Classic Sourdough Bread Recipe

Published: February 22, 2023 • Last Updated: June 25, 2023
Author: Laura
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classic sourdough bread

Making classic sourdough bread is an art that requires patience and practice. But once you master this classic sourdough bread recipe, you will be rewarded with a warm, tasty loaf of homemade sourdough goodness.

This simple recipe uses only four ingredients to make the perfect crusty, flavorful loaf of deliciousness. All you need is flour, salt, water, and active, bubbly sourdough starter. With a few simple steps and some time for the dough to rise, you will have your own delicious sourdough bread in no time! So, let’s get baking! This classic sourdough bread is made in a dutch oven. You can also make it on a baking stone but for the best results, especially if you’re a beginner, a Dutch oven is recommended.

Check out my Best Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe!

What can you use this classic sourdough bread recipe for?

Sourdough bread can be used for a variety of dishes, from hearty sandwiches to sweet French toast. It’s also delicious and served with soups, stews, and salads. Sourdough is a great addition to savory dinners as well, adding a wonderful depth of flavor and texture to dishes like pizzas, calzones, and flatbreads. For a sweet treat, you can even use sourdough bread as the base for a delicious panini-style dessert filled with your favorite fruits, preserves, or chocolate!

Ingredients needed for artisan sourdough bread

  • Water – This recipe calls for 1 3/4 cups of water to be added to get started. Make sure to use lukewarm water so as not to shock the fermentation process of the starter and keep your bread from becoming overly dry.
  • Starter – Using 1/2 cup active, bubbly starter will provide your bread with a great flavor and texture. Make sure that your starter is well fed and bubbling before adding it into the mix.
  • Salt – Sea salt helps to balance out the flavors in this recipe and adds just a hint of salty sweetness. Use 1 teaspoon of sea salt in this recipe, but you can adjust according to taste.
  • Whole Wheat Flour (or All White Flour) – This recipe calls for 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour, which can be substituted with all white flour. If you swap out flours and use all white flour, increase it from 2/3 of a cup to 1 full cup. I love the addition of whole wheat because it gives this loaf an extra depth of flavor and fuller texture. The whole wheat also helps add more structure to the final loaf. This helps it rise higher and gives it more rich, deep flavor.
  • Bread Flour – This recipe calls for 3 cups of flour. Bread flour helps it rise higher and hold its shape better when baked. Bread flour provides structure and bulk to the bread while helping give it that wonderful crusty exterior after baking! All-purpose flour may also be used instead of bread flour.

You can read the step-by-step instructions for this loaf of bread in the recipe card. Make sure you check out the accurate measurements so that you can mix the sourdough starter correctly. Making your own sourdough bread is actually easier than you thought!

artisan sourdough loaf

FAQs for Classic Sourdough Loaf

What is the secret to good sourdough bread?

The secret to making good sourdough bread is to use a starter that has been properly fed and maintained.

Pay attention to the ratios of ingredients used in your recipe, and give the dough plenty of time to rise! It is also important to create an environment during baking (such as preheating a the Dutch oven) that helps the loaf “spring” for a final rise and optimal crust.

Finally, let your bread cool completely before cutting into it – this gives it time to finish baking outside of the oven and helps retain moisture.

How is traditional sourdough made?

Traditional sourdough bread is made with a starter (a fermented mixture of water and flour), flour, water, and salt.

To make the starter, mix together equal parts of all-purpose or bread flour and water in a bowl or jar until combined (or do a 1:2:2 ratio). Cover the mixture with a cloth or lid and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours until double (or more). Your starter should have lots of bubbles throughout.

What flour is best for sourdough?

The best flour for making sourdough bread is a type of wheat flour known as bread flour. This high-protein variety is designed specifically for baking bread and boasts a higher gluten and starch content than all-purpose flour.

This gives it the ability to create a pleasing crumb structure with lots of air pockets and an ideal texture. Rye or whole wheat flour can also be used in combination with bread flour. This is to add flavor and texture to your sourdough loaf.

If you know me, though, you know I love khorasan (Kamut) flour and use that regularly for all of my bakes, including this one.

How do I handle a high hydration dough?

This is a high hydration dough and that means it’s stickier than most dough you’ve probably ever worked with! Hydration level refers to the ratio of water to flour. The more liquid used, the higher the hydration percentage. This also means it will be wetter, stickier and harder to handle…until you learn how to! Once you learn how to build strength in the dough, it will be a game changer for you! Watch this video to see how this dough comes together beautifully!

