Sometimes you just want to mix dough and bake. No fancy shaping, no extra tools, just delicious bread smeared with butter. Well it really IS that easy to make rustic sourdough bread!
It's no secret I love sourdough. My family feels SO much better when we make our own bread, especially sourdough. And now that I have the rhythm down, I can fit it right into our homeschool and homestead schedule.
You can start with this rustic recipe because you don't even need any special pans, not even a loaf pan! It's the ultimate of use what ya got. And once you master this you can also try shaping a classic boule, or pick up loaf pans to make sandwich bread that rivals the softest from the store.
Why You Need This Recipe
- Super simple - water, flour, salt and your starter. Which is itself water and flour. How easy can it get??
- No shaping experience necessary. You can literally just drop it in the pan.
- Very little hands on time. Sure, this will take you nearly 24 hours total, but it's maaaaybe 30 minutes hands-on time.
Sourdough starter - This is not the time to use discard. You're going to actually take the starter from the jar and feed it in your mixing bowl!
Flour - Again, another use what ya got ingredient. You can mix up all-purpose, whole wheat, bread, or fresh ground flour.
Eggs - These are optional, but they really help out the rise of the loaf so use them if you'd like.
How to Make A Rustic Sourdough Loaf
***See recipe card below for precise measurements and instructions.***
Step 1: Feed your starter in a large bowl the night before you want the bread for dinner.
Step 2: The next morning, add the remaining ingredients and let rest 30 minutes. Give a quick knead and tuck it away until doubled.
Step 3: Once doubled, decide how you are going to shape and prepare your pans. Grease loaf pans or set out parchment squares for free form.
Step 4: Let the logs of dough raise in the greased bread loaf pans, covered, until doubled.
Step 5: For free form, set balls of dough in the center of a large piece of parchment. Let rise until doubled.
Step 6: Preheat the oven. Place the loaf pans in the fully heated oven OR set the Dutch oven, round dish, etc. in the oven to heat up first. Then transfer the parchment with dough to the hot dish (carefully!).
Step 7: Bake until cooked through and beginning to turn golden. Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks
- Use an instant-read thermometer to know if your bread is cooked through.
- Ensure you use parchment paper and not wax paper.
- Looking to have fresh bread earlier in the day? Feed in the morning, mix with cool water at bed, and bake the next morning.
We keep chickens, so depending on time of year we have lots of extra eggs. I like to add two (room temp) to the dough for extra lift. Just subtract ½ cup of water at this stage - so you are whisking two eggs into a half cup water to make your 1 cup liquid for the recipe.
There's nothing worse than cutting into your hard-won loaf to find a gummy center. I always use a thermometer to check the center of my loaf for doneness. Aim for 180° F right in the center to know it is done. If you are used to baking yeast bread, sourdough can take a fair bit longer to bake through.
Really anything that is oven-safe, and I like to have something with a lid, too. You can bake with or without a lid, so it isn't crucial, but that is often why people use a Dutch oven. If using a lid, make sure the handle itself is also oven-safe! You can see I used a large glass measuring cup, you can use cake pans, anything metal or glass.
Using more whole wheat or fresh ground flour in the dough will yield a chewier loaf. This is perfect for sopping up stew or gravy. You can rub butter on the top of the bread immediately after removing it from the oven to soften it up some. Also letting it rest in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to cool can help. But this is meant to be a classic sourdough with a crunchy outside.
More Sourdough Recipes
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Rustic Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup active sourdough starter
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup flour go heavy on this
- 1 cup warm water reduce to ½ cup if using eggs
- 2 eggs optional, but adds good rise
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups all purpose or bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat or fresh ground wheat flour
- The night before you want to bake bread, add the starter to a large mixing bowl and do your feed with the water and flour in the Levain ingredients.
- In the morning, add remaining ingredients to the bowl with your starter. Mix until just combined then let sit 20-30 minutes. Then knead until it comes together well.
- Cover and let sit until doubled, about 6 hours.
- If you’re around, have the time/bandwidth, over the first few hours, gently knead the bread 4-6 times, then cover it back up.
- When doubled, decide if you’re going to shape into loaf pans or free form loaves.
- If you’re doing loaf pans, simple divide the dough in half in the bowl with wet hands, form a log by rolling the dough in the bowl/in the air, and then putting it in a greased loaf pan, covering and let rise until double. (About 2-3 hours) we are not going for fancy shaping here, friends!
- If doing free form, shape the same way, but into a ball. I used a large soup/small serving bowl and a 4 cup measuring cup both lined with parchment. These will not be flipped, the top is the top of the bread, you will take the parchment out as a sling into a hot pan/pot.
- Make sure your bread is really actually doubled- get your finger dusted with flour and poke the dough, if the dough springs back, it needs to rise more. If the indent stays, it's good!
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- If baking free form, put your cast iron pan or oven safe pot with lid in the oven to heat up.
- When oven is up to temp, Move free form loaves to your hot pan with the parchment as a sling.
- If using loaf pans, slide them into the oven.
- Bake 20 min, then turn loaves around/take lid off if youre using a pot with a lid. Bake another 15 min or until internal temp is above 180°F.
- Need to change the timing on making your dough/baking your bread? Here’s another timeline: Feed your starter in the morning, mix the dough with cold/cool water before bed. The next morning, shape, rise, and bake.
- You can sub the white flour for more whole wheat. I’d say without changing the end product too much you could do 2 cups white 2 cups whole wheat when mixing the bread. If you do 3 cups whole wheat 1 cup white it will be a drastically different end product, but not bad. Especially if your goal is to serve crusty bread with a soup or stew, whole wheat is great!