Super Easy Sourdough Bread For Beginners

This easy sourdough bread for beginners is perfect for those seeking a same-day bake without stretch and folds or coil folds and without having to feed your sourdough starter before baking. The whole process of making this sourdough bread is super simple and quick (for a sourdough).

A sliced up sourdough bread.

What makes this sourdough bread great for beginners:

This sourdough bread is a lower hydration recipe (63%), which makes it perfect for beginners as the dough is easier to handle and shape. It is also great for those who prefer a more compact crumb for sandwiches and spreads. Even though the water content is low, the result is a light crumb and not dense or gummy.

All you need is a mature sourdough starter straight from the fridge, strong bread flour (high protein content), lukewarm water, and salt. Everything is mixed in a bowl and kneaded for a few minutes. The bulk fermentation process is pretty straightforward. A hands-off fermentation that can take as little or as long as you want depending on the temperature in your kitchen.

Sourdough bread slices in a basket.

This sourdough artisan bread has a crunchy crust and a soft and fluffy crumb. Delicious for spreading butter or cheese on, or for sandwiches. It is very easy to slice and has a delightful sourdough flavor.

Sourdough bread-making can be quite overwhelming if you follow all the advice you read online. But I am here to tell you that it can be as simple as you want it to be. This is why I am sharing this easy sourdough recipe with you. The only difference between this sourdough bread and a yeasted bread is the time it takes to ferment. That’s it, no special techniques or stressing whether or not you will miss the peak of your starter after feeding. As long as you have a strong sourdough starter, you are golden. Plus, you get that delicious sourdough tang as a bonus.

A sourdough boule sliced in half

Please note that your results might differ from mine as each flour is unique, each sourdough starter is unique, and your environment (kitchen and oven) is not identical to mine. Use this recipe as a guide but make sure you adjust it according to your circumstances.

Depending on the flour you use, you might need to adjust the amount of water in the recipe. Some flours absorb more water than others. The milling process, the wheat variety, and protein content, all play a crucial role in how your flour will behave in a recipe. For example, the higher the protein percentage in flour, the more water it can absorb.

My sourdough starter is 100% hydration, which means it has equal-weight flour and water. The type of flour your starter has been fed before using it can also play a role in how your starter behaves.

I bulk fermented at a temperature of around 25°C-26°C (77°F-78.8°F) in a high-humidity environment. If you live in a dry climate, you will need to adjust the water content as well. If your kitchen temperature is significantly lower than mine, your bulk fermentation will take longer. If your kitchen is hotter than 27°C (80.6°F), you will need to find a cooler spot in your house as the yeast population in your starter will not survive at high temperatures.

A sliced up sourdough artisan bread

Tools you might need:

  • I recommend using a transparent straight-sided vessel or container for bulk fermentation to ensure a more accurate measuring of the dough size increase.
  • For baking, you will get the best results with a Dutch Oven. If you don’t have one, you can recreate a similar result with a lot of steam in the oven. All you need to do is place a thick sheet pan on the bottom of your oven while pre-heating. Once you are ready to bake, place the bread in first and then pour a few cups of boiling water into the pan. Close the oven door immediately. Steam is important for the crust and the oven spring of your bread. You can place your bread on a hot stone to get the bottom of the bread to crisp up, just like in a Dutch Oven.
  • I like to use a boule-shaped banneton after I shape my bread as I find it more convenient and less messy. Plus I like the swirl effect it creates on the crust. If you don’t wish to use one, a bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel that is heavenly floured should work just fine.
  • I always use a kitchen scale for measuring the weight of my ingredients as it is the most accurate when recreating a recipe. I will put a cup measuring estimate in the recipe card, but please be aware that the results may vary from person to person.

