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How To Bake The Perfect Sourdough Boule In Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions

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Learn how to bake a soft and chewy, traditionally fermented Artisan Sourdough Boule at home. This easy recipe and instructive video will take your bread to a whole new level! #sourdough #nourishingtraditions #wisetraditions #fermentation #wildyeast #masamadre #sourdoughstarter

Over the last few years I’ve made it my mission to learn how to make the softest, fluffiest, chewiest, naturally leavened and fermented bread with my fifteen year old sourdough starter.

This easy sourdough boule is the result of much practice and formula testing. I wanted to keep the recipe very simple and straightforward so that even an amateur sourdough baker could reproduce this bread with beautiful results! If you follow my recipe and learn the technique from watching my video you will definitely be able to master baking an artisan sourdough boule at home in your Dutch oven.

 

This artisan sourdough boule fits perfectly into a Dutch Oven for baking!

 

Are you interested in the science of sourdough?

I’ve written a comprehensive guide to sourdough. It answers questions about what sourdough is, why it’s better for your body, how to talk about sourdough and understand common terminology, and how to save yourself years of trial and error.

 

Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better For You – And How To Start One

Sourdough starter that is active and fresh makes wonderful artisan bread!

 

One of the first steps to making great bread is having a great starter!

Learn how to feed your starter for optimal performance and successful baking in my easy visual guide,

 

How To Feed Your Sourdough Starter For Successful Baking

The key to really great sourdough bread and other baked goods is a lively and active sourdough starter. Learn how to properly feed your starter for the most successful bread baking. #fermented #naturallyleavened #masamadre #motherdough #sourdough #leaven #slowfood #realfood #nourishingtraditions #wisetraditions

 

Once you’ve mastered the sourdough basics you will be ready to bake an incredible loaf of bread like this one.

 

A soft artisan sourdough boule cut in thick slices perfect for toasting.

 

This recipe uses the stretch and fold method of kneading. 

What I love about stretch and fold,

  • It’s easy.
  • It can be done over a period of time and at your own pace.
  • It develops an insane amount of gluten, making your bread reach for the clouds with the absolute BEST oven spring.
  • It’s flexible (Only have time for two stretch and folds? No problem, you will still have an awesome bake!).
  • It can be done in the bowl, keeping your workspace clean.
  • You don’t need a stand mixer, stretch and fold is a “by hand” method, uniting you to your food!
This video will walk you through the steps of the recipe and stretch and fold method.


 

Learn how to bake a big beautiful loaf of sourdough bread in your Dutch oven at home. This formula is perfect for beginners and advanced bakers and yields consistently fabulous sourdough bread! Get the easy visual instructions now! #realfood #realbread #fermented #wisetraditions #nourishingtraditions #starter #masamadre #motherdough

 

The 7 most important tools to help you achieve a perfect sourdough boule in your Dutch oven.

Click on the photo to be taken directly to the product I recommend.

  1. Baking scale

2. Covered bowl for mixing and proofing

3. Dough whisk or wooden spoon

4. Banneton

5. Parchment paper

6. Bread lame for scoring

7. Dutch Oven or fancy Bread Cloche

Learn how to bake a big beautiful loaf of sourdough bread in your Dutch oven at home. This formula is perfect for beginners and advanced bakers and yields consistently fabulous sourdough bread! Get the easy visual instructions now! #realfood #realbread #fermented #wisetraditions #nourishingtraditions #starter #masamadre #motherdough

This artisan sourdough boule fits perfectly into a Dutch Oven for baking!

