How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (2024)

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Over the last few years I’ve made it my mission to learn how to make the softest, fluffiest, chewiest, naturally leavened bread with my sourdough starter.

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (1)

This easy sourdough boule is the result of much practice and formula testing. I wanted to keep the recipe very simple and straightforward so that even an amateur sourdough baker could reproduce this bread with beautiful results! If you follow my recipe and learn the technique from watching my video you will definitely be able to master baking an artisan sourdough boule at home in your Dutch oven.

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (2)

Are You Interested in the Science of Sourdough?

I’ve written a comprehensive guide to sourdough. It answers questions about what sourdough is, why it’s better for your body, how to talk about sourdough and understand common terminology, and how to save yourself years of trial and error.

Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better for You – And How To Start One

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (3)

One of the First Steps To Making Great Bread Is Having a Great Starter!

Learn how to feed your starter for optimal performance and successful baking in my easy visual guide,

How To Feed Your Sourdough Starter for Successful Baking

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (4)

Once you’ve mastered the sourdough basicsyou will be ready to bake an incredible loaf of bread like this one.

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (5)

This Recipe Uses the Stretch and Fold Method of Kneading.

What I love about stretch and fold:

  • It’s easy.
  • It can be done over a period of time and at your own pace.
  • It develops an insane amount of gluten, making your bread reach for the clouds with the absolute BEST oven spring.
  • It’s flexible. (Only have time for two stretch and folds? No problem, you will still have an awesome bake!)
  • It can be done in the bowl, keeping your workspace clean.
  • You don’t need a stand mixer — stretch and fold is a “by hand” method, uniting you to your food!

This video will walk you through the steps of the recipe and stretch and foldmethod.

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (6)

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (7)

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (8)

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven

Yield: 12

Prep Time: 1 day

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 day 40 minutes

Learn how to bake a big and beautiful loaf of real sourdough bread. This formula yields a soft and pillowy crumb perfect for slathering with real butter!



  1. Weigh all ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl.
  2. Mix the ingredients into a loose shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.
  3. Wet your hands and gently knead the dough in the bowl by hand until it comes together with no excess flour.
  4. Let the dough rest covered for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Start the first stretch and fold by wetting your hands and lifting one side of the dough and folding it toward the middle. Repeat this stretch and fold process in all four directions.
  6. Sometimes you can get away with an extra one or two folds depending on the elasticity of the dough. If it wants to stretch, stretch it! If it's tearing or breaking, it needs a rest.
  7. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Start the second stretch and fold by wetting your hands and repeating the same folding motion in (at least) all four directions.
  9. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Repeat the stretch and fold and resting process up to five more times for a total of seven stretch and folds (or as many as you are able). I have made great bread by just doing two stretch and folds. But remember, the more stretching and folding, the more gluten will develop, and the higher your bread will rise!
  11. After the last stretch and fold cover the dough and allow it to double in size. This can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours depending on starter strength and ambient temperature.
  12. Prepare your banneton (proofing basket) with a coating of flour. My trick is to use sprouted wheat flour. Sprouted wheat does not develop gluten so it will keep the bread from sticking to the basket. Rice flour, buckwheat, or other non-glutinous flour can also be used.
  13. Working with the doubled dough, start the final stretch and fold. This will act as the "punch down" of the dough, deflating the gasses trapped inside the gluten network. Stretch the dough several times toward the center, each time pressing down on the dough to remove air bubbles.
  14. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  15. Lightly wet your hands and remove the dough from the proofing bowl onto your work surface. Shape the dough by repeating the same folding toward the center action. Once a tight ball is achieved flip it seam side down and push it gently in all directions across the work surface to build tension in the outer layer (see attachedvideo).
  16. Let the dough rest seam side down for 5 minutes.
  17. Transfer the dough to the banneton basket. This time you want the seam to be up and the tight surface to be down in the basket.
  18. Sprinkle the seam side of the shaped dough with a light dusting of flour and cover it securely with wrap and a rubber band.
  19. Place the banneton basket in the refrigerator overnight for at least 10 hours. 12 to 24 hours is my preferred proofing time.
  20. Once the dough has crested the edge of the banneton it is ready to bake, but you may keep it in the refrigerator for a longer period of time.
  21. Preheat your oven to 450°F with your covered Dutch oven inside.
  22. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to overhang your loaf's circumference by a few inches.
  23. Remove the banneton from the refrigerator, remove the wrap from the dough, and place the parchment sheet over the exposed dough. Hold the parchment in place with your hand while you flip the dough onto the counter. Now the parchment is on the bottom.
  24. Carefully ease the banneton off the dough. Sometimes it takes a little coaxing. Use your fingers to gently work between the dough and basket. Hopefully the basket will lift away clean!
  25. Using a sharp razor blade, score the dough along the top. There are so many scoring patterns to practice with, but a good one to start with is a simple slash or a cross. Score the dough about 1/2 inch deep.
  26. Using baking gloves, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid.
  27. Working quickly, pick up the boule by the parchment paper edges and place it into the Dutch oven on top of the parchment.
  28. If desired, add a few ice cubes to the Dutch oven between the parchment and the wall of the Dutch oven, or spray the boule with a few spritzes of filtered water. Adding additional moisture will keep the crust soft, allowing for more rise and giving a nice blistered texture and appearance.
  29. Cover the Dutch oven and place it back in your preheated oven. Bake undisturbed for 25 minutes.
  30. Open your oven and remove the Dutch oven lid. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  31. Remove your Dutch oven from the oven and gently lift the boule out using the parchment paper as handles. Remove the parchment paper and cool the boule on a wire rack. Cool the boule completely before cutting (possibly the hardest part of baking this incredible loaf of bread!).


Beginners: Start with 275 grams water, about 1 1/5 cups.

