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Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal Kneading

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal Kneading

by Emilie Raffa


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The easy way to bake bread at homeall you need is FLOUR, WATER and SALT to get started!

Begin your sourdough journey with the bestselling beginner's book on sourdough baking
100,000 copies sold! Many bakers speak of their sourdough starter as if it has a magical life of its own, so it can be intimidating to those new to the sourdough world; fortunately with Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, Emilie Raffa removes the fear and proves that baking with sourdough is easy, and can fit into even a working parent’s schedule! Any new baker is inevitably hit with question after question. Emilie has the answers. As a professionally trained chef and avid home baker, she uses her experience to guide readers through the science and art of sourdough.

With step-by-step master recipe guides, readers learn how to create and care for their own starters, plus they get more than 60 unique recipes to bake a variety of breads that suit their every need. Featured recipes include:
- Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Bread
- Cinnamon Raisin Swirl
- Blistered Asiago Rolls with Sweet Apples and Rosemary
- Multigrain Sandwich Bread
- No-Knead Tomato Basil Focaccia
- Raspberry Gingersnap Twist
- Sunday Morning Bagels
- and so many more!

With the continuing popularity of the whole foods movement, home cooks are returning to the ancient practice of bread baking, and sourdough is rising to the forefront. Through fermentation, sourdough bread is easier on digestion—often enough for people who are sensitive to gluten—and healthier.

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple gives everyone the knowledge and confidence to join the fun, from their first rustic loaf to beyond.

This book has 65 recipes and 65 full-page photographs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624144295
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 10,549
Product dimensions: 8.05(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Emilie Raffa is the creator, cook and photographer of The Clever Carrot. She is also the author of The Clever Cookbook. She was classically trained at the International Culinary Center and worked as a private chef. Emilie’s work has been featured online in Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, The Huffington Post, Food 52, Saveur, Food & Wine, Today Food and in the pages of Artful Blogging magazine. She was a finalist for “best food photography” in the annual Saveur Blog Awards. She is also an editor for the digital cooking publication feedfeed. Emilie lives on Long Island with her husband and two little boys.

Read an Excerpt



A Starting Point and Beyond

Once your starter is bubbly and your essential tools are ready to go, so are you. In this chapter, you'll find two sourdough staples. My Everyday Sourdough is a fantastic introduction for the beginner, with minimal effort required. When you're ready for more of a challenge, come back to this chapter and try baking my High-Hydration Sourdough for comparison. Understanding the similarities and differences between the two loaves will show you how to fit slow bread into any modern schedule and create the style of sourdough that you want.

With that said, don't worry about understanding all of the details and techniques right away. Just jump right in and have fun. When curiosity kicks in — and it will — refer to the more detailed information at the end of the chapter at your leisure. That way, you won't fall down the rabbit hole like I did.


Makes 1 Loaf

Every baker needs an all-purpose, go-to loaf in their repertoire. And if you're new to sourdough, this is the perfect place to start. Simply make the dough, let it rise overnight, and bake in the morning. It requires very little effort with big reward. The crust is golden and crunchy, and the velvety crumb is perfect for sandwiches and toast. Try a few thick-cut slices with creamy avocado and tomato or the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich you will ever sink your teeth into. This is my family's favorite loaf.

About the Dough: Because this dough rises while you're asleep, you won't be tempted to rush the process or check on it every five seconds to see if it's ready. Have a look at the baker's schedule, then make adjustments to suit your own schedule. The overnight method can be applied to most of the recipes in this book.

50 g (1/4 cup) bubbly, active starter

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.

MAKE THE DOUGH: In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine until a stiff dough forms, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. The dough will feel dense and shaggy, and it will stick to your fingers as you go. Scrape off as much as you can. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.

After the dough has rested, work the mass into a fairly smooth ball. To do this, grab a portion of the dough and fold it over, pressing your fingertips into the center. Repeat, working your way around the dough until it begins to tighten, about 15 seconds.

BULK RISE: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature. This will take about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C). The dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has doubled in size.

SHAPE: In the morning, coax the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. To shape it into a round, start at the top and fold the dough over toward the center. Turn the dough slightly and fold over the next section of dough. Repeat until you have come full circle. Flip the dough over and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl with a towel and dust with flour. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Using a bench scraper, place the dough into the bowl, seam side up.

