Easy Sourdough Bread
And rather than doing it in week(s), I did it in hours.
Traditional sourdough starters take 5-7+ days to develop, and making the bread can take a full day, so you’re looking at a week whereas I made this bread in 9 hours. Do it as an overnight recipe or think of it like a slow cooker recipe. Set it and forget it because it really is that easy.
Rather than using a traditional sourdough starter, Greek yogurt and sour cream is mixed with bread flour, yeast, and a pinch of salt. The active cultures in the Greek yogurt and sour cream ferment the dough and give the bread traditional sourdough flavor. The longer you let the bread rise and ferment, up to about 18 hours, the more sourdough-ey it’ll taste.
I’ve made the bread twice because my family kept raving about this loaf. For this bread I did a 6 1/2 hour rise/ferment (first rise) and for the next loaf I did 10 hours. The 10 hour version was more sourdough-ey and also had a more more ‘holey’ and open crumb, but I wouldn’t necessarily say the 10-hour was ‘better’. Both are fabulous.
If you’ve ever made bread, this recipe will be a total snap. Much easier than cinnamon rolls, sweet rolls, or dinner rolls, by a long shot. The recipe looks long but I write yeast recipes with as much detail and give as many tips as I possibly can to set you up for success. Read the recipe at least twice before starting. All you’re really doing is making dough, letting it rise for 6+ hours, letting it rise again for 1+ hour, and baking.
While it’s not imperative to bake the bread in Dutch oven, it really helps develop sourdough’s signature crusty crust because a covered Dutch oven traps in the steam the bread releases while baking, aiding in crust development. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, a cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed skillet will work, although some of the crustiness will be sacrificed.
The bread is hearty, satisfying, and has a firm crust that gives was to a super moist, soft interior. My daughter loves crust (she didn’t get that from me) and my family devoured the loaf in one sitting.
I got the bug to try this because of Mandy’s post and without knowing I was making sourdough bread or the flavor goal, my family said it tastes like a piece of San Francisco sourdough bread from a fancy bakery.
I like it served simply with honey butter or butter. Or try jam, jelly, or hummus. The bread is great toasted, perfect for sandwiches, for crostini, or with your favorite dip. I wouldn’t complain if you put a hunk of cheese and bread in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.
It’s so rewarding knowing I made bread that looks and tastes like something from a bakery. You’re going to love that feeling. And you’re going to love the bread.
Easy Sourdough Bread
Traditional sourdough starters take 5-7+ days to develop, and making the bread can take a full day, so you’re looking at a week whereas you can make this bread in 9 hours. Do the first rise overnight or think of like a slow cooker recipe – set it and forget it because it really is that easy. Rather than using a traditional sourdough starter, Greek yogurt and sour cream is mixed with bread flour, yeast, and a pinch of salt. The active cultures in the Greek yogurt and sour cream ferment the dough and give the bread traditional sourdough flavor. The longer you let the bread rise and ferment, up to about 18 hours, the more sourdough-ey it’ll taste. The bread is hearty, satisfying, and has a firm crust that gives was to a super moist, soft interior. Read the recipe at least twice before starting, but you’re simply making dough, letting it rise for 6+ hours, letting it rise again for 1+ hour, and baking it.
3 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur)
one-17.6 ounce (500 gram) tub plain unsweetened Greek yogurt with active cultures (must say ‘active cultures’, I used 0% Non-Fat Fage)
about 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt, lite versions are okay), or as needed see below step 1
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
scant 1 teaspoon (just slightly less than 1 teaspoon) instant dry yeast (I use Red Star Platinum) for 6 to 12 hours rising (use closer to 1/2 teaspoon yeast if you plan to allow dough to rise for 12-18 hours; see step 4 below)
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or use a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon and your hands), add the flour, Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, salt, and yeast.
- Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to knead dough for about 5 to 7 minutes (about 7 to 10 minutes by hand using a wooden spoon and then switching to your hands). Add sour cream as needed to form a very moist and wet dough. If it’s at all dry or crumbly, add more sour cream (or Greek yogurt) until it comes together. I used one-17.6 ounce tub of Greek yogurt and almost 1 cup lite sour cream. Dough will be seem like it’s almost too wet and it’s very heavy, but this is what you want. Err on the side of wetter than drier because flour and yeast love moisture when rising.
- Remove dough from the mixing bowl, spray a large bowl with cooking spray, pat dough into a round ball, place it in the bowl, and flip it over once so it’s lightly oiled on both top and bottom. It will look like a dimply head of cauliflower.
- Cover bowl with plasticwrap (spray it with cooking spray in case dough rises high enough to touch it) and place bowl in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 6 to 8 hours (I did 6 1/2 hours), or doubled in size. If you want to start this before work or before bed and made as an overnight dough and it’ll go 8-10 hours, that’s fine. There’s really no harm in letting it rise for up to 18 hours and the longer you let it go, the more of a classic sourdough/fermented flavor that will develop. If you suspect you’re going to allow it to rise on the longer side (12-18 hours), reduce yeast to about 1/2 teaspoon so dough doesn’t get too puffy and overflow the bowl.
- After 6+ hours of rising, turn dough out onto a floured surface (without punching it down to preserve the air pockets and bubbles that have been created) and knead lightly for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pat dough into a round mound, and place it back into large mixing bowl, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 120 minutes, or until doubled in size (I did 60 minutes; I suspect the longer you let the second rise go, the more ‘holey’ the bread will be). Placing the bowl on the stovetop is a nice spot for this rise because you’re going to turn on the oven and the residual heat emitted helps with rising.
- Shortly after dough begins the 60-120 minute rising, turn oven on to 450F and place a covered Dutch oven (empty) or heavy-bottomed skillet into the oven and allow it to heat for about 45 minutes. Dutch ovens are so heavy and take so long to get truly hot, and when you’re ready to bake the bread, you want the Dutch oven screaming hot.
- After about 60-90 minutes or dough has doubled in size, remove Dutch oven from oven (careful, it’s screaming hot, use two pairs of hot mitts) and carefully place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of Dutch oven to prevent bread from sticking.
- Carefully transfer dough from rising bowl to Dutch oven, cover it, and bake covered for 30 minutes. Don’t open the oven door or the Dutch oven lid to peek; you want to seal in the steam.
- After 30 minutes, uncover the Dutch oven, and allow bread to bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes (I did 8 minutes) or until it’s as browned as desired. Traditional sourdough has a darker crust than most bread (sometimes almost burnt-looking, but I prefer mine on the lighter side).
- Remove Dutch oven from oven, and remove bread from Dutch oven. Place it on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. As tempting as it is, don’t slice too early because the cooling process is important and should be considered an important extension of the baking process. Slice or break off hunks, and serve with honey butter, butter, jam, hummus, etc. Bread is best fresh, but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 3 days. Older bread may be better toasted.
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