Also note that all cups and spoons measurements are approximate, for best results please weigh your ingredients!

This recipe yields a boule that has a hydration percentage of 73.3%

Higher hydration doughs will have a more open crumb (bigger holes). Want to play around with hydration? Use this website to calculate the hydration percentage of your dough: Bread Hydration and Conversion Calculator.

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (17)

Because You Are Awesome and Read All the Way to the Bottom of This Post You Get My “Pro Tips” for This Recipe!

Pro Tip #1You can use up to 60% whole wheat or other heirloom or ancient grain in this recipe. Be aware that you may want to add additional water because whole grains absorb more water in the dough. Start with 10 additional grams of water per 50 grams of whole grain flour used.

Pro Tip #2 If you are baking in an electric or gas oven with a bottom heating element, always use a baking stone, pizza stone, cast-iron griddle, or cast-iron frying pan on the rack below your Dutch oven! Position the Dutch oven directly above the barrier pan or stone — this will help keep the bottom crust from getting too dark!

How To Bake the Perfect Sourdough Boule in Your Dutch Oven – Recipe + Video Instructions (2024)


What temperature to bake sourdough in a Dutch oven? ›

Depending on your oven, you will need to preheat for up to one hour to ensure the oven is at temperature and the Dutch Oven is searing hot. Sourdough bread should be cooked in a Dutch Oven for 45 minutes at 230C or 450F (with the lid off for the last 10 to 15 minutes).

Do you put the lid on a Dutch oven when baking sourdough? ›

Step 3: Place the lid on the Dutch oven and place it in the oven. Reduce the heat to 450 degrees F and bake for 23-25 minutes. Keeping the lid on for the first part of baking allows steam to expand between the gluten fibers to rise the bread and create a fluffy loaf.

Why is my sourdough not rising in the Dutch oven? ›

If your oven and/or Dutch oven are too hot, you can impede the ovenspring of your loaf. In a super-hot baking environment, the crust sets up to quickly and entombs the loaf before it has time to fully spring. In these cases, the crust is fused to the crumb and the loaf will not open.

How do you not burn the bottom of sourdough bread in a Dutch oven? ›

Placing a baking sheet or cookie tray underneath your dutch oven can lower the heat transfer underneath and stop your sourdough or artisan bread from burning.

What is the best temperature to bake bread in a Dutch oven? ›

Preheat Dutch Oven & Bake

Right before you pull the dough out of the bowl, place the dutch oven into the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees F. Placing the artisan bread dough into the warm dutch oven results in a golden-brown crispy crust.

Should you preheat your Dutch oven before baking sourdough? ›

This is an important step. The hot Dutch oven is what helps create the steam once you add in your dough and enclose it with the lid. Preheating will give you a much better oven spring and overall better final product.

How long to leave the lid on dutch oven bread? ›

Put the lid on and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid. The loaf will still be very pale but should have grown considerably and burst at the score/ slash. Place back in the oven without the lid for a further 20-25 minutes until golden brown, feeling light, taps hollow and has an internal temperature of 90C.

Can you use aluminum foil in Dutch oven for sourdough bread? ›

Aluminium foil might seem like a good alternative to parchment paper when baking sourdough bread. However, aluminium foil lacks the non-stick properties that parchment paper offers. This means that when you use it to bake, there is a small risk that your bake will become stuck to the parchment paper.

What is the best flour for sourdough bread? ›

The best flour blend for creating a new sourdough starter is 50% whole-meal flour (whole wheat or whole rye) and 50% bread flour or all-purpose flour. I recommend a 50/50 mix of whole wheat flour and bread flour. Why do you need to use these two types of flour?

Can a Dutch oven be too big for sourdough? ›

Conclusions. Overall, I love both of these Dutch ovens for sourdough baking. If you are looking to bake loaves with great oven spring, I would recommend the smaller Dutch oven. If you are looking for loaves with a slightly more open crumb, then the larger Dutch oven might be a bit better.

What does overproofed sourdough look like? ›

Note: As loaves begin to overproof they lose their height and shape. The crumb becomes more dense. The holes become more ragged and irregular in shape. The crust begins to thin and separate from the crumb.

Should I take lid off Dutch oven for bread? ›

During those first 20 minutes, your bread will rise and expand. If you would not have it inside the Dutch oven with the closed lid, a thick crust would form too soon, thereby keeping it from reaching its full potential. After the first 20 minutes, you remove the lid and continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes.

Why preheat Dutch oven sourdough? ›

A preheated dutch oven will create steam

In bread baking, hot steam reacts with the dough to quickly expand it, leaving behind those signature air holes inside the bread. It also produces a shiny, crisp crust on the exterior.

What size Dutch oven is best for sourdough bread? ›

All that to say, if you don't have a Dutch oven yet, a 5.5-quart Dutch oven will set you up for decades of baking. Not too big and not too small, it's the perfect size for baking a large, shareable loaf of bread.

Do you bake sourdough at 450 or 500? ›

Score and bake

While the bread is proofing, preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C) with a lidded cast-iron pan inside. (Note: your bread will bake better if you have a baking stone on the oven rack below your bread. It will act as a buffer against the heating elements in the bottom of your oven.)

What is the best temperature for sourdough bread? ›

Sourdough performs really well anywhere from 74-86 degrees F (optimal 76-80). The goal is to stay within that range for as much time as possible.

Can you bake sourdough at 425? ›

Preheat your oven to 425* F. Place a dutch oven inside and preheat it for 30 minutes (you can also use any type of oven safe dish with a lid). When it has finished preheating, place the bread inside. Bake covered for 35 minutes.

Can I bake sourdough at 350? ›

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 40 to 50 minutes, until it's light gold and a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and after a couple of minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.


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