Basic All-Purpose Flour Sourdough Bread (with soft crumb!)

By Amanda Paa – Updated September 13, 2022
4.73 from 86 votes
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Learn how to make incredible sourdough bread with just all-purpose flour and your starter! The rise is that of any loaf made with bread flour, and the crumb is super fluffy, the crust crisp and flaky.

loaf of sourdough bread

If you want to start your own sourdough journey, you can BUY MY SOURDOUGH STARTER HERE! – and I will ship it you in the mail, with instructions for feeding and maintaining it so you can bake all the amazing bread you dream of. Cost is $12.


We’re all trying to bake sourdough right now, but finding bread flour right now is almost impossible! Unless you have access to a local mill.

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Many of you told me that you’ve had to use all-purpose flour for sourdough recipes, because that’s all you can find, but the results have not been great. Which makes sense, because all-purpose flour and bread flour are not interchangeable.

All-purpose flour has a lower protein percentage than bread flour (AP usually around 11.8% and bread flour around 13.2%), simply meaning it’s NOT as strong. So your loaves have fallen flatter than you’d like, and don’t have the oven spring you’re used to.

This led me to testing different methods, hydration levels, and brands of flours over the last few weeks, to develop a simple sourdough bread recipe for you, that uses 100% all-purpose flour.

And she’s here.

The rise of this all-purpose flour sourdough bread is superb.
The crumb is so light and airy. Like pull apart, fluffy.
And the crust is crackly thin.
There’s just a bit of tangy flavor at the end, which I appreciate.

loaf of sourdough bread with pretty score, top down view
made with trader joe’s/king arthur all-purpose flour
loaf of sourdough bread

How to Make Sourdough Bread with All-Purpose Flour

First let’s look at technique:
The method for this all-purpose flour loaf is slightly different from my Everyday Sourdough Bread recipe.

  • The autolyse, the rest period right after mixing is 1 hour long, rather than 30 minutes. This allows for the AP flour to be properly hydrated, as it slower to absorb water compared to bread flour.
  • After the autolyse, you’ll knead the bread for about 1 minute 15 seconds, to effectively develop the gluten, leading to a stronger dough. I kind of squish the dough in between my hands, and push it against the bowl. You’ll notice it start to relax and be easier to work with around the 1 minute work.
  • This stands in for your first stretch and fold, which you’ll then complete 3 normal rounds of stretch and folds from that point.
  • The other thing that differs is executing a pre-shape before fully shaping. I like to use my bench knife to pull the dough up over itself a few time, into an imperfect circle. After a 15 minute rest her, you’ll proceed with normal shaping.

What about hydration level?

With a lower protein percentage in the flour, using the right amount of water is critical for success. If you use the same amount of water that a recipe for bread flour calls for, the dough will be extremely wet and sticky, because it cannot absorb water the same way.

I played with different amounts of water, and really found the sweet spot to be between 275 and 290 grams water to 400 grams flour, depending on the brand of flour you’re using.

Brands of All-Purpose Flour tested:

If you look at the nutrition label of the unbleached all-purpose flour you have on hand, you’ll notice that the ingredient list is either:

Hard Wheat Flour (Bob’s Red Mill organic all-purpose flour)
or
Hard Wheat Flour PLUS, Malted Barley Flour. And if enriched, will have Niacin (vitamin B3), Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Folic Acid) added. King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour, Trader Joe’s unbleached all-purpose flour, Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose are hard wheat flour + malted barley flour types.

The vitamins/minerals are added to “enrich” the flour with nutrients. They do not affect the bread’s outcome. The really important ingredient that just change the outcome is Malted Barley Flour.

Malted barley flour aids in a more golden brown end result, and because of its lower gluten, it causes the dough to be softer, more relaxed and gives a softer crumb texture.

sourdough bread side angle
made with bob’s red mill purpose flour
close up of sourdough bread

Final Results of Different All-Purpose Brands

When I tested the two types of all-purpose flour over several loaves, what I noticed were these two differences:

  1. The loaves made with King Arthur and Trader Joe’s all-purpose flour were more relaxed and supple, because of the malted barley flour added. The dough felt smoother and elastic in my hands, as I kneaded it. When using Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour, which is solely hard winter wheat, the results were also excellent, but in my hands it didn’t feel as elastic. Which is okay too! It certainly make it easy to shape.
  2. The King Arthur and Trader Joe’s all-purpose flour could handle a little more water (10 grams, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but is in this type of loaf), resulting in a slightly more open crumb.

