This is my go-to homemade sourdough bread recipe with dependable and consistent results. It's the one I turn to time and time again because of its lovely flavor, crunchy crust, and beautiful oven spring. I'll show you my techniques for building structure & elasticity to obtain that classic light and airy crumb.
I'm pinning a demo video of this recipe below, then details about the recipe, then the recipe card. Feel free to jump down below!
About the recipe:
If you are brand new to sourdough, I would consider this recipe as the next step after my Beginner Sourdough Tartine Country Loaf. With the beginner loaf, I have a step by step video taking you through the entire process. I've heard back from so many people with emails, notes, and images of their bread following the beginner video - so I hope you check it out here!
This classic sourdough recipe is also a Tartine and uses a trio of flours: bread flour, spelt, and rye (you can easily swap in wheat for the spelt) and it's about 82% hydration. It follows the classic time schedule of Autolyse: Final Dough Mix: Bulk Ferment building structure then resting for the 2nd half: Pre-shape: Shape: Overnight or up to 2-day cold retard in the refrigerator: Score & Bake.
With this sourdough recipe, you have options!
- The starter: If you're used to making a leaven for each loaf, feel free to do that. Or, you could easily use a mature sourdough starter (fed the night before) if you have one that's robust enough and holding it's peak at the time you need it for the final dough mix. For more on leaven and mature sourdough starters, check this post out.
- Hydration level: Want to bump up the hydration? Go for it! You can obtain a more airy crumb with a high hydration, the kind with lots and lots of holes. Personally, I don't want my butter melting through holes so I don't often go above 80-82% hydration. Want to dial the hydration down a notch - I like that, too. Absolutely. Scores are easier at a slightly lower hydration, your loaf will shape a little better, and the crumb is still tender and airy. Somewhere around 78-82 is my favorite hydration range.
- Building structure: You have options on how you want to build structure. Whether it's stretch & fold, coil fold, or my favorite the stretch and wrap, just pick the one you're most comfortable with. If you haven't tried the stretch and wrap yet, I'd encourage you to give it a try. I think it improves the texture of the bread because it has a little lamination with the wrapping that folding doesn't give you. I show you the stretch and wrap in the video with this post -and also over here, in this one.
- The cold retard: How long you refrigerate the shaped loaf is up to you. I'll sometimes bake the next morning, but often I'll hold the loaf over until the day after that. I avoid pushing it out too far because I don't want the dough to over-proof in the refrigerator. I usually go at least 24 hours & 2 days is my sweet spot. Why? Flavor and structure. A cold retard (cold ferment) builds more sourdough taste with depth of flavor.
Easy techniques that I think matter and will give you results
- Autolyse: I believe an hour long autolyse is important. It really helps with the gluten structure. It allows the flour to become completely hydrated and lactic acid to be released. You'll almost achieve windowpane before you even start the bulk ferment. An hour is a good ballpark, 45 min is minimum, and anything beyond 2 hours of autolyse can get a little dicey. Really long autolyse can sometimes work well, but you risk the dough slacking out, and there's no saving it if that happens. I go an hour, maybe up to 2 hours, but no more. For more on autolyse, check out the video included here and definitely the Beginner Tartine Country Loaf.
- Rubaud: I think the Rubaud mixing method is key. If you're having trouble with your sourdough holding structure or getting good oven spring, try incorporating the Rubaud mixing method when you're putting your final dough mix together. I have a video here. It has totally changed my opinion on the importance of fully incorporating the mixture for a successful sourdough bread recipe. Sometimes I struggle with Rubaud because of my right shoulder and wrist - overuse joint pain and weakness sometimes creep up on me. If my shoulder is sore - I simply opt for the kitchen aid stand mixer to mix the dough 5 minutes, add salt, mix it 5 minutes more and we're done incorporating everything.
Homemade Sourdough Bread - Classic Tartine Country Loaf
- 25 grams sourdough starter
- 50 grams bread flour
- 50 grams water
- 335 milliliters water
- 360 grams bread flour 85%
- 40 grams spelt 10% (can substitue whole wheat)
- 20 grams rye 5%
Final Dough Mix
- 10 grams salt 2%
- rice flour for dusting banneton and for the score
- Combine starter, water, and flour. Mix and set aside until fully built and doubled in size.
- Option is to use a mature sourdough starter that was fed the night before and still held it's build/peak and can be used when the autolyse is ready.
- Combine the water and flours. Thoroughly mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Cover and set aside for 1 hour. See note on water temp.
Final Dough Mix
- Combine 100 grams of the fully built leaven (or 100 grams of mature sourdough starter) and the autolyse that's been resting for 1 hour. Mix using the Rubaud method for 5 minutes. (can use a kitchen aid stand mixer if unable to do the Rubaud)
- Add salt and continue with the Rubaud for 5 more minutes to fully incorporate.Cover and set aside 30 minutes.See note on ideal dough temp.
- Structure Fold #1 (stretch 7 fold, or coil fold, or my preferred method the stretch and wrap). See demo videos. Cover, set aside 30 minutes.
- Structure fold #2Cover, set aside 30 minutes.Between each strucure fold, evaluate the dough to see how it's holding shape, tension, elasticity.
