TheFarmChicken Sourdough Bread Recipe: Step by Step

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by TheFarmChicken

Sourdough Artisan Bread in the sunshine

I’m so glad you are here. Today we are looking at TheFarmChicken Sourdough Bread Recipe: Step by Step. What did it take to get to this point? Trial and error, trial and then close, maybe some more trial and error and a change of ratios….and then just right!

Sourdough is incredible. 3 ingredients that make a tasty, crusty, soft interior bread that is good with so many things! Serve with soup, make it into sandwiches or even a snack all by itself with a spread of butter. Plain and simple, sourdough bread is just as good as it sounds.

One of my favorite parts about sourdough is you can work on it throughout your day. It isn’t something that requires a complete 2 hours of your time all at once. I find as a mother and farm wife that it is easier and more convenient this way. Sourdough is forgiving and doesn’t have to be hard! Take it one step at a time and enjoy the process!

If you are new here and don’t have a sourdough starter yet let me direct to Learning Sourdough with Agnes. Consider this like “Part 2”. After you have your active sourdough starter made you can come back here, and we can make delicious bread!

So, we have already learned how to make a starter, and helpful tools and substitutions to those tools if you don’t feel like investing in “all the things”, right away. Now we are to the most fun part, working with the dough, baking, eating, and sharing with family and friends.

My hope along with all the other recipes I share is that you will be able to create lasting memories with family and friends. Whether it is from eating it together or learning/baking together. This is one thing I love about the farming lifestyle, family is part of the job. <3 I hope you enjoy this Recipe from the Farm.

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What is Sourdough Bread?

Sourdough bread is a bread that is made using a sourdough starter. Sourdough starters are flour and water that have created an environment that wild yeast has begun to grow. When making bread and other baked goods, this wild yeast works most during your bulk fermentation and helps to make your baked goods have good flavor, oven spring (rise) and are easier to digest. You won’t get all those benefits with commercial yeast.

Sourdough also has been around for a long time and is the original way people would get bread to rise. It predates commercial yeast by far!

Why Sourdough Bread?

There are quite a few ways to answer this. The most common:

  • Health Benefits
  • Cheaper than buying your own.
  • Better Tasting than Store Bought
  • A helpful skill for self-sufficiency in a sometimes-scary world
  • Cheaper than buying commercial yeast.
  • No added preservatives

Sourdough is known for its health benefits. The major one is that it is usually easier to digest in comparison to its commercial yeast bread counterpart. Because of the slow process it has time to break down some of the carbohydrate and proteins in the flour. This helps make it easier on your digestive system.

Another reason I like sourdough bread that is not be as commonly talked about is sourdough bread and its lack of preservatives. Are preservatives a big deal to eat occasionally? Probably not, but if there are areas that we can avoid them it can be beneficial to our health.

Different Hydration Levels of Sourdough and what I’ve Found:

The higher the hydration the crispier the crust but the bigger the holes are in that said bread. I personally appreciate a medium hydration level in my bread so that is exactly what this recipe is. I like a sourdough loaf of bread that has a crisp exterior, soft inside but doesn’t have huge holes. One reason is because I like to be able to use the bread for grilled sandwiches and having big holes in the bread just makes for a mess.

Not only are there different hydrations in sourdough bread but also the sourdough starter that you make the bread with. I talk more about this in Learning Sourdough with Agnes. I started out with a higher hydration sourdough starter but as I have learned more about baking with sourdough I like a thicker, like a “brownie batter” consistency, starter.

When your sourdough starter is on the thicker side it is easier to tell when it rises and is ready to be used. Runny starters can still successfully make bread but in my opinion, they are harder to work with and without any added benefit.

consistency of sourdough starter agnes

The Flour

To get a good product it is helpful to use good ingredients. I don’t think everything needs to be name brand as some store brand things are just as good as name brand. However, flour is one that I recommend you get a quality product.

For me that is Dakota Maid. I have heard lots of positives things about this flour, and they have all purpose and bread flour options, as well as others. I use Dakota Maid bread flour for most of my sourdough baked goods and sourdough bread is no exception.

Sliced bread on parchment paper

Other brands that I’ve heard good things about:

  • King Arthur
  • Red Mill

Protein Content of Flour

A little side note that will help you have a greater understanding of all purpose/wheat/bread flour and why higher protein is important.

Bread flour generally has a protein content of 12-14%. Having more protein than say All-Purpose flour means more gluten which means a stronger, airier and better loaf. You can use all purpose flour but it might not have as nice of an end result.

The Water

This is an important step. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is best to find something that works for you and then you don’t have to think about it anymore.

The biggest thing is your water needs to be CHLORINE FREE.

So, however you can get there; either by having filtered water or distilled water. It is important. What happens if there is chlorine in the water? The chlorine will kill the wild yeasts in your sourdough starter. Most tap, rural and city waters have chlorine in them.