Both types of all-purpose flour had the same beautiful rise and crunchy, golden crust with signs of blisters.

open crumb shot of sourdough bread loaf, cut in half
CRUMB OF BREAD MADE WITH AN ALL PURPOSE FLOUR THAT HAS MALTED BARLEY FLOUR ADDED, LIKE KING ARTHUR
open crumb shot of sourdough bread loaf, cut in half
CRUMB OF BREAD MADE WITH ALL PURPOSE FLOUR THAT IS 100% HARD WHEAT, LIKE BOB’S RED MILL

Helpful Tips for Baking An All-Purpose Sourdough Loaf

  • To ensure your dough doesn’t stick to the linen you’re using for proofing, dust the linen heavily with any non-gluten flour. Using all-purpose flour to dust the linen increases the chance that your dough will stick because gluten against gluten bonds together. White rice flour is inexpensive and works incredibly well.
  • To make scoring easier, perform the final rise overnight in the refrigerator. Cold dough makes it easier to cut swiftly and sharply, without the blade dragging.
  • Get yourself a pair of heavy duty oven mitts for the extremely hot temperatures used in baking. Burns from a dutch oven are so painful!
sourdough bread sliced in half with bread knife
single slice of sourdough bread

More Sourdough Bread Recipes:

loaf of sourdough bread with pretty score, top down view

Basic All-Purpose Flour Sourdough Bread (soft crumb!)

A basic sourdough bread recipe made with 100% all-purpose flour, naturally leavened with sourdough starter. It has a soft and light crumb, with golden crust. Perfect recipe for when you don't have bread flour.
4.73 from 86 votes
Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :45 minutes
Additional Time :12 hours
Total Time :12 hours 50 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • 45 grams active sourdough starter at its peak
  • 275 grams slightly warmer than room temp water (about 85 degrees F) if you are using an all-purpose flour that has one ingredient on the package hard wheat (Bob's Red Mill AP flour is an example). OR 290 grams if you are using an all-purpose flour with malted barley flour added (King Arthur and Trader Joe's AP flour are examples).*
  • 400 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 7 grams fine sea salt

Instructions 

  • Add starter and water to a bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined, with a fork. Add flour, and mix together first with the fork to start to incorporate, then with your hands until a shaggy dough is formed, and the bits of flour left just disappear. Sprinkle the salt on top and do not mix in, just leave it on top. Cover with a damp cloth.
  • Autolyse: let dough sit for 45 minutes, covered and undisturbed.
  • Bulk ferment + Stretch and Folds: Now you will knead the salt that is sitting on top, into the dough for about 1 min 15 seconds. There is no precise way to do this, just think of working the dough through your hands and up against the bowl, push and pull. You will start to feel the dough relax a bit around 1 minute. Continue for about 15 or 30 seconds more. Then complete your first set of stretch and folds around the bowl. Let rest for thirty minutes.
  • After those 30 minutes pass, do another set of stretch and folds around the bowl. Repeat this rest + stretch and folds 2 more times.
  • Now you will let sit, undisturbed and covered with a damp cloth, for about 6 hours at 70 degrees F. If the temperature in your home is above 70, this will take less time, vice versa. You will know it is finished with its bulk ferment when the dough has risen just short of doubling, is smooth and puffy on top, with a few bubbles. It will not be as jiggly as some breads that use more water.
  • At this point, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Put dough onto the work surface, and pre-shape. Let sit for 15 minutes on your work surface.
  • Then shape your dough, using this method as a guide.
  • Place dough into your flour dusted banneton, (or flour dusted linen lined banneton) seam side up. (Optional, you can wait 15 minutes after placing it in banneton, and pinch the perimeters of the dough into the center to hold the shape even more, called stitching.) The dough will now go through its final rise. You can do this on the counter, which will take about 2 hours at 70 degrees F for the dough to puff up and be jiggly. It will not double. OR you can do the final rise overnight in the refrigerator, with the banneton covered in a plastic bag or with a very damp cloth. You need this for holding moisture in.
  • Time to bake. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, with your dutch oven preheating inside the oven. When the oven is preheated, flip your dough out gently onto parchment paper and score your dough. If you did the final rise in the refrigerator, take it straight from fridge, to scoring, to dutch oven.
  • Then put dough into the dutch oven on the parchment, and cover. Slide dutch oven into oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove cover.
  • Turn heat down to 430 degrees F, and bake for 25 more minutes, until crust is golden brown and crackly. Remove from oven, and remove bread from dutch oven and place onto a cooling rack.
  • Wait AT LEAST one hour to cut into bread. Otherwise, the interior will be gummy.

