A simple EASY recipe for No-Knead Sourdough Bread made with your own homemade sourdough starter that rises overnight and is baked the next morning. Or mix it up in the morning and bake it at night. Up to you! Requires only 25 mins of hands-on time. 14 hours of total time. (THREE VIDEOS BELOW)
Are we free enough to open to the flow, no matter what it may contain? ~Dorothy Hunt
Last week, I shared my recipe for simple Sourdough Starter. By now it may be happy and bubbly and ready to bake bread so I just wanted to share a simple, beginner’s recipe for No-Knead Sourdough Bread that my lovely friend Bee (from H is for Love) taught me how to make, now over 7 years ago. It hasn’t failed me yet and I am forever indebted to her, because this simple act of kindness has brought me so much joy over the years.
It’s flexible and fun to play with, but most importantly it works with my schedule. It doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time- although there is a tiny bit, to make it feel wonderfully gratifying.
Why I love this Sourdough Bread Recipe: The dough is made the night before and proofs overnight on the counter (10-12 hours). In the morning it’s stretched, folded and shaped, with 1 hour more of rising time before baking for 35 minutes. Because my schedule allows me to be home in the mornings this bread really works well for me. It’s very flexible too, and can be placed in the fridge if plans change and something comes up and I can’t bake in the morning, slowing the process down.
Inversely, you could mix the dough early in the morning and bake it that night. Up to you.
TIP: When looking online for a Sourdough Bread Recipe (there are thousands!) I’ve found what is most important is to find a sourdough bread recipe works with your schedule. That way, you can easily fit bread-baking into your weekly schedule without having to bend your schedule around it. So always look at hands-on time and proofing times (usually there are 2 of these) to make sure it works with your life.
There are many ways to make Sourdough bread. Many of you are well beyond this recipe in terms of expertise, technique and knowledge and this may not the recipe for you- but I’m relying on you to help answer questions that will arise in the comments below and add your tips and guidance to the recipe notes below.
If you are very new to bread baking, you may be wondering…
What is Sourdough Bread?
- In the simplest terms, it is bread made without the use of commercial yeast, but rather a “sourdough starter” instead. The starter is what makes the bread rise. The sourdough starter is made first (takes 5-8 days) and then it is stored in your fridge and fed weekly. Like a pet. 🙂 Yes, you can even name it. Bread made with sourdough starter, has so much more flavor and complexity than yeasted bread.
What equipment do you need?
After leaving all my bread “gear” at home, it was a fun challenge to see if I could make it with just the basics. Here is what you absolutely need:
- 4 to 6-quart Dutch oven with lid (or bread baker)
- a couple of mixing bowls
- measuring cup
- Kitchen towel
- sharp knife, razor blade or scissors
- kitchen scale
Here are some optional extras that make this more fun:
How to Make Sourdough Bread (in a nutshell):
- Stir flours (520 grams– weigh first- without the bowl weight! ) and salt together.
- Mix sourdough starter and water together. (90 grams starter with 385 grams water)
- Combine all in a medium bowl, until flour is fully incorporated.
- Let rest 15 minutes. Stretch the dough, right in the bowl. Repeat 15 minutes later.
- Cover and let rest on the kitchen counter for 9-12 hours. ( 65-70 F)
- In the morning, stretch, fold and shape. Place in a parchment-lined bowl, let rise 1 hour in the refrigerator and preheat the oven.
- Bake 35 minutes!
How to SCHEDULE No-Knead Sourdough Bread:
- 12 noon: Feed the sourdough starter. 4-8 hours before you plan to mix up the dough, feed your starter. (Or feel free to use unfed starter straight from the fridge at 8 pm)
- 8 pm: Mix. Mix flours and salt, and mix starter and water, and mix all into a ball. After 15 mins, stretch the dough, using the “stretch and fold” technique. Cover for 15 more mins and repeat the stretch and fold.
- 8:30 pm: Proof. Cover with plastic or a wet towel, let proof (rise) overnight,9-12 hours at 65-70F on the kitchen counter.
