Easy Rustic Sourdough Bread

Yes, this Rustic Sourdough Bread really is easy! Here’s how to make the same crusty, delightfully chewy sourdough you buy at your favorite bakery right at home.

Overhead view of sliced sourdough bread loaf on cooling rack

Believe it or not, making your own sourdough bread is not an impressive feat of baking prowess. It’s actually much easier to make than most people believe. Even if you’ve never made a loaf of homemade bread before, you can do this—and once you get started with the bread baking habit, you are going to be baking ALL THE SOURDOUGH, all the time! What makes this easier than other sourdough breads, is that this uses sourdough starter and instant yeast – it’s the best of both worlds!

(Although this recipe is great for beginners, you may also want to try my sourdough focaccia, which is even easier!)

Winter is the perfect time to learn how to make sourdough at home because it’s such a hearty, filling bread. Unlike an anemic slice of white bread from a grocery store loaf, sourdough is thick, crusty, and substantive. Pop two slices in the toaster and slather them with butter (or Pineapple Apricot Jam) and you’ve got yourself a breakfast that will fuel you all morning long. You can’t say that about Wonder Bread! 

Rustic sourdough loaf on round wire cooling rack

What You’ll Need

Aside from the sourdough starter (more on that below), the ingredients for sourdough bread are pretty simple. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sourdough starter
  • Water
  • Instant yeast – This isn’t the same as dry active yeast; they’re not interchangeable!
  • Kosher salt – Kosher salt has larger crystals than table salt, so using the same amount of table salt will yield a salty loaf.
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour

Where to Get a Sourdough Starter

Because the internet is magic, you can buy a sourdough starter online these days, but a lot of bakeries will also sell you a little bit of theirs; just call ahead and ask! If you’re a member of a local group on Facebook, you might be able to finagle a sourdough starter from a fellow baking enthusiast in your neighborhood.

Sliced sourdough bread on round wire cooling rack

How to Make Rustic Sourdough Bread

Now, making this sourdough bread is easy, but it does take time, so make sure you set aside a solid afternoon (or morning) to work on this recipe. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Start the dough. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough a bit with your hands in the bowl until it’s smooth. (Alternatively, you can do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment on low.)

Let the dough rise. Grease a large bowl with oil and transfer the dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. This can take anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. 

Form loaves. Divide the dough in half, and shape each round by pulling the edges to the center of the ball. Turn the ball over so the seam is on the bottom, then roll the ball with your cupped hands until a smooth, tight ball is formed. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. 

Finish shaping. Create oval loaves by rolling the dough back and forth on your work surface several times or make longer loaves by rolling them out until they are about 10 inches in length.

Let the loaves rise. Place the loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Let the loaves rise for about an hour. Just before an hour has elapsed, start preheating the oven to 425ºF. Preheat your Dutch ovens or pizza stone, too, if you’re using them.

Prepare the loaves. Mist the loaves with lukewarm water, then make deep cuts into the tops for venting steam using a sharp knife or bread lame. 

Pizza stone instructions: Slide the parchment and bread rounds onto the stone. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is very deep golden brown and the bread reaches 200ºF with an instant read thermometer.

Dutch oven instructions: Lift the bread rounds using the edges of the parchment and place them into the Dutch ovens. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to bake until the crust is very deep golden brown and the bread reaches 200ºF with an instant read thermometer.

Cool and slice. Transfer the finished loaves to a wire rack and let them cool completely before slicing. 

Tips for Success

Here’s how to make sure your sourdough bread turns out perfect!

  • Use warm water. It’s best to use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is between 90 and 100 degrees, but if you don’t have a thermometer, just know that this feels warm to the touch, not hot or scalding.
  • Weigh your flour. Even small deviations in the amount of flour can affect how your bread turns out, so use a kitchen scale if you have one. If not, lightly spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then scrape any excess off the top.
  • Making one loaf. If you’d prefer to make one loaf instead of two, simply cut the recipe in half and skip the step where you divide the dough into two portions.
Sliced rustic sourdough bread on cooling rack with knife

How to Store

A loaf of sourdough bread is best stored in a brown paper bag, just like how it might be sold in a bakery. If you don’t have a bag on hand, a large tea towel will do the trick, too. Store at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze sourdough too! Place it in a zip-top storage bag and freeze it for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it, let it thaw on the countertop at room temperature.

Print

Easy Rustic Sourdough Bread

An old-fashioned rustic loaf that doesn’t take all day to make—imagine that! This sourdough bread is perfect for beginners.

  • Author: Country Cleaver
  • Prep Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25–30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (227g) fed (ripe) Sourdough Starter
  • 1 ½ cups (340g) Water, between 90-100 degrees
  • 12 tsp Instant Yeast
  • 2 ½ tsp (15g) Kosher Salt
  • 5 cups (600g) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stirring with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Use your hands to create a smooth dough in the bowl. You can also do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, kneading the dough on low until a smooth ball forms.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.

Divide the dough in half, and pre-shape each round by pulling the edges of the dough to the center of the ball. Turn the ball over so the seam is on the bottom, and rolling the ball with your cupped hands, a smooth tight ball is formed. All the dough to rest for 15 minutes.

To do the final shaping, you can create ovel loaves by rolling the dough after it has been pre-shaped by rolling it back and forth on your work surface several times. Or you can create longer loaves by rolling them out until they are about 10” long.

Place the loaves onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover them with a tea towel and allow them to rise about 1 hour. During this time, you will want to preheat your oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place it in your oven while preheating. If you are using Dutch Ovens, place them on the racks to preheat.

Spray the loaves with additional lukewarm water, and slash deep cuts into the bread for venting steam. This creates decoration, as well as letting steam escape as the bread bakes preventing ugly “blow outs”. A sharp knife, or bread lame should be used to create those cuts.

If using a pizza stone, slide the bread rounds, while still on the parchment paper onto the stone. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are very deep golden brown. The bread should register 200 degrees when measured with an instant read thermometer.

If you are using a pre-heated Dutch Oven, lift the bread rounds using the edges of the parchment and place into the Dutch Oven. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the bread is deep golden brown, and registers 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Remove immediately from the Dutch oven and place onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Notes

  • Weighing flour provides the most accurate way to make bread, but if you don’t have a scale, measuring out your ingredients by cup is fine.
  • You can half this recipe to create one single loaf of bread if desired.
  • For best results, use a pizza stone, or Dutch oven to get a bread with extra chew. 

Keywords: no knead sourdough bread, homemade sourdough bread, sourdough loaf