Sourdough Boule

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Boule literally means “ball,” and indeed these loaves are golden spheres of yummy goodness.

Difficulty: Medium

Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 10 hours 30 minutes

Serves: 16

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • ⅛ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1¾ tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cornmeal

Directions

  • Make the starter: Combine 1 cup water, yeast, and 1 cup flour in a ceramic or glass bowl. Stir to combine, cover loosely with damp cheesecloth or towel, and set aside at room temperature. Stir this mixture once a day for the next 4 days. On Day 5, add 1 cup water and 1 cup flour. Stir well, cover again, and set aside at room temperature for another 4 days, stirring once a day, as before. On the tenth day, again add 1 cup water and 1 cup flour. Mix thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature loosely covered for 6 hours, or until the starter foams and doubles in volume. The starter is now ready to use.
  • Make the bread: Combine 1 cup starter, ½ cup water, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand 5 minutes. Add all-purpose flour and beat 1 minute. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8 hours.
  • Add ½ cup water, salt, and enough bread flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead 8–10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and divide into 2 equal portions. Roll into balls and place on prepared pan, seam-side down. Dust generously with flour, cover again with plastic, and rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  • Using a serrated knife, slice decorative slash marks into the surface of the dough, about ½" deep. Place a pan of cold water at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 30–40 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
  • To keep your starter alive, replace the quantity that has been used with an equal amount of water and flour (for every 1 cup used, replace with ½ cup water and ½ cup flour). Keep covered, stir it every day, and feed it every 5 days by removing some starter and again replacing it with an equal amount of water and flour. If you do not wish to feed it, but want to keep it, cover, airtight, and refrigerate indefinitely, taking it out and repeating the process (removing and replacing 1 cup as before) for 10 days before using it again.