SECOND RISE: Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough is ready when it looks puffy and has risen slightly but has not yet doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking pot, leaving enough excess around the sides to remove the bread.

SCORE: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Sprinkle the dough with flour and gently rub the surface with your hands. Using the tip of a small, serrated knife or a razor blade, score the dough with the cross-cut pattern, or any way you'd like. Use the parchment to transfer the dough to the baking pot.

BAKE: Bake the dough on the center rack for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the loaf from the pot and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes to crisp the crust. When finished, transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour before slicing.

Sourdough is best consumed on the same day it is baked. To maximize freshness, cool completely and store at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to 1 day.


Makes 1 Loaf

Just scour over any bread forum and you'll see that everyone wants to know the same thing: How do you bake sourdough with big, open holes? I'll be honest: The answer is not black and white. A perfect storm of variables, including a bit of luck, has often dubbed this sourdough the "Holy Grail." So why bother, you ask? Well, it's all part of the charm. Because once you've discovered this incredible loaf, you'll be eager to devour it on the spot.

About the Dough: The first step toward bigger holes is to add more water, or to increase the dough's hydration. The second step is to expand your sourdough technique: Gently dimple the dough after the bulk rise (think: focaccia) and then shape it twice. Both techniques will help to open up the crumb and can be applied toward other doughs to achieve the same effect. If you're working with King Arthur bread flour, which is a high-gluten flour, you can replace up to 60 grams (1/2 cup) with all-purpose flour to lighten the texture.

50 g (1/4 cup) bubbly, active starter

Thursday and Friday: 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Preheat your oven to 500°F (260°C). Cut a piece of parchment to fit the size of your baking pot.

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 with the bird wings pattern, or any way you'd like. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.

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. Lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 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.



As you continue to bake, you'll learn that sourdough is not just a recipe; it's an understanding. And because methods and terminology will vary from baker to baker, this can either intrigue or overwhelm. Here, I've broken down the basic steps, based on my experience with sourdough. Just like the previous chapter, this section is not required reading. Use this guide as a reference throughout the book, and to satisfy the curious mind.

Step 1: Make the Dough

The mixing process is pretty straightforward. Whether you do it by hand or with a stand mixer, the goal is to fully incorporate the ingredients. No one wants a chunk of flour or a salt patch in their bread. Unlike baking a cake, these lumps do not sort themselves out in the oven. Once fully incorporated, the dough will be rough, shaggy, sticky, and dense — all normal.

First Rest

After mixing, the dough needs to rest in the bowl. Resting is a repeated step throughout sourdough and is not worth rushing, as each rest serves a significant purpose.

Here, the flour needs time to absorb the water, which jumpstarts the gluten development without kneading. It also makes the dough more soft and manageable. Timing can be flexible depending on your schedule and the type of dough. For example, the Everyday Sourdough does well with a 30-minute rest, whereas the High-Hydration Sourdough and most wholegrain doughs could go for a full hour. Fillings, such as nuts and raisins, would be added after this resting period, because they will be easier to incorporate.


The technical term for this first rest is "autolyze." A true autolyze does not contain salt or yeast, as some bakers believe that these ingredients prohibit gluten development. From an everyday perspective, my all-inone-bowl method works just fine. However, it's technically a hybrid autolyze, which is worth noting for comparison when you encounter this term.

Quick Knead

Once the dough has completed the first rest, give it a quick knead in the bowl. The idea is to work the dough, folding it over several times, pressing your fingertips into the center as you go. Don't worry about technique here. Just keep moving the dough around until the gluten begins to tighten, which will indicate that it's time to stop. That's your signal. This can take anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the dough.

By the way, please don't be put off by the word "knead." Gone are the days of old ladies with forearms the size of turkey legs pounding bread dough until the cows come home. There are many ways to knead, and this step is minimal at best. Sadly, the stigma still remains, which is why kneading is often misunderstood. This quick movement not only incorporates air into the dough to further develop the gluten, it's also your last chance to adjust the dough. If it's too sticky, or if you find a few dry bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl, get in there and fix it. Consider it quality control.

