again.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining starter with 3 1/2 cups of bread flour, 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise at room temperature for 4-6 hours, or until doubled in size. During this time, perform a series of folds every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours.

Day 3 (Continued): Shaping and Final Rise

  1. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently shape it into a round or oval loaf.
  2. Place the shaped dough in a floured proofing basket or a bowl lined with a floured kitchen towel, seam side down.
  3. Cover the dough with the towel and let it rise for an additional 1-2 hours, or until it has visibly increased in size.


  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven during preheating.
  2. Carefully transfer the risen dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or onto your preheated baking stone.
  3. Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife or razor blade to allow for controlled expansion during baking.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  5. Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Enjoy your homemade classic sourdough bread! Adjustments can be made to suit personal preferences, and feel free to experiment with different flours or add-ins for a unique twist.

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