Amazing Homemade Sourdough Bread Recipe with Starter

Hands down, sourdough bread is my favorite bread of all time. Through my years of being a chef I have come across many different variations of the sourdough bread recipe with starter, but one stood out the most.

After quite some time of working in the bake shop attached to the restaurant I worked in, I finally felt I had really dialed in my knowledge of this recipe. Long story short, I have been making it ever since. I even picked up even more tricks on the way! I’m here to share them all, this is my sourdough bread recipe with starter!

Homemade sourdough bread with starter.

What is a sourdough bread starter recipe?

A sourdough bread starter recipe is a liquid batter, stiff dough, or somewhere in between. This is a ferment of unprocessed flour and water that you feed from time to time to help grow. You will often hear terms insinuating that the starter dough is “alive”. In a way it is.

Microbes develop in this flour mixture giving it life, or a form of life that is. These microbes feed off the sugars in the flour and release carbon dioxide in the process. In turn, this makes a light and fluffy sourdough starter with deep flavor.

You may have seen a sourdough bread starter recipe that throws you for a loop. Why throw away half of the starter, just to put more flour back in? This is a common misconception, that you NEED to throw the starter away. The only thing you need to do to the sourdough bread starter recipe is add more flour and water or “feed” it. The reason most home cooks throw it away, is because it would grow into an amount that you would never be able to use!

The purpose of this edible growth is to give your sourdough bread some assistance. The sourdough bread starter recipe gives the sourdough bread a huge boost in flavor. Seriously, a sourdough bread recipe with starter is absolutely necessary in my book.

It also brings a natural leavening factor to the table. Otherwise, the sourdough bread would be made with Greek yogurt, sour cream, yeast, or a combination of the three. I would much rather go with the old school way with a recipe like this. In cooking, most of the time, a well-balanced recipe with fewer ingredients is far better flavor wise than a more complicated one.

Looking for a sourdough bread starter recipe? check out a super easy yet delicious Sourdough starter recipe here!

So, what is Sourdough Bread? What Makes a Sourdough Bread Sour?

Sourdough bread is the product of a dual fermentation. A dough undergoes an intense fermentation from naturally occurring yeast, and a “good bacterium” known as lactobacilli. Lactobacilli produces lactic acid, which gives it a sour flavor and lengthens its shelf life.

Recipes will vary in almost all aspects. Traditional sourdough bread recipe with starter will only call for the bare necessities. These recipes will use natural fermentation and leavening to develop structure and flavor.

On the other hand, there are newer ways to achieve a similar end result. Contemporary recipes use ingredients like Greek yogurt or sour cream to achieve the, iconic, tang we seek out in a bread like this. As for the rise and structure, industrial yeast provides the proof. As for the crust, an egg wash may be applied.

So, to answer the question. What makes a sourdough bread sour? It depends, would be my initial answer. Now, what makes MY sourdough bread sour? Natural yeast and lactobacilli.

Homemade sourdough bread dough

How to Make a Homemade Sourdough Bread Recipe with Starter

On day 7 of feeding your starter, if it is ready, you can plan to make the dough that night. Once the starter has had time to feed 6-8 hours, mix up your dough and let rest for an hour or two.

After the first rest, use your hand to work the dough into a ball. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and rotate a few times to round the bottom.  Cover the sourdough bread recipe with starter and let rest overnight (6-8 hours).

The next morning, remove the dough from the bowl and onto a work surface. Gently work this dough back into a ball shape. The dough will proof out into a blob. Then place back into a bowl and let it rise once more (about 2-3 hours). No need to cover this time.

Finally, it is time to bake the dough. But first!! Be sure to score the dough on the top to prevent unwanted cracking during the cooking process. If you like to make designs in your food, now is the time. Ok, now we can bake it off! When it comes out, let it cool completely on a rack before cutting into.  

 sourdough bread in a benneton basket for final fermentation.

Homemade Sourdough Bread Recipe with Starter FAQs

1. Is sourdough bread healthy?

Sourdough is a healthy alternative to the common white breads or whole wheat breads. The prebiotics promote a healthy gut and less likely to mess with blood sugar. Due to the breads structure, its also a bit lower in gluten than other breads.

2. Is sourdough bread vegan?

Yes, with a traditional sourdough bread recipe with starter. In newer forms of the recipe, they are likely not to be. You have to ask now days.

3. What equipment do I need to make a sourdough bread recipe?

Honestly, there are a lot of things you can buy that are designed for sourdough bread. What I would recommend is make do with what you have at home. You can make the same product with what you have.

4. Can your freeze sourdough bread?

Oh yea, sourdough bread freezes really well. If you make more than you need, I recommend wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and freezing it.

5. Should I proof my bread in the fridge or at room temperature?

That all depends on when you need it. When proofing in the fridge it takes 2-3 times as long, but the flavor is more developed While proofing in warmer temperatures results in a faster proof with a less developed flavor.

Homemade Sourdough Bread with Starter Equipment

If you are serious about your homemade sourdough bread with starter recipes than it may be time to invest in some equipment. There are a few items that can really boost the quality or ease of carrying out your sourdough loaf recipe.

Digital Scale

This is actually a necessary tool to make any awesome sourdough bread. Like I have said a few times, bread recipes are very exact when it comes to amounts of ingredients.

If you don’t weigh your ingredients, there is a lot of room for error. Invest in a good digital scale that weighs ingredients to at least tenths of a gram.

6 Qt Cambro

The reason you would want something like this is to track your proofing. When tracking your proofing you want a clear vessel with 90-degree sides, and you also want the measurements on the sides. This way you can accurately gauge the proof of your dough.

Benneton Basket

These baskets are for bakers who make sourdough bread loaf recipes frequently. A banneton basket or “proofing basket” is made to proof your final shaped dough for the last time. This piece of equipment is made for ease of execution.