- Structure fold #3Cover, set aside 30 minutes
- It's possible the dough might be nearly done with structure. Is it holding shape, tightening when handling, has a bounce and taughtness, a shine and feel silky? I typically do at least 3 and sometimes up to 5.
- When you feel your dough is holding enough structure, cover and allow it to rest for the remainder of the bulk ferment phase. It will likely take at least another hour, and up to 2 or 3 if your kitchen is cold. When the bulk fermentation phase is done, your dough will have risen by 50%, will be jiggly on top, will have bubbles on the surface and sides, and will have a someone domed appearance.
- Allow the dough to fall out of the bowl on a lightly floured surface.Using your bench scraper, fold the dough letter shape style and flip so the smooth side is up. Push the dough along to create friction underneath and developing a taught surface on top, trying to keep a round shape. This should only take a few movements, no need to mess with it too much, it's just the pre-shape. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
- The dough will have spread out some, but shouldn't have spilled all over the counter. It should still have some shape and bounce. Depending on the shape you're going for (boule or batard) follow the demo videos and place into the batard. Check my Sourdough Video Gallery for several demo videos on how to shape sourdough.
- Place your banneton (covered) into the refrigerator overnight at a minimum and up to 2 or 3 days if you like.
Preheat the oven with the kettle (dutch oven inside)
- On baking day, preheat your oven with the kettle inside to 500f. Allow to pre-heat for at least 45 minutes to an hour.
- Cover your banneton with a piece of parchment cut to size and carefully flip over onto the counter. Brush off excess rice flour and apply a new thin coating (if desired). Slice your functional score and any decorative score you like. See my videos on styles of scores.
- Bake at 475f with the lid on for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the lid and turn the oven down to 450f. Continue to bake another 20 minutes, lightly tenting with foil if needed to prevent over-browning.
- Allow to fully cool before slicing. About an hour minimum. The crumb (interior) could be gummy if sliced too soon.
I always like to pass along a link for The Fresh Loaf - an online forum for sourdough bakers to ask questions and search for answers. I love it!
Even tho I’ve been baking my bread for years now I have found all your videos helping me to improve!
One question from me, please- my during a “stretch and fold”
Process my dough looks exactly like yours but I am struggling with the dough sticking to my hands, so I am struggling to replicate your stretch as all the dough would end up stuck to my hand! I know watering hands helps a bit but do you have any other tips?
So glad you’ve found the videos helpful! Welcome to the sourdough world - and the occasional sticky hand situation. For me, my first few stretch & folds are definitely sticky and I splash water on my hands before touching it. I try to use as light of a hand as possible. Then as I progress through the stretch and folds, with rest in between, the dough becomes more silky and less sticky. I try to lightly touch the dough without really breaking through the surface tension and into the inner squishy sticky parts. It’s hard to explain but with more and more experience you’ll get the hang of it. I like the Bake With Jack tutorials for everything sourdough, and he has a few about how to handle sticky dough. Here’s a link to his main website. I hope this helps! https://www.bakewithjack.co.uk
Today we successfully completed our second attempt of this Sourdough Country Loaf recipe and love it. Your discussion about "Hydration Levels" makes me want to know how you are calculating this and at what point in the process is this measurement being determined. Our recent success has provided a nice crumb and smaller holes and I would like to make larger holes. I'm using "1/2 Sprouted Wheat Flour with 1/2 Bread Flour" and understand the need for additional hydration for this combination but do not yet understand "How" to accurately calculate the hydration level. Is there some resource that you can direct me to that will overcome the years of experience to help me understand how this works?
So glad to hear that! Thanks so much for the nice note and your question. I have a few links for you - the first is a primer about hydration and percentages, then a few online calculators that are easy to use. Just input the details of the recipe you’re using and it gives you the hydration, then you can scale up or down with your flour/water for whatever hydration is comfortable for you. I hope these help!
The Perfect Loaf - beginners guide to baker’s percentages
Hydration online calculators
Is there any reason a combination of Stretch & Fold , Coil Folding , Lamination and the Wrap should not be used and if ok what order would you recommend together with frequency . . I assume frequency would depend on the appearance of the
dough after working it
Hi Dermot! Thx so much for the kind words. Great question. When it comes right down to it my opinion is none of the techniques is necessarily better than the other, but I do have my favorite which is the stretch & wrap. I think that wrapping gives great elasticity that the other 2 don't provide ...but having said that, they all work. It really is just personal preference. I think most new bakers use the stretch and fold & that's what you'll see most often in tutorials. The coil is probably most popular with most experienced bakers -and the wrap that I like is not very common, actually. I'm not sure why it isn't used more. I think for doughs that use a combination of flours, especially ones that are water hogs (like rye, spelt, etc) the wrap technique would be more beneficial because those flours need more working. And yes - definitely the appearance of the dough is what you go by. It will tell you when it's done with being stretched, whether it's a coil fold or wrap - it might need a few more turns, just depends on the temp of the room/dough, the hydration, the flour, and if you'e prayed to the dough gods enough. ? Thank you for the question! Hope this helps.