Naturally Fermented Crusty Sourdough Boule.

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What is naturally fermented bread?

Naturally fermented bread refers to bread that uses naturally-occurring yeasts in the bread-making process, instead of the commercial yeast you can buy in the baking aisle of a grocery store.

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“I have been making sourdough bread for years. There has never been a single recipe that I have followed, that comes out this perfect. This is one of the easiest recipes yielding the best results. Let’s just say, I’m glad it’s a 2 loaf recipe…..my family eats it faster than I can bake it.”

– Jennifer

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Here’s How To Make Naturally Fermented Crusty Sourdough Boule

Don’t forget you can bake along with me in my Step-By-Step Guide on YouTube

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My Sourdough Toolkit

INSTRUCTIONS

I feed my starter with this ratio:

  • Sourdough Starter: 35g
  • Slightly Warm Water: 140g
  • All-purpose Flour: 140g
the-easiest-sourdough-bread
5 from 9 votes

Naturally Fermented Crusty Sourdough Boule.

Print Recipe
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:40 minutes
Fermenting:12 hours
Total Time:12 hours 50 minutes

Equipment

  • digital kitchen scale
  • 1 6 Qt. dough tub with lids
  • 1 wooden spoon or spurtle optional
  • 1 bench scraper optional
  • 2 tea towels or banneton basket liners
  • 2 banneton baskets
  • unbleached parchment paper sheets
  • 2 dutch ovens
  • Bees Wax Paper or Paper Bread Bags optional

Ingredients

  • 250 grams active sourdough starter, fed, bubbly, and doubled in size the consistency when you feed the starter should be thicker than pancake batter and show a little resistance when you stir it. Once the starter is "active" you should need to giggle it out of the jar. If your starter "pours" out of the jar, then it could be over fermented starter (sourdough discard).
  • 1000 grams organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 24 grams sea salt
  • 730 grams filtered water slightly warm

Instructions

Measure the ingredients using a digital scale

  • Turn on your digital kitchen scale.
    Set the dough tub on the scale and press "tare" to make the scale read 0g.
  • Add the 250g active sourdough starter into the tub. Then press "Tare".
    The scale should read 0g.
  • Next, add 730g slightly warmed water into the tub.
    Using a wooden spoon or spurtle (or any kitchen until), stir the water and starter until the water is nice and creamy.
  • Now add in 1000g of all-purpose flour. Shake or scoop a couple cups worth of flour at a time, until you reach the 1000g.
    *If you accidentally add too much flour, just scoop as much as you need to off the top.
  • Again, press "tare" and make sure your scale reads 0g. Now add the 24g salt.
    You can either add it straight into the dough tub or place a measuring cup on the scale, press "tare" to zero out the scale, and then measure 24g seas salt.
    Add the salt to the dough tub.

Mix the dough and let it rest

  • Remove the dough tub from the scale and place on the countertop. Stir everything together until a shaggy dough has formed.
    Place the lid on the tub and let it rest for 30 minutes so that the flour can absorb the water.
    After the 30 minute rest, stir again making sure everything is nicely incorporated and grab the dough and stretch it up and fold it over just a few times.

Ferment overnight

  • Place the lid on the dough tub and place either on the counter for roughly 8 hours until doubled in size or place it in the fridge to ferment overnight. ( roughly 10 hours)
    I like to start mine off on the counter for an hour or 2 and then place it in the fridge overnight.
    Placing the dough in the fridge will make it easier for you to work with it.
    *After it sits in the fridge overnight, if it did not double in size, place the dough tub on the counter top for a few hours until it has doubled in size.

