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This Simple Sourdough Boule Recipe is Perfect for Beginning Bakers

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The boule – or round loaf – is a great place to start as a beginning sourdough baker. This tangy sourdough boule recipe is a versatile accompaniment to soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. This dough, stiff enough to work by hand but still tacky enough to rise well, eases the beginner into sourdough baking without too much fuss.

No time to knead? Try this delicious and easy no-knead bread!

sliced end of boule bread with big airy hole

The term boule is French for ball. Used in relation to bread, the term refers to a round loaf, often sourdough.

Baking this sourdough boule recipe

This particular boule bread recipe rises throughout the day and is then baked in the evening. Most of the time is hands-off, meaning you just need to show up to mix or shape or bake at varying intervals in order to create homemade, fermented bread.

This sourdough loaf is an alternative to the common simple overnight sourdough breads which require a morning baking which might be inconvenient for busy mornings.

 

The absolute most important ingredient in sourdough baking is an active starter, and that so for this sourdough boule recipe of course. Create a starter with just flour and water and then follow these instructions for a healthy, vigorous sourdough starter that will give you light and tangy loaves.

two loaves of round rustic sourdough boule bread on a wire rack

Related: How to Make Bread from Scratch: What You Need to Know About the Basics

With bread baking, the actual work time is fairly minimal.  It’s the rise time that requires patience for this sourdough bread recipe. But it’s the rise time that gives you a light, fluffy boule bread loaf to pair with your favorite soup. (Like this one.)

Variables when baking with sourdough

To get a good rise out of this sourdough boule bread recipe, begin with an actively bubbling sourdough starter.

Once the dough is blended, the rise time can vary depending upon the air temperature. On a cool day, it may take a bit longer to achieve its loft.

This crusty sourdough loaf would be excellent sliced and transformed into this ready to eat frozen garlic bread!

Related: Grandma’s Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

slice of bread with butter

★ Did you make this sourdough boule recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

sliced end of boule bread with big airy hole

Simple Sourdough Boule Bread Recipe

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Make this easy sourdough boule bread to serve with your favorite bowl of soup.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in 2-1/4 cups of the water and the sourdough starter. Mix until a shaggy dough forms, adding the additional 1/4 cup of water as needed. bowl of sourdough bread dough
  2. Once the dough is fully hydrated, let it rest five minutes in the bowl. Return to the bowl and knead for 1-2 minutes directly in the bowl. Resist the urge to add any flour. The dough will be sticky so after 1-2 minutes allow it to rest for several more minutes. Finally, you should be able to knead it for 2-3 more minutes without it sticking heavily to your hands.
  3. Once the kneading is complete, cover the bowl and leave to ferment in a warm space in your kitchen for 4-6 hours or until nearly doubled in bulk. Divide the dough into two halves and punch down each half.
  4. Grease and lightly flour a baking sheet. Turn each half of dough into a boule by stretching the dough upon itself into a circle, turning the dough as needed to make an even round ball all of the way around. uncooked sourdough bread dough from above
  5. Once the dough ball is tightly shaped, place it seam-side down onto the baking sheet, leaving room for two loaves. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Sprinkle the loaves lightly with flour and over with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise two-to-three hours or until the dough has grown by about 75%. uncooked bread dough
  6. During the last 30 minutes of rise time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Uncover the dough just before placing in the oven and give it a few slashes with a sharp knife. Move the loaves to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the bottoms sound hollow when thumped.
  7. Move boule bread loaves to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Notes

To get a good rise out of this sourdough boule bread recipe, begin with an actively bubbling sourdough starter. Once the dough is blended, the rise time can vary depending upon the air temperature. On a cool day, it may take a bit longer to achieve its loft.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 141Unsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 389mgCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 4g

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cooked rounds of sourdough bread from above

Originally published August 2017; this post has been updated.

 

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Meet the Author

Shannon Stonger

Shannon Stonger is the founder of the blog Nourishing Days, where she shares her family's journey towards sustainability. She is the author of The Doable Off-Grid Homestead, Traditionally Fermented Foods, and the sourdough baking book 100% Rye. She holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and lives with her husband, five children, and various farm animals on their five-acre homestead in Texas.

21 comments… add one
  • Lisa Gendron Aug 29, 2017, 3:41 pm

    To make a starter; how much water and flour for the very beginning? Also do I need to start that with bread flour too? How long and what is the process? As in how many days or weeks? Thank you for letting me know.

  • Megan Apr 9, 2018, 8:14 pm

    With homemade butter!

  • Jane Aug 21, 2018, 6:16 am

    ask a friend for a starter from their starter. I got one from King Aurther flour mills and one I call jr, from my veterinarian. Its 105 yrs old. I have even shared it back with her when her daughter accidently threw hers out.

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 22, 2018, 6:04 pm

      105!

  • Johnnie Mar 11, 2019, 1:33 am

    How will this bread come out if I use spelt flour, or rye flour?

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 15, 2019, 7:05 am

      I haven’t tried it, so couldn’t say. Can’t hurt to try, though!

  • Jessica Mar 24, 2020, 7:13 pm

    If you don’t have bread flour can you use all purpose?! Thx!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 29, 2020, 1:27 pm

      Yes. It may rise slightly less, but it will still be a fine loaf of bread.

  • William Bruce Mar 31, 2020, 12:15 pm

    I tried making this and ended up with a large bowl of dough soup after kneading it and letting it rest for 4-6 hours. It was pretty sticky during the kneading process as well and, as you suggested, I resisted the urge to add more flour. It wasn’t as sticky in the final kneading before letting it rest, but none the less, it ended up dough soup.

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 1, 2020, 4:23 pm

      I’m stumped. I’m not sure why. I’ll see if Shannon has any suggestions for next time.

      • Carrie Apr 11, 2020, 2:40 pm

        Air temp and humidity play a big role. I have a sourdough pumpernickel recipe I use – sometimes the flour is dead on sometimes I add nearly 2 addl cups . Go slow and get it to a just tacky state. It can be nerve raking but hopefully it will bake up fine.

  • Jacqueline Apr 6, 2020, 6:11 am

    Can you use a bread machine to bake the final product?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 12, 2020, 10:35 am

      I haven’t tried this, so I can’t say for sure! Sorry!

  • Charlene Apr 9, 2020, 3:10 pm

    Do I leave the flour and water for 1 day, like 24 hours or 12 hours two times a day?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 12, 2020, 1:25 pm

      For the initial 7 days, you’re feeding the starter every 12 hours.

  • Laurie Landry Apr 17, 2020, 9:44 am

    I only want to bake one boule – can I half the recipe?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 18, 2020, 1:14 pm

      Yes.

  • Rachel Jones Apr 18, 2020, 10:41 am

    Hello! Just having trouble getting the loaf to keep it’s shape when on the second rise. I had it on the sheet but it just wants to spread out rather than up! It was slightly sticky but I thought the texture was right. Any hints?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 19, 2020, 2:38 pm

      How did this turn out once baked? Is it possible that the starter wasn’t active enough?

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