Ingredients needed for the easy sourdough bread for beginners:

  • Sourdough Starter: straight from the fridge. You don’t need to use a starter at peak for this recipe. Follow my sourdough starter recipe to create a healthy starter from scratch.
  • Strong White Bread Flour: with a high protein content (you can find this on the packaging in the nutrition label section). Mine has 15% protein, but anything above 13% should work.
  • Water: I recommend filtered water without chlorine. A temperature around 38°C/100°F is ideal, but room temperature works fine. Warm water will speed up the fermentation process.
  • Salt: I use Celtic sea salt but any good quality salt should work (no iodized salt).
A sourdough artisan bread arrangement

How to make the easy sourdough bread for beginners:

  1. Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and give it a good mix.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sourdough starter, and water.
  3. Clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula and dump the dough on a working surface.
  4. Start kneading the dough until everything comes together well.
  5. If your dough is too sticky, leave the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Wet your hands and restart the kneading process.
  7. The total amount of kneading time is about 10 minutes, depending on your kneading skills.
  8. Knead the dough just like you do with yeasted dough.
  9. The dough should become more elastic and smooth (like a soft playdough) as you knead.
  10. You are done kneading when the dough doesn’t stick to the table or your hands and is elastic (if you gently stretch the dough it doesn’t break).
  11. Shape the dough into a tight ball. If you gently push on the dough ball it should bounce back.
  12. You only need to add more water if the dough is clearly too dry and hard to work with.
  13. You only need to add more flour if your dough is too wet to work with, but only after you have left it to rest as recommended above and you used wet hands to knead. Even then, only add the flour in small increments and see how your dough works with it.
  1. Take your straight-sided container and add the dough inside. Gently push the dough inside.
  2. Add a rubber band around the container to mark where the size of your dough is at.
  3. Place the lid on top without closing it and set the dough aside to bulk ferment in a warm spot away from direct sunlight or draught.
  4. Leave the dough to ferment until it doubles in size. Mine took about 6 hours, but yours can take longer depending on the strength of your starter, the flour you used, and the temperature of the room. Please be patient and only observe your dough, not the clock.
  5. Your dough is done fermenting once it is DOUBLED IN SIZE, it has a domed top and is jiggly when gently shaken. You should be able to see air bubbles inside your dough.
  6. I like to leave my dough to ferment during the day so I can keep an eye on it. If your kitchen is cooler and you are not available during the daytime, you can leave the dough to ferment on your counter overnight.
  7. Flour your work surface and gently pull out your fermented dough on the table.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball by gently lifting the sides and bringing them into the middle of the dough (like pulling a blanket over you kind of motion). The end result should be a sourdough boule.
  9. The shaping process needs to be gentle as you don’t want to deflate the dough. You need to make sure you preserve those air bubbles the yeast has created as much as possible. Also, you don’t want to overstretch the dough as you can break the gluten strands that will help the bread hold its shape while baking. That being said, you do need to create a bit of tension while shaping to help with the oven spring and crumb of the bread. Just use a gentle hand while doing that.
  10. Close the bottom of the bread by bringing the sides together, pinching the dough between your fingers to make it stick, and folding it in to lock it.
  11. Flour your banneton with rice flour and transfer your shaped dough face in. I recommend rice flour to avoid sticking as it has no gluten. If you don’t have rice flour, use your regular flour but add more to make sure it is well coated.
  12. Sprinkle some of the flour left from your work surface on your dough and gently spread it uniformly.

