Small batch sourdough bread is airy and chewy with a crisp crust and a mild flavour. It takes less than 15 minutes of actual prep and requires no kneading.
- 60 grams sourdough starter
- 300 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 30 grams whole wheat flour (1/4 cup)
- 220 grams water
- 8 grams salt
Prepare the Starter (6 hours rise time):
- If your sourdough starter is not ready to go, and is stored in the fridge, take it out and feed it 12 hours in advance. Discard half of the old starter and add 50 grams all-purpose flour and 50 grams water. Let it rise for 6 hours or until doubled in size.
- Take out a spoonful of new starter and drop it into a glass of room-temperature water. If it floats, the starter is ready. If it sinks, you either need to let the starter sit longer to develop more bubbles, or feed it again and let it sit until it passes the float test (usually 6–12 hours).
Prepare the Dough (1 hour rise time):
- In a large mixing bowl, add sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and water, and whisk to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl (there should be no dry flour particles visible). Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for one hour. The technique is called autolyse.
- Add salt and fold into the dough for a few seconds to combine. Salt slows down yeast growth in the fermentation process, so it is recommended to incorporate it after allowing the dough to rise for an hour first.
Stretch and Fold the Dough (1 hour 30 minutes rise time):
- Apply some water on your hands and stretch and fold the dough in the bowl by folding the edges over to the centre, one edge at a time. Wet hands makes it easier to work with the dough and it should take you less than a minute to fold all 4 sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Stretch and fold the dough again, cover, and let dough rest for another 30 minutes. Repeat this step one final time -- stretch and fold the dough, cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes, until it almost doubles in size. It takes about 2.5 hours total rise time from the start for the first rise to happen (bulk fermentation).
Shape the Dough (3 hours final proofing time):
- Transfer dough to a floured surface and sprinkle dough with a little flour. Shape the dough into a tight ball by folding the edges over to the centre. Stretch the dough a little and fold all four sides to the centre like wrapping a present. Turn the dough over and use your bench scraper to push the dough back and forth to create a tight ball. Repeat this motion until the surface of the dough appears tight.
- Line a medium-sized bowl (approximately 6x6-inches in diameter) with a clean dishcloth. Generously flour the dishcloth so that the dough doesn't stick to the dishcloth. Place the ball of dough top side down into the lined bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or another towel so that the dough won’t lose moisture and dry out.
- Let the dough rest it at room temperature for approximately 3 to 3.5 hours (OR transfer the bowl into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight for 8 to 12 hrs).
Score the Dough:
- Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and place it upside down onto the centre of a 9x9-inch piece of parchment paper.
- Use a razor blade to score the dough to allow it to expand during baking. You can get creative with your design.
- Place the dough together with parchment paper back into the same medium size bowl and cover with a towel until the oven is preheated.
Bake the Sourdough Bread:
- Place a small oven-safe cooking pot (6x6-inches) with a metal lid into the oven and preheat to 450° F.
- Take out the parchment paper and dough from the bowl and gently place them both into the preheated pot. Cover the lid and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake the bread uncovered in the oven for another 20-25 more minutes. (Longer bake time will yield crustier bread).
- Remove the bread from the pot, and take off the parchment paper. Allow the bread to cool down completely on a cooling rack for one hour. To check if the bread is done, you can tap the bottom of the bread with your finger. The bread will sound hollow when it's are done.
Plan ahead. You can easily incorporate this recipe into your 9 to 5 work life schedule by simply refrigerating the dough for 10 hours (overnight or all day while at work).
Use a digital scale. For the most accurate measurements, I highly recommend investing in a digital scale.
Always make sure you have a fully mature sourdough starter before you start to prepare your small batch sourdough recipe. A lively and mature sourdough smells yeasty and a bit fruity. Confirm that your starter is ready by doing a float test (drop a teaspoon of starter in a cup of water and see if it floats).
How to make sourdough starter. It takes an average of 7 days under normal room conditions (21 C and 50% humidity) to make a mature starter. Learn how to make sourdough starter in my detailed guide which includes the top frequently asked questions.
The best time to prepare your sourdough is when your starter doubles in size at its peak after feeding. This could take 6 to 12 hours depending on room conditions and the type of flour used.
Use a smaller ratio of starter to flour so that the dough rises slower and gives you more time to prepare and monitor the progress. In general, 15% to 25% starter to flour takes twice as long as 40% to 50% starter for the dough to double in size.
Be patient and give attention to your dough every step of the way. Sourdough is fermented naturally by the wild yeast in the starter, so the bulk fermentation and final proofing stages take a lot longer (typically taking around 3 hours each). When you become more experienced, you can manipulate different factors such as temperature, moisture, and starter to flour ratio to speed up the process.
Do not over proof the dough. Over proofing breaks down gluten in dough and makes dough sticky and slack, which causes the bread to go flat and more sour. You can avoid this by letting the dough rise at cooler temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. Slow fermentation in the refrigerator also develops a better and more pleasant flavour in the bread due to the activity of different enzymes in the cooler temperature.
Use a bowl that is slightly larger (1-inch larger) than the size of your dough during final proof. This helps the dough rise upwards instead of expanding sideways. Same goes for the cooking pot used during baking, which yields great oven spring during the initial ten minutes in the oven.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes (+ at least 5.5 hours rising time + 1 hour cooling time)
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Bread
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: sourdough, bread, small batch sourdough, sourdough starter, sourdough boule