This super easy soft sourdough French bread recipe makes two small or one large delicious loaf of French bread using a sourdough starter.
I love those brown bags of fresh French bread from the store and for years I would grab one anytime I had a dinner at my house or was making spaghetti. They are usually pretty darn tasty and soft. When shopping and smelling them freshly baked, they are near impossible to pass up. Honestly, their golden brown exterior is hard to master at home as they have the help of a professional oven that provides a perfectly steamy environment that is ideal for baking bread.
So naturally, I thought, there would be no way I could replace my beloved French bread with a homemade version. I was of course, completely wrong. Although, this sourdough French bread is not as golden brown as a bakery loaf, these are just as soft and delicious. Making them, my new go-to French bread choice for spaghetti night. I also provide tips for adding steam to your home oven that help mimic those steamy bakery ovens.
Sourdough French Bread Is…
- Simple to make and a great way to use your sourdough starter
- Soft, with a chewy interior for a delicious homemade bread
- A long fermented recipe with a tangy flavor of sourdough
- Perfect for using in a French toast bake
- A great recipe that makes two medium loaves or one large loaf
- A perfect side for soups, pastas or any dinner bread
- A good one to use for garlic bread
What You Will Need To Make It
4 cups bread flour
1 cup of fed starter
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten (for brushing)
Stand mixer (you can also hand knead if desired)
Make sure to use a fed active starter before beginning this recipe. Your starter should be nice and bubbly; and ready for use.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all but the egg and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Place a dough hook on and knead with a stand mixer for 5-7 minutes on the low setting until the dough is supple to the touch.
Place dough into a greased bowl and allow it to sit overnight on the counter until the dough has doubled in size. Be sure to cover the bowl with a tea towel.
The bread dough can take anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen. When ready, punch the dough to release the air. Place dough on a floured surface.
Cut the dough in half and shape both pieces of dough into two oblong loaves. Place them both on a parchment-lined baking sheet lengthwise and cover the top of the loaves with a tea towel.
Allow them to do a second rise for a couple hours until they have almost doubled in size. It helps to place them in a warm spot.
When ready heat the oven to 400℉. Score the top of each loaf with a sharp knife in several diagonal slashes.
Crack the egg into a bowl, and beat. Brush both loaves generously.
Pop it into the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes. Bake until lightly golden brown and allow them to cool on a wire rack before slicing. I like to brush the loaves with butter and sprinkle with sea salt after removing them from the oven.
- Make sure to use a fed and active sourdough starter before beginning this recipe.
- I use unbleached, organic bread flour for this recipe.
- If hand kneading the dough, be sure to increase the knead time as 5 minutes doesn’t seem to quite do it for me. I find it takes me 8 full minutes of consistent kneading to get the dough just right.
- For intermediate bread bakers, you can opt to do the stretch and fold method for kneading the dough. You will need to do a set of 4 stretch and folds with 30 minute intervals for this recipe.
What is a “fed” starter?
“Fed” simply refers to your starter being active. Feeding involves removing it from the fridge and adding flour along with water then mixing. After, allowing the starter to sit at room temperature for 4-12 hours before use. This allows the starter to become nice and active which you can tell its ready by the bubbles it forms.
What if my dough has not doubled?
I will usually just wait longer for it to rise. When it comes to sourdough bread baking, you will want to watch the dough more so than the clock. Sometimes the dough takes longer then other times for me. It really depends on the temperature of our kitchens and just how active our starters are. The dough rises quicker in warmer places and vice versa for colder.
If you find the dough has not doubled or risen at all after 24 hours this could mean that your starter wasn’t ready for use when mixed or the dough wasn’t kneaded long enough. The dough should be supple and soft to the touch from kneading before being placed into the greased bowl to rise.
Can I use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour for this recipe?
You can swap out the bread flour for all-purpose flour. There will be a slight texture difference and the loaves might not fluff up as much on the second rise as they will with bread flour. However, I have used both with great success and minimal impact on taste.
When I measure out my flour it is more than 480 g, why?
When measuring flour, for best results use a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, I have provided the measurements in cups, when using them. Fluff the flour a bit and scoop it into the measuring cup. Don’t pack the flour into the cup as this will result in using more flour than needed.
How to Store
Store leftover sourdough French bread in a bread bag, plastic bag or you can wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
How to Freeze
Freezing bread is my favorite way to store most of the fresh bread I make. To freeze, I allow the loaves to cool completely, then place them in a gallon sized freezer bag. Push all the air out of the bag before sealing. Label the bag and pop it into the freezer. The loaves will freeze nicely for up to 3 months. To defrost, simply remove them from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature
Benefits of Sourdough
Of course we love the taste but sourdough is actually a healthier alternative to eating regular breads such as white or wheat loaves. The lower phytate levels in sourdough makes for an easier to digest food and results in a better more nutritious bread.
It is a good alternative for those who are sensitive to gluten as the sourdough is a fermented food that has a bacteria to yeast composition that works on breaking down the starches found in the grain before it’s even eaten. Sourdough is also known as a prebiotic food that simply put, will help keep your gut bacteria healthy.
Shop This Post
*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no cost to you).
Pin For Later
If you try this recipe and love it, I would appreciate you coming back to give it 5 stars!
- 480g (about 4 cups) bread flour
- 170g (about 1 cup) of active sourdough starter
- 1 cup plus 3 tbsps of water
- 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 1 egg beaten (for brushing)
- Make sure to use a fed starter before beginning this recipe. Your starter should be nice and bubbly; and ready for use. Add all but the egg to a mixer bowl.
- Place a dough hook on and knead with a stand mixer for 5-8 minutes on low until the dough is supple to the touch.
- Add the dough ball to a greased bowl and allow it to sit overnight on the counter until the dough has doubled in size. Be sure to cover the bowl with a tea towel. The dough can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
- When ready, punch the dough to release the air.
- Place the dough on a floured surface.
- Cut the dough in half and shape both pieces of dough into two oblong loaves.
- Place them both on a baking sheet lengthwise and cover the top of the loaves.
- Allow them to do a second rise for a couple hours until they have doubled in size.
- When ready heat the oven to 400℉. Score the bread in several diagonal slashes.
- Crack the egg into a bowl and beat.
- Brush the bread generously with the egg.
- Pop it into the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes.
- Bake until lightly golden brown and allow them to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 296mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g