How to Make Healthy Sourdough French Bread Recipe

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There are so many sourdough recipes that call for fancy gadgets and a lot of turning and folding. It gets me overwhelmed, if I’m being honest, so I created this simple and healthy sourdough french bread recipe that is just that… simple.

healthy sourdough french loaf bread sliced

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved a good piece (or three) of bread. There is something special and cozy and inviting about a fresh loaf sitting on the supper table.

Not to mention, the smell of rising dough and baking bread has yet to be rivaled, which is exactly why I started learning about baking bread over a decade ago. I wanted my home to have that cozy feel.

I have been using a sourdough starter for over a year and although I make a lot of baked goods with it, I couldn’t find a sourdough recipe that didn’t intimidate me.

They all seem so time intensive and I wanted one that was simple. That’s where this recipe comes into play. Plus, it makes the most amazing sourdough french toast! But first, let’s answer a few questions…

sliced sourdough made from scratch

What is Sourdough French Bread?

Sourdough French bread has all of the charm and flavor of regular French bread, but it is a slow-fermented bread that has the natural leavening ingredient, sourdough, in it that takes the place of yeast.

Regular French bread uses commercial yeast to cause the bread to rise, while sourdough French bread uses the wild yeast from a sourdough starter to create rise to the bread.

What are the Health Benefits of Sourdough Bread?

Bread gets a bad name in regards to health foods, but sourdough bread has lots of health benefits that make eating it guilt free.

The health benefits of sourdough bread have to do with digestion and the gut. It might not sound like a huge benefit, but it absolutely is!

The sourdough starter that is used in the bread acts as a prebiotic that prepares the gut for digestion.

Sourdough bread also has less gluten than regular forms of bread since it is gentle on the gut and intestines.

sliced sourdough french bread on a cutting board

How do you make a Sourdough Starter?

I get asked a lot, “How do you make a sourdough starter?” I made my starter over a year ago and we have loved using it on a regular basis for all kinds of things like pancakes, english muffins, waffles, and french toast.

The steps for making an active starter are simple, but they do take time. Most of the time is wait time, so get started now so you can enjoy delicious sourdough baked goods!

Steps for Making a Sourdough Starter:

  1. Day 1: In a medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup of flour (can be all-purpose white flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, white bread flour, rice flour, basically any type of flour made from a grain will produce a good starter) and 1 cup water to the bowl. Cover the starter with a towel and allow it to sit at room temperature until Day 2.
  2. Day 2: Discard 1/2 of the starter in the medium bowl from Day 1. If you don’t discard 1/2, it could overflow and you won’t be adding enough flour and water to feed the large starter. Discarding half of the starter allows you to grow a healthy starter. After you discard 1/2, add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to the bowl. Mix it together, cover it with a tea towel, and allow it to rest.
  3. Day 3: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Add 1 cup Flour and 1 cup Water to the bowl. Mix and cover.
  4. Day 4: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Add 1 cup Flour and 1 cup Water to the bowl. Mix and cover.
  5. Day 5: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Add 1 cup Flour and 1 cup Water to the bowl. Mix and cover.
  6. Day 6: We will now start discarding and feeding our starter 2 times a day, instead of just 1.
    • Morning: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Feed 1 cup water and 1 cup flour to the starter.
    • Evening: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Feed 1 cup water and 1 cup flour to the starter.
  7. Day 7: Repeat what you did on Day 6.
    • Morning: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Feed 1 cup water and 1 cup flour to the starter.
    • Evening: Discard 1/2 of the starter. Feed 1 cup water and 1 cup flour to the starter.

After seven days, you should have a healthy starter to use for any sourdough recipe. If it isn’t bubbly and looking alive when you feed it, continue the two-day feedings for a few more days.

Once your sourdough starter is established, you will see how simple it is to keep and use a starter!

french sourdough dough in a mixer

Steps for Making a Sourdough Baguette Recipe

One of my favorite bread items to make are baguettes and this sourdough baguette recipe turns out perfect every time. The starter works beautifully at creating the rise to the baguette and you don’t need to tend to the bread constantly like you do a regular sourdough loaf.

This truly is a beginner Sourdough Baguette Recipe!

