Try this simple sourdough recipe and enjoy crusty, delicious french bread at your next meal! Only a few ingredients and minimal hands-on time make this sourdough french bread recipe a staple at the table.
In Alaska, sourdough has been an important food for a very long time. Our starter has been going for several years now and is my constant companion in the kitchen.
We love to enjoy all kinds of sourdough bread recipes including sandwich bread, pancakes, crepes, waffles, biscuits, and much more. Baking with sourdough instead of commercial yeast adds flavor as well as health benefits to our favorite foods.
This sourdough french bread recipe has simple ingredients and I always get the best results. I like to start the dough in the morning so that we can enjoy warm bread for supper. You can also start this bread recipe at night to bake it earlier the following day.
Whether you’re new to sourdough or have been baking away with it for years, you’ll love this recipe for french bread!
Ingredients for Sourdough French Bread Recipe
- Active sourdough starter- You need an active, bubbly starter for this recipe. Feed it the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning.
- Water- Just a little warm, room temperature, not hot or cold.
- Flour- I typically use all-purpose flour for this recipe but feel free to use your favorite type of flour.
- Egg- For the egg wash. Not necessary but a nice touch that gives the bread a beautiful crust!
Tools You May Need
- Glass mixing bowl- Glass is better than metal when working with sourdough, especially during proofing.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cookie sheet or pizza peel- For sliding the bread onto the baking stone.
- Baking mat or parchment paper- For placing the loaves on when ready to bake.
- Baking stone- This is nice to have for baking bread but if you don’t have one, you can leave the loaves on the cookie sheet and bake them directly on that instead.
- Metal dish- I use an old metal pie dish for this purpose. The ice cubes will go into the hot pan to create steam in the oven. An enameled cast iron dish or skillet will work as well. This will help achieve that crunchy crust.
- Small bowl and pastry brush- For mixing and applying the egg wash.
Timeline for Sourdough French Bread
You can either start this sourdough french bread recipe the night before and bake it in the morning. Or start it early in the morning and bake it in the evening.
If you want to start the night before:
- Pull your starter out of the fridge (if you’re storing it there) in the afternoon. Feed it enough flour and water so that you have 1 cup to use in the recipe and enough starter leftover to feed again. Allow it to sit on the counter for the afternoon and evening.
- In the evening, before you go to bed, mix up the dough. Allow the dough to sit in the covered bowl overnight, for about 8 to 9 hours.
- In the morning the next day, shape the loaves and bake them. They can sit on the counter and cool during the day. You can warm them for a few minutes in the oven while you get supper ready.
If you want to start in the morning:
- Pull your starter out the night before prior to going to bed and feed it. Allow it to sit on the counter all night.
- In the morning, mix up the dough and allow it to sit in the covered bowl all day, for 8 to 9 hours.
- In the late afternoon/evening, shape and bake the loaves. They’ll be nice and hot for supper!
After measuring out the active starter that you need for the recipe, feed your remaining starter with a little flour and water, mix well, and return to the fridge to use later. Or keep it on the counter if you’re going to use it again soon.
You can read more about sourdough starters and storage in this post.
How to Make Sourdough French Bread
This is one of my favorite sourdough recipes for a reason. It doesn’t take long to make these impressive loaves that are perfect to go along with just about any meal, especially when hosting guests.
Once your starter is fed and active, whether it’s the morning or the evening, you’re ready to start.
Measure the bubbly starter, warm water, 2 cups of the flour, and salt into the large mixing bowl. Using your hands or a mixing spoon, combine the ingredients until a thick dough forms.
Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and knead on a floured surface for a few minutes. You can also do this in the bowl of a stand mixer using a dough hook. Knead with the heel of your hand until you have a soft dough that’s just slightly tacky, adding a little additional flour at a time if you need to. You don’t want it to be too dry so avoid adding extra flour unless necessary.
Return the ball of dough to the bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel, loose lid, or plastic wrap. Allow to sit on the counter in a warm place for about 8 to 9 hours or longer, or until it doubles in size.
Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the baking stone on the center rack and the metal dish on a rack at the bottom of the oven.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a bench scraper or your hands, divide the dough into two equal pieces.
Use your hands to roll the dough out to about 12 inches in length. Tuck the ends under the oblong loaves so they have a nice shape. You can also make them longer and skinnier like the style of french baguettes, just shorten the baking time.
Place the loaves on the baking mat or parchment-lined baking sheet or pizza peel. Set in a warm spot to rest while the oven preheats for about 15-20 minutes.
When ready to bake, take a sharp knife or a bread lame to make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf.
Whisk the egg with a splash of water and use a pastry brush to spread over the entire top and sides of the loaves.
Carefully transfer the baking mat or parchment paper with the loaves onto the baking stone in the preheated oven.
Pour a cup of ice cubes into the metal dish and close the oven door. This will create steam for a crispy crust.
Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the loaves are deeply browned and cooked through. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
How to Serve Sourdough French Bread
Serve your loaves of french bread in many different ways for your family to enjoy. Here are some ideas:
- Slice up the loaves after cooling and serve with butter alongside your favorite meal. This bread goes perfectly with soups and stews!
- Top slices with butter, some shredded cheese, and minced garlic or Italian seasoning. Pop into a warm oven for a few minutes for delicious, cheesy bread.
- Use for making french toast for breakfast.
- Cut loaves into 3 or 4 large pieces, slice in half lengthwise, and make sandwiches.
- Combine a little olive oil and Italian seasoning in a small dish and use it for dipping the bread.
Check out this post for tips on storing your homemade sourdough bread. This bread is best fresh from the oven but is still delicious after two or three days.
This sourdough french bread recipe will become a favorite in your kitchen! Use the wild yeast in your sourdough starter to create two crunchy, delicious loaves of bread that your family can enjoy in so many ways.
Sourdough French Bread Recipe
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cookie sheet or pizza peel
- Parchment paper or baking mat
- Baking stone
- Meatal dish
- Small bowl
- Pastry brush
- 1 cup Active sourdough starter
- 1 cup Warm water
- 2 1/2-3 cups Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg, for wash
- The night before, feed your starter and allow it to sit on the counter overnight.
- In the morning, your starter should be active and bubbly. If not, feed it again and allow it to sit another hour or two until ready.
- In a glass mixing bowl combine the starter, warm water, flour, and salt. Mix well with your hands or a spoon.
- On a floured surface, knead the dough for several minutes until it's fairly smooth and not sticky.
- Place the dough in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and set it in a warm place for the day, about 8 to 9 hours. It should double in size.
- When ready to bake, place the baking stone in the center of the oven and the metal dish on a rack below it. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll each piece out into an oblong, about 12 inches long. Tuck in the ends for a nice shape. Lay each loaf on the parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet or pizza peel. Allow to sit in a warm place while the oven preheats, about 20 minutes.
- While waiting, mix up the egg wash. Whisk an egg with a sprinkle of water in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to spread the egg wash all over the tops and sides of the loaves right before baking.
- When ready to bake, use a sharp knife or a bread lame to make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts across the tops of the loaves.
- Open the oven and carefully slide the parchment paper or baking mat with the loaves onto the baking stone. Pour a cup of ice cubes into the metal dish and close the oven door.
- Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and cooked through. Allow cooling on a wire rack before slicing.