Artesian Sourdough Bread

My boss gave me some sourdough starter last January, and I basically just tried to keep it fed and alive for the first 6 weeks. I was making pancakes and waffles with the discard every week or so, but bread just seemed SO daunting! However, after experimenting a few times and playing with my sourdough starter (which is virtually impossible to kill, I’ve realized) I have made this bread four times, and every time it has come out perfectly. There is discussion on if sourdough tastes more flavorful or sour with an aged starter, and I do think that my first batch vs my last batch tasted slightly different, but regardless, this bread has been eaten immediately every time it’s made it to the counter top. While there are a lot of steps, if you follow each of them, it will turn out well. Just remember, don’t overthink it!


  • Preparation Time: 26-30 hrs.
  • Cook Time: 40 min.
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 1/4 cups filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 cup active sourdough starter (Find out "how to" in the Tips and Tricks category)
  • 5 ½ cups unbleached flour (all-purpose or bread flour)


  • 1
    Put the water in a large mixing bowl.
  • 2
    Whisk in the active starter and mix until it is cloudy with no lumps.
  • 3
    Slowly add in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Once the dough begins to form and becomes thick, wet hands and form it into a rounded ball in the bowl.
  • 4
    Cover the bowl with a tea towel or paper towel and let rest for at least one hour but anywhere from 1-4 hours at room temperature.
  • 5
    After the dough has rested, mix in the salt with your hands by sprinkling it over the dough ball, and stretching and grabbing the dough.
  • 6
    Stretch the dough from the bottom of the ball and pull it over the top. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn, stretching and pulling the dough on all 4 sides of the dough ball.
  • 7
    Repeat Step 6 every 30 minutes for a total of 5 times. As it is stretched and pulled, air bubbles will form and the bread will start to rise. Be gentle with the dough so as not to disturb the air bubbles.
  • 8
    After 5 times the dough should be able to be stretched so that you can see light through it before it breaks (this is called the window pane test).
  • 9
    Let the dough rise for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • 10
    Put the entire bowl of dough in a plastic bag (don’t just cover the bowl - the dough will continue to rise). Let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (12-15 hours).
  • 11
    The next day, remove the bowl from the plastic bag and let the dough rise at room temperature for around 2 hours.
  • 12
    Roll the dough onto the counter or a large cutting board (unfloured). Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour.
  • 13
    Without overworking or moving the dough too much, separate the dough into 2 halves.
  • 14
    Using a rubber spatula, go in a circle around the dough, gently lifting from underneath the sides of the dough ball to form a rounded loaf. Do this for both loaves
  • 15
    Let the dough balls rest for 30 minutes.
  • 16
    While they rest, lightly flour the inside of 2 bowls (bowls the size of your dough balls or slightly larger). I have found it helpful to flour the bowls, then line the bowl with cheese cloth or a tea towel, and then flour the towels. This decreases the chance of the dough sticking to the bowl.
  • 17
    Gently pick up the dough ball, flip over on to the floured side, and pull the bottom up over the top on each side for a total of 4 times (just like Step 6).
  • 18
    After the last side is stretched over, pinch the seam together and place it in the floured bowl. Cover with a tea towel or paper towel.
  • 19
    Allow the 2 bowls to rise in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  • 20
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Once the oven reaches 450 degrees, place a dutch oven on the rack in the bottom third of your oven. Let it heat for 30 minutes.
  • 21
    When you are ready to bake your bread, take one dough ball (you will bake each loaf one at a time - keep the second in the refrigerator until it is ready to be baked) and score the top of it.
  • 22
    Then immediately remove the hot dutch oven and put the dough ball inside and cover it with the lid. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • 23
    Once it has baked for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • 24
    Once the bread is done baking (it should sound hollow when you thump the bottom), remove it from the oven and put the loaf on a cooling rack for about an hour before cutting into it.
  • 25
    Bake the second loaf by repeating Steps 21-24. The loaves can easily be frozen and taste just as good once thawed!

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