  1. Poke the dough with your finger in one gentle motion. If it makes a dent that springs back up gently about halfway through, your bread is ready to bake. If the dent springs back up completely and quickly, your dough needs more time on the counter to continue fermentation. If the dent does not spring back at all, it means the dough is over-proofed. You can still bake it, but it won’t be as pretty and pleasant to eat as perfectly proofed bread.
  2. The dough should still have that light and airy feel to it and still jiggle when you shake the banneton.
  3. Cover your banneton with a breathable cloth or tea towel.
  1. If the dough is ready to bake, transfer it to the freezer for about 30 minutes, while your oven is preheating. This will stop the fermentation process and will cool down the dough.
  2. Preheat your oven with the Dutch Oven inside to 250°C/482°F for about 30 minutes (depending on your oven).
  3. Take out your sourdough from the freezer and gently turn it upside down on parchment paper.
  4. Place the bread in the hot Dutch Oven and score it with a lame (with caution), or sharp kitchen scissors. You should score one deep score across the bread (about 1/2 inch deep). I like to make a semi-moon shape for this recipe. You can create pretty designs by scoring them only on the surface without going deep, but you will need at least one deep cut. The scoring helps with oven spring and to avoid a big rupture in the crust.
  1. Put the lid on and place the bread in the oven on the middle or lower rack (depending on the size of your oven).
  2. Bake for about 45 minutes with the lid on and about 15 minutes with the lid off. Do not open the oven to check on the bread in the first 30 minutes. Keep the same oven temperature throughout the baking process.
  3. Each oven is different, so your baking time might differ from mine. I recommend checking on your bread after 35 minutes or so. Once your bread looks like it is baked, take the lid off to brown and crisp up the crust. It is up to you how dark you like your crust to be. I am somewhere in the middle.
  4. Take the bread out of the oven and let it cool off in the Dutch Oven for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Gently take the bread out with the parchment paper and place it on a cooling rack.
  6. I recommend not slicing it until it has completely cooled off. Your crumb will look gummy and underbaked if you slice it too early. Believe me, I understand the struggle, as nothing beats the taste of warm freshly baked bread. But sourdough is a bit more fussy than regular bread.
  7. And that’s it. Your delicious sourdough bread is ready. You can start the whole process in the morning and have it ready by dinner time.
  8. Slice and enjoy!
Fresh out of the oven sourdough boule

How to store the sourdough bread:

You can store your sourdough boule in a bread bag or a bread box but it will go stale faster than commercial bread. Don’t worry if that happens, you can turn it into sourdough bread crumbs, homemade croutons, or a delicious French toast casserole with ricotta and lemon.

I recommend slicing it and freezing it in a large zip-lock bag. This way you can defrost only the amount you need and you will preserve its freshness. All you need to do is let it thaw at room temperature (it only takes a few minutes). You can serve it as is or toast it for an extra crunch. The texture and taste will be the same as freshly baked sourdough bread.

A close up of the crust of a sourdough boule

Troubleshooting:

I am here to help if you are having issues with your sourdough bread making. Just pop a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, I have answered a few common questions below.

Why isn’t my dough rising?

Two things can be causing this. Your sourdough starter is not strong enough or the temperature in your kitchen is too low.

The solution:

Strengthen your sourdough starter by feeding it a small amount of rye flour mixed with your regular flour (25% to 50% of the flour amount in your feeding). Feed your starter peak to peak a couple of times before using it again. Use the discard for some delicious sourdough desserts (I’ve listed some below in the troubleshooting section).

Place your dough in a warm spot (somewhere like the top of your refrigerator) or in the oven with only the light on (be aware that some ovens can reach up to 32°C/89.6°F with the light on). I recommend checking the temperature with a room thermometer).

My dough is runny and sticky after the bulk fermentation:

You have most likely overfermented the dough.

The solution:

Either shape it the best you can and bake it. The result will not be great, but still be edible. Or, make focaccia/pizza instead. All you need is some olive oil and extra seasonings.

My bread is chewy and gummy:

If you never had sourdough before you should know that sourdough tends to have a slight chewiness to it compared to yeasted bread. However, it shouldn’t be so strong to bother you.

The solution:

Strengthen your sourdough starter and feed it at a higher ratio as it could be too acidic (1:2:2 ratio or higher).

Your dough could be underproofed. Make sure you follow the steps I explained in the instructions. Most beginner sourdough bakers are underproofing their dough as they are used to quick yeasted bread and haven’t learned to read their dough yet. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be hard on yourself if that happens. Your sourdough bread is still edible. I recommend toasting it before serving.

My crumb is uneven:

This is most likely a shaping problem. Either too loose or too tight.

The solution:

You will learn with practice. Don’t stress about it. Follow my instructions and you should get it better each time you try. I recommend a gentle hand with a bit of firmness at the end of the shaping.

