- 400 grams Bread Flour (organic, unbleached)
- 100 grams Rye Flour (organic)
- 10 grams Sea Salt
- 75 grams Flax Seeds (brown or golden)
- 75 grams Caraway Seeds
- 350 grams Filtered Water
- 130 grams Sourdough Starter
Beautifully crusty sourdough bread with specs of flax and caraway seeds!
After starting my own sourdough starter January 1, 2020, I’ve been experimenting with different ratios, methods, flours and more.
I’ve come to the conclusion that sourdough isn’t just for fun, it’s a lifestyle and I am fully committed!
There are various methods out there that involve many steps including stretch and folds every 30 minutes for 3 hours, and so on.
Personally, I like a simple, 4-step, kneaded sourdough recipe.
I use this method for both the boule, which is the round dutch oven bread and the sourdough bread loaf made in my loaf pan!
So if you do not own a dutch oven, you can still follow this guide but simply place the bread dough into your loaf pan, proof and bake!
You can add any kind of seeds and nuts to this bread dough, even cooked quinoa!
For flavor and color, I am adding rye flour but you can also do 100% white bread flour, whole wheat or spelt!
As long as the majority of the flour mix is bread flour, you can keep the measurements and method the same but customize to your liking.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough bread is made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring bacteria and yeast. It all starts with just two ingredients – flour and water!
Naturally fermented dough doesn’t only taste better but it is also better for you. Unlike yeasted breads, sourdough breads have naturally occurring good bacteria which is great for your digestive system.
If you are looking to start a sourdough starter, here are some great resources that I recommend:
Looking for a Yeast Bread recipe? Try my Cranberry Walnut Loaf made with active dry yeast, bread and whole wheat flour.
Let's Talk Ingredients
When making sourdough bread, since this is an active fermentation recipe, you will want to use the highest quality ingredients as possible.
I recommend organic, unbleached and stone-ground flours only.
Bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose.
Rye flour is one of my personal favorites and pairs really well with the caraway seeds. You can also use whole wheat or spelt flour.
Use organic seeds. In this loaf I used gold flax seeds and caraway but you can also use brown flax seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds!
Only use filtered water as tap water will not work well for the fermentation process.
Salt - also a very important ingredient. I recommend unrefined and unbleached sea salt or kosher salt. Use fine not coarse or flaky.
Let's Talk Tools
If you are just starting out and don't have all of the sourdough bread tools yet, don't worry there are alternatives.
You will need:
Nice to Haves:
(The Day Before) 9pm - Make The Levain
To make the levain, get a glass jar or bowl with a loose lid and add:
Note that all of your ingredients should be about the same temperature. If you are keeping your flours at 73°F then the filtered water should be about the same temperature.
Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula until no more dry flour bits are visible.
Loosely cover the jar and place it in a cool, dark and draft free zone overnight.
(The Next Day) 9am - Levain Float Test
Your levain should have grown overnight and show signs of strength and activity.
To test to see if the levain is ready, get a medium size bowl and fill it up with water. Take a teaspoon amount of the levain and gently place it into the bowl.
If the levain is floating it is ready for use, if it drops to the bottom of the bowl, give the levain more time.
9am - Mix The Dough
Assuming that the levain is ready for use, it is time to make the dough.
Place a large mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and add 400 grams bread flour, 100 grams rye, 75 grams flax seeds and 75 grams caraway seeds.
Using your hand, mix until the seeds are well distributed throughout the flour.
Next, add 350 grams of filtered water (same temperature as the flour), 130 grams of the levain and 10 grams sea salt.
Using your hand, mix slowly until all of the dry bit have been absorbed.
9:10am - Knead The Dough
Dump the dough onto a clean work surface and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.
To knead, use your dominant hand to push the dough with your palm away from you, then grab the dough with your fingers to pull it back.
In the beginning, it will be messy but continue with the kneading process until the dough comes together and creates a smoother dough ball.
Do not add any additional flour during this kneading process. Use your hand or bench scraper to bring the dough back together every minute or so.
To test to see if the dough has enough gluten development and strength, lightly oil your hands, grab a small handful amount of the dough then use your fingers to carefully stretch the dough from the center out.
If the dough tears easily it is not ready, if you can see through the thin layer of dough (window pane test), it is ready for bulk fermentation.
9:20am - Bulk Fermentation
Shape the dough into a ball then place it back into your bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel, cling film and a large plastic bag.
Place the bowl into a dark, cool, draft-free zone for 3-5 hours. The colder the temperature, the longer it will take to ferment.
During this time, the dough will continue to gain strength and trap carbon dioxide gasses which gives the dough volume and lightness. This fermentation is the same as the one that occurs in sauerkraut or kimchi!
1:30pm - Pre-Shape
If the dough has grown, slightly domed and may even have some visible gas bubbles, it is ready for the next step.
Lightly flour your work surface and carefully dump the dough out. Use your lightly flour hands or a bench scraper to loose the sides of the dough so it releases from the bowl.
Stretch and fold all sides of the dough into the center until you have a tight ball, then turn the dough ball over until you have a tight ball. Allow the dough ball to rest while you prep your proofing basket.
If you have a banneton proofing basket, liberally dust the inside with flour (I use rice flour but any flour will do).
If you are using a rounded mixing bowl (glass, wood or ceramic), drape a lint-free kitchen towel into the inside of the bowl then liberally dust the inside with flour.
1:45pm - Final Shape & Final Rise
By now, the dough has relaxed a bit and has spread out on your work surface.
Once more, stretch and fold all sides of the dough into the center until you have a tight ball, then turn the dough ball over.
Place your hands in front of the dough ball with the palms facing towards you and your pinkies touching the work surface. Now, slowly drag the dough ball towards you. Turn and drag and few times.
This will tighten the dough ball and seal the bottom.
Carefully flip the dough ball upside down into your palms and place it into the prepared proofing basket/bowl. The dough ball should be bottom side up so that when you turn out the dough onto parchment paper later, the seal of the dough ball will on the bottom.
Place the proofing basket/bowl into a large plastic bag or cover with cling film or a kitchen towel, make sure that it does not touch the dough ball as it rises up.
You can now place the proofing basket/bowl back into a dark, cool, draft-free zone for 3-4 hours or into the refrigerator for 12-16 hours.
4:30pm - Preheat The Oven For 1 Hour
One hour before the dough is done proofing, preheat your oven to 500°F.
If you are going to bake the bread in a dutch oven, add the dutch oven with the lid inside the oven while it is preheating. Both the oven and dutch oven need to be screaming hot.
If you do not have a dutch oven, preheat the oven for 1 hour then add a rimmed baking sheet or a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack and fill it up with boiling hot water about half way. This will create steam during baking which results in a crusty crust!
5:30pm - Bake With Steam for 20 Minutes
Get a large piece of parchment paper ready on your clean work surface.
Carefully, invert the dough ball onto the parchment paper.
You can now score the dough with a bread lame or a very sharp knife. This is optional, however, giving the dough at least one long and deep slash will allow the bread to expand during baking. The purpose is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.”
Dutch Oven Instructions:
Baking Sheet Instructions:
5:50pm - Bake Without Steam for 25-30 Minutes
Dutch Oven Instructions:
Baking Sheet Instructions:
6:20pm - Allow To Cool for At Least 2 Hours
Once the bread is fully baked, you can leave it inside your oven with the oven OFF and the oven door ajar for 20-30 minutes them move it to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, ideally 5-8 hours before cutting in.
If you cut into the bread while it is still warm the crumb will turn out gummy and the bread will go stale faster.