Dutch oven sourdough bread has become a staple in our house. You can poke fun and call me Laura Ingalls all you like (heck, I do it myself, alternating with Betty Crocker!), but if I’d known how easy it could be to make so many of our favourite bread products at home, well…let’s be honest…pre-pandemic, it wouldn’t have mattered.
But here we are, and after mastering the starter feeding process (see my how to feed sourdough starter post), I found myself experimenting with all kinds of sourdough bread recipes before distilling the easiest and fastest parts of each into a recipe I posted recently about making bread without yeast.
And yet I still wasn’t satisfied, so I kept trying to cut down the steps even more without sacrificing the end loaf. And while the Dutch oven sourdough bread you’ll make with this recipe may not always produce that Swiss-cheese effect in your crumb — though it can if you don’t want to do it all in one day — it absolutely cooks up a beautiful loaf of really delicious sourdough bread, and in far less time and with fewer steps than even my other recipe, which is pretty darn fast.
If you’re looking for the most basic sourdough bread recipe, I challenge you to find one easier than this!
A big part of what makes this recipe even easier is that it’s all done in a stand mixer, in the same bowl. Now, technically, this is a no-knead sourdough bread — but that doesn’t eliminate the time and attention you’ll need for the stretch and folds.
Speaking of which, I received a number of questions after my last sourdough bread post asking about terms like “float test” and “stretch and fold.” Though I’m definitely not an expert, I thought it might be helpful to walk through this entire recipe — beginning to end — in a video. You’ll probably only need to follow along with the video in real time once, and then you can just reference the written recipe below thereafter.
Warning: the video is LONG. Because it’s thorough and designed for those of you just starting off with sourdough bread. If you’re a bread-making veteran, you probably don’t need the video’s step-by-step instructions at all.
Dutch oven sourdough bread: what you’ll need
- A Dutch oven (of course!)
- A stand mixer and bowl with a dough hook — I use a KitchenAid Artisan 5-qt mixer and the bowl and dough hook that came with it
- Parchment paper
- Oven mitts — very important…that Dutch oven is gonna be HOT
- Active/fed sourdough starter
- A banneton or bowl/tea towel combo for proofing
- A lame or super-sharp knife to score your boule
- All of your ingredients (see below)
- Confidence! If I’ve learned anything about baking during the COVID times, it’s that you have to believe that you can do it and don’t let new recipes or techniques intimidate you. You’ve got this!!
Dutch oven sourdough bread: ingredients
- 3/4 cup of active/mature/fed sourdough starter
- Mine is 100% hydration, which means I feed it with equal parts flour and water
- In the video, I show you how to do a float test if you’re not sure how to tell if your starter is ready to be used as “wild yeast”
- 1.5 cups room-temperature water
- If it’s tap water, just be sure it’s been sitting out for a good hour or more so any chlorine has evaporated
- 3.5 total cups of flour
- In the video recipe, I used 2 cups of all-purpose unbleached flour and 1.5 cups of a flour blend I mix at home, which is — loosely — 35% organic hard white bread flour, 25% organic whole wheat flour, 25% dark bread flour I have from Bulk Barn and 15% organic spelt; I needed a couple of extra tablespoons of all-purpose flour to bring the dough together, but there have been times when I’ve used the same quantities and needed no extra flour, so I think the state of your starter and even the environment at your home may be a factor. Just follow the way my dough LOOKS and BEHAVES in the video above and make your dough look the same
- I have also used this recipe with 1 cup of all-purpose unbleached flour, 1 cup of organic hard white bread flour, 1 cup of organic light rye flour and 1/2 cup of organic spelt — this was a much dryer dough overall and definitely didn’t require any extra flour, but it turned out and tasted fantastic and may be my favourite one to date
- 1.5-2 tsp of salt
- I used 1.5 tsp of salt the first eight or nine times I tested out this recipe to confirm it worked well enough to share, but if you like a saltier bread, adding the extra 1/2 tsp of salt is quite nice
Dutch oven sourdough bread: directions
I want to reiterate here that if you’re looking for a more traditional sourdough bread result, full of big air pockets, you could zip out of this recipe in favour of my other sourdough Dutch oven recipe — which makes room for an autolyse period — or ensure that you pay attention down below when I tell you about the extra time between stretch and folds as well as the refrigeration option.
However, if you just want to get baking already and want to have a glorious boule of Dutch oven sourdough bread on the table (with the potential of doing it in a single day) — that still has that lovely sourdough tang but is a bit “fluffier” overall — using the least number of steps and smallest amount of time possible, here we go…
- In your stand-mixer’s mixing bowl, mix the starter and water together with a fork to create a milky mixture.
