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Sourdough Bread

An EASY recipe for No Knead Sourdough Bread that rises overnight and is baked in the morning. #sourdough

4.8 from 183 reviews

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.)

Scale

Ingredients

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Other optional additions: 

Instructions

  1. 4-10 hours before mixing, feed your sourdough starter, leaving it out on the counter. (For extra sour see notes) 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  🙂
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6.  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. 
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.) 
  10. 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! 🙂
  11. 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.

Notes

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!!!

TROUBLE-SHOOTING: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Flat loaves with lots of holes: Possibly over-proofed.

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