High Hydration Sourdough Bread

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 18 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf


From Emilie Raffa’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple 

** UPDATE **  If you are new to sourdough bread baking, I highly recommend you start with one of these two posts, both of which include lots of video guidance:



  • 50 g (1⁄4 cup) bubbly, active starter
  • 375 g (1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp) warm water
  • 500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
  • 9 g (1 1⁄2 tsp) fine sea salt


  1. MAKE THE DOUGH: In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand to form a rough dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference. After the dough has rested, work it into a ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. BULK RISE: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C). The dough is ready when it has doubled in size, has a few bubbles on the surface, and jiggles when you move the bowl from side to side.
  3. SHAPE: In the morning, coax the dough onto a floured surface. Dimple the dough all over with floured fingertips. Gently shape it into a round: VIDEO GUIDANCE HERE: fold the top down to the center, turn the dough, fold the top down to the center, turn the dough; repeat until you’ve come full circle; see the montage photo above for reference — and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or proofing basket with a towel and dust with flour. Using a bench scraper, scoop up the dough and flip it over so that the smooth side is facing down. Shape it again and then flip it back over. Cup the dough and gently pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Place into your lined bowl, seam side up.
  4. SECOND RISE: Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour to set its structure. Note: You can chill this dough for up to 6 hours or more. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.
  5. Preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C). Cut a piece of parchment to fit the size of your baking pot.
  6. SCORE: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Dust the surface with flour and rub with your hands to coat. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the dough however you wish — see photos above for a simple inspiration. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.
  7. BAKE: Place the pot on the center rack, and reduce the heat to 450°F (230°C). Bake the dough for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes, checking after 20 — my oven runs hot, so often I’ll remove it from the pot after 20 minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 5 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.


  • This loaf will stay fresh up to 1 day stored at room temperature in a plastic bag.
  • NOTE: In baker’s terms, hydration is the total amount of water (or liquid) divided by the total amount of flour. This dough is considered high hydration at 75% and is a wet dough. Low hydration doughs, which are drier and have smaller holes, fall in the 50% to 68% range.

    • Thursday-Saturday: Feed your starter until bubbly and active.
    • Saturday Evening: Make the dough and let rise overnight.
    • Sunday Morning: Shape the dough, let rise again, score, and bake.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: sourdough, bread