In the morning

  • In the morning, 1-2 hours before you would like to bake the bread, remove the dough from the tub and cut the dough in half.
    *Dough will feel sticky, this is perfectly normal. This is a more hydrated dough than most sourdough recipes you'll find on social media which look much less hydrated and are often very firm, but the product of a more hydrated dough is just so much more delicious, which is why I love a hydrated dough.
    Next, form 2 balls out of the dough.
    Make your hands damp with a small amount of water. Fold the dough over itself. It's easiest to do this with a bench scraper.
    It will begin to change texture as you push and pull the dough a few times on the counter top.
    Next, fold all the corners to the center, flip the ball over, and push with one hand and pull the dough ball on the counter with the other hand about 4-5 times and then twist it in the circle to help seal up the bottom seams until a round loaf has formed.
  • Place 1 tea towel of each of your banneton baskets, letting the edges fully hang over the baskets.
    Lightly flour the tea towel, rubbing the flour in with your hands a bit so that the dough does not stick to the tea towel.
    Grab your dough ball, turn it over, and place the ball in the floured tea towel banneton basket.
    Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough and fold the four corners of the towel over the dough.
  • Let the bread rise for 1-2 hours until light and fluffy (it will Not double in size) and a little giggly when you shake the basket.
    *I like to let the bread rise on the counter for 1 hour and then place it in the fridge so that the dough is firmer when you turn it out on the parchment to bake.*

To bake the boule

  • After the 1-2 hour rest, preheat the oven to 450℉. Place 2 dutch oven in the oven to preheat while the oven is preheating.
    Lay 2 sheets of parchment paper in the counter. Turn your dough out of the banneton basket onto the parchment paper.
    Take a sharp knife and slice a 2-3 inch line on the top of the boules.
  • Once the oven is preheated, remove the dutch ovens, take the lids off, place each boule in a dutch oven (using the parchment paper to pick up and place in the hot dutch oven) and put the lids on.
    Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for 10-12 more minutes.
    Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing the boule.
Course: Bread
Servings: 2 loaves
Author: Healthy Elizabeth

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27 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    THIS recipe turned out so great! Thanks Elizabeth for making it easy. This was the first time that I didn’t get a dense loaf. The oven spring was perfect. The ear…my husband thought it was .impressive! 😊 Wish I could post a pic.

  2. 5 stars
    I happened across your master class on YouTube and watched it twice. I had my starter ready to make my current recipe and made your crusty boule recipe instead.
    The instructions were great. Baked the bread this morning as loaf instead of boule, and I am amazed at the smell and look of this bread.
    This just became my goto recipe.
    I have the Sourdough Sandwich bread in the Kitchenaid now and can’t wait to taste it tomorrow.
    Thanks for your hard work and sharing!

  3. Thank you for posting this recipe and the accompanying video. I followed your directions (except left the dough to ferment on the counter not in the fridge overnight – I have a cool house) and the bread turned out beautifully. I’m very happy with the way they turned out.

  4. 5 stars
    I have been making sourdough bread for years. There has never been a single recipe that I have followed, that comes out this perfect. This is one of the easiest recipes yielding the best results. Let’s just say, I’m glad it’s a 2 loaf recipe…..my family eats it faster than I can bake it.

    1. Your comment just made my day Jennifer! I am so glad it turned out beautifully AND that the family loves it, that just makes the world go round in my book. Your feedback is invaluable to me, so thank you for sharing about it with me and others here too!

  5. I am just starting with my sourdough journey and only have one Dutch oven. Can I cut the recipe in half to just make one loaf or would I just leave the other in the fridge longer?

  6. 5 stars
    Great post, Do you have a recipe for one loaf only, My kiddos and I are trying to make a sough dough bread with unbleached white flour, We have the sour dough starter ready, We made it two weeks ago and its active, I love the way your video explain everything. Thank you for your help 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now. Second time is in oven. The bread had a wonderful taste and looked great. My one problem- My dough is very wet. So wet it absorbs all the flour on the tea towel and then sticks. I don’t want to mess it up by adding a little less water or more flour. What could I be doing wrong? I love this recipe and method so please any suggestions?

