The Five Best Sourdough Bread for Newbies

sliced sourdough bread

This is part two of a series about making your own sourdough bread starter and bread recipes. Make sure to read part one here!

It’s day one thousand whatever of quarantine. You’ve made your sourdough starter. You’ve either managed to find an elusive bag of flour on the grocery store shelves, or you were prescient enough to be stocked up before all this started. Now you just need to know which of the thousands of sourdough recipes coming up on Google will give you the perfect loaf of sourdough bread. 

Never fear! I tried out five of the top recipe results on Google so you don’t have to.

Before I review them, though, a few words about equipment. 

Many of these recipes call for items I didn’t have in my kitchen (some I had never even heard of). Most of these things can be substituted by a regular kitchen item. If you are going to invest in something on this list, I’d go for the food scale. I’ve been converted to cooking by weight rather than volume measurement, and I get much more consistent results. As for the rest: 

If you don’t have a Dutch oven… use an ovenproof pot with a lid. 

If you don’t have a banneton… use a colander lined with a clean dishtowel. 

If you don’t have a bench scraper… use the blunt edge of a butter knife. 

If you don’t have a lame… use a paring knife. 

On to the recipes! 

The Kitchn

This recipe is incredibly detailed. I used it for my first batch of sourdough bread, and I was very happy with my results. It is the most time-intensive recipe I tried, with folding needed every half hour for three hours. I feel like this bread is one I would put on a charcuterie board; it has an artisan look and taste. I will use this recipe again!

the Kitchn sourdough bread
sourdough round
emelie's everyday sourdough

Emilie’s Everyday Sourdough

This recipe was considerably less time-intensive than others I tried, and it was very soft. It held a lot of appeal for my kids and had the distinctive sourdough flavor I associate with my visits to San Francisco. I think this recipe is best for beginners; it isn’t overwhelming but gives a good result. 

The Clever Carrot Sourdough Bread

This bread was crunchier than the others I made, perhaps because it included oil in the recipe (unlike most of the recipes I tried). My husband said it reminded him of the breadsticks he ate while living in Italy. This was not my favorite loaf, but the instructions are very valuable because they give a lot of information on how to customize your sourdough bread. This recipe is a good resource for the confident sourdough baker who is ready to experiment beyond a basic loaf. Sorry – no pictures!

Perfectly Crusty Sourdough Bread for Beginners

I had high hopes for a simpler, more basic recipe here… but it fell flat for me. Literally, the bread didn’t rise well. It also felt over baked and too sour. I won’t be returning to this recipe. 

sourdough loaf
a couple cooks sourdough
sliced sourdough bread

A Couple Cooks Best Sourdough Bread

Friends, this one is the holy grail. I’ve made it several times and whenever I do, it disappears before 24 hours have passed. My seven-year-old starts hovering around the oven, ready to pounce as soon as I slice it. Which usually winds up being before the recommended 45 minutes of cooling time, because we just can’t wait!

This bread is soft, has a great texture, and doesn’t get too brown and crispy on the outside. I will warn you that it is on the more finicky side; it doesn’t require quite as much interaction as the Kitchn recipe, but it does require that you be home for a few hours to work it and let it rest. It also combines three types of flour: all-purpose, whole wheat, and bread. But trust me when I say that it is worth it! As an added bonus, the website includes a detailed video showing you each step. 

I hope your sourdough journey takes you somewhere delicious and fulfilling! Let us know if you try any of these and how they turned out!

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