How To Bake The Perfect Sourdough Boule In Your Dutch Oven

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 40 minutes

Learn how to bake a big and beautiful loaf of real sourdough bread. This formula yields a soft and pillowy crumb perfect for slathering with real butter!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Weigh all ingredients into a glass or ceramic bowl.
  2. Mix the ingredients into a loose shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.
  3. Wet your hands and gently knead the dough in the bowl by hand until it comes together with no excess flour.
  4. Let the dough rest covered for 10-15 minuets. 
  5. Start the first stretch and fold by wetting your hands and lifting one side of the dough and folding it toward the middle. Repeat this stretch and fold process in all four directions.
  6. Sometimes you can get away with an extra one or two folds depending on the elasticity of the dough. It it wants to stretch, stretch it! If it's tearing or breaking it needs a rest!
  7. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Start the second stretch and fold by wetting your hands and repeating the same folding motion in (at least) all four directions. 
  9. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Repeat the stretch and fold and resting process up to 5 more times for a total of 7 stretch and folds (or as many as you are able). I have made great bread by just just doing two stretch and folds. But remember, the more stretching and folding, the more gluten will develop, and the higher your bread will rise!
  11. After the last stretch and fold cover the dough and allow it to double in size. This can take anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on starter strength and ambient temperature.
  12. Prepare your banneton (proofing basket) with a coating of flour. My trick is to use sprouted wheat flour. Sprouted wheat does not develop gluten so it will keep the bread from sticking to the basket. Rice flour, buckwheat or other non glutenous flour can also be used. 
  13. Working with the doubled dough, start the final stretch and fold. This will act as the "punch down" of the dough, deflating the gasses trapped inside the gluten network. Stretch the dough several times toward the center, each time pressing down on the dough to remove air bubbles.
  14. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. 
  15. Lightly wet your hands and remove the dough from the proofing bowl onto your work surface. Shape the dough by repeating the same folding toward the center action. Once a tight ball is achieved flip it seam side down and push it gently in all directions across the work surface to build tension in the outer layer. (please see attached video)
  16. Let the dough rest seam side down for 5 minutes.
  17. Transfer the dough to the banneton basket. This time you want the seam to be up and the tight surface to be down in the basket.
  18. Sprinkle the seam side of the shaped dough with a light dusting of flour and cover it securely with wrap and a rubber band.
  19. Place the banneton basket in the refrigerator overnight for at least 10 hours. 12-24 hours is my preferred proofing time.
  20. Once the dough has crested the edge of the banneton it is ready to bake. But you may keep it in the refrigerator for a longer period of time. 
  21. Preheat your oven to 450° with your covered Dutch oven inside!
  22. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to overhang your loaf's circumference by a few inches.
  23. Remove the banneton from the refrigerator, remove the wrap from the dough and place the parchment sheet over the exposed dough. Hold the parchment in place with your hand while you flip the dough onto the counter. Now the parchment is on the bottom.
  24. Carefully ease the banneton off the dough. Sometime it takes a little coaxing. Use your fingers to gently work between the dough and basket. Hopefully  the basket will lift away clean!
  25. Using a sharp razor blade, score the dough along the top. There are so many scoring patterns to practice with, but a good one to start with is a simple slash or a cross. Score the dough about 1/2 inch deep.
  26. Using baking gloves remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. 
  27. Working quickly pick up the boule by the parchment paper edges and place it into the Dutch oven on top of the parchment. 
  28. If desired add a few ice cubes to the Dutch oven between the parchment and the wall of the Dutch oven, or spray the boule with a few spritzes of filtered water. Adding additional moisture will keep the crust soft allowing for more rise and give a nice blistered texture and appearance.
  29. Cover the Dutch oven and place it back in your preheated oven. Bake undisturbed for 25 minutes!
  30. Open your oven and remove the Dutch oven lid. Bake an additional 15 minutes!
  31. Remove your Dutch oven from the oven and gently lift the boule out using the parchment paper as handles. Remove the parchment paper and cool the boule on a wire rack. Cool the boule completely before cutting (possibly the hardest part of baking this incredible loaf of bread!).

Notes

Beginners: Start with 275g water, about 1 1/5th cups.

Also note that all cups and spoons measurements are approximate, for best results please weigh your ingredients!

This recipe yields a boule that has a hydration percentage of 73.3%

Higher hydration doughs will have a more open crumb (bigger holes). Want to play around with hydration? Use this website to calculate the hydration percentage of your dough! Bread Hydration and Conversion Calculator

 

Learn how to bake a soft and chewy, traditionally fermented Artisan Sourdough Boule at home. This easy recipe and instructive video will take your bread to a whole new level! #sourdough #nourishingtraditions #wisetraditions #fermentation #wildyeast #masamadre #sourdoughstarter

 

Because you are awesome and read all the way to the bottom of this post you get my “Pro Tips” for this recipe!

Pro Tip #1 You can use up to 60% whole wheat or other heirloom or ancient grain in this recipe. But be aware that you may want to add additional water because whole grains absorb more water in the dough. Start with 10 additional grams of water per 50 grams of whole grain flour used. 

Pro Tip #2 If you are baking in an electric or gas oven with a bottom heating element, always use a baking stone, pizza stone, cast iron griddle or cast iron frying pan on the rack below your Dutch oven! Position the Dutch oven directly above the barrier pan or stone, this will help keep the bottom crust from getting too dark!

