This savory, homemade sourdough bread is decked out with sauteed greens, garlic and smoked cheddar, making it a perfect slice for slathering with butter and dipping into warm soup. This dutch oven bread has a crusty exterior and a flavorful open crumb befitting of an artisan loaf.
There a few scents that make a house feel like a home — all scents that waft from the kitchen… Apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and freshly baked bread. Preferably homemade sourdough bread.
It is my firm belief that those that can resist the temptation of these delicious scents must be wired differently. Perhaps alien. Certainly not human.
It is another belief of mine that the fastest way to endear yourself to another (at least to those that can tolerate gluten, that is) is with one of these aromatic offerings.
Making Homemade Sourdough Bread
Truth be told, I am not an enormous fan of most store bought sourdough breads. Most have an unnatural tang, no depth or flavor and have an undesirable, foamy texture. These loaves are unappetizing even before you take a closer look at the ingredient list loaded with unfamiliar ingredients. Homemade sourdough bread is little more than flour and water at its most basic level, fermented to develop flavor and rise. Salt and other additions enhance the loaf and alter the texture of the resulting crumb. Homemade sourdough bread can be soft and faintly sweet like my Lammas loaf, or crusty and savory like this loaf flavored with sauteed greens, garlic and smoked artisan cheddar cheese.
Homemade sourdough bread is sometimes considered the elusive holy grail of home baking. I often talk to folks about the foods I make from scratch and they are surprised to learn that I make my own sourdough loaves. Some think that you must have a culture given to you — and while that will get you to a tasty loaf even faster, it isn’t the only way to have your own sourdough starter. I love my friend Courtney of Butter for All’s super thorough post on how to create your own sourdough starter from scratch. If you do not have your own starter, her step by step process is excellent and thorough.
Shaping & Baking a Dutch Oven Bread Loaf
I like to bake my homemade sourdough bread in a dutch oven. Doing so gives the loaf its distinctive crusty exterior owing to the perfect humidity and heat maintained in a preheated dutch oven. A spritz of water before baking helps a dutch oven bread loaf to develop small bubbly blisters on the crust that I find very appealing. While cooking homemade sourdough bread in a dutch oven has many benefits, transferring a fluffy loaf of second proof dough to piping hot cast iron is not without difficulty.
I have solved this by proofing my second rise in a medium sized bowl lined with a generous piece of parchment paper, which acts as a sling. When the dough is ready to bake, I simply lift the corners of the parchment and transfer the sling and its fluffy contents into the dutch oven. In doing so, I am able to prevent deflation and reduce the amount of time that the oven is left open. After baking, the parchment makes for easy removal from the hot dutch oven. I remove the dutch oven bread loaf from the parchment after baking, then dry on a rack before slicing or wrapping for storage.
Check out a dark rye and caraway loaf that I developed with my friend Courtney in my new book, The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen.
Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread Recipe
This loaf is the perfect savory component to warm, hearty meals like soups and stews. The sauteed greens and garlic deliver complex flavor while the smoked cheddar — cubed into tiny bites — imbues the bread with smoky richness without stealing the show. This homemade sourdough bread is perfect on its owns, but also makes delicious croutons, stuffing/dressing for the holiday table, and could even be torn into pieces and soaked in custard for a savory bread pudding.
Of course, I dare you to restrain yourself long enough to let it cool before slicing.
Savory Homemade Sourdough Bread with Sauteed Greens, Garlic & Smoked Cheddar
Note: the amount of flour used in the recipe is variable due to humidity and residual moisture from the greens,
- 1/4 cup active sourdough starter fed within then last 12 hours
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1/4 teaspoon active dried yeast option; helps to ensure rise
- 4 cups fresh greens such as spinach or arugula
- 2-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3-4 cups bread flour
- 4 ounces smoked cheddar diced into a 1/4" cube
- In a large bowl or in a stand mixer like this, combine the "sourdough sponge" ingredients. Allow this sponge to sit for 20-30 minutes to encourage fermentation. Please note: the yeast is optional. If you have a well fed and tended sourdough starter it should offer all the lift you need to raise your bread.
- Meanwhile, add garlic and olive oil to a pan over medium heat, Sautee, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant. Add greens by the handful, stir, and cook until all greens are well wilted. Remove from heat.
- Add garlic and greens mixture, cubed cheddar and salt to the sourdough sponge, Stir well to combine.
- While mixing, start adding flour by the half cup full until it forms are cohesive ball. The bread with still be somewhat sticky at this point.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a springy, elastic loaf. The dough should be soft, but no longer sticky at this point.
- Transfer dough to medium sized bowl greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic film. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume - about 1.5 hours.
- After first rise, gently "punch down" and reform the dough ball. Line the bowl with a generously sized sheet of parchment paper. Place the dough in one the paper, cover, and let rise until doubled in volume again. This rise may be slightly faster than the first.
- Place your dutch oven in a cool oven and adjust the heat to 450 degrees F. When the oven is fully preheated, score an X into the top of the loaf with a sharp instrument. Remove the lid from the dutch oven and lift the dough gently out of the bowl using the parchment sling. You may choose to lightly spritz the loaf with water for a crustier exterior at this time. Replace the lid and shut the oven door.
- Bake the bread in the dutch oven for 25 minutes. Remove cover and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes until the bread is deeply golden amber in color and sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove bread from dutch oven using the parchment sling. Remove bread from parchment and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.