- Add all of the flour and salt to the mixing bowl.
- Put the hook (I use a KitchenAid dough hook) on your stand mixer and turn it to “stir.” You want to let this run until everything is mixed up, and you may need to turn it up to the 2-4 speed range for a bit to have it pull together and come away from the sides. But if within, say, 3-4 minutes there’s still lots of dough sticking to the walls of your bowl, that’s when you may need to start slowly adding extra flour (tablespoon by tablespoon).
- Once the dough is no longer sticking to the sides of your mixing bowl, scrape down the sides to ensure there’s one cohesive ball. Cover it and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Now your series of stretch and folds begins (I show you how to do this in the video, too), and here’s where you can sort of play with the amount of time you want to devote to your bread. At a minimum, you should do a set of FOUR stretch and folds, spaced out by a minimum of 15-minute intervals. To give it more structure and allow more air pockets to form, you can space these out by 30 minutes instead and/or add two or three more sets. I’ve tried every configuration and the quality of your bread in terms of taste will not be affected. Be sure to cover your bowl in between each set. Wait 30 minutes after your last stretch and fold before moving on to the next step.
- After all of your stretch and fold sets are complete, take your dough out of the bowl and turn it out onto a smooth, dry surface. I have tried all kinds of surfaces for this stage, too, and prefer my bare quartz countertops to everything else. It’s time to pre-shape your dough, and if you don’t know what that means, please scroll up and watch the video! Cover your dough ball and let this rest for 20 more minutes.
- Now is a good time to flour your Banneton or tea-towel-in-a-bowl and get any seeds or oatmeal that you want to top it with ready to roll. You can either put your seeds on a plate or in your Banneton/bowl.
- Turn your ball on its back so it’s seam-side up, and do a final shaping. Again, I’ve covered what this looks like in my video.
- Place your dough seam side up in your Banneton/bowl, dust some flour around the sides and across the surface, and cover. If your Banneton came with a linen liner, this works perfectly. If you’re using a tea-towel-in-a-bowl, I prefer to put some plastic wrap on top.
- At this stage, you have a few choices. Depending on what time you started, when you want to bake your bread, how warm your home is and other factors, these are some of your options:
- Leave it covered at room temperature for 8-9 hours; then bake — in my experience, the longer room-temperature time there is without any refrigeration, the fewer air pockets you’ll get
- Leave it covered at room temperature for 2-3 hours, then put it in your fridge for 8-15+ hours; then bake. Just for fun the other day, I decided to leave a loaf in the fridge for 24 hours. It was SO GOOD (because I love really sour sourdough, but if you prefer just a hint of tang, don’t do this).
- Whatever you choose, about 30-45 minutes before you want to bake your Dutch oven sourdough bread, pre-heat your oven to 450F with your Dutch oven and lid in the oven. If your dough was in the fridge, there’s no reason to take it out and bring it to room temperature. I’ve tried this and it doesn’t change the taste or texture; all it does is make it harder to score.
- Once your Dutch oven is good and hot, take a piece of parchment paper and flip your dough seam side down onto it. Brush away any excess flour or seeds that fall off, score the top (I do a VERY simple one in the video on purpose, but if you have a lame, feel free to get fancy!), and carefully lower the parchment/dough combo into your piping hot Dutch oven. Put the lid on and set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake your bread for another 10 minutes (at 450F).
- Turn the oven off, crack the door open, and set a time for an extra 5-10 minutes and let your Dutch oven sourdough bread sit in the heat that remains. According to the expert bakers I’ve been following, this helps the crust get extra crusty.
- Finally, remove the whole thing from the oven and carefully remove the bread using the sides of the parchment paper. Transfer the whole thing to a cooling rack, where this should sit for at least 45 minutes before you try cutting into it. (I know…the smell of bread wafting from your kitchen is hard to resist!)
That’s it! You’re done. If you know of a faster or easier artisan sourdough bread recipe than this one that still yields consistently excellent results, I want to hear about it!
If you’re looking for other things to make with sourdough starter, check out these posts:
- Morning Rounds (a dupe of the store-bought variety using sourdough discard)
- Scroll to the bottom of my how to feed sourdough starter post for a bunch of recipes we love, like sourdough brownies, sourdough crepes, sourdough pizza dough, sourdough blueberry muffins, sourdough cinnamon-raisin bread and more
I’d love to hear how you make out with this Dutch oven sourdough bread and any of the other recipes I’ve shared. Happy baking!
DISCLAIMERS: there are none.