Bench Scraper

This is a tool you probably already have. If you don’t, and you are interested in baking; then buy one. This tool helps cut through dough, shape dough, and clean your worktable.

Razor Blade

Using a razor blade for “slashing” the top of your dough, is a nifty baker’s trick that is more effective than a sharp knife. When it comes to decoration using a razor blade is a must, especially with more intricate designs.

Dutch Oven

The best way to cook a homemade sourdough bread recipe with starter is by using a Dutch oven. Dutch ovens are made from cast iron which means they maintain heat very well and can also be preheated.

Dutch ovens also trap steam during the cooking process. During the initial baking process, the lid is to be kept on causing this steam effect. This process is a big part of developing a crisp and dark crust.

Homemade sourdough bread being placed in a dutch oven from a benneton basket.

Homemade Sourdough Bread Recipe with Starter Tricks and Tips

Beginners

Don’t be frustrated if your first sourdough bread doesn’t come out how you expected it to. The first one is always going to be the worst, and you will get better each time. That is half the fun of making bread. Watch your skills and progress grown over time!  

Even if your sourdough loaf falls a little flat. Like literally. Don’t throw it away. More times than not, the bread is still very edible. May be a little dense but your time wasn’t spent on nothing.

Plan Ahead

When making a sourdough bread recipe with starter you are going to need some time. Especially when it comes to proofing. If you really want to get the most flavor from this recipe, then proof your dough in the fridge. It will take up to 3 days for the full process, but your sourdough bread will have very impressive flavor.

Weigh Your Ingredients

A Few grams of flour can really throw off your entire recipe. Be sure you weigh your ingredients down to the gram, so you ensure you get a well-balanced end result. Don’t try to use an online converter because they aren’t the same as weighing your ingredients firsthand.

Refresh Your Starter

Refresh your starter before using it. You may hear someone referencing to “feeding” your starter, this is the same thing. Make sure your starter is fed with more flour and water, and let it feed for 4-6 hours before using it. This will ensure you get a good leaven in your bread.

Slashing

Slashing your sourdough loaf isn’t just for show. When ever you bake a yeasty dough like this sourdough bread recipe with starter, the higher temperatures cause the yeast to react like crazy before going dormant. This process is called the “oven spring”.

Slashing is the process of slicing the top of the dough before putting it in the oven. This gives the oven spring a specific direction to rise without it being completely random. Slashing is a crucial part of the process.

Homemade sourdough bread recipe with starter with slices on a cutting board with knife.

Checking Doneness

There are two ways to check doneness on your freshly baked sourdough loaf. The first test is called the “thump” test. The thump test is exactly what it sounds like. You take your freshly baked sourdough loaf and turn it over to the flat side. Then you give it a nice thump! If it sounds hollow, then it is done.

The other test is a little more technical, which may prove to be the best test for beginners. All you need is an internal thermometer, preferably a digital one for the best reading. Simply stick it in the deepest part of the loaf and get your reading there. Any where between 190F and 210F and its done!

Cooling

This is the hardest part of the process because you are going to want to try it so bad! You must resist the urge to cut into your sourdough loaf for at least 20 minutes while it cools! After it is completely cooled, then you can eat as much as you want!


Homemade Sourdough Bread Recipe

Homemade sourdough bread with starter recipe image

Yield: 1 Sourdough Bread Loaf

Prep Time: 12-72 hours (proofing time)

Cook Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

165        Grams                  Active Sourdough Starter

275        Grams                  Warm Water

27           Grams                  Olive Oil

550        Grams                  Bread Flour

11           Grams                  Salt

Instructions

Punching homemade sourdough bread dough
  1. In a mixing bowl, add your measured out sourdough starter. Be sure your starter is active and that you have feed your starter at least four hours prior to this step.

2. Add the warm water and olive oil to the mixing bowl and mix with a metal fork thoroughly. Then add the flour and salt. Combine these ingredients by squeezing and folding the mixture until everything is incorporated.

3. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough Autolyze or rise for an hour to 3 hours.

4. After the dough has rested, knead into a ball shape (doesn’t have to be perfect) for about 20 seconds.

5. Place the dough ball back into the bowl and cover. Place in a warm area and let proof for 4 hours at 70 F. The dough will need more time if its not at 70 F. You can proof in the fridge for up to a day.

6. After the proof, remove the dough from the bowl and onto a work surface. Shape the dough by stretching the front part of the dough and folding it back onto itself towards the center. Give the dough a small turn and repeat this process until you have come full circle.

folding homemade sourdough bread

7. Flip the dough over so that the seam side is on the work surface and cup the sides giving a quarter turn each time creating a circular motion. Do this until your dough ball is attractive.

8. Time for the second proof. You can either proof in a mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap or a Dutch oven with a lid, just be sure to dust the bottom of the vessel with corn meal.  Place the dough inside for a shorter proof of about 1 hour at 70 F or 8 hours in the fridge.  The dough is ready when it becomes inflated but not risen.

9. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then just before the bread goes into the oven, score the top of the dough.

10. Once the oven is up to temperature, place the dough on a baking stone, cast iron pan, or in a Dutch oven and place in the oven. As soon as you place the dough in the oven reduce the heat to 400F. Cook for 20 minutes. If using a Dutch oven, leave lid on during this time.

11. After the initial 20 minutes, rotate the pan or baking stone and continue to bake an additional 35-45 minutes. If using a Dutch oven, remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered for 35-45 minutes.

12. After the initial time, remove the bread from the cooking vessel, and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure the bread is completely cool before cutting into it!


If you like this recipe, check out some of my other bread recipes!

Vegan Naan Bread

Vegan Banana Bread

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