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Rustic Sourdough Bread Recipe

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This rustic sourdough bread recipe only requires a few basic ingredients. The result is a sourdough loaf with a chewy interior and a golden brown, crusty exterior.

Sourdough recipes can range from easy to advanced with lots of instructions and unfamiliar terms and techniques. The goal with this rustic sourdough bread recipe is provide an easy to follow recipe without a lot of fuss and fancy words.

We’ve included several step-by-step photos to help along the way and will break down the techniques in the easy to understand instructions. This is a real sourdough bread recipe that uses a wild yeast starter not Greek yogurt or conventional yeast. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, check out our post explaining how to make sourdough starter before diving in.

Two halves of a loaf of sourdough bread stacked next to each other.

Making a rustic sourdough bread recipe is different from making yeast bread, like our jalapeno cheddar bread or Parmesan rosemary bread, or any other quick bread which uses baking powder or baking soda for leavening.

Sourdough bread uses wild yeast that’s been developed over several days or weeks. Additionally, sourdough takes time. The hands-on time is minimal, but the overall time for preparing a loaf of bread can be quite lengthy. If you have the time and patience, the outcome is worth the wait.

Sourdough bread slices in front of a loaf of sourdough bread sliced in half.

Rustic Sourdough Bread Ingredients:

This is a great sourdough bread recipe for beginners. There are only 5 ingredients including the starter, 6 if you count the rice flour for dusting the bowl.

Make sure you have an active, bubbly sourdough starter. This means that the starter has grown and been fed consistently for several days or over the span of a couple of weeks. It should be very bubbly and doubled in size when it’s ready to be used in this recipe. The starter should float when a piece is dropped in water.

Start by whisking the starter and water in a large bowl until the ingredients are well combined. (See photos 1 and 2 below). Add the all-purpose and bread flour to the bowl, and stir to combine.

Four photos in a collage of sourdough starter, water, and flour being mixed in a glass bowl.

The dough will be very sticky (it doesn’t behave like yeast dough). Don’t add more flour. It’s supposed to be sticky and wet. The important thing is to make sure all the dry flour patches are incorporated. (See photo 3).

Sprinkle the dough with salt, and gently pinch it with your fingers. (See photo 4).That’s it! Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour. This process is called autolyse.

Those are the 5 ingredients required for a basic sourdough bread. Wild yeast starter, water, all-purpose flour, bread flour, and salt. We use a digital kitchen scale to measure each ingredient in grams to ensure measurement accuracy.

Stretch and Folds:

After the salt is added to the dough, it’s time to complete several sets of stretch and folds. Just for clarity, 1 complete stretch and fold is a quick technique consisting of 4 stretches and 4 folds. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.

The autolyse process helps the wet, sticky dough become more stretchy and pliable while developing a wonderful flavor. It’s still necessary to knead the bread. However, kneading sourdough is different than kneading yeast bread. It’s done with stretch and folds over a period of time.

Set of 4 photos in a collage showing how to complete stretch and fold techniques for sourdough bread.

To complete 1 set of stretch and folds, think of the bowl being in quarters (fourths). Wet your hands, so the dough is easier to handle. Grab a chunk of dough from one of the quarters of the bowl, and pull the dough straight up. Don’t let it break but do let it stretch. Then fold it over to the center of the mass of dough. Press it down lightly without pressing out any air bubbles. (See photos 5 and 6).

Move to the next quarter and repeat the same process. Then continue moving around the bowl until all four sections of dough have been stretched and folded. That is 1 full set of stretch and folds. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Repeat with 3 more sets of stretch and folds every 30 minutes over the next hour and a half. (See photos 7 and 8).

As you complete more sets, the dough will become shinier, slightly more elastic, and smooth out a bit. Be aware that it will not hold it’s shape. It will continue to spread out in the bottom of the bowl and will continue to be slightly wet and sticky. This is normal, so don’t add additional flour!

Shaping the Dough:

After completing the stretch and folds, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

When you’re ready to work with the dough again, remove the it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.

Four photos in a collage showing the process of shaping sourdough dough before it's baked.

Once the dough has warmed a bit, carefully pour it from the bowl onto an unfloured surface. Don’t grab it with your hands, because you want to keep as much of the air in the dough as possible. Pulling it out with your hands may cause it to deflate.

Lightly dust the dough with flour, and wet your hands with water. Use your hands to gently grasp the dough on opposite sides and turn the dough to tighten it into a ball. The unfloured surface should provide traction for the dough making it stable as you turn.

Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. The dough will spread some, but if it completes flattens and doesn’t hold it shape, repeat the tightening process again. While the dough rests, prepare the banneton or a glass bowl.

Place a cloth liner or light-weight kitchen towel in the banneton or bowl and lightly dust with rice flour. Set aside. We recommend using rice flour and not all-purpose or bread flour, because the rice flour does not absorb moisture from the dough.

