Rustic Sourdough Bread

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread…
especially when it’s Rustic Sourdough Bread!

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Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!I can’t believe it’s been this long since I baked a loaf of homemade bread. Bread baking is one of my absolute favorite things to do in the kitchen, and I just haven’t done it in a while.  Perhaps all of that snow outside is causing my brain to short-circuit.  Perhaps it’s also because my wife and I have been spending a ton of time at the curling club lately.  (We’re addicted now.  It’s official.)  Ah, who am I kidding…those are just sorry excuses for not getting in the kitchen and baking some fresh bread.  Well, now that we are firmly in the middle of winter, it’s time to fix that problem.  It’s time to bake some bread!

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!I’ve had a little canister of sourdough starter sitting in the back of my fridge for well over a year now.  I feed it religiously, but I just haven’t used it as much as I should.  I decided it’s time to fix that and bake up a couple of loaves of delicious Rustic Sourdough Bread.  (Did you know that you can keep a sourdough starter going for, well, almost forever.  Some people even name their starter.  As long as you feed it some new flour and fresh water occasionally, it will keep on going.  Crazy, right?)

Rustic Sourdough Bread

Another fun fact: Sourdough bread primarily relies on wild yeast.  Yup, there are yeast spores all around us.  That’s where the sourdough starter comes in.  A starter is basically just flour, water and wild yeast.  That’s it.  The wild yeast finds a home in the flour and water mixture, and there you have it.  That’s why San Francisco has such a distinctive sourdough bread.  The wild yeast out there in the Bay area is very different from the wild yeast here in upstate New York.  But that’s the beauty of sourdough.  Every starter is a bit different.  They all produce that same characteristic sourdough flavor…but each one is slightly unique.  You can make your own sourdough starter at home, and I tried that once, but it just didn’t work out so well.  You can just order a starter online, too.  Frankly, I recommend just ordering a starter.  It’ll save a ton of time, and it’s guaranteed to produce a viable starter.

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!My father-in-law was in a town a couple months ago, and he asked what made sourdough taste sour.  Well, I realized I didn’t know the answer.  So I consulted the ultimate source of knowledge (i.e. Google), and I found that there is actually some science at work in that bread dough.  The wild bacteria (good bacteria, that is) in the dough produce lactic acid and acetic acid.  Acetic acid is the stronger of the two, and it lends that distinctive sour taste to the bread.  Acetic acid also loves colder temperatures, so that’s why many sourdough bread recipes (including this one) call for the dough to ferment in the refrigerator overnight.  Yup, that little nap in the fridge is producing flavor!

For anyone who has ever made homemade bread, you know that it’s a long process.  It truly isn’t very difficult, but you need to be patient.  You can’t look at the clock at 4pm and decide you want sourdough bread to be ready for dinner at 6pm.  It’s just not gonna happen.  You need time.  (Cue “Time” by Hootie & the Blowfish.)  But that time will yield some awesome bread.

I did use a little bit of instant dry yeast to give this bread a quick boost after it chills in the refrigerator overnight.  I also used a bit of citric acid to intensify the sourdough flavor.  The citric acid is optional, but it really does produce an extra-sour loaf…just the way I like it!  I found a jar of powdered citric acid at my local organic grocery store.  (Fun tip: citric acid is also used if you make your own cheese.)  But don’t go crazy with the citric acid.  1/2 tsp is all you need for this recipe.  I highly recommend using it, though!

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!Sure, you can go buy a loaf of sourdough at your local bakery, but there is something magical about making it yourself.  I’ve heard from a bunch of readers in the past that making homemade bread is on their bucket list.  Well, winter is here, and it’s the perfect time to learn a new skill!

Did you make a batch of this Rustic Sourdough Bread at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your creation!

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!

Rustic Sourdough Bread

Nothing beats the taste of a fresh loaf of homemade bread...especially when it's Rustic Sourdough Bread!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 20 hours
Total Time: 20 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 16
Calories: 168kcal


For the Sourdough Bread

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 - 1½ cups water varies—see Instructions below
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour divided
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • ½ tsp citric acid optional, produces an extra-sour bread

For the Seed Topping


  • In a large bowl, combine the sourdough starter, 1¼ cups of water and 3 cups of flour. Stir until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. The goal is to create a smooth dough. If the dough looks a bit “shaggy,” just add more water 1 Tbsp at a time until a smooth dough develops. Cover and let dough sit at room temperature for 4 hours.
  • Transfer dough (still covered) to the refrigerator for 12 hours, or overnight.
  • In the bowl of a countertop mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the refrigerated dough, remaining 2 cups of flour, 2-3 Tbsp of additional water, sugar, salt, yeast and citric acid (optional). Mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Increase speed to medium for 3 minutes, or until dough is smooth.
  • Place dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest in a warm (85°F) location for 2-3 hours, or until almost doubled in size. (The time will depend slightly on the strength of your starter, so just keep an eye on the dough occasionally during this stage.)
  • Divide the dough into 2 equally-sized pieces.
  • Gently shape the dough into 2 round loaves. Dust two parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal and place loaves on pans. Cover lightly and let dough rise until very puffy, about 1½ - 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Brush tops of loaves with the lightly beaten egg white. Combine the poppy and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Sprinkle seeds evenly over tops of loaves. Score (i.e. make shallow slices in the top of the dough) the dough with a simple cross shape.
  • Bake at 425°F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown in color.