- 6-8 am: Shape. Check your dough and when it has almost doubled in size, stretch, fold, and shape. Place in a lined-lined bowl, dusted with flour (or use a proofing basket) seam side up. (Or Alternately and easier, place in a parchment lined-bowl, seam side down.)
- 8 am: Final Rise and Preheat Oven. Place the shaped dough in the fridge for 1 hour while you preheat the oven (heating up your dutch oven or bread baker too, for 50-60 minutes at 500F)
- 9 am: Place and score. Pull your heated dutch oven out of the oven. Lift your shaped dough, either flipping or lifting out by the parchment, carefully place into the hot dutch oven. Score the bread using a sharp knife (lightly oiled) or razor blade or bread lame, cutting a single slash, a crescent-shaped slit into the dough at a 30-45 degree angle, one inch deep, or smaller tiny cuts.
- 9:05 am Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove lid, lower heat to 45oF and bake 15 more minutes, until very deeply golden, and internal temp reaches 208F. You will want it darker than you might think. Let it cool on a rack before cutting. If you like a softer crust bake covered 25 minutes, uncovered 10 minutes.
- 9:45 Cool and enjoy!
SOURDOUGH BREAD TIPS:
- SOURDOUGH STARTER: Using your starter at its peak, or slightly after will ensure your bread rises sufficiently. Make sure your starter is healthy and strong, able to double in size 4-8 hours after feeding. If you like a more “sour” taste, use starter that has been stored in the fridge 3-6 days- and use without feeding it first.
- FLOUR: For your very first loaf, I highly suggest just using mostly White Bread Flour and be sure to weigh! ***Please “zero out” the weight of the bowl. 🙂 Weight the flour without salt, seeds, or other additions! Try substituting a 1/2 cup of the flour for another kind. For example, 3 1/2 cups white bread flour, plus 1/2 cup rye or whole wheat. If you add more than that your loaf may be too heavy and dense. I really don’t want this for your first loaf. Neither do you! You want it to be amazing so you feel inspired to make it again and again. The second loaf, perhaps try 1/2 whole wheat & 1/2 white. After a few practice loaves- yes, fiddle with other flours as much as you like!
- WATER: (Hydration) 385 grams A wet dough will produce a lot of beautiful air pockets but it is much harder to work with, in the beginning. A dryer dough will yield a slightly denser, less airy loaf but will be easier to work with, in the beginning. This one falls towards the later – at 75% hydration- but you can easily adjust this down the road, as you practice, by adding a little more water or less flour in the initial mixing stage. To calculate the hydration level, you divide the water grams by the flour grams. In this case 385 divided by 520 = .75 or 75% hydration. As you get more comfortable, try for 80%-85% hydration, adding in a few extra folds at both stages.
- BAKING: 500F. Always preheat! The hotter the better. Use a 4-6 quart dutch oven or Bread Baker: Make sure your dutch oven or bread baker can handle a 500F oven. If not, 475F or 450F will suffice, but you’ll need to bake it longer (25-30 minutes) before removing the lid and baking for 10-15 more minutes. Always check bread with a thermometer. FYI My bread baker (clay) cracked at 500F, so just be careful. Always check the manufacturer’s guide.
Sourdough Making Steps in order ( WITH VIDEOS!)
STEP ONE: Feed your sourdough starter 4-10 hours before making your bread dough -leaving it out on the counter-using it at its peak or slightly after. (Alternatively use it straight from the fridge, cold, without feeding within the 7-day window- which will give it a more sour taste.)
STEP TWO: Mix bread flour (weigh out 520 grams flour – do not include the weight of the bowl) and then add salt together in a medium bowl. Here I’m using roughly 3 1/2 cups white bread flour and a 1/2 cup rye flour. Weigh the flour for your first batch using a kitchen scale- to get a feel for the dough.
Add 2 teaspoons salt and seeds if you like- here I’ve added 1 tsp fennel, 1/2 teaspoon caraway and 1 tablespoon chia seeds. You can add other spices and seeds, nuts, dried fruit, herbs and roasted garlic. Get creative, but for the first loaf, go easy.
STEP THREE: Mix the 1/3 cup of “fed” starter (90 grams) with water (385 grams) using a fork.
It will look like cloudy water.
