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

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

How To Bake The Perfect Sourdough Boule In Your Dutch Oven
Prep Time
1 d
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 d 40 mins
 

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!

Course: Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, Ferment, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Traditional
Keyword: Loaf, No Knead, Round, Sourdough, Stretch and Fold
Servings: 12
Author: Butter For All
Ingredients
  • 475 Grams Organic Bread Flour Just shy of 4 cups
  • 315 Grams Filtered Water 1 1/4 cups
  • 250 Grams Active Sourdough Starer 1 cup of 100% hydration starter, stirred down
  • 12 Grams Salt 1 3/4 teaspoon
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.

    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!

  6. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

  7. Start the second stretch and fold by wetting your hands and repeating the same folding motion in (at least) all four directions. 

  8. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 

  12. 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.

  13. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. 

  14. 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)

  15. Let the dough rest seam side down for 5 minutes.

  16. 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.

  17. Sprinkle the seam side of the shaped dough with a light dusting of flour and cover it securely with wrap and a rubber band.

  18. Place the banneton basket in the refrigerator overnight for at least 10 hours. 12-24 hours is my preferred proofing time.

  19. 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. 

  20. Preheat your oven to 450° with your covered Dutch oven inside!

  21. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to overhang your loaf's circumference by a few inches.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. Using baking gloves remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. 

  26. Working quickly pick up the boule by the parchment paper edges and place it into the Dutch oven on top of the parchment. 

  27. 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.

  28. Cover the Dutch oven and place it back in your preheated oven. Bake undisturbed for 25 minutes!

  29. Open your oven and remove the Dutch oven lid. Bake an additional 15 minutes!

  30. 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!).

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!

38 Comments

  1. Mim

    I tried the recipe, the bread is baking now. While stretching and folding I thought the dough seemed rather wet. (I weighed my ingredients.) I was unable to put it in my Dutch oven because after I took it out of the Banneton it spread out quite a bit. I have been making bread for at least 15 years, just not sourdough. Should the dough feel like normal bread dough? Do you add more flour during the first knead, or is the amount adequate in the recipe?

    • Hi Mim,

      As the gluten develops and the starter starts to ferment the dough it should go from sticky to elastic. Did you watch the video in this recipe? It should give you an idea of what the dough looks like once fully developed.

      If you find it very hard to work with you can start with more flour. This is a pretty high hydration dough. You might try my sourdough loaf first. It is a great beginner’s recipe with a little bit lower hydration. It can be proofed in a banneton if preferred.

      I hope this helps! Let me know how the bread turns out!

      -Courtney

  2. Mim

    Thanks Courtney!
    I’m not sure why I didn’t try the sandwich loaf first. I guess I was so taken with your pics and video on the boule. 🙂 I will definitely try it the next time I make bread. And by the way, my boule turned out delicious even though it was sorta big and wide.
    Thanks so much for your great recipes. Your work is very good and very inspiring!

  3. Fumiko McGuigan

    Hi, thanks for this Boyle recipe. I am a fan of your sandwich bread. I have been making it a long time . Now this one is my go-to bread. I live in Colorado at 6000ft high altitude , so lately I add 3 table spoon flour. It turns out great with high rise in oven. Thanks again.

  4. Jackie

    Thank you! I was slightly intimidated by all the steps, but your video really helped me see what should be happening. This recipe and technique gave me the best loaf of sourdough I’ve ever made. So happy!

  5. Brigitte

    What brand bread flour do you use and, more importantly, how much protein does it contain pls? When it came to shaping into a boule, my dough was still very sticky and hard to handle. What am I doing wrong?

    • Hi Brigette,

      Typically if I’m not using my local Camas Country Mill flour I’m using King Arthur Organic Bread Flour. It has between 12-13% protein. It sounds like you aren’t getting the gluten development or possibly too much hydration. Did you watch my video? You will get a good idea of how the dough looks as it being stretched and shaped. It should be tacky but not sticky. It could be possible that the starter isn’t strong enough for this style of bread. Feel free to email me or respond here with more details and I can help you figure it out!

  6. Mindy Mazzoleni

    Hi! This is my go-to recipe for a boule, I love all the stretching and folding! I’m trying to plan some baking and was wondering if it’s possible to leave the boule in the fridge beyond the 24 hours? Here is my plan: start Sunday morning and place in the fridge Sunday evening and then bake on Wednesday morning (fresh bread for Christmas dinner!). Will/can the bread over proof in the fridge?

    • Hi Mindy,

      I’m so happy to hear you love this recipe! You can absolutely leave it in the fridge for up to 72 hours or more. The flavor will only improve. If you find it over-proofed, just reshape it about 12 hours before baking!