    1. Hi! That’s great! If the dough feels too sticky try proofing it for less time. That usually does the trick 🙂

  8. The taste and texture are great, but my dough doesn’t want to rise during the second rest period. What should I do? I considered using a heating pad on low- our house is about 68 degrees. Or increasing the rest time…

  9. 5 stars
    My two loaves are in the oven without the lids for the last 10 min or so and they LOOK amazing. But until they’re out and cooled and tested I won’t know 100% if it’s a 5/5…..however, I’m betting on it!
    So I had to let this ferment for over48 hours in the fridge because 1) on Saturday I followed your starter amounts using my very active starter but mine is used to a 100% ratio and it took much longer to ferment on the counter for some reason. I refused to give up on it though and on Sunday I proceeded to make the dough, even though I knew my timeline wasn’t going to work because the next day I would be gone from 7:00 a.m. until probably 8:00 pm and would not be able to continue. So after the initial 30 min rest it went into the very cold fridge and remained there for almost 48 hours. I took a chance that it was going to work because that dough was at least doubled and still strong! Now after about 3 hours of cooling, I cut it open and I can honestly say it was beautiful! Crispy crunchy crust, very moist but done interior with nice holes, and it has a wonderful taste. Not sour though, and I thought for sure the extra fermentation would have improved the sourness level at least a little. But I’m happy with two loaves ! Thank you for the recipe

  10. If I have only one Dutch oven how can I keep the dough ready/not over proofing so I can cook one at a time. I would rather do the recipe for 2 loaves to save time
    Thank you

    1. Hi there, that’s no problem at all. You can keep one loaf in the banneton basket in the fridge until the other loaf has finished baking. 🙂

  11. Can I get amounts for a single loaf of this recipe please? I just got my starter going. I’m single with only one dutch oven too, lol! One Boule a week is enough for me.

  12. 5 stars
    Wow!! So glad I found your channel!! I gave up a few years back to start the journey of sourdough (too complicated)but when i saw your video and how easy you make it look I had to try!! Thank you so much for the video, it helped a lot!! My 2 loaves crusty boule were awesome and soooo good. Now I ll have to try the other breads in your video.

  13. I started my bread process at 8 AM and it was complete to sit for 8 to 12 hours by 915. Can I cook it tonight or should I put it in the fridge all that time and wait until tomorrow morning to cook it. My house is kind of warm, so maybe I should put it in the fridge. This is my first attempt so I’m a little nervous.

    1. I would put it in the fridge and bake it in the morning to prevent it from over-fermenting. I do it all the time!

  14. Hi I’m trying your recipe for the first time. I’ve made sourdough boules before but I am so excited to try this way. Looks so easy. Love how easy you make it.
    Question…… water measurement in your video states to add 740 grams but the printed recipe says 730grams. I followed your video now my dough is very moist after the 30 minute rest. Any suggestions?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi! I’m so glad you’re trying it out! It’s a very moist dough which is why you can do so little stetching and folding. 730g of water just makes it a little easier to handle the dough. It will look very wet and pretty flat at first but as you fold it on itself and work it into a ball, it comes together! I have made it a 1000 times and it always works even though it looks too wet at first – I promise! Just make sure to wet your hands a little as you go. Best to you!! Hope it turns out amazing!
      -Elizabeth 💚

  15. Hi Elizabeth
    I love you easy to understand receipes for bread. They are the best I have found.
    Can you tell me where or when you discard? I did not see that part on the video.
    Thank you,
    Teresa

  16. 5 stars
    Elizabeth, your video’s and recipes for the Boule is awesome. First time making Sourdough Bread and it came out amazing! Family loved it! I also made the Sweet Potato Lentil Soup and the Vegetable broth and my family loved that too!

  17. 5 stars
    I really like how easy your recipe is to follow and have had good look with it. I put the dough in the frig overnight and bake it first thing in the morning. I have only been successful one time with the bread NOT sticking to the tea towel. It sticks every time. Should I add more flour to the towel? Should I put the it back in the frig for the 1 to 2 hours before turning it out on the parchment paper to score and bake? I usually leave it on the counter for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Thank you.

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