  • Day 1 Morning: Mix dough ingredients in a stand mixer for 10 minutes using a dough hook. Place the wet dough in a large mixing bowl drizzled with olive oil, turning the dough once to coat the top of the dough in the oil, and allow it to rise in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, which will be between 8-12 hours. You may cover it with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap to keep the dough moist.
  • Day 1 Evening: Turn out your risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. If you’d rather, you can always drizzle some oil on the surface in place of the flour. Form the bread dough into a rectangle. You will do one set of stretches to create the final loaf. Pull the long side of the rectangle, furthest from you, to the middle of the dough. Fold the long side of the rectangle closest to you in to meet at the seam. Fold both of the small ends of the loaf in two inches and pinch all of the seams to close the loaf. You should now have what resembles a loaf of bread. Place that loaf, seam side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the final dough to rise 6-8 hours, or overnight.
  • Day 2 Morning: For best results, preheat your oven to 450°F or 500°F, depending on how hot your oven runs. Preheating is an important step, so don’t skip it! Make sure your wire rack is in the middle of your oven. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slice the top of the bread loaf. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
sourdough loaf of french bread rising in a glass bowl

Ingredients for this Sourdough Baguette Recipe

  • Water
  • Mature, Active Sourdough Starter- a new starter will need some time to mature before making a bread
  • Flour (for better results, use regular bread flour)
  • Honey or Maple Syrup
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil or another oil, such as coconut oil or avocado oil
sliced sourdough french loaf with a pat of butter

Why you’ll love this Sourdough Baguette Recipe

  1. The bread dough is easy to work with and not overly fussy.
  2. You can make this sourdough bread without a dutch oven!
  3. You can use this bread for so many other foods: sourdough sandwich bread, sourdough french toast, sourdough croutons, and more!
  4. This recipe requires a baking sheet instead of a loaf pan.
  5. You’ll love this recipe because it doesn’t require you to “quarter turn” the loaf multiple times and there isn’t a bunch of stretching the bread dough, which can feel overwhelming. This recipe only requires a first rise and a second rise.
sourdough french bread rising

Making Sourdough without a Dutch Oven

So many types of bread call for a dutch oven or bread pans. Not this recipe! This simple baguette recipe only requires you to only have a baking sheet.

I created this recipe for those who have made my Crusty Bread Recipe, but you didn’t have a dutch oven. I hope you love this sourdough recipe as much as my No-Fail bread.

Tips when Making Sourdough

  • Use an active, mature starter that has been recently fed. You will know it is ready when it is bubbly and it looks alive.
  • When working with bread, weighing ingredients in grams on a kitchen scale provides the best results and the most consistent loaf.
  • If your kitchen is very warm, it won’t take as long for the dough to rise. If it’s cold and dry, it might take a bit longer than instructed.
  • King Arthur flour works great when making bread, but I wouldn’t suggest using a whole wheat flour. Using whole wheat requires you to adjust the liquid content.
  • Is your kitchen too cold? Turn on your oven and preheat it to 375°F. Once it has reached that heat, turn off your oven and set your bowl of dough on the back of the stove. That will make the top of your stove warm enough to help the dough rise.
baked sourdough french bread
Do you need a dutch oven to make Sourdough French Bread?

No, you do not need a dutch oven. You can place your final bread loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet to bake the bread.

What is the best brand of flour to use in bread recipes?

King Arthur flour works the best at creating a rise in bread recipes.

How do I get a consistent sourdough loaf?

The easiest way to ensure a consistent loaf of sourdough bread is by measuring your ingredients by grams on a digital kitchen scale, instead of measuring ingredients with measuring cups and spoons.

What is a sourdough starter?

The sourdough starter is a natural starter for bread. It has its own bacteria colony and makes bread rise as a store bought yeast would, except without all of the commercial ingredients that go into a store bought yeast. There are many gut benefits to using a starter over a packet of yeast.

Once the Sourdough Starter is mature, do you need to feed it every day?

