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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

3.28 from 22 votes
This artisan sourdough boule fits perfectly into a Dutch Oven for baking!
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!

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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Jeanette Coombes

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Hi Courtney, Thank you for your wonderful videos which I watch from my home in South Australia. Please will you tell me how long I should leave the over night fridge proofed dough before scoring it and putting it into the oven. Should the dough have risen at all over night? In anticipation, Thanks, Jeanette

Butter For All

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Hi Jeanette!

You are so welcome. If the dough has risen by 25% or more in the fridge, then you can bake it straight away. If not, it is best to let out come to room temperature and start to rise before baking. I can't tell you the exact time, because it might take 1-4 hours depending on your starter. Another way to manage this, if the dough doesn't rise in the fridge, is to let the dough rise once it is shaped and in the banneton, before refrigerating. Hope this helps!

Courtney

Kathleen

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

Following up on my earlier question about adding olives - I made a loaf and added about 1 cup of roughly chopped olives and some fresh rosemary and thyme leaves. I probably used slightly less water. The results were splendid - the boule rose to the very top of my dutch oven and has a wonderful chewy texture and enticing aroma from the olives and herbs. Thanks again for the terrific recipes.

Kathleen Gundry

Sunday 5th of July 2020

Hi Courtney. I love your recipes! I have had success with this sourdough boule in the past and want to use this recipe as a basis for olive bread. Is it safe to just add olives and herbs to this recipe during the stretch and fold phase, or do other adjustments need to be made? I have made other olive bread recipes, but I prefer your recipes. Thanks so much for your site! Kathleen

Butter For All

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

Hi Kathleen!

That is so nice, thank you! Yes you can add them during stretch and fold, or during shaping as I demonstrate in my Cheesy Sourdough Pizza Bread

Please show off you bread when it's completed! I absolutely love olive bread!

Courtney

Tom Chapman

Friday 26th of June 2020

Oh my goodness! After trying about a half dozen different recipes, this is hands-down the easiest and the best. For two loaves, I followed steps exactly and each one turned out practically perfect and delicious. Thank you so much for posting this.

Butter For All

Friday 26th of June 2020

Hey Tom!

That is so great to hear. Thank you for leaving feedback, I really appreciate it!

Happy Baking,

Courtney

Gary Roussak

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Hi Courtney,

I’m based in the UK. I have tried making sourdough bread twice now and seem to have come up against the same problem on both occasions. I’ll describe the second attempt…

My starter was about 10 days old since inception. I took it out of the fridge in the morning, and fed it immediately. Within two and a half hours, it had doubled and was bubbling well, so I decided it was a good time to use it within the next 90 minutes.

I mixed my flour and water (560g of 100% Allinsons strong white bread flour, with about 72% hydration) for a minute or two (the water had a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of olive oil added before mixing). I then let it autolyse for an hour before folding in 100g of my starter (thick batter consistency) and 12g sea salt from a grinder.

Over a further two hours, I carried out 4 stretch and folds. The gluten developed well and by this time, the dough was holding some shape reasonably well, strong and elastic, and coming away from the sides of the mason bowl. No other kneading was carried out.

I then left it to prove at about 24/25 degrees C for a further 5 hours, covered in cling film.

When I looked next, bubbles were appearing on the top, and the volume of dough had increased by a half, but the surface was not domed, and the dough had lost its structure and turned sticky again (almost looking like gloopy honeycomb, if that paints a picture). As soon as I tipped it out of the mason bowl onto a floured surface, of course it just collapses into a spongy mess.

This is almost exactly what happened first time – it is the batch rise that seems to scupper everything. The only option I have at this point is to add a load of flour to make it even partly workable, but there’s just no surface tension left in the dough at all (as I'm used to with a dry yeast), and there's no way I can lame the dough, so whilst it bakes, the end product is on the dense side and poorly aerated, and not looking like those wonderful samples I keep seeing on endless websites and Youtube videos!

Any thoughts on where I might be going wrong ?

Thank you

Gary

Butter For All

Wednesday 24th of June 2020

Hi Gary,

Thank you for the very detailed example. That is so helpful for me to see the whole picture.

10 days old is still so young, most often at that age the starter doesn't have a proper balance of yeast to bacteria. So while it may be fermenting well, the yeast are not strong, and the bacteria, while doing its fermenting breaks down the gluten structure completely. Your hydration may be a little high for a beginner loaf. Although you sound like a competent baker, I would start with a little less hydration and skip the autolyse.

I would say, work on your starter. Shrink it down to 100g and feed it every 12 hours (discard 50g feed 25g/25g) for 3-7 days. This will really encourage the yeast to strengthen. In the meantime, you could also watch my Saturday Morning Sourdough Series on YouTube. I cover so many tips and tricks and in episode two I demo this recipe!

I really hope this is helpful! Don't give up!

Courtney

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