Notes

*Look at the ingredient list on the back of your bag of all-purpose flour to see if yours is just one ingredient, hard wheat, or if it has malted barley flour added.

Did you make this?

tag @heartbeetkitchen on instagram and hashtag it #heartbeetkitchen

May 5, 2020

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76 comments

  1. Cara

    Hello! When you are placing your dough in the banneton (on the counter), do you still cover it?

    Thank you!

    • Amanda Paa

      Correct, covered!

  2. Lyn

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I am looking for a lighter, less dense crumb. Can I use Bread flour if that’s all I have, or is this recipe specifically for AP flour only?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Lyn! If you only have bread flour, my Everyday Sourdough Bread recipe is made with bread flour that and yields a wonderful loaf! You will want to use that one. This loaf was specifically developed for using only All-Purpose Flour.

  3. Kevin A Kohlhase

    What if you don’t have a Dutch oven or Banneton can you use something else?

  4. Leona

    5 stars
    Thank you, thank you, thank you Amanda, for this incredible recipe.
    As I am relatively new at sourdough making and learning along the way with 2 other recipes I have tried, I have now found SUCCESS with your recipe using all purpose flour.
    The information and directions you provided, along with the videos made it possible for me to enjoy the most delicious sourdough loaf!!!!!!!
    Sincerely,
    Leona

    • Amanda Paa

      So so great to hear this! Love that you’re enjoying sourdough baking and have found success. Enjoy the journey!

  5. Hazel

    Hi, do you cover the bowl in between the stages of stretch and folds or do you keep the bowl uncovered during those rest times? Thanks

    • Amanda Paa

      yep, cover the bowl!

  6. Bob

    I just started my research into sourdough and I have just made my first attempt at a starter yesterday. I’m not sure how old this website is and wanted to check to see if you still offered starters for sale (just in case I mess this all up). Thanks

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Bob! I certainly do; you can purchase my well-cared for and maintained organic sourdough starter. I ship to anywhere in the world.

  7. KB

    Is this dough forgiving to do some add-ins like cheese? If so at what stage could I add it?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! I haven’t test this recipe with add-ins. I’d suggest following a recipe suited for add-ins, like this Jalapeno Cheddar Sourdough.

  8. Karla

    5 stars
    This bread is so delicious! Love how airy it is and the thinner crunchy crust is so good! I baked a loaf this morning and am in the process of making 3 more loaves! Thank you for a delicious and easy to follow recipe!

  9. Cassie

    5 stars
    This recipe was perfect! The recipe I had been using totally failed me when the weather changed (the air temp in our house has about a 7 degree temp difference from summer to winter) so I tried Amanda’s and it was a huge success! I will be using this one from now on!

    • Amanda Paa

      Your photo of your bake on instagram was beautiful, the crumb! Thanks for trying the recipe!

  10. Kay

    5 stars
    My first successful loaf of bread! I have made many but none as good as this one. Thanks for your recipe.

    • Amanda Paa

      So great to hear, Kay! Happy baking :)

  11. Lorinda

    5 stars
    Amanda is there a way to make this as a chocolate loaf or even a pumpkin loaf? I use only all purpose flour and your recipe above works PERFECT for me. All other recipes have failed me.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Lorinda! I’m so glad you hare having success with this recipe. I haven’t tested it as a chocolate or pumpkin loaf, so I can’t say for sure how to do that. Sorry!

  12. Sonia Benitez

    How long does it stay in the fridge?

    • Amanda Paa

      you can do the cold ferment for 10-18 hours.

  13. Sam

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I found it when I didn’t realize I was out of bread flour, and I ended up with the best loaf I’ve made yet! Will definitely be using this as my default AP flour recipe!

    • Amanda Paa

      Your photo on Instagram of the crumb was beautiful!