STEP FOUR: Combine both and stir, using a fork, into a thick dough. Mix the dough for one minute to incorporate all the bread flour, using the wood spoon. No need to knead. 🙂 It will look a little shaggy and be hard to mix. If using more whole wheat flour or rye, sometimes it can be “thirstier” than white flour so you may need a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. It will loosen up as it rests and proofs.
STEP FIVE: At this point, you could cover this with a damp towel and let it proof overnight on your kitchen counter 9-12 hours, BUT I prefer to let it rest 15 minutes and do 2 sets of “stretch and folds” to help build the gluten. I do this twice, 15 minutes apart.
So rest, 15 minutes covered, then stretch and fold. Cover, rest 15 minutes, then stretch and fold, 2 times. Then put the dough “to bed”, overnight.
1st VIDEO| STRETCH and FOLD technique (before proofing)
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STEP 6: PROOF Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise on the kitchen counter overnight 8-12 hours. This is the tricky part that gets easier as you practice. Warmer homes proof faster, colder homes, slower. You can’t always look at the clock, you MUST look at the dough. It should be slightly domed, springy, bouncy, almost doubled. Carefully poke it 1/2 inch deep with a floured finger, if the indention remains slightly, this is a good sign it has risen enough. If it looks flat, lifeless, and feels liquidy or loose- it may be over-proofed. You can still bake it but will not rise as much in the oven and will be harder to handle.
FYI You can always slow this process down and extend the rising time by putting it in the fridge which will give also give a more sour taste.
If you accidentally overproof your dough, it will look flat and watery. Don’t toss it. Put it in the fridge to firm it up a bit before doing the stretch and fold. You may still get an OK loaf. Hard to tell.
PREPARE the SHAPING BOWl: Check the dough in the morning. When it has almost doubled in size (under proofing is better than over proofing) you will do more 2 more stretch and folds and then place it in a floured, parchment-lined bowl for final rising. So get your parchment-lined bowl ready now. I like using a high-sided medium-sized bowl versus a flat or shallow bowl.
You can also use a floured Banneton (bread proofing basket) if you have one. If using a Banneton, you will place the seam side up. Flour well (rice flour works best here) and place any seeds on the bottom.
I will say- if starting out, it can be a bit tricky to flip the Banneton into the hot dutch oven, centered. With the parchment, there is no flipping, just lifting by the parchment and placing it in the dutch oven. MUCH EASIER FOR BEGINNERS.
STEP 7: STRETCH and SHAPE: Loosen the dough from the edges of a bowl with a wet spatula or wet plastic dough scraper, sliding it down the sides of the bowl. With wet hands, carefully grab the dough on each side, lift it straight up about a foot and place it back down, folding it on top of itself, gently. Wet your hands again and give the bowl a quarter turn and do this again. (You could repeat this 20 minutes later) Then the 3rd time you lift and stretch, you will either lift it all the way up into your parchment-lined bowl seam side down. (EASIEST) or into the floured proofing basket, seam side up (pinching it closed).
2nd VIDEO | STRETCH AND SHAPE (after proofing)
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Sprinkle with seeds if you like.
Sprinkle with a little flour, especially if using the basket, get those sides sprinkled well- so it flips out without catching!
STEP 8: FINAL RISE and PREHEAT OVEN: Place the dough in the fridge for one hour (or up to 3) while you heat up the oven to 500F with your dutch oven inside (PLEASE SEE NOTES ) for 50-60 minutes. Chilling the dough a little will make it easier to score. It doesn’t need to rise a huge amount here.
STEP 9: SCORE & BAKE. Carefully take out the hot dutch oven, close the oven door and sprinkle the bottom of it with cornmeal or flour. Gently lift your dough holding onto the parchment into the dutch oven (or carefully flip if inverted). Score. YOU will bake it in the parchment. Grease your blade or lame, and score the dough swiftly and deeply, at a 45-degree angle, 3/4 inch deep.
You can do one simple slash, a crescent, crisscross, or feel free to add other designs. (Just google sourdough scoring designs and be mesmerized for hours!) Oiling the knife or blade helps. Quickly cover and place in the middle of the oven for 20 mins. Remove lid and it should be nicely puffed and just lightly golden. Continue baking 15 minutes until deeply golden and internal temp reaches 208F.