It depends. If you bake bread every day or use your sourdough starter every day, then yes, you need to feed it every day. If you only use it once a week, then no.
1. If you leave it on your counter all of the time you must feed it to keep it alive. You also need to use it (or discard some) so that it doesn’t just keep growing. If you are baking with it every day, you don’t need to worry about it growing. Just feed it daily and use it daily and it’ll be fine.
2. If you don’t want to use it daily, but say, once a week, put it in the fridge fed. I put mine in a mason jar with a lid and keep it in the back of my fridge until I need it again. The coolness of the fridge slows down the GOOD bacteria in the starter and makes it so it doesn’t feed on the flour as quickly. This means that you can keep it in your fridge for a week or two without feeding it and it’ll be fine. Once you are ready to use it again, pull it out, feed it and let it get active (bubbly) and it’ll be good to use again. Make sure you do feed it prior to putting it in the fridge so that it does have something to keep it alive while in there.

What is the black/brown water on top of my starter?

It is called hooch and it simply means that your starter is hungry. Pour the hooch off in the sink and feed that baby! It doesn’t mean that the starter is bad. It just needs to be fed.

When making a recipe with fed starter, do you use the amount the recipe calls for and then keep feeding the other part daily?

Yes, to use the starter, feed it and let it get bubbly (an hour or so). Use what you need for your recipe. Leave what’s left in your starter container until tomorrow and feed it again. If you don’t want to use starter tomorrow, pop the starter in the fridge!

Do you give your starter a name?

haha Nope. It’s just a starter.

Can I store a sourdough starter in a room temp oven or microwave? I’m worried about bugs.

You can try it and see. I wouldn’t think the starter would do as well in there simply because there are tons of bacteria in your home that the starter needs to grow its colony. If it’s in the oven it won’t get that benefit.

Is a sourdough starter really just flour and water?

Yep, it’s really just flour and water. It’s so simple it’s almost hard to believe.

How can I use my sourdough discard?

I love using the discard for simple items like waffles and pancakes.

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healthy french bread sourdough

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sourdough french bread sliced

Healthy Sourdough French Bread

Liz Quick
This sourdough french bread recipe is simple and perfect for the beginner bread maker that doesn't have a lot of time or fancy gadgets! If you're overwhelmed by all of the other sourdough recipes out there, then this one is for you!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Rise Time 16 hrs
Total Time 16 hrs 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine French
Servings 8 people

Equipment

  • stand mixer
  • medium mixing bowl
  • baking sheet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup lukewarm water, 215 grams
  • 1 cup "fed" sourdough starter, 230 grams
  • 3 ½ cups All-purpose flour, 470 grams
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, 11 grams
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, (coconut oil or avocado oil will work, too) 18 grams

Instructions
 

Day 1 Morning

  • Add all of the dough ingredients to a large stand mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment in place.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough will be moist, but the mixing bowl should be clean once the kneading is done. If the dough is too wet and the dough isn't pulling away from the sides of the mixing bowl, add another tablespoon of flour to the bowl and mix until the bowl is clean.
  • While the dough is mixing, prepare a large mixing bowl by drizzling some olive oil in it to coat the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 8 hours in a warm space. It should double in size.

Day 1 Evening

  • Drizzle some olive oil onto your work surface and turn the risen dough onto the counter. Pat it until it forms a rectangle.
  • You will not do one set of folds to create your loaf. Starting with the long side that is furthest from you, fold it to the middle of the dough. Take the long side of the loaf that is closest to you and fold it to the middle. Now, take both of the short ends and fold them in two to three inches and pinch the seams to seal the loaf.
  • Place the loaf, seam side down, on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover it with plastic and allow it to rise 8 hours, or overnight.

Day 2 Morning

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Once the oven is preheated, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes

  • Use an active, mature starter that has been recently fed. You will know it is ready when it is bubbly and it looks alive.
  • When working with bread, weighing ingredients in grams on a kitchen scale provides the best results and the most consistent loaf.
  • If your kitchen is very warm, it won’t take as long for the dough to rise. If it’s cold and dry, it might take a bit longer than instructed.
  • King Arthur flour works great when making bread, but I wouldn’t suggest using a whole wheat flour. Using whole wheat requires you to adjust the liquid content.
  • Is your kitchen too cold? Turn on your oven and preheat it to 375°F. Once it has reached that heat, turn off your oven and set your bowl of dough on the back of the stove. That will make the top of your stove warm enough to help the dough rise.
Keyword sourdough french baguette, sourdough french bread

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