  14. Alicia Ferderer

    5 stars
    Love your recipes, the Rustic Rye Sourdough was the best rye recipe I tried.Keen to try your English muffins recipe too. I was just watching your video of the all purpose flour sourdough folding and had to watch a second time as I was so distracted by your beautiful kitchen, what a glorious space to bake! Alicia

    • Amanda Paa

      oh i’m so glad you’re having fun with the recipes. and thank you for the kind words about my kitchen!

  15. Christina friesen

    I’m a little confused on what I am doing differently for the refrigerated final rise? When it’s time to bake, am I still preheating the dutch oven and then placing the dough on parchment paper, scoring, and putting it in? Or what step am I not doing that the fresh is doing?

    • Amanda Paa

      Correct, preheat dutch oven in the oven. Wait until oven is preheated, then take dough out of fridge, score, and put into dutch oven to bake.

  16. Deborah Hall

    5 stars
    Love your recipes. I really like getting my grains and flours from ya’ll.

  17. Michelle

    5 stars
    Question- Any idea how using spelt flour may effect this recipe?

  18. Michelle

    5 stars
    Omg I am writing this recipe down as inheritance for my future family lineage. SO GOOD thank you!

    • Amanda Paa

      How special, Michelle! I’m so glad you like this recipe.

      • Michelle

        5 stars
        Question- Any idea how using spelt flour may effect this recipe?

  19. Melanie

    5 stars
    This is a weekly staple in my house. I’ve tried many sourdough recipes but I always come back to this one so basically, it’s my favorite. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe with the world ❤️

    • Amanda Paa

      I’m glad it’s a favorite in your house!

  20. Penny Hampton

    5 stars
    I just bought hard red and hard white wheat and am grinding my own. Is this the type that need to make my sour dough bread? I’d love to buy your starter!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yes! You could use hard red wheat as the all-purpose flour to feed your starter. You can make this All Purpose Flour Bread recipe too, but I’d suggest getting some bread flour to make other sourdough breads and things.

  21. Joey Sundvall

    5 stars
    I make this bread literally every week! I love it so much and it is so easy! I was super afraid to delve into the sourdough realm, but Amanda made this so easy! I purchased her sourdough starter at the beginning and it has been a wonderful journey into baking with sourdough. Plus Amanda is very helpful if you are struggling or have ANY questions! .

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you’re enjoying sourdough baking, Joey! Love helping people experience how wonderful it is!

  22. Deb Peters

    5 stars
    After struggling with different recipes using all purpose flour I tried Amanda‘s recipe and my bread turned out great!

  23. Debbie Michel

    5 stars
    My fave recipe for sourdough.

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you’re a fan, Debbie!

      • Debbie Michel

        I just realized I had already sung the praises of this genius recipe. I think I should be promoted to super fan. 🤣

  24. dana johnson

    I’m curious why you don’t preheat the lid along with the bottom of the Dutch oven. I’m baking in a lodge double baker, so the bottom is quite shallow, about 2.5” (making transferring and scoring the dough quite easy) an the lid/cover very deep. I’ll be going from overnight refrigerator rise to the oven. Most recipes call for the baker to be pre heated. Would you preheat it in this scenario?

    Thanks!
    Dana J.

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Dana! Yes, I’d preheat both with the lodge double baker.

  25. Amanda White

    5 stars
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe Amanda! My family loves it!

  26. rocio

    there us anyway I can do it in a slow cooker?

    • Amanda Paa

      this can not be made in a slow cooker.

  27. Debbie

    Amanda,
    Love this recipe. I think it might be my new favorite of yours. The mild flavor and soft crumb is so good!!
    I did get too late of a start and had to get up at 3:3Oam so I need to workout a schedule. My starter is taking longer to get to peak with the cooler temps and the rise also took longer.

    • Amanda Paa

      yay! so glad you like it. i love the crumb of this one too.
      yes, in winter i find that all things with sourdough take just a bit longer due to colder temps!

  28. Pam

    I received my Sour Dough Starter and now that the weather is cooler I am so excited to give it a go! Do you recomend a certain scale to measure for grams?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Pam! Excited for you to start baking! Here’s a great scale that’s less than $20 and works perfect for sourdough.

  29. Tara

    This is the first sourdough recipe I’ve ever succeeded at (I started out with a complex bread flour recipe and failed…spectacularly), and my best loaf so far (about #5 or #6) was my last batch. I got a bag of vital wheat gluten from a friend so I decided to mix it up a bit and see what happens. I replaced 10g of APF (100% hard wheat) with vital wheat gluten then added 290g of water/1 hr autolyse. Btw I did absolutely no baker’s math here, just went based on the feel/appearance of the dough and an arbitrary guess. My loaf is in the oven now! It was definitely more elastic and easier to shape, and the final fridge rise was the highest I’ve seen so far. Fingers crossed!