It will smell heavenly.
Let it cool before slicing so you don’t smash it- be patient. 🙂
Ok! Enjoy and Happy Baking!
3rd video: SOURDOUGH BREAD! | (Start to finish!) 16-Min Video
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An easy Sourdough Bread recipe that rises overnight and bakes in the morning. A simple flexible recipe, made with sourdough starter, that can be adapted to your needs. View the 3 instructional videos above for more details. If you don’t see the videos, make sure your ad blocker is off. (NOTE: the recipe multiplier is not working correctly for doubling or tripling – so please calculate this for yourself !!! Sorry.)
- Prep Time: 25
- Cook Time: 13 hours
- Total Time: 13 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf 1x
- Category: baked
- Method: bread
- Cuisine: northwest
- Diet: Vegan
- 4 slightly heaping cups organic white bread flour (520 grams total flour) -please don’t include the weight of the bowl! See notes for adding other types of flour.
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 7/8 cups filtered water (385 grams)
- 1/3 cup sourdough starter (90 grams) fed 4-10 hours earlier, using it at its peak, or slightly after (see notes for achieving a more “sour” taste)
- cornmeal, rice flour (my favorite) or extra flour for dusting.
- seeds for flavoring: fennel seeds, anise seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, caraway seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, nigella seeds, etc. (optional, but tasty)
Other optional additions:
- Substitute 1/2 cup rye flour, spelt or whole wheat flour or other whole grain flour for 1/2 cup of the white bread flour if you like- resisting the temptation to add more for your first few loaves. (62 grams max!!!)
- Add seeds and/or whole spices (fennel, caraway, onion seeds, dill seeds, chia, hemp, flax ) My favorite is 1 teaspoon fennel, 1/2 teaspoon caraway and 1 tablespoon chia– or add herbs ( rosemary, thyme, sage etc).
- Once you get the hang of the dough, try adding roasted garlic, nuts, dried fruit, cheeses, or olives.
- 4-10 hours before mixing, feed your sourdough starter, leaving it out on the counter. (For extra sour see notes)
- 8:00 pm PLEASE Use a kitchen scale if this is your first loaf. Weigh the flour in a medium bowl (***zeroing out the weight of the bowl). Then add salt, spices, seeds. Mix starter and water in a small bowl until cloudy and well mixed. Pour starter-water into flour incorporating all the flour using a fork or wood spoon. It should be a thick, shaggy, heavy, sticky dough. Mix for about 1 minute using the wood spoon– it will be a little hard to mix. Don’t worry about tidy dough here, just get the flour mixed in and cover with a wet kitchen towel and let rest 15 minutes. It will loosen up as it rests. See notes about hydration.
- Do the stretch and folds. (See the first video in post) With one wet hand (put a bowl of water next to you) pull the dough from one side and stretch it upward, then fold it up and over to the center of the dough. Turn the bowl and repeat, stretching and folding from the side, up over the middle, repeat for about 20 seconds or until the dough gets firm and resists. Cover, rest, repeat the process 15 minutes later. Wet hand, stretch and fold, for 20 seconds and turn the dough over in the bowl. Yes, you could do this a couple more times if you like to build the gluten, but not imperative. 🙂
- 8:30 pm Proof overnight, at room temp. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel (to keep the moisture in) and place on your kitchen counter for 8-12 hours. (see notes on temperature) 68-70F is the ideal temp. If it is warmer, check at 7-8 hours.
- 6-8 AM Check the dough in the morning. The dough should have flattened, expanded, with a slight dome to the top. With a floured finger, poke into the dough, if it mostly holds its shape, it has probably risen enough. When it has almost doubled in size (under proofing is much better than over proofing here) and looks slightly domed you will stretch & shape (see second video in post) and then place it in a parchment-lined bowl for final rising. *** So get your parchment-lined bowl ready now. Flour the parchment. My parchment does not stick to the bread- but if you are unsure, flour the parchment before putting the dough in it. I like using a high-sided medium-sized bowl versus a flat or shallow bowl to help shore up the sides. You can also use a rice floured Banneton (bread proofing basket) if you have one.
