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Hey guys! Do you remember my sourdough starter from February? Well, I’ve been experimenting with it about every other day since then, and I have to tell you, after tasting this cast iron sourdough bread I’m not sure I will ever buy bread from the grocery store again. Sourdough bread is the epitome of slow living in the world of bread. There is something so calming and fulfilling about making bread. It’s become somewhat of a passion of mine — a sort of meditation.
Making sourdough bread isn’t something that you are going to master from a recipe. It takes work and doing to really learn it. I tried many different recipes and methods before settling on one I really liked, and even still it doesn’t always come out the same. I’m definitely not calling myself a master since I’ve only been doing this for about two months, but I’m pretty impressed with this cast iron sourdough loaf so I thought I’d share it with you all.
Cast Iron Sourdough Bread
The recipe was adapted from Emma Christensen from thekitchn.com
For the leaven:
1 TBSP active sourdough starter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
For the dough:
2 1/2 cups water, divided
1 TBSP salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Make the leaven the night before you plan to make your dough. Combine the sourdough starter, flour, and water in a blow and mix until you’ve created a thick batter. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight, about 12 hours or until the surface becomes very bubbly.
- For the dough, add 2 cups water to your bowl of leaven. Stir with a spoon or use your hands to dissolve the leaven into the water. (It’s fine if you have a few clumps that don’t dissolve.)
- Add the flour to the bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes to allow the dough to autolyze. Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup water and the salt in a small bowl or measuring cup. Mix until dissolved.
- Pour the saltwater mixture over the dough and working the liquid into the dough by pinching and squeezing the dough with your hands. The dough should feel wet and loose.
- Fold the dough by grabbing it at one side, stretching up, and folding over itself. Do this on each side, turning the bowl clockwise as you work. (Here is a good video for reference.) Let the dough rest 30 minutes, and then repeat. Do this six times, folding every half hour for a total of 2 1/2 hours. The dough will gradually smooth out and become firmer with each fold.
- After the last folding, let the dough rise undisturbed for about 60 minutes. The dough won’t double in size like a typical loaf, but it should look larger and slightly puffed.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out, working gently, so you don’t deflate it. Use a pastry scraper or knife to divide the dough in half.
- Shape each one into a loose round by cupping your palms around the dough and rotate it against the counter, using the outside of your hand to slightly tuck the dough as you rotate it. Do this a few times to build surface tension. Once shaped, let rest for 30 minutes before the final shaping.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour over the top of each dough ball. Flip over one of the dough balls so that the floured side is down. Shape the dough by grabbing the lip of the dough at the bottom, pull it up gently, and fold it over into the center. Repeat with the right, left, and top of the dough and then gently roll the dough right-side up. If it’s not quite round, use the shaping method from earlier to shape it up. Repeat with the second ball of the dough.
- Dust the tops and sides of the of the loaves with flour and transfer to a prepared bread proofing basket upside down, so the seams are on top. If you don’t have bread proofing baskets, line two bowls with clean kitchen towels, dust them heavily with flour, and rub the flour into the cloth until a thin layer forms over the surface.
- Cover the baskets/bowls with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for 3-4 hours. If you don’t have time for a 3-4 hour rise, place them in the refrigerator and let them rise slowly overnight. (If rising overnight, you do not need to bring them to room temp before for baking. Just bake them straight out of the fridge.)
- Place your cast iron dutch oven (or two if you have them) in the oven and heat to 450°F. Once the oven is heated, carefully remove the heated dutch oven from the oven, and tip the loaf into the pot, so the seam side is down. (If your loaf sticks to the basket or towel, gently pitch the dough free.)
- Use a shape knife to score the surface of the loaves at a slight angle. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.
- Uncover the pot to release any remaining steam. The loaves should have sprung up and start to show a golden color on the surface. Bake for another 20-25 minutes uncovered until the crust is deeply browned, almost burnt.
- When done, lift the loaves out using a spatula and transfer to a wire rack or wooden cutting board to cool. Let cool completely before slicing.