My bread did not rise in the oven:

This is either a weak starter, a fermentation issue (underproofed or overproofed), not scoring deep enough, or a problem with your oven (not well preheated or not maintaining the set temperature).

The solution:

I have discussed the starter and fermentation issues in detail throughout the article. Please read the above or ask me questions in the comment below if you cannot find a solution.

Make sure you score the dough 1/2 inch deep to help with oven rise.

Check the temperature of your oven with an oven thermometer. I was having issues and discovered that my oven took a lot longer to reach the temperature I wanted, so I adjusted my preheating time.

Why don’t you do cold retard in the fridge?

I personally prefer not to as I find the texture and taste of the bread changes slightly. It makes it chewier, less fluffy, and more sour. For me, this easy sourdough bread recipe is sour enough.

You can definitely use the fridge to cold retard, but make sure you put it in the fridge when the dough reaches 50% growth. Your dough will continue to ferment in the fridge until the dough cools down completely. If you bulk ferment to double the size, you will overproof your dough in the fridge.

All that being said, your fridge can be your friend if you find yourself too busy to deal with your sourdough at any moment. You can postpone the whole process to suit your schedule, by keeping the dough in the fridge until you have time to deal with it.

PLEASE USE THIS RECIPE ONLY AS A GUIDELINE. Experiment and practice without judging yourself. After all, it’s just bread. You are the master and not the other way around.

Sourdough desserts to try:

Sourdough Coffee Cookies With Mascarpone Filling

Sourdough Spiced Peanut Butter Cookies

slices of sourdough bread in a tea towel
A sliced up sourdough bread.

Super Easy Sourdough Bread For Beginners

AndreeaB
This easy sourdough bread for beginners is perfect for those seeking a same-day bake without stretch and folds or coil folds and without having to feed your sourdough starter before baking. The whole process of making this sourdough bread is super simple and quick (for a sourdough).
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Bulk Fermentation + Cooling 6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 50 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine international
Servings 1 boule
Calories 1914 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large Dutch Oven
  • 1 boule-shaped banneton basket optional (use a bowl with a heavily floured tea towel)
  • 1 large transparent straight-sided container with a lid (for bulk proofing your dough)
  • 1 Kitchen scale optional (but highly recommended)

Ingredients
  

  • 500 g Bread Flour (high protein content- ideally 15g) approx. 4 cups
  • 100 g Sourdough Starter (straight from the fridge) approx. 1/2 cup
  • 300 ml Water (around 38°C/ 100°F) approx. 1 1/4 cups
  • 11 g Salt (I used Celtic Sea Salt) approx. 2 teaspoons
  • 1 tbsp rice flour (for dusting the banneton) optional