Step 2: Bulk Rise

Now, it's time for the dough to rise.

The first thing I should mention is that sourdough needs to rise twice. The bulk rise, otherwise known as the first rise or bulk fermentation, is when most of the gluten development takes place. "Gluten" refers to the protein strands found in wheat, essential for overall structure and height. Rush the bulk rise, and you'll end up with a brick so flat the squirrels won't even touch it.

How Long Does It Take?

Sourdough will never be ready in one hour, and unlike commercial yeasted breads, you don't want it to be. Embrace the pace, and you'll be rewarded with the most delicious, complex flavor. Time also allows for natural fermentation, which breaks down the nutrition inhibitors associated with wheat. As an added bonus, a long and slow rise conveniently works around a busy day — whether at home or in the office — so you can go about your business and stop hovering over the bowl.

For a general timeframe, temperature plays a key role during the bulk rise. The doughs in this book can take anywhere from 6 to 10 or more hours to rise at room temperature, about 70°F (21°C). This is your benchmark. Obviously, it might be warmer or colder in your house, which is normal and explains why rise times are only approximate. If I could say this one hundred times, I would. Don't be surprised if your dough takes only five hours to rise in the summer, but maybe twelve hours in winter. When this happens, just go with it. Use your intuition and senses to judge when the dough is ready. As bakers will often say, "Watch the dough, not the clock."


Water temperature plays a significant role in rise times because it changes the temperature of your dough. Warm water, about 80°F (27°C), boosts the rise, and cooler water, about 70°F (21°C), slows it down. Knowing when and how to adjust water temperature is a helpful technique that can be tailored to suit your baking schedule, especially as the seasons change. For example, in the summer, I typically make my overnight doughs at around 9 or 10 PM with cool water to control the rise. By 6 AM, the dough is ready to go.

How Will I Know When the Dough Is Ready?

Not all doughs look the same when the bulk rise is complete, but many share the same characteristics.

Here are a few key signs to look for:

• An increase in growth, about double in size

• Dough no longer looks dense but rather is soft and pillowy

• Plenty of bubbles throughout the dough to show aeration

• A few bubbles on the surface, typical of wet and whole-grain doughs


Dough rises up and out to the sides, depending on its container. For example, if your bowl is large and wide and looks like it could feed salad for 30, then it will be hard for you to judge when the dough has doubled in size. Consider using a smaller mixing bowl, about 8 inches (20 cm) wide, or rising the dough in a tall, clear container with measuring marks. This way you'll know exactly how much the dough has grown.

Stretch and Folds

This is a minimal-kneading technique that gently incorporates air into the dough, adding strength and height to the finished loaf. For many bakers, it's an enjoyable process (who doesn't like to touch bread dough?) and can be applied as an optional step.

Stretch and folds are completed in sets. The first set can be done about 30 minutes into the bulk rise. Then, you'll complete up to 4 additional sets spaced 15 minutes to 1 hour apart, depending on the dough. This technique is very flexible; if you only have time for 1 or 2 sets, just go for it. You'll get excellent results either way. For photos illustrating these steps, see here.

Step 3: Shape

After the bulk rise, the dough is ready to be shaped on your work surface.

But first, let's talk about how to get the dough out of the bowl. Pull it? Stretch it? Dump it? I like to gently coax the dough out of the bowl, taking care not to deflate all of the air bubbles. It's best to do this with floured fingertips. Some bakers use a lightly oiled bowl to prevent sticking, but if you choose to stretch and fold the dough, you'll notice that it barely sticks to the bowl at all.

For shaping, follow the step-by-step instructions here to here to get a basic idea of the process. Every baker has their own method, but the goal is to redistribute the weight of the dough and to create a tight skin on the surface for a more uniform rise. When shaping, too much flour on your work surface will make the dough slide around; not enough flour and the dough will stick. Try to find a balance for best results.

Bench Rest

Right after the dough is shaped, it needs to rest again. This rest, also known as the bench rest, can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, or more, depending on the dough. Sorry, no shortcuts here. As mentioned earlier, resting is a repeated step with an important purpose. Or think of it this way: Gluten is like a muscle. If it's too stiff, it won't stretch. How would you feel after 100 squats?

