sourdough french bread on a baking sheet
In the Kitchen

Sourdough French Bread

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This Sourdough French Bread recipe makes two delicious loaves of french bread using a sourdough starter.

a table set with soup, a candle and sourdough french bread

On any given week, you can find a bowl of dough rising on my countertop. More precisely, the dough will be sitting in my favorite hobnail white mixing bowl, a tea towel draped over. For whatever reason, the sight of this always makes me smile. Sometimes I find myself just getting the sourdough starter out not so much because we need bread. But because the simple act of baking a fresh loaf of bread provides a sense of wholesomeness that I find so pleasing. I love the entire act from start to finish. The process of kneading the dough whether by hook or hand. Seeing the bowl, with the tea towel draped over on my countertop. Shaping the dough in my hands and then later plopping a beautiful loaf on the dinner table.

It is all so satisfying. To think that it took me so long to make a sourdough starter instead of using a store bought yeast. It felt intimidating and way more trouble than it was worth. Prior to having your own sourdough starter you might have felt this same way too.

But in any from scratch kitchen, it seems unavoidable. Here I am unwilling to use anything else because once you recognize the benefits of eating sourdough as compared to conventional yeast. Not to mention the taste of all the goods that can be made with a sourdough starter. You don’t want to use anything else.

It is a marvel in the kitchen and I am happy to share with you yet another wonderful recipe made with the use of my sourdough starter. We will call him Gary ;).

Why I Love This Recipe

I love french bread period. I was always one to buy the fresh baked loaves from the bakery section. How can anyone resist? The smell lingering in the air and the fresh loaves placed in those brown bags just waiting to find a home in my cart. I have been wanting to make my own for a while now and I love this recipe in particular because it is so simple. Adding the ingredients to a stand mixer, and then allowing it to sit. If you don’t have a mixer, you can of course hand knead the dough. But make sure to knead it for about 8 to 10 minutes. Until the dough is elastic and supple to the touch.

However, if you do have a stand mixer, then you know that really the work load is light when it comes to making a bread recipe like this. The mixer does the heavy lifting so to speak. So why do I love this recipe for Sourdough French Bread? Well because it is easy, delicious and results in a lovely set of fresh french bread that I can make right at home.

What You Will Need To Make Sourdough French Bread

1 cup of fed starter

4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups of filtered water

2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil

2 tsp salt

1 egg (for egg wash)

Directions

Make sure to use a fed starter before beginning this recipe. Your starter should be nice and bubbly; and ready for use.

sourdough starter

Add all but the egg to a mixer bowl. 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. 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.

a kitchen counter with flowers and a bowl with a tea towel draped over

The dough can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen. When ready, punch the dough to release the air. Place the dough on a floured surface.

two loaves of sourdough french bread dough

Cut the dough in half and shape both pieces of dough into french bread shaped loaves. Place them both on a baking sheet lengthwise and cover. Allow them to do a second rise for a couple hours until they have doubled in size.

a knife scoring a loaf of sourdough french bread

When ready heat the oven to 400℉. Score the bread in several diagonal slashes. Crack the egg into a bowl, add a tbsp of water and mix to make the egg wash. Brush the bread with the egg wash.

egg wash for bread
brushing egg wash onto sourdough french bread loaves

Pop it into the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

FAQ For Sourdough French Bread

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. 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. 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.

Baking Notes

  • Make sure to use a fed and active starter before beginning this recipe.
  • I use unbleached, organic all purpose flour for this recipe. If using a different flour like a bread flour, you will need to adjust the amount of water. Bread flour has a higher protein content which results in higher gluten content and requires more liquid. Try 1 1/2 cups and increase as needed.
  • 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.

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.

If you try this recipe and love it, I would appreciate you coming back to give it 5 stars!

sourdough french bread on a baking sheet

Sourdough French Bread

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 40 minutes

a delicious french bread style bread made with the use of a sourdough starter

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup fed sourdough starter
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups filtered water
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

Instructions

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 24 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
    4. When ready, punch the dough to release the air.
    5. Place the dough on a floured surface.
    6. Cut the dough in half and shape both pieces of dough into french bread shaped loaves.
    7. Place them both on a baking sheet lengthwise and cover. Allow them to do a second rise for a couple hours until they have doubled in size.
    8. When ready heat the oven to 400℉. Score the bread in several diagonal slashes.
    9. Crack the egg into a bowl, add a tbsp of water and mix to make the egg wash.
    10. Brush the bread with the egg wash.
    11. Pop it into the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

Notes

  • Make sure to use a fed and active starter before beginning this recipe.
  • I use unbleached, organic all purpose flour for this recipe. If using a different flour like a bread flour, you will need to adjust the amount of water. Bread flour has a higher gluten content and requires more liquid.
  • 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.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 297mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g

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