I have heard that you can set water out on the counter for 24 hours and the chlorine will evaporate but I did not have good outcomes with doing this. I would recommend finding a different way of getting chlorine-free water.

What do I do? I buy distilled water from the store. It is cheap and works for me. Someday I would like to be able to have a self-sufficient way of having chlorine-free water but for now it works for me.

Another important thing is to make sure your water is at room temperature.

The Salt

Measuring salt with kitchen scale

I use coarse kosher salt. Any consistency should be fine. The salt in sourdough adds flavor but it also plays a role in the gluten development. Adding salt to the bread helps tighten the gluten structure which helps add strength to your dough.

The Sourdough Bread Tools (Linked at the Bottom of Post)

Optional:

  • Bannetons/ Proofing basket
  • Bench Scraper

Feeding Agnes/Your Sourdough Starter:

The temperature of your kitchen will affect the rise of your sourdough starter. It is helpful to keep this in mind when it comes to your timeline for baking.

If you are unsure if your sourdough starter is ready you can try the float test. Take a dollop of starter and drop it in some water and see if it floats. If it does it is ready! This test, however, does not always work depending on if you have a thicker or thinner sourdough starter. Thinner starter are much less likely to float.

The Techniques to Making Sourdough Bread

Bread texture for autolyse

Autolyse:

Let’s get to the step-by-step instructions. One of the first things you do with sourdough bread making is autolyse. You will add the active starter and water together then add the flour. Next, mix this together until a shaggy dough forms. At this point you let your bread dough rest for a certain time, and this completes the autolyse process. During the autolyse process the dough will start creating gluten bonds. This results in a softer airier loaf. Simple as that! Let’s move to the next technique!

Folding:

One of the hard things for me to understand when I first started out with sourdough was why people fold the bread…it is part of the recipe and is kind of fun to do but what is the point?

Folding/ stretching the bread dough strengthens the gluten strands in the dough. As you fold the dough (3-4 different times) the dough will change composition a lot! Starting out it will be kind of lumpy and by the time you are done with the folds it will be stretchy and smooth. Oh, and do you know that sourdough ear you get on your bread sometimes? This is partly because of good gluten development formed by stretching and folding.

There are two techniques I use to stretch sourdough bread. Envelope folding and coil folding. With this artisan sourdough recipe, I use the coil fold.

Learning the Coil Fold:

First wet your hands a little. Place your hands under the middle of the dough and pull it up. Once the dough has lifted from the bowl go ahead and fold it under and turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat 4 times. It will begin to tighten and form a ball. In between coil folds it will rest for 45 minutes. Complete a coil foil every 45 minutes for a total of 3-4 times depending on the amount of time you have.

Have a piece of paper and a pen next to you when you do this. Make a mark every time you fold. It helps keep track of where you are, which is helpful. It is easy to get lost in how many folds and rests you have completed.

Shaping the Dough:

Shaping the loaves is another area that can be overwhelming, but you just get better at it with time. I have a YouTube video coming soon that you can check out if seeing the dough shaped would help you master it.

Basically, you take the sourdough after it is done resting for the final 30 minutes and laminate it. Laminating is when you lay out the dough on the counter and stretch it pretty far but not too far to rip the dough. Then take the dough and fold in thirds and roll it up into a ball. Next you will create surface tension by cupping your hands and pulling the dough toward you. Again, make sure not to overdo this and cause the dough to rip.

You will rest the dough for 15 minutes and complete the shaping again. Then sprinkle the tops with some flour and put them in the bannetons/ proofing baskets. Some people recommend rice flour for the top of the dough, as it is a gluten free flour. I use all purpose flour because I find it unnecessary for me to buy rice flour just for that. Really it is a personal preference.

After it is in the bannetons you will place them both in a plastic bag and tie them shut.

Shaping sourdough bread

Proofing/Long Ferment:

Once you have finished with the shaping we will now concentrate on the proofing and long ferment. This helps the dough get its signature flavor and it is also the time the dough will rise. Two purposes for one step.

I do a half hour on the counter before placing the dough in the fridge. Then at 8-10 hours of proofing, I like to have the bread baking. That means preheating the oven around 7 hours from the time you put the bread in the fridge. If you put it in at 11:00 PM the night before that means preheating the oven around 6:00AM. You will put your Dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

It is best to let your oven preheat for a while past the point when it has reached the proper temperature. This ensures everything is warm thoroughly. Usually about a half an hour past the point it says it is at the proper temperature.

Take Note:

Make sure that you don’t overproof your sourdough. If you do this, you will not get the right amount of oven spring to make a lofty loaf. It will still bake up fine but will be flatter.