Tighten the Shape

During the bench rest, the dough will spread naturally as the gluten begins to relax. For most loaves you'll need to tighten the shape before proceeding to the next step. To do this, with floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you, or pull it around in a circular motion. The idea is for the dough to catch enough surface tension to essentially do the tightening for you. This is a very easy technique that will only take a few seconds to do. Then the dough is placed into a towel-lined bowl or proofing basket, seam side up. Use a bench scraper for easy transfer.


Excerpted from "Artisan Sourdough Made Simple"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Emilie Raffa.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

About the Ingredients 12

About the Tools 14

How to Create a Sourdough Starter 16

Baking Your First Loaf: A Starting Point Beyond 25

Everyday Sourdough 26

High-Hydration Sourdough 29

Sourdough Steps at a Glance 30

Sourdough Steps, Explained 31

Sweets and Savory Artisan Loaves 41

Decadent Chocolate Chip 42

Dill and White Cheddar 45

Olive, Thyme, and Parmesan 47

Seeded Pumpkin Cranberry 48

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl 51

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip 52

Pickled Jalapeño, Cheddar, and Chive 55

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary 56

Sticky Date, Walnut, and Orange 59

Pan Loaves and Sandwich Bread 61

Country Farmhouse White 62

Soft Honey Whole Wheat 65

Saturday Morning Fruit and Nut Toast 66

Multigrain Sandwich Bread 69

Light and Fluffy Brioche 70

Overnight Danish Rye Bread 73

Whole Grains and Specialty Flours 75

Whole Wheat Sourdough 76

Golden Flax and Spelt 79

Mighty Multigrain 80

Light Rye 83

Toasted Sunflower 84

Golden Sesame Semolina 87

Rustic Pumpernickel 88

Focaccia, Rolls, and Everything Else 91

Basic No-Knead Focaccia 92

No-Knead Tomato Basil Focaccia 95

Stuffed Croque Monsieur Focaccia with Ricotta and Swiss 96

No-Knead Focaccia Pizza with Pesto and Fontina 99

No-Knead Chocolate Chunk Focaccia with Cream Cheese and Nutella 100

Focaccia di Recco 103

Soft Share-and-Tear Rolls 104

Easy Bread Basket Rolls 107

Blistered Asiago Rolls with Sweet Apples and Rosemary 108

Grab-and-Go Cranberry-Pecan Harvest Buns 111

Easy Pita Pockets 112

Overnight Mini Sourdough English Muffins 115

Sunday Morning Bagels 116

Overnight Sourdough Bialys with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese 121

Roasted Garlic Sourdough Knots with Pecorino 122

Crispy Sourdough Grissini 125

Soft Semolina Breadsticks with Buttery Crumbs 126

Ciabatta 129

Overnight Baguette Twists 130

Bread Art 133

Baked Camembert Wreath 134

Almost No-Knead Fougasse 137

Raspberry Gingersnap Twist 138

Salted Chocolate Caramel Knot 143

Make-Ahead Stuffed Spinach and Artichoke Dip Braid 144

Recipes for Leftover Sourdough Starter 147

Cinnamon Sugar Sourdough Waffles 148

Easy Dijon-Parsley Popovers 151

Sourdough Key Lime Ricotta Cookies 152

Sourdough Zeppoles 155

Puffed Sourdough Crackers with Gruyere and Thyme 156

Break-Apart Sesame Spelt Crackers 159

Skillet Greek Yogurt Flatbreads 160

To Enjoy with Bread 163

Rum Raisin Bread Pudding 164

Weeknight Tuscan Ribollita 167

Fried Artichoke Panzanella with Crispy Capers and Mint 168

Open-Face Toasted Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches 171

Sourdough Brioche con Gelato 172

Focaccia Croutons with Pecorino and Dill 175

Light and Fresh Greek Salad with Focaccia Croutons 176

Summer Tomato Salad 179

Spicy White Bean and Arugula Dip 180

Zesty Garlic and Herb Dipping Oil 183

Small-Batch Quick Jams 184

Apricot and Vanilla Jam 184

Cherry Balsamic Jam 184

Techniques 187

Source List 196

Acknowledgments 199

About the Author 200

Index 201

Customer Reviews

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