This guide to Sustainable Kitchen practices will help you make green choices in your kitchen. Learn how to ditch plastic and opt for more healthy longterm kitchen products and ideas. #greenhome #eco #kitchen #tools #castiron #stainlessteel #sustainability #green
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Carolyn Goldammer

Sunday 15th of November 2020

Is there a way to make this bread so the bottom crust isn't so hard to cut through?

Butter For All

Sunday 15th of November 2020

Hey Carolyn,

You may have missed my tip on keeping the bottom crust softer. It is especially important if you have an oven with the heating element on the bottom. You can place a baking stone, cast iron griddle, or even a baking sheet on the rack below the Dutch oven and that will shield the bottom crust and help prevent it getting too thick.

Hope that helps, Courtney

Teresa

Wednesday 11th of November 2020

Hello Courtney,

Thank you for the time and effort you put into this very informative site.

I have a Lodge Dutch Oven. The instructions state very clearly that it is not to be preheated empty before placing the raw boule inside. I would assume that ice cubes would also be prohibited. I love my Lodge and am not looking to replace it. What changes (if any) would I make to baking times/temps to accommodate a cold Dutch Oven? Thanks in advance.

Butter For All

Sunday 15th of November 2020

Hi Teresa!

Is it the enameled or regular Cast Iron Dutch Oven?

I've never heard of any issues preheating the Cast Iron DO. As long as the DO is hot and seasoned well the ice cubes shouldn't make a big impact. Always rub the DO with oil after each use to keep in seasoned well.

But for modification on this recipe, You will need to bake 40 minutes covered from room temp, and then uncovered another 15-25. You can spray the crust with water before baking to get a similar softening of the crust as the ice cube trick.

Hope that helps!

Courtney

Cheryl T

Thursday 5th of November 2020

Hi Courtney, I have been making your recipe for sourdough boule for months now. It is my go-to recipe, thank you so much, and also for your great video! All of the loaves are beautiful, lofty and tender. The only problem that I'm having is the crust is crisp and chewy on the first day, but then gets super hard (top and bottom crusts), even very hard to cut through. The inside is beautiful, soft and springy, amazing taste, great crumb structure. Its just the crust, I wish it was not so hard. I'm going to try your PRO Tip #2 with a pizza stone on a lower rack to see if it makes the bottom crust not so hard. I use a cast iron Dutch oven, preheated. I spray the crust with water before I cover and put into the oven (I found that "convection" bake is not good, and regular bake is better). I spray again after I remove the lid for the final bake. I tried the ice cube method too, but I don't want it to ruin my cast iron pot. Also Courtney, how do you recommend storing bread? My son put my last loaf in a ziplock bag, and the crust did not get super hard, but it was kind of soft and mushy. The sliced bread did firm up and crisp up in the toaster though. Thanks again for inspiring me to bake!

Butter For All

Saturday 7th of November 2020

Hi Cheryl!

Thank you so much for reaching out with great feedback! I love hearing about your amazing baking success!

Using the pizza stone or other barrier on the rack below the Dutch oven will definitely help with the bottom crust. As far as storage, You need to cool the loaf completely (like at least 6 hours at room temp) and then store it in a Gallon Ziplock, make sure its completely cooled, any additional moisture will make the crust soggy. But mine will last up to a week without the slightest change in texture when cooled completely. Additionally, after cooling, I have put in back in the DO on top of the baking parchment, and covered it with the lid. This work almost just as well.

I hope this helps! Enjoy the recipes!

Courtney

Cary T.

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Hello wondering if you please help me does100% hydration sourdough starter stirred down mean just fed and use it right away. Or let your starter rise. Thanks Cary T,

Butter For All

Thursday 5th of November 2020

Hi Cary!

That is a volume measurement for when someone is using Cups and spoons. You don't need to stir it down if you are measuring by weight. Does that make sense? A recently fed, active sourdough starter is perfect for this recipe.

Enjoy!

Courtney

Linda K.

Sunday 4th of October 2020

This is the first time using this recipe and I appreciate the videos, they were very helpful. The dough was beautiful and nice to work with. The first rise was impressive after 6 hours and after the final fold and shaping I put it into the banneton and into the fridge, about 18 hours. The dough didn't rise very much at all, but this has been a consistent problem. I am thinking it might be because the spot in the fridge is too cold (underneath the ice maker contraption). So I think next time I might let it rise a bit in the banneton before putting into the fridge and see how that works out.

Butter For All

Thursday 8th of October 2020

Hi Linda,

I think your intuition is correct. You can either let it proof more before refrigeration or after. I would provably opt for before if time allows it since it is easier to score cold dough!

Best,

Courtney

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