Scoring your Bread

This step is straight forward but it can be done in so many ways. Here are a couple for sures that you should make sure you are doing when scoring your loaves:

  1. Use a sharp razor blade.
  2. Always at least make a long slash.
  3. When doing the long slash, you want to go about a half to full inch in the dough.
  4. Your blade should be at a slight angle when making the one long deep slash.
Scoring the sourdough bread

There are many designs you can add to the loaf, but this is up to you if you want to take the time to do this. A lot of times if you are trying to decorate your loaf you will want to dust the top of the loaf first with a little flour and smooth it out over the loaf. Then you can begin making little cut designs with your bread lame.

If you don’t have a razor blade/bread lame don’t let that stop you! You can still make the bread and just use a sharp knife to do the cut instead. You probably won’t get the same results in oven spring and such, but it will still taste good!

The Bake:

You made it to the bake! This is the most exciting part! Seeing how all that work you put into it will turn out. You have preheated the oven to 500 degrees and have scored your loaf. Now you are ready to take the Dutch oven out. Use the piece of parchment paper it is placed on as a lifter and set it in the Dutch oven. Place the lid on again and return it to the oven. Lower the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes with the lid.

After the first 25 minutes you will remove the lid. It is so fun at this point to open the lid and see how it has baked so far. Does it have an ear? (Ears are not necessary in sourdough bread to have a nice loaf but it is fun to see and adds visual interest to your loaf.) Is it risen well?

Sourdough bread in oven

After removing the lid, you will bake the loaf for another 15 minutes. This helps the crust become a nice golden brown. So pretty! Then remove it from the oven and Dutch Oven to a cooling rack and let it cool before slicing and enjoying. However sometimes I don’t wait that long!

If you still have another loaf to bake, then put the Dutch oven back into the oven with the lid and preheat again to 500 degrees and bake this loaf the same as you did the first one.

The next step… enjoy the fruits of your labor!! And below I have some great ways listed to do that. Some of our favorites!

Summer Sausage Sandwich with Lettuce and cheese on Sourdough Bread

Our favorite ways to eat sourdough bread:

  • Fresh with butter
  • Eggs and Sourdough Toast
  • French Toast
  • Grilled Sandwiches like grilled cheese
  • Sliced with butter and Jam with soup
  • Fresh in a Sandwich

A Baking Schedule:

Make sure to plan out your baking so that you can avoid later nights or earlier mornings than you would like for baking bread. It really makes the process more enjoyable. Here is a good sample schedule:

  • 10:30 AM Feed Agnes (My Starter)
  • 4:30/5:30 PM Once double in size mix up bread.
  • 10:30PM Put bread dough in the fridge

The Next Day:

  • 6:30 AM ish: Preheat your oven with Dutch Oven inside
  • 7:30 AM ish: Bake your Sourdough bread

Storing Sourdough Bread:

There are many ways that you can store sourdough bread. I prefer to store it loosely in bags like this.

Pin for Later:

Pin Image for Sourdough Bread

Making TheFarmChicken Sourdough Bread

The finished loaf of bread
  • 280 g sourdough starter, active
  • 550 g water, distilled or filter (NO CHOLORINATED WATER)
  • 900 g bread flour
  • 20 g kosher salt
  1. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer; measure out the active starter and water. Mix this together with your hand, wooden spoon or Danish dough hook. After it has made a slurry measure in the flour.
  2. Next, either with the dough hook and stand mixer or by hand mix until it forms a shaggy dough about 1-2 minutes. Let the dough rest, covered for 30 minutes. (This is the Autolyse.)
  3. After autolyse add in the kosher salt and knead on the lowest setting or by hand for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Grease a large non-metal large mixing bowl with a dash of olive oil and once the bread is done being kneaded transfer to the prepared bowl. Let rest, covered for 45 minutes.
  5. You will now perform your first set of coil folds. If you are unsure of how to do this, please refer to above or my YouTube video. When you are working with the dough it can be sticky. If you are having issues with it sticking to your hands get a little bowl with some water in it and wet your hands as needed to help prevent sticking. Your wet hands are almost like floured hands without having to use flour which we want to avoid.
  6. Then…
  7. 45 min rest, coil fold
  8. 45 min rest, coil fold
  9. 45 min rest, coil fold
  10. 45 min rest, coil fold
  11. 30 min rest, shape
  12. Next, remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface with NO flour. (If the dough is sticky use some water in a small bowl to wet your fingers.)
  13. Using a bench scraper or chef’s knife (be careful if you use a knife for this). Divide the dough in half.
  14. Take the one half and stretch or laminate the dough by pulling it gently into a rectangle. Next fold it in thirds into the middle and roll it up from one end.
  15. Pull the dough ball toward you with cupped hands to create tension. Be sure not to over do this step as you don’t want to rip the dough.
  16. Repeat this with the second loaf and let rest for 15 minutes.
  17. After the rest gently shape the loaves again using the same process as earlier but being gentler with the dough. It doesn’t pull out as far the second time and that is okay.
  18. Once they are shaped again, flour the tops of the loaves and put them in floured bannetons with the seam side up. Put the loaves in bags and tie.