If the dough holds it shape and still looks like a ball or sphere, wet a bench scraper and carefully wedge it underneath the dough. (See photo 11). Gently place the dough into the floured bowl (see photo 12), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until doubled in size, about 2 to 4 hours.

Baking Sourdough in a Dutch Oven:

After the dough rises, place a large Dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat to 450°. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and place a large piece of parchment over the bowl. Carefully flip the bowl transferring the dough from the bowl to the parchment paper. Use a bread lame or sharp knife to score the top of the dough if desired.

Once the oven preheats, remove the Dutch oven, take off the lid, and very carefully lower the parchment paper and dough into the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Sourdough bread in a blue Dutch oven.

Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. This allows this crumb to set, so you’ll have all those nice holes when the bread is sliced opened.

Tips for Our Sourdough Bread Recipe:

  • This particular rustic sourdough bread recipe takes several hours to make. It could actually be considered an overnight sourdough. It’s best to read over the instructions before starting to ensure you have plenty of time to make the bread and complete the steps timely.
  • As mentioned earlier in the post, make sure the sourdough starter (wild yeast starter) is active and bubbly. It should be doubled in size and pass the float test.
  • This is a sourdough bread recipe with no yeast. That means no conventional yeast (yeast from a packet). In this instance there is no need to add the conventional yeast to the recipe.
  • Don’t add extra flour. The dough should be wet and sticky. It’s different than working with conventional yeast dough, so working with wet hands is really helpful.
  • All-purpose flour can be substituted for bread flour. However, the end result will be a less chewy bread with a lighter texture.
  • Similar to our sourdough cinnamon rolls, be patient and don’t rush the process. There is chemistry at work, and it needs time to make all the necessary changes to the dough without speeding up the process.
Loaf of baked sourdough on parchment paper with a green towel.

Love bread? Then, check out our sourdough banana bread, sourdough pumpkin bread, or our cheesy pesto garlic bread!

Don’t forget to check out our Sourdough Bread web story!

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Baked sourdough bread on parchment in a Dutch oven.

Sourdough Bread Recipe

Yield: 1 Loaf
Prep Time: 17 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 19 hours 5 minutes

This simple sourdough bread recipe only requires a few basic ingredients. The result is a loaf of bread with a chewy interior and a golden brown, crusty exterior.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (227 g) Filtered Water
  • ½ Cup (100 g) Active Sourdough Starter
  • 2 Cups (240 g) All-purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup (60 g) Bread Flour
  • ½ Tablespoon Salt
  • Rice Flour, for dusting bowl

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the bubbly, active sourdough starter and the filtered water. Add the all-purpose flour and bread flour. Use a sturdy spoon or spatula to combine. The mixture will be wet and sticky. Sprinkle it with salt, and gently pinch it with your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
  2. After 1 hour, leave the dough in the bowl, and complete 4 sets of "stretch and folds." These will be completed in 30 minute intervals.
  3. Stretch and Folds: Wet your hands with water, and grab a piece of dough near the top of the bowl. Pull it straight up to stretch making sure not to tear the dough. Fold it over to the center of the dough and press down lightly. Repeat this on each side of the bowl and the bottom. You'll do this 4 times (think of the bowl in fourths or quarters). After completing a stretch and fold in each quarter of the bowl, that is a "set." Complete 3 more sets of stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals over the next hour and a half, and cover with plastic wrap between each.
  4. After completing all 4 sets of stretch and folds, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to overnight. When you're ready to work with the dough again, remove it from the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.
  5. When the dough has warmed a bit, pour it from the bowl onto an unfloured work surface. Lightly flour the dough, and wet your hands. Place your hands on opposite sides of the dough and gently turn to tighten the dough and form a ball. The dough should stick to work surface and provide traction. Let it sit for 20 minutes to rest. It will spread some, but if it flattens out, repeat the process to tighten it into a ball. Let it rest for an additional 20 minutes. While the dough rests, prepare a cloth lined banneton or glass bowl lined with a lightweight kitchen towel. Dust the banneton or bowl lightly with rice flour then set aside.
  6. After the dough rests, wet a bench scraper and gently wedge it under the dough. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator to double in size. This usually takes about 2 to 4 hours depending on how lively the yeast is.
  7. When the double has doubled in size, adjust an oven rack to the bottom third of the oven. Place a large Dutch oven with lid on the rack, and preheat the oven to 450°. Cut a large piece of parchment paper and remove the dough from the refrigerator. Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and lay the parchment paper over the top of the bowl. Carefully flip the bowl upside down, so the dough is now on the parchment paper. Use a bread lame or sharp knife to score the dough if desired.
  8. Very carefully place the parchment paper and dough into the hot Dutch oven. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing, about 1 hour.
  9. Store any leftovers in a plastic zip bag. The leftovers stay fresh for about 2 days.

Notes

*Please see the post for more in-depth instructions, step-by-step photos, and tips.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 Slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 319mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

The nutrition information is calculated by a third party and is meant to be used as a guideline only.

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