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Sourdough French Bread

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Sourdough French bread is a perfectly delicious bread with a crispy crust and a soft interior. Great for beginner bakers. Makes two loaves.

This easy French bread recipe is made with sourdough starter for a soft and flavorful bread with a crispy crust and great taste!
two loaves of sourdough french bread on wooden board
two loaves of sourdough french bread on wooden board

French bread is a favorite bread all over because of its crisp crust but soft interior. It is the perfect bread for smearing with butter and just enjoying as is. Making with it sourdough just makes it that much better – the slight sourdough tang here is just so good!

This is a great intermediate sourdough bread recipe, once you have gotten the hang of the basic beginner sourdough loaf, and you are ready to practice your shaping skills, this French bread recipe is perfect!

Want even more practice shaping loaves? Also try sourdough breadsticks, sourdough hamburger buns and sourdough baguette. All are great beginner recipes that are relatively easy and forgiving!

Serve this classic bread with a spread of butter or beside your favorite soup recipe. It is also excellent in sourdough French toast!

sourdough french bread slices stacked next to second loaf and stick of butter

Baker’s Schedule

Understanding how this recipe fits into your schedule is a big part of actually MAKING it! That’s where a baker’s schedule comes into play! I like to work backwards from when I want them to be done to see when I need to start feeding my starter. Here is the timeline for baking these:

  • Mix Dough – 40 minutes total (10 minutes mixing with a 30 minute rest)
  • Stretch and Folds – 2 hours
  • Bulk Ferment – 8-12 hours, until
  • Shaping – 10 minutes
  • Final Proofing – 1-2 hours, until doubled in size
  • Baking – 20 minutes

From start to finish, this recipe will take about 13-17 hours, plus however long it takes for your starter to become active. Remember that this timeline is an estimate and that the temperature and humidity of your house will affect the timing. Please watch the dough and not the clock.

french bread sliced with one slice spread with butter

How to make sourdough French bread

This recipe is very simple to make! Here is a brief overview of the recipe to give you an idea of how it works. For the full set of directions and measurements, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below!

Mixing the dough.

  1. Mix the ingredients together until combined.
  2. Cover the bowl and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Stretch and Folds.

  1. Use lightly wet hands to prevent sticking, and grab the edge of the dough farthest away from you. Stretch it up high over the bowl, stretching the dough but not letting it break. Then bring it closer and “fold it” over towards you.
  2. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees, and grab the section of dough farthest away from you, stretching it up high over the bowl and folding it back towards you.
  3. Repeat until you have stretched and folded all four “sides” of the dough. You have now completed one set of stretch and folds.
  4. Recover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat the series of stretch and folds, and then let the dough rest for another 30 minutes.
  6. Repeat this process two more times, until you have done four sets of stretch and folds over 2 hours. When done, the dough should feel slightly tacky but not overly sticky.

Bulk Fermentation

  1. Cover the dough and allow it to rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

Shaping the loaves.

  1. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.
  2. Shape each section into a tight ball, and flatten and roll each of them into a long rectangle with a rolling pin until it is about 13″ long.
  3. Roll each rectangle into a long log, pinching the seams firmly on the end.

*Note: Handle the dough gently so you don’t deflate the air bubbles that developed during bulk fermentation.

Final Proofing.

  1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. You will want to measure out more than you need so you can kind of crimp the paper in between the two loaves of dough.
  2. Place the logs seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Cover the logs with a lightly damp kitchen towel and let them proof in a warm spot for 1-2 hours, or until they are doubled in size.

Note: You can gently poke the dough to see if it is done – if the hole springs back slowly, then its ready!

Baking the loaves.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F with an oven safe dish (like cast iron) on the bottom rack and another rack right above it.
  2. Whisk the egg and water to make an egg wash and brush onto each log of dough.
  3. Use a sharp knife to make either horizontal or diagonal cuts down each log. Make are you use light and fast strokes so the knife blade doesn’t tear the dough.
  4. Place a bunch of ice cubes in the preheated cast iron on the bottom rack, and place the cookie sheet of dough on the middle rack above it. This will help the dough rise and create steam to help make a crispy crust. If you want a softer crust, you can skip the ice cubes.
  5. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  6. Allow the loaves to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Slicing them too soon may create a gummy texture.

New to sourdough? Read my Ultimate Guide to Sourdough for Beginners to answer all the questions you have!

Storage & Reheating:

To store the sourdough French loaves, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store at room temperature for up to 3 days for optimal freshness. For longer storage, you can freeze the loaves for up to 1 month.

To reheat, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), spray water on the crust of your frozen or refrigerated loaves and then place them directly on the oven rack and bake them for 10-15 minutes until they are warmed through.

two loaves of french bread stacked at an angle next to butter

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two loaves of sourdough french bread on wooden board

Sourdough French Bread Recipe

This easy French bread recipe is made with sourdough starter for a soft and flavorful bread with a crispy crust and great taste!
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Course: Bread
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 13 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 2 loaves
Calories: 1239kcal
Author: Jenni


For the Dough:

  • 200 grams active sourdough starter fed, bubbly, and doubled
  • 500 grams all-purpose flour
  • 300 grams water
  • 50 grams granulated sugar
  • 25 grams olive oil
  • 20 grams kosher salt

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water


  • Feed your sourdough starter with equal parts of flour and water by weight and then leave it at room temperature for 4-12 hours until it is active and bubbly. I used 100g of water and 100g of flour for this recipe.
    200 grams active sourdough starter, 500 grams all-purpose flour, 300 grams water, 50 grams granulated sugar, 25 grams olive oil, 20 grams kosher salt
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix all-purpose flour, warm water, salt, sugar, active starter, and olive oil until the dough forms.
  • Cover the bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Wet your hands to prevent sticking, then gently stretch one side of the dough and fold it over the center. Repeat this for all four sides then let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat this set of stretch and folds 3-4 times over 2 hours.
  • Cover the bread dough and then let it rise for 8-12 hours. You can leave it in a warm place or place it in the fridge overnight for slow fermentation.
  • Divide the dough into two parts.
  • Shape each into a tight ball, and then flatten and roll each of them into a 13″ long rectangle.
  • Roll each rectangle into a long log, pinching the seams firmly.
  • Place the dough logs seam side down on a baguette pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover them with a light damp towel and let them proof in a warm spot for 1-2 hours until they double in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Whisk the egg and water to make the egg wash.
    1 egg, 1 teaspoon water
  • Brush the wash onto each dough log and then using a razor blade or sharp knife make horizontal or diagonal cuts down each log.
  • Place a tray of ice cubes on the bottom rack of the oven or spray water using a spray bottle to create steam which will help the bread rise.
  • Bake the bread for 17-20 minutes until they turn golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  • Allow the French sourdough bread to cool on a wire rack all the way before slicing.


Store the bread tightly wrapped in tin foil for up to 3 days.


Serving: 1loaf | Calories: 1239kcal | Carbohydrates: 235g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 3922mg | Potassium: 299mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 124IU | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 12mg

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