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!
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.
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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.
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!
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.
- Move boule bread loaves to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
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
Originally published August 2017; this post has been updated.