Secrets To Making Artisan Bread Better Than Store Bought

There are secrets to making artisan bread that once mastered will allow  you to make consistently amazing homemade artisan bread.

For ten  years I have studied and practiced to understand the secrets to making artisan bread. Only recently have I been able to create repeatable successes.

Four Secrets To Making Artisan Bread

  • The right tools
  • Understanding how to create the perfect crumb
  • Creating a crust properly
  • Weighing out  your ingredients.

Quick links to finding the right tools

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Sour Dough Starter


Danish Dough Whisk

Proofing Baskets

Rack for resting

Kitchen scale

Bread lame – cool knife for making the slits in your bread

The Right Tools For Making Artisan Bread

Discovering how to use a cast iron dutch oven for bread baking was a turning point in my bread making career. Though now I can bake bread without the dutch oven and get a good crust, using one makes life much easier. Using a dutch oven traps the moisture in giving your bread a beautiful bounce. Dutch ovens also produce a crisp crust.

One of the quirkiest tools I have discovered has got to be the Danish Dough Bread Whisk! Funny looking doesn’t begin to describe it. But effective? Heck yeah.

secrets to making artisan bread

The Secret To Making The Perfect Crumb

There are only a handful of things you need to get right to create the perfect loaf of artisan bread. Getting the crust and crumb right. It never ceases to amaze me that you can mix flour, yeast, water and salt together and get so many different results.

Using a kitchen scale to weigh out your ingredients will help you get the right proportions.

Starting with a shaggy dough, pull the dough up and around five or six folds. Turn it over, then let it rest for 30 minutes. Do this five or six times. After that let the dough rest and rise before putting it in the oven.

This is what shaggy dough looks like:

homemade country bread recipes dough

Secrets to making artisan bread – sourdough recipe step by step

The ingredients:

2 cups sour dough starter

3 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

7 cups bread flour (flour makes a big difference. I like to use King Arthur Bread Flour)

Start with 6 cups of flour and see if it is shaggy at this point. You want the dough to be rough but not soupy.

Do you see how she pulls the dough and then puts it back? That is how you get that incredible crumb. Personally, I like to do this about 6 times over the course of several hours. The recipe I use is only sour dough, flour, water and salt. Though I do believe I might try the addition of the rye and whole wheat with the barley malt syrup.

Those baskets make a super cool design on the finished loaf! Make sure to put a lot of flour on the baskets though so that sticking isn’t such a big problem.

Though there doesn’t seem to be much rise to the bread when  you first put it in the oven, If you follow the directions on kneading/stretching the dough you will get the wonderful open crumb structure. You bread pops with the steam produced by either using a baking stone and roaster or a dutch oven.

The best way to make homemade artisan bread it to start it the night before and work on it the following day. Though if you have a warm kitchen, and start early the task can be completed in one day.
Click the button to get step by step directions to make a sourdough boule


  1. heritage5151

    Can this dough be made in a bread machine

    • Nana

      I never use a bread machine but think you might not get the results you are hoping for. Artisan breads are a little messing around then lots of waiting. Kind of every time you go by you turn it on all sides then let it rest.

  2. Diane Janisko

    Do you grease the inside of the Dutch oven?

    • Hartnana

      Nope, just dump it right on in there. It won’t stick if your dutch oven is well seasoned.

  3. Anat

    Could this beautiful bread being baked without a Dutch Oven? Just on a baking rack?

    • Hartnana

      Yep. You can make this on a rack with a pan – cast iron is best. Put some water in a hot pan underneath when you put the bread in to get the steam action a dutch over provides

  4. Carol

    How long do you let it rest after the loaf has been formed please?

    • Hartnana

      About 15 to 30 minutes or so depending on how warm it is where you are proofing

  5. Carrie

    Could this bread be baked in a slow cooker?

    • Hartnana

      I haven’t tried it that way. I am not sure his it would work. If you decide to experiment let us know his it turns out please

  6. Phillip Minyard

    How much ground black pepper? 4 tbs chopped basil – is that tablespoons or teaspoons?

    • Hartnana

      That is 4 tablespoons of basil and about 1 teaspoon of black pepper or more to taste

  7. Sharon J

    What on earth is the scoop and sweep method!?

    • Hartnana

      It’s the method described in the video as a way to prepare the dough for baking (as opposed to kneading).

  8. Lynn Holt

    Maybe I missed it, but what are the “secrets”? It appeared that you were giving us some tips that you had learned from you experience. Thank you. The recipe looks delicious.

    • Nana

      The secret is in the method of folding and shaping the dough. There is a difference in the resulting crumb when one uses different methods of kneading. Yes it could be considered a tip. Secrets often become tips once you recognize them, because by definition once you now something it isn’t a secret.

  9. Marcia Frezza

    I make this recipe regularly and it’s both easy and so delicious. It makes a large bread which I slice after baking and put in freezer bags and freeze till we’re ready to eat and enjoy. It’s a real winner.


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