- STRETCH and SHAPE : (Watch 2nd video -Stretch and shape video). WITH WET HANDS Loosen the dough from the edges of a bowl with using your wet fingers, a wet spatula or wet plastic dough scraper, sliding down the sides of the bowl. With wet hands, carefully grab the dough on each side, in the middle and lift it straight up in the air- about 1-2 feet (see photo) and place it back down, gently folding it on top of itself. This first stretch, the dough may feel loose and runny. It should firm up as it stretches and folds. Give the bowl a quarter turn, wait 1 minute, wet your hands again and do this again. (You could repeat this one more time, 15 minutes later). Then the third time you lift and stretch, you will either lift it all the way into your parchment-lined and floured bowl seam side down. Or into your floured proofing basket seam side up. ( If seam up, pinch the seam closed). Sprinkle top with seeds and flour (get the sides too) gently rubbing it to even coat –and add seeds if you like.
- FINAL RISE and PREHEAT OVEN: Place the dough in the refrigerator for one hour (which will make scoring easier and help with oven spring) while you preheat up the oven ( for 1 FULL hour) to 500F with your dutch oven inside (PLEASE SEE NOTES). If you have convection- use it! You can also bake the bread at 45oF or 475F. You want your oven as hot as possible here– so don’t skimp on the preheat. I usually preheat for 1 hour!
- SCORE & BAKE When ready to bake, place dough by the stove. Score: grease your knife or blade, and score the dough swiftly and deeply, at a 45-degree angle, 3/4- 1-inch deep. One deep slash is just fine. Or criss-cross, or crescent shape. (Or feel free to add other designs, for ideas -google “scoring bread”). Oiling the knife helps as well as using a lame. You want to score where you want the dough to puff out from. You can also cut with kitchen scissors. Carefully take out the hot dutch oven, gently lift your dough by holding the edges of the parchment and place both bread and parchment directly into the dutch oven.
- Cover and BAKE. It is ok if parchment peaks out. (Alternatively, if the dough is in the proofing basket, cover the basket with parchment, carefully flip the dough into the parchment and lift into your dutch oven, then score). Quickly cover and place in the middle of the oven for 20 mins with convection on, 25 minutes w/ no convection (or 30 minutes at 450F). Remove lid and it should be puffed and just lightly golden. Lower heat to 450 F, Continue baking 10- 15 minutes until deeply golden and internal temp reaches 208F. (For a less “crusty” loaf, increase covered baking time, lower uncovered baking time. You may have to play with this.)
- COOL: It will smell heavenly. Remove from the baker, let it cool 1 hour on a rack or tilted up on its side, before slicing so you don’t smash it- be patient. This is the hardest part! 🙂
- STORE: I store the bread wrapped in a kitchen towel for the first day or two to keep the crust nice and crispy, then move it to a zip lock bag to keep it moist for longer. Bread can also be sliced and frozen. I love the bread toasted with butter, olive oil or mashed avocado.
Sourdough starter : Using your starter at its peak, or slightly after will ensure your bread rises sufficiently. Make sure your starter is healthy, hungry, and strong, able to double in size 4-8 hours after feeding and passes the float test. If you store your starter in the fridge and last fed it a week ago, make sure to feed the morning before making bread. If it has only been 3-6 days since last feeding (and you keep it in the fridge), it is OK to make bread without feeding. Use a 1/3 cup starter for your bread dough and place the remaining back in the fridge and feed a week after the last feeding. BUT if it has been a week after your last feeding, pull it out of the fridge, discard (or save for pancakes, waffles, or give away) all but 1/2 cup. Feed it. Let it metabolize the flour 4-8 hours before mixing up the bread dough. Use a 1/3 cup of starter (90 grams) for the bread, place the remaining back in the fridge, and feed in a week. For a more “sour” flavor, use starter that has been in the fridge 4-6 days. Do not feed before using it. The sourdough starter is the most sour the longer it goes without feeding.