How to Store Classic Sourdough Bread Recipe

Storing your sourdough is easy and straightforward, just keep it somewhere cool and dry. Put the loaf cut side down on a plat or cutting board and then wrap the loaf in a clean kitchen towel or tea towel.This method totally depends on the humidity level where you live. In my climate, bread dries out too quickly to do this. A paper bag is another ideal way to store bread because it allows some air flow. You can also place it in a plastic bag but also know that this makes the crust get soft. Storing bread in a cake stand is also a beautiful way to display your bake! It can be left on the counter for 1-3 days and in the refrigerator for up to one week. The more time goes by, the more it loses moisture and begins to dry out.

tea towel

linen bread bag

paper bread bag

plastic bread bag

cake stand

Can you freeze this classic sourdough bread recipe?

Yes, you can freeze sourdough bread to extend its shelf life. To do this, let the bread cool completely. You can leave the loaf whole or slice it at this point. Sliced makes it even easier once it is thawed!
Wrap the loaf well in plastic or beeswax before placing it in a zip-top bag or freezer-safe container.

Be sure to press all the air out of the bag and label it with the date before freezing for up to three months. When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen sourdough, simply let it thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours before cutting and serving. Spritzing the top of the loaf with water and warming it in a 250° oven until warmed throughout makes it almost like it is freshly baked!

More Sourdough Tips

If you are struggling with handling a wet dough, feel free to add up to 1/4 cup more flour. This will bring the hydration level down and make it a more stiff dough but easier to handle.

After baking classic sourdough bread, it is essential to let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating. It’s always an amazing feeling to bite into crisp crust.

Sourdough bread is an artisanal treat that has a complex flavor profile and texture that can be enjoyed by all. This type of bread is best enjoyed when fresh, so plan on serving it within a few days of baking.

The process of creating classic sourdough bread may take time, but the result is worth every minute!

Equipment used

Dutch oven The purpose of the Dutch oven is to create steam and to hold it in. The steam is what gives the dough its rise.

Flour Central Milling produces some of the best flour. Their organic bread flour makes great bread and their organic all purpose flour is what I use to feed my starter.

Salt Use code Laura15 for a discount! I love Redmond Real Salt because it is unbleached, has no caking agents and contains 60+ trace minerals.

See all my baking favorites here!

This type of recipe is one that is so helpful to see visually before trying it yourself. You can watch me make it here!

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5 from 1 vote

Classic Sourdough Bread Recipe

This Classic Sourdough Bread is not only delicious, it's going to become a family favorite in no time.
Servings 1 loaf


  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup active, bubbly starter
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (can use all white flour, use up to 1 cup if using all white)
  • 3 cups flour


  • Mix the water, starter and salt in a bowl and stir until combined. Add the whole wheat flour, stir, then the rest of the flour, a cup at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. Cover and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
  • Stretch the dough, pulling from the edge of the bowl, upwards, then fold toward the center. Do this 8 times, rotating the bowl as you go. Cover and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. With wet fingertips, do this process 3 more times.
  • After the 4th time, let the dough rise somewhere warm for 4-6 hours or until it has nearly doubled in size. Lift the dough from the bowl, letting the weight of the dough fold under itself. Do this 4-6 times.
  • Preshape: lift the dough and perform a coil fold to strengthen the dough (shown in the video above) and then bring the dough out of the bowl and onto the counter (floured, if needed). Rotate the dough while dragging it towards you, tucking the bottom underneath. This will create a round ball, taut on the surface. Sprinkle the top with flour and cover with a tea towel. Let rest for 40 minutes (can be shortened to 20 minutes).
  • Final shape: dust a banneton or bowl with flour. Flip the dough upside down on the counter. Fold in one side, then the opposite side, then the top, then bottom, like wrapping a present. Now pull each diagonal corner in. Transfer the dough, seam side up to the prepared banneton/bowl. Cover the bowl with a large bag.
  • Final proof: Refrigerate the dough overnight or for 12-18 hours (can do up to 3 days). To bake the same day, let rise in the bowl for 2-3 hours before baking.
  • With the Dutch oven inside the oven, preheat to 500°. Turn the dough onto parchment paper. Using a lame or sharp knife, score the dough, then lift it into the hot Dutch oven. Optional: place 3-5 ice cubes between the parchment and Dutch oven to create steam.
  • Bake covered for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 450°. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes (for a lighter crust, remove the lid with 10 minutes left.) Remove the bread and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Enjoy!

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this bread 5 times already (beginning with Laura’s dehydrated starter), and it’s come out so great so far! The first time was a little doughy, so I now bake mine for 25 minutes at 500 with the lid on and 30 minutes with the lid off at 425. I also do an egg wash! So good.