Instructions
 

  • Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge and give it a good mix.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sourdough starter, and water.
  • Clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula and dump the dough on a working surface.
  • Start kneading the dough until everything comes together well.
  • If your dough is too sticky, leave the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Wet your hands and restart the kneading process.
  • The total amount of kneading time is about 10 minutes, depending on your kneading skills.
  • Knead the dough just like you do with yeasted dough.
  • The dough should become more elastic and smooth (like a soft playdough) as you knead.
  • You are done kneading when the dough doesn’t stick to the table or your hands and is elastic (if you gently stretch the dough it doesn’t break).
  • Shape the dough into a tight ball. If you gently push on the dough ball it should bounce back.
  • You only need to add more water if the dough is clearly too dry and hard to work with.
  • You only need to add more flour if your dough is too wet to work with, but only after you have left it to rest as recommended above and you used wet hands to knead. Even then, only add the flour in small increments and see how your dough works with it.
  • Take your straight-sided container and add the dough inside. Gently push the dough inside.
  • Add a rubber band around the container to mark where the size of your dough is at.
  • Place the lid on top without closing it and set the dough aside to bulk ferment in a warm spot away from direct sunlight or draught.
  • Leave the dough to ferment until it doubles in size. Mine took about 6 hours, but yours can take longer depending on the strength of your starter, the flour you used, and the temperature of the room. Please be patient and only observe your dough, not the clock.
  • Your dough is done fermenting once it is DOUBLED IN SIZE, it has a domed top and is jiggly when gently shaken. You should be able to see air bubbles inside your dough.
  • I like to leave my dough to ferment during the day so I can keep an eye on it. If your kitchen is cooler and you are not available during the daytime, you can leave the dough to ferment on your counter overnight.
  • Flour your work surface and gently pull out your fermented dough on the table.
  • Shape the dough into a ball by gently lifting the sides and bringing them into the middle of the dough (like pulling a blanket over you kind of motion). The end result should be a sourdough boule.
  • The shaping process needs to be gentle as you don’t want to deflate the dough. You need to make sure you preserve those air bubbles the yeast has created as much as possible. Also, you don’t want to overstretch the dough as you can break the gluten strands that will help the bread hold its shape while baking. That being said, you do need to create a bit of tension while shaping to help with the oven spring and crumb of the bread. Just use a gentle hand while doing that.
  • Close the bottom of the bread by bringing the sides together, pinching the dough between your fingers to make it stick and folding it in to lock it.
  • Flour your banneton with rice flour and transfer your shaped dough face in. I recommend rice flour to avoid sticking as it has no gluten. If you don’t have rice flour, use your regular flour but add more to make sure it is well coated.
  • Sprinkle some of the flour left from your work surface on your dough and gently spread it uniformly.
  • Poke the dough with your finger in one gentle motion. If it makes a dent that springs back up gently about halfway through, your bread is ready to bake. If the dent springs back up completely and quickly, your dough needs more time on the counter to continue fermentation. If the dent does not spring back at all, it means the dough is over-proofed. You can still bake it, but it won’t be as pretty and pleasant to eat as perfectly proofed bread.
  • The dough should still have that light and airy feel to it and still jiggle when you shake the banneton.
  • Cover your banneton with a breathable cloth or tea towel.
  • If the dough is ready to bake, transfer it to the freezer for about 30 minutes, while your oven is preheating. This will stop the fermentation process and will cool down the dough.
  • Preheat your oven with the Dutch Oven inside to 250°C/482°F for about 30 minutes (depending on your oven).
  • Take out your sourdough from the freezer and gently turn it upside down on parchment paper.
  • Place the bread in the hot Dutch Oven and score it with a lame (with caution), or sharp kitchen scissors. You should score one deep score across the bread (about 1/2 inch deep). I like to make a semi-moon shape for this recipe. You can create pretty designs by scoring them only on the surface without going deep, but you will need at least one deep cut. The scoring helps with oven spring and to avoid a big rupture in the crust.
  • Put the lid on and place the bread in the oven on the middle or lower rack (depending on the size of your oven).
  • Bake for about 45 minutes with the lid on and about 15 minutes with the lid off. Do not open the oven to check on the bread in the first 30 minutes. Keep the same oven temperature throughout the baking process.
  • Each oven is different, so your baking time might differ from mine. I recommend checking on your bread after 35 minutes or so. Once your bread looks like it is baked, take the lid off to brown and crisp up the crust. It is up to you how dark you like your crust to be. I am somewhere in the middle.
  • Take the bread out of the oven and let it cool off in the Dutch Oven for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently take the bread out with the parchment paper and place it on a cooling rack.
  • I recommend not slicing it until it has completely cooled off. Your crumb will look gummy and underbaked if you slice it too early. Believe me, I understand the struggle, as nothing beats the taste of warm freshly baked bread. But sourdough is a bit more fussy than regular bread.
  • And that’s it. Your delicious sourdough bread is ready. You can start the whole process in the morning and have it ready by dinner time.
  • Slice and enjoy!

Notes

PLEASE READ THE ARTICLE ABOVE FOR IN-DEPTH DETAILS.
THIS RECIPE SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A GUIDELINE. THE END RESULTS CAN VARY.

Nutrition

Serving: 911gCalories: 1914kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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4 Comments

5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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