Looking for more tasty bread recipes?  Check out some of these other favorites, too:

Been thinking about learning to bake bread at home? Then give this classic Homemade Italian Bread a shot!Homemade Italian Bread

This Almond Flour Bread is an easy, low-carb bread.  We loved lightly toasting slices of this bread with a bit of butter and jam!Almond Flour Bread

This Italian Lasagna Bread is a fun crossover between bread and pasta!  Crispy like flatbread on the outside, chewy like pasta on the inside...and 100% delicious!Italian Lasagna Bread

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    1. Mike, you should invent a cauliflower sourdough bread. I mean, I already respect your cauliflower magic, but if you make a cauliflower sourdough, then I’ll be mega impressed!

  1. You are so right, David – nothing quite like homemade bread – and the process sure is magical indeed! When my daughter was younger, we made bread almost every weekend – and I used to use the whole process as a life lesson – to teach her patience 🙂
    This loaf is gorgeous – you have just the right amount of bubble vs denseness vs crust – just fantastic! I need to get back to baking bread again using some of the many gluten free bread flours out there.

    1. Heh…I’ve never thought about that, but making homemade bread is absolutely a lesson in patience. But what’s the saying? Oh yes, good things come to those who wait! They should change that to say ‘sourdough bread comes to those who wait.’ 🙂 I’d love to see a gluten-free version of this sourdough bread…and if anyone can do it, you can!

    1. Thanks, Sean! Bread baking is one of my all-time favorites, though. I even toyed with the idea of opening a bakery…but that would mean lots of loooong hours. I was also afraid I might lose my passion for bread baking if I had to do it everyday at 4am, ya know?

    1. Thanks, Kevin! I feel bad that I keep “stealing” your posts…but I promise it’s not on purpose! There’s also a lot of people out there on the interwebs, and I’m fairly certain no one would ever notice if we shared similar recipes in the same week. And you know what’s funny? I’ve had this post on the back burner for like months. And then I go post it the same time you are about to post it. We both must have sourdough on the brain this week! I’m looking forward to seeing your version. 🙂

      1. Too funny indeed, and as Mike says, these loaves are “legit” for sure! Read your comment back to Sean – I cooked in a couple restaurants and catering companies years ago and it does take it out of you – and 4am, forget it. Love to just do it now for me and loved ones! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Christina! Homemade bread is one of my favorite all-time kitchen activities. If I had my way, I’d make bread every day…but that’s way too much bread for 2 people to eat. Haha!

  2. Mate, what big buns you’ve made.

    While I haven’t made bread often, my mum did on occasion and it did take all day- However, there really isn’t anything like it. You’re a jack of all trades when it comes to recipes- Absolutely love it!

    1. Thanks, Arman! I really have a strange curiosity when it comes to cooking/baking things. I see something I like, and I’m like “I wonder how to make that from scratch. Let’s figure it out!” So far, breads are seriously one of my favorite things to make…not to mention the fact that fresh homemade bread is seriously one of my favorite things to eat, too. I think I could eat an entire loaf when it’s fresh out of the oven! (I’ve never actually tried doing that. Just for the record.)

  3. David!! I love homemade bread!!! “You need time. (Cue “Time” by Hootie & the Blowfish.)” hahah!!! love it! and I’m totally going to order the sourdough starter from Bob’s Red Mill!!! You can’t go wrong with the satisfaction that comes from baking your own bread!! love this!

    1. Yes!! I wasted like a week+ trying to make my own sourdough starter one time. It never ended up working. Go with the starter…you know it’ll work. And then you can just keep it “fed,” and it will last forever. Sourdough bread is the best!! 🙂

  4. You can never go wrong with sourdough bread. It’s a regular in our house, and is so satisfying to pull something out of the oven that looks sooooo good. Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Tell me about it, Laura! There’s something so awesome about pulling a hot loaf of bread out of hte oven. (There’s also something so awesome about eating said loaf of bread while it’s still warm!) And now I want to go make more bread…haha!

  5. This recipe reminds me that I’ve been wanting to make my own starter for ages. Maybe it’s time, I keep hearing the bread made with sourdough is better, Is there much difference in terms of taste compared to a yeasted bread?

    1. It is definitely time to make a starter, Oana! So sourdough bread does indeed taste different that ‘regular’ yeasted bread. The sourdough is, well, sour. It’s a strong flavor, but it has an amazing taste…totally worth the effort of dealing with the starter. Give it a shot…you’ll be hooked!!

    1. I think you should do it today, Lindsey! Make some sourdough bread. I know it’s cold enough down in the city to enjoy the extra heat from the oven, too. By the way, did you get the loaf I sent to you last week?

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