Bulk Ferment/ Bread Rise:

  • Let the loaves sit on the counter for 30 minutes before placing them in the fridge for 8-10 hours.

Bake Day:

  1. The next day once the loaves have been in the fridge for 7 hours; preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside to 500 degrees.
  2. At around 1 hour of preheating take the bread out of the fridge and flip it out of the banneton onto a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Do any designs you would like and then slash the dough. Remember to do this at a slight angle and a half inch to an inch deep.
  4. Transfer the bread to the preheated Dutch oven using the parchment paper as a lifter. Return it to the oven, reduce the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. When the 25 minutes are over, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. Place the loaf onto a cooling wire rack and put the Dutch oven with the lid back into the oven. Preheat to 500 degrees and then repeat the process over again with the second loaf.
  7. Allow to cool and enjoy! It is delightful!

TheFarmChicken Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is incredible. 3 ingredients that make a tasty, crusty, soft interior bread that is good with so many things! Serve with soup, make it into sandwiches or even a snack all by itself with a spread of butter. Plain and simple, sourdough bread is just as good as it sounds.
Print Recipe
Sourdough Bread on Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 280 g sourdough starter active
  • 550 g water distilled or filter (NO CHOLORINATED WATER)
  • 900 g bread flour
  • 20 g kosher salt

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer; measure out the active starter and water. Mix this together with your hand, wooden spoon or Danish dough hook. After it has made a slurry measure in the flour.
  • Next, either with the dough hook and stand mixer or by hand mix until it forms a shaggy dough about 1-2 minutes. Let the dough rest, covered for 30 minutes. (This is the Autolyse.)
  • After autolyse add in the kosher salt and knead on the lowest setting or by hand for 5-6 minutes.
  • Grease a large non-metal large mixing bowl with a dash of olive oil and once the bread is done being kneaded transfer to the prepared bowl. Let rest, covered for 45 minutes.
  • You will now perform your first set of coil folds. If you are unsure of how to do this, please refer to above or my YouTube video. When you are working with the dough it can be sticky. If you are having issues with it sticking to your hands get a little bowl with some water in it and wet your hands as needed to help prevent sticking. Your wet hands are almost like floured hands without having to use flour which we want to avoid.
  • Then…
  • 45 min rest, coil fold
  • 45 min rest, coil fold
  • 45 min rest, coil fold
  • 45 min rest, coil fold
  • 30 min rest, shape
  • Next, remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean work surface with NO flour. (If the dough is sticky use some water in a small bowl to wet your fingers.)
  • Using a bench scraper or chef’s knife (be careful if you use a knife for this). Divide the dough in half.
  • Take the one half and stretch or laminate the dough by pulling it gently into a rectangle. Next fold it in thirds into the middle and roll it up from one end.
  • Pull the dough ball toward you with cupped hands to create tension. Be sure not to over do this step as you don’t want to rip the dough.
  • Repeat this with the second loaf and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • After the rest gently shape the loaves again using the same process as earlier but being gentler with the dough. It doesn’t pull out as far the second time and that is okay.
  • Once they are shaped again, flour the tops of the loaves and put them in floured bannetons with the seam side up. Put the loaves in bags and tie.

Bulk Ferment/ Bread Rise

  • Let the loaves sit on the counter for 30 minutes before placing them in the fridge for 8-10 hours.

Bake Day:

  • The next day once the loaves have been in the fridge for 7 hours; preheat your oven with the Dutch oven inside to 500 degrees.
  • At around 1 hour of preheating take the bread out of the fridge and flip it out of the banneton onto a piece of parchment paper.
  • Do any designs you would like and then slash the dough. Remember to do this at a slight angle and a half inch to an inch deep.
  • Transfer the bread to the preheated Dutch oven using the parchment paper as a lifter. Return it to the oven, reduce the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
  • When the 25 minutes are over, take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Place the loaf onto a cooling wire rack and put the Dutch oven with the lid back into the oven. Preheat to 500 degrees and then repeat the process over again with the second loaf.
  • Allow to cool and enjoy! It is delightful!
Servings: 2 loaves

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I hope you enjoy making TheFarmChicken Sourdough Bread Recipe: Step by Step as much as I do! Questions, comments, or review? Leave them below. Thanks for being here!

Mariah N. | TheFarmChicken

Other Sourdough Bread Recipes to try:

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:35
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8 Comments

    1. Hi Judy!

      It varies but I would say anywhere from a 1/2 cup to a cup or around 150-200 grams.

      Let me know if you have any other questions and welcome to TheFarmChicken! ☺️

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