      Hope this helps!

      Courtney

  7. jeanette A O'Donnell

    I have tried a few different sour dough recipes and think they are ok for a beginner,but after watching your video I can’t wait to try your method.It looks a lot less messy than the ones I’ve tried

  8. Shayna Christian

    Beautiful and easy to follow video (: I have a question, which size is your Dutch oven? I have a feeling my one may be too big to bake a boule in and my starter is roaring to go. Thank you

  9. Jaysie

    HEy there! Trying to troubleshoot my dough… it does great with the proofing, but the last proof is taking forever! It’s been in the fridge for 16 hours and hasn’t budged in size… any thoughts??

    • Hi Jaysie,

      Unless your starter is “trained’ to rise in refrigerator temperatures it usually won’t. You can take it from the fridge and let it come to room temp and rise a bit before baking, that will work just as well.

      A good way to train your starter is to feed it often, let it double and then put it in the fridge for a few days before bringing it out and doing the same again. This will encourage the cold hearty yeast. You still may find that your particular starter needs some tome out of the fridge to get there though.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to ask other troubleshooting questions. I love them!

      Courtney

  10. I love this bread! I’ve made it a lot, but I seem to get inconsistencies in boules. Some are almost as beautiful as yours and some are a little flat and wide. Each time I use my starter for bread, I check to see if it’s peaked and if it floats. I’m using bread flour for my starter and in the bread. I’ve noticed during my stretch and folds my dough doesn’t look as pillowy as yours in the video. Is that not enough gluten? How do I correct this?

    • Hi Nickole!

      It sounds like you are on the right track. The pillowy texture is coming from the fast fermentation. My starter is very mature and I bake a lot. The more you bake and feed your starter they more consistent your results will be. Try letting a little more time go by between your stretch and folds and see if that makes a difference. If you are doing 10 minute intervals, try 20-30m instead. You are looking for a balance of fermentation and gluten development.

      I can’t wait to hear if this helps!

      Courtney

  11. Marti

    I’ve made this 5 times now using your technique. I do it right along with the video and do exactly what you’re doing, pausing when I need to. It turns out perfect every time! It’s not that complicated once it’s done a few times. Thanks for this!

  12. Linda

    Hi there,

    I made this recipe last night, everything went accordingly. The dough has been proofing in the refrigerator for 12 hours now, but my dough has only risen 10%, it did not double like your dough. Can you please help me troubleshoot?

    I did 6 stretch and folds and I did a 3 hour bulk fermentation since my house is fairly warm and the dough doubled in size at 3 hours. There were bubbles and blisters on the outside of the dough it felt airy, light and everything seemed to be good. I shaped it and put it in the refrigerator.

  13. John Carlomano

    Hello
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe and technique. I have made this sourdough boule numerous times and it always comes out perfectly. The crumb is open with a wonderful texture. For anyone just starting out with sourdough, this is the perfect recipe to start with. BTW I have made a number of SD breads using recipes from Breadwerx, Perfect Loaf, King Arthur Flour, the Clever Carrot, Chef John and numerous others but none of the other recipes are as easy with the great crust as this recipe. So many other recipes are too fussy breaking down the original mix into 3 separate steps for example. You prove with this recipe that mixing can be done in a single step. Thank you for demystifying and simplifying the making of sourdough bread. This boule is my go-to recipe now.

    • Hi John!

      This is the best feedback! Thank you for taking the time to come leave me a message. Seriously, it made my day! I’ve had people criticize my method, especially because I just mix everything from the get go, but hey, it works for me and works well, so I’m happy. Glad it works for you too!

      Happy Baking,

      Courtney

  14. Franco Di Palma

    Where do I start? I have tried several sourdough breads. I have a problem with consistency in dough texture even when very carefully measuring ingredients. Sometimes it is perfect and other times I have to throw out the entire dough because it is too wet. One recipe I have used with great success uses the paddle (not the hook) for the initial knead, using my mixer. I am about to try your recipe and was wondering if you think that method is a possibility? It is so frustrating to get through the long wait of the entire process only to find I have a dough that can’t be shaped. I have watched your videos several times now. I can’t wait to try it. I am totally intrigued with the idea of only waiting ten minutes between stretch and folds. Until now I have been waiting an hour and four of those can take the better part of my day.Thank you so much for your time, your work and your video and instructions. They are very much appreciated by many.

    • Hi Franco!