FLOUR: For your very first loaf, I highly suggest weighing (please do not include the weight of the bowl or any salt, seeds or spices- only flour!) and using mostly white bread flour (or AP white flour). I know it’s boring, but you can add whole spices and seeds. 🙂 If you absolutely must fiddle, try only substituting a 1/2 cup of the flour for another kind. For example, 3 1/2 cups white bread flour, plus 1/2 cup rye flour or whole wheat flour. If you add more than that your loaf may be too heavy and dense. I really don’t want this for your first loaf. Neither do you! You want it to be amazing so you feel inspired to make it again and again. The second loaf, perhaps try 1/2 whole wheat. After a few practice loaves- yes, fiddle as much as you like!
Hydration: A wet dough will produce a lot of beautiful air pockets but it is much harder to work with, especially in the beginning. A dry dough will yield a slightly denser, less airy loaf but will be easier to work with, in the beginning. This one falls towards the later – at 75% hydration- but you can easily adjust this down the road, as you practice, by adding a little more water or less flour in the initial mixing stage. To calculate the hydration level, you divide the 385 water grams by the 520 flour grams. In this case 385 divided by 520 = .75 or 75% hydration.
Dutch Oven or Bread Baker: Make sure your dutch oven or bread baker can handle a 500F oven. If not, 450F will suffice, and bake 25 minutes before removing the lid. My bread baker (clay) cracked at 500F, so just be careful. Always check the manufacturer’s guide. Plastic handles typically melt or crack at 500F
NO DUTCH OVEN? If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can try baking your bread on a sheet pan, covered with a large metal bowl to keep the steam in. It will yield a much flatter loaf but it does work. Bake 25-30 minutes covered, remove the bowl with tongs, bake until golden 5-8 more minutes, and be sure to check internal temp with a thermometer. It may take a few practice tries to perfect this.
PRACTICE: As you practice making your loaves (yes, it is a fun practice) you’ll get a feel for the dough and you’ll begin to notices how changes in seasons (changes in temperature) affect the loaves and their proofing time. Warmer temps, shorter proofing, cooler temps, longer proofing. You can also change the proofing time by adjusting the sourdough starter amount. For a faster rise, you can add a little more starter, for example, a 1/2 or 2/3 cup. For a longer cooler rise, say in the fridge for 24-48 hours, you can reduce the starter amount to 1/4 cup or even 3 tablespoons. You can play with ratios to get the proofing time just how you want it. Take notes! you can also adjust the hydration for an airier loaf, either reducing flour or increasing water. So many variables!!!
- If your dough feels overly runny or loose, you may have over-proofed it or mis-measured the flour. Note the rising time and shorten this next time. You can tell if it is over-proofed if the dough is flat and runny with lots of air bubbles at the top (meaning it probably peaked already and now is going down). Even still you can try to bake it. (Might as well at this point, right?) Do the 2nd video stretch and folds (it will be runny, so manage as best you can) and put it in the fridge to firm it up a bit before baking.
- Many people accidentally mismeasure the flour because they forget to “zero out” the weight of the bowl or measuring cup on the scale! Check your weight (without seeds, salt or any additions) only flour!
- Not Rising: So I’ve found this type of dough will not rise and puff up as much as other bread doughs. It may only rise by 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 ( not actually doubling). Just look for that slight dome and do the “poke test”. It will flatten out some overnight, with a subtle swell, and a slight dome and a bouncy spring to the touch. Check the temp with a thermometer. If it is under 70F it might just take a little longer. Be patient. If you don’t have time to wait around, you can put it in the fridge and deal with it later – slowing it down. If you want to be very precise about the rise, and the rise time, you can measure the overnight rise it in a 2-quart measuring container with clear sides the first few times to get an idea of timing. It should rise by 1.5 or 1.75, so not quite double. I found this practice to be helpful.
- Gummy Bread with Big Holes: This usually means your bread didn’t proof long enough in the initial overnight rise or the sourdough starter wasn’t “strong/active” enough.
- Burned Bottoms: Perhaps lower heat to 475F with slightly longer bake. Also try placing a sheet pan under the dutch oven (but don’t preheat the sheet pan).
- Flat loaves with lots of holes: Possibly over-proofed.
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