Sourdough French Country Bread gives you a heavenly outer crust and a soft and airy centre. Using your sourdough starter and a few simple ingredients, this is one of the easiest and most delicious bread recipes you'll ever make!
If you have a free weekend coming up, gather your ingredients and have some fun transforming your kitchen into a french bakery. A crusty rustic style of french bread with the natural flavour of sourdough is what'll take you from beginner bread maker to artisanal baker in a day!
This easy guide will walk you through the mixing, the proofing, and the baking, using a dutch oven or without. It's a recipe that may take a good amount of time throughout the day, but you'll still be able to walk away and do other things. The incredible aroma of freshly baked bread will fill your house and you'll know it was worth the wait!
How to Make It
In a large bowl, mix together the water and starter then add the flour and salt. Mix with either your hands, a fork, or a danish wish until the dough comes together. Scrape down the sides as you go, making sure everything is incorporated.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead 10 times before letting it rest. You will do this 3 separate consecutive times.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough around to make sure all of it is coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm draft area to rise.
Stretch and fold the dough a few times every hour.
Shape the dough into the desired form and place it in a proofing basket (seem side up). You can also use a regular bowl or a parchment-lined baking sheet. If using a dutch oven, use the bowl option.Cover and let it rest in a warm draft-free area until doubled in bulk. Check the dough at the 2-hour mark.
Preheat the oven. Place an empty pan in the bottom of the oven while it's preheating. If you are using a dutch oven, you will place that inside the oven to heat up.
Bake The Bread
To the empty pan that's at the bottom of the oven, add boiling water. Grab your dough and gently turn it over out of the proofing basket/bowl and place it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. If your dough was already proofing on the baking sheet, you're ahead of the game.
Score it with a sharp knife and bake.
Using a Dutch Oven
Follow the directions as listed. As mentioned above, when it comes time to preheat the oven, you'll place the dutch oven into heat up while the oven is preheating.
Carefully remove it from the oven as it will be very hot. Gently move the dough to a sheet of parchment paper, score it and place it in the dutch oven, parchment paper and all. Bake with the lid on, removing it for the last bit of baking time.
Bread is done when you hear a hollow sound and has a lovely crust. To be sure, check the internal temperature.
Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
How to bake with a refrigerated starter
To start baking with your refrigerated starter, first remove the Starter from the fridge there will probably be no activity since it is dormant, if there is liquid on top then either remove or stir into the starter either way be sure to stir the starter, then leave ½ cup (120 grams) of starter in the jar, discard the remainder, then add 1 cup (125 grams) of flour (all purpose, unbleached) and ½ cup (125 grams) water.
Stir well, cover lightly and place at room temperature for 12 hours then repeat the feeding, until it has almost tripled in volume. Make sure once your starter has risen to it's peak it stays there for 3-4 hours that means it is strong enough to leaven the bread, if it peaks but only stays for an hour or so it is not strong enough, repeat the feeding.
Remove the amount you need for your recipe, then feed the remaining starter as about, leave it at room temperature for about 2-3 hours then refrigerate. Repeat as above whenever you wish to make fresh bread.
In the end, this very simple artisanal bread has a rustic appearance with a hearty flavour and can still be enjoyed as an everyday bread! Enjoy as a slice of toast, on the side of soup or stew, and of course, it's perfect for sopping up remaining sauces. Let me know what you think and how you enjoy eating it!
Can I add yeast?
If you think your sourdough starter isn't as active as it needs to be, you can add in ½ tsp of bread yeast. You may need to reduce your initial rise time.
Is this bread vegan?
Yes, it is. Because it doesn't use any eggs or milk, this bread is vegan as well as dairy free.
More delicious Bread Recipes
If you try this Sourdough French Country Bread with your sourdough starter let me know how it goes.
Sourdough French Country Bread
- 250 grams bread flour (2 cups)
- 148 grams water (lukewarm) (½ cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 67 grams active starter (¼ cup + 1 tablespoon)
- ¾-1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl mix together the water and starter, then add the flour and salt. Stir together with either your hands, a fork or a danish whisk until the dough comes together. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead 10 times, let the dough rest 3 minutes, then knead 10 times rest 3 minutes, knead again 10 times and a final 3 minute rest.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl turning the ball in the oil bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm draft free area for 4 hours. Be sure to stretch and fold the dough 2-3 times every hour.
- After the 4 hours shape the dough into desired form and place either in a proofing basket (seam side up), a regular bowl or a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, when not using a dutch oven, if you plan on baking the bread in a dutch oven, then place the formed dough seam side down in a bowl. Cover and let rest in a warm draft free area for 3-4 hours (check the dough after 2 hours) or until doubled in bulk.
- Pre-heat oven to 410F (210C). If baking without a dutch oven, then place an empty pan in the bottom of the oven while the oven is pre-heating. If baking with a dutch oven heat it in the oven while it is pre-heating.
TO BAKE THE BREAD
- If baking without a dutch oven then add 1-2 cups of boiling water to the pan before adding the bread.1. Gently turn the dough from the proofing basket or regular bowl onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, score and bake for 45-50 minutes. If already on the cookie sheet then score and bake.2. If you decide to use a dutch oven, then carefully remove the very hot dutch oven from the oven, gently move the dough to a sheet of parchment paper, score it and place in the dutch oven, cover and place in the oven, bake with the lid for approximately 35-40 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- The bread is done when thumbed and you hear a hollow sound or when the internal temperature reaches 203F/95C. Move the baked bread to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!