      Thanks for the nice note. First, I would encourage you to start really feeling the dough with your hands. A dough that is easy to handle once proofed will feel tacky but not sticky! You may be trying to make bread recipes beyond your starters ability. Once a starter is more developed it starts fermenting and building gluten structure faster, so breads with more hydration can be achieved. Secondly, you can ALWAYS add more flour! You can’t really screw up bread by adding flour. If the dough feels wet just add flour until the right feeling is achieved. Like I said, especially in the beginning, you want a dough that feels tacky but doesn’t stick to your fingers. As you gain more experience, you can try higher hydration doughs with more success! This recipe is a good one to start with!

      I hope this helps and I’m excited to hear how it goes from here!

      Courtney

  15. Donna

    My first baking, a bit disappointing, but still good. I found your video looking for answers & will follow your method next bake for sure! Like a few other people who commented here, my refrigerator proofing did not work out for much of any rise, so after letting the dough sit out for a few hours, it began to rise then. I was about to trash these 2 first boules, but my man encouraged me to learn from my failure. Neither baked to a decent rise, and while still good, the bottoms were definitely hard. What I really found interesting is in one of your replies here, you mentioned that if a starter is not trained to be refrigerated, it may not work for a cold proof. Wow! That’s something I never heard! My very healthy starter is 22 days old and I had thought that maybe continuing room temp daily feelings for a while longer may encourage its strength & activity. (I actually discovered a trick to increasing temp by surrounding it with glass bottles filled with hot water & like magic, this helped my starter to thrive with our cold weather temps!) But now I’m thinking its time to train my starter to get cold feet, as your advice made sense to me.

    Sorry for long reply, Courtney! But hoping you may be able to explain more as this may be an issue for many of us with young starters. Also, I’m considering another round of baking, using your recipe, but (for right now) not doing a cold proof at all and testing those results.

    Anyway! Thank u for your great info & suggestions!

    • Hi Donna,

      You are on the right track! A 22 day old starter is still very young, and while robust, might not have the super power needed for a cold proof. My advice to you is to continue to proof at room temperature, following the sings of the dough. Especially watching for when it has doubled! First ferment, let it double. Shape it. Let it double again before baking! Meanwhile, feed your starter and let it start to ferment at room temp, once it’s starting to rise, stick it in the fridge. Do this every time you bake. Your starter will start to favor yeast that can remain active in colder temps. This may take awhile, maybe up to a year, so don’t get discouraged!

      Hope this helps!

      Courtney

      • Donna

        Very helpful! Thank you Courtney!! My starter is pretty ravenous, perhaps with my bit of warmer temperature increase–it doubles & falls rather quickly, so maybe even adjusting it to regular room temps would also help for now. (Rather than wondering if I should feed it twice a day, which I have a few times). The whole process is so interesting, I definitely will keep pushing forward! Thank you again!

  16. Kristie Pottle

    Good Afternoon,
    As we sit quarantined due to COVID-19, I have decided to dive back into bread baking. I got some wonderful starter from the hotel/restaurant I worked in and have made several loaves of tight, sandwich sourdough. I really wanted to do a boule, so I have been following your video and recipe all day in preparation for it. I got through to step 12 with no problems and my dough was doing fine. After 8 stretches and then letting it sit for several hours the dough was very sticky, so I had to keep wetting my fingers, which then made the dough very wet. Overall the next step, 13 was very difficult to stretch and fold. I tried to let it rest and try again but it was really sticky (and wet). I think maybe it was too warm where I let it rest for the 4-5 hours. Anyway, I put it in the fridge step for the night. I will see what happens tomorrow. Do you have any suggestions as to what went wrong and/or how to troubleshoot this at this point?
    Thank you for sharing your recipe and techniques. I hope it comes out ok! Best,
    Kristie

  17. Kristie Pottle

    As a PS to my post above: the boule dough did not rise one bit in the fridge. I think I killed it somehow in the final stretch and fold steps. Any ideas what I did wrong?
    Thank you!
    Kristie

    • Hi Kristie,

      I’m going to respond to both comments here. Usually, if the dough is not developing, inflating, and becoming more elastic it is due to having a starter that is not active enough, immature, or not properly fed. I know you said you got starter from work, it must be well established, but you will still have to use it and feed it often to keep it active and happy. You definitely didn’t kill it, it is probably not cold adapted or active enough to keep fermenting at a cooler temperature. My advise would be to feed your starter every day for 3-4 days in preparation for making this recipe. It should be doubling in 4-6 hours ideally. Once the starter is really active then try this recipe again. You can read about how I use and maintain my starter here. You will se that I always use the discard and then feed it prior to baking. That keeps the starter really happy. If you still have the boule in the fridge, you can proof it at room temp until it doubles and then bake it. Or The dough can be made into pizza if it’s past the point of cooperation. Let me know how things go from here!

      Courtney

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