    • Amanda Paa

      Yay, such great news, Tara! I’ve never used vital wheat gluten and it intrigues me so much.

      • Tara

        Going back to do the math, it looks like using 10 grams of VWG brings the protein content up to 14.00%, which would explain why it felt so much easier to work with! With the % you stated, 8.5g would be the sweet spot to get a 13.2% overall content. The loaf itself looked fantastic by my standards, but still not as good as yours!! It was also not as sour as I might have liked, but the texture and crumb were delicious. Definitely cheaper and easier than hunting down bread flour at the grocery store.

  30. Ania

    Great recipe! The steps and instructions were spot on. It really helped that I got a great foundation with the dry yeast starter I ordered from you! Thanks for also pointing out the difference in some of the brands of flour needing different amount of water. I’m curious if Heritage White Flour from Sunriseflour Mill would be a good all purpose sub in this recipe?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi! Yes, the Heritage White Flour from Sunrise would work following the instructions for Bobs Red, that has no barley.

      • Katerina

        Im so glad i found this recipe! I followed one that had all sorts of flours but i just used AP cuz thats all i had and it turned out so sad and flat and ..too moist. I had no idea of the properties of AP flour and now i know why it went so wrong! I am waiting for my starter to mature but when it does im using this recipe!! Thank you so much. From the comments you are supplying a vital source of info which im very grateful for c:

        • Amanda Paa

          hi katerina! so glad you found this recipe. happy to answer any questions you might have as you get started!

    • Jennifer

      5 stars
      Love this recipe…just curious on baking times if i double the recipe.

      • Amanda Paa

        Hello! If you double the recipe, you’ll split it into two loaves when you go to shape it. Bake time will be the same.

  31. Meagan

    Thanks for this post. I made the AP Sourdough for the first time this weekend and it turned out great!

    • Amanda Paa

      great news! so glad you liked the recipe. happy baking!

  32. Nell

    Hello! I love this recipe and was just wondering if you can use regular table salt and not sea salt?

    • Amanda Paa

      yes, just make sure you use the same amount in grams!

  33. Luci

    Hi! Thanks for this great recipe! I made it last time and plan on doing it again. I was just curious as to why you don’t make a levain? I’ve seen it in other recipes and I don’t think I am 100% clear on its purpose.

    Thank again!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Luci! A levain and active sourdough starter are essentially the same thing – prefermented flour and water. The names can be used interchangeably, but what you may be referring to is when people take a portion of their mature starter, and create another preferment from them. Then use a portion of that in their dough. To me, this is unnecessary, unless you want to use a different type of flour in your preferment. By using your mother starter as the preferment mixed into the dough, you then don’t have to create another preferment.

  34. Mat

    Ace recipe! Really good loaf. Will triple up next time and put two loaves in the freezer.

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for the kind words.

      • Debbie Michel

        I just realized I had already sung the praises of this genius recipe. I think I should be promoted to super fan. 🤣

  35. Candace

    A great easy recipe for beginners. I made this several times with AP flour the hydration and crust is great. My family finishes the loaf in an instant! Is it possible to double up on the ingredient to make a bigger loaf? If so, anything I need to adjust on baking and the process? Thanks!

    • Amanda Paa

      Hi Candace! You could make a double batch by doubling the recipe, but I would still keep it at two loaves. One loaf would be too large, and affect the rise.

  36. Kristy

    This recipe is great! It took me a few tries, but I shared a boule with my friends who grew up on sourdough bread and they were really impressed! And he’s a chef! I tried a different person’s recipes to make baguettes but they didn’t have as much of the sourdough taste and I even did the first rise in the fridge over night. With yours, I’ve found I like doing keeping it in the fridge overnight because it does develop more of a sour taste. Thanks for doing this. Any suggestions for making it into baguettes instead of the boule.

  37. stefanie

    I was wondering why bread flour disappeared… then I started looking into sourdough. So helpful you did this. I am going to try it. Thank you so much!

    • Amanda Paa

      So many people baking at home! Whew, the store shelves are wiped out of bread flour. Excited for you to try this all-purpose sourdough recipe!