Easy, no knead, overnight sourdough bread. This method has a long proof in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours giving it a great oven spring. Then a bake in a hot dutch oven give the final loaf a crispy outside and soft inside.
My Love of Bread
Sourdough bread was the number one reason I decided to give this starter thing a go. If you do not have a starter yet here is my tutorial. A lot of people are originally drawn in with the pancakes and everything else you can make but don’t really have bread on their list. That was not me. I am 100% here for the bread and everything else was just a happy surprise. A good friend brought us a loaf while we were going through a very hard time and I was absolutely hooked.
I have loved bread my entire life! I am always that one who consumes way too many breadsticks at Olive Garden. Given the choice between sweets or bread & chips I’m choosing bread and chips every time. I do enjoy the occasional sweet treat but honestly give me a slice of fresh sourdough with a little butter and I’m a happy camper.
I have been making bread for the past few years like bread sticks, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls and a couple other things. This year I have really expanded my baking profile. I now make all the bread products in our house. We have only had to buy one loaf of bread, due to my poor planning, for almost 6 months now. I make bagels, English muffins, sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls, hot dog buns and of course the one that started this madness, sourdough. I go through a lot of flour! But the cost of one bag of flour is a fraction of the cost if I were to buy bread at the store. And its way healthier.
Why I Love Sourdough Bread:
Lets talk about sourdough bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about this. The bread I make does not have a strong sour taste and that’s what I love about it. It just tastes so fresh and I know it is free from commercial yeast and chemicals. The flour I use is unbleached so there are no other added chemicals or bleaching agents. The other two ingredients are water and a little salt. People are always blown away at how simple this bread is and how amazing it tastes. It just sucks you in and that’s probably why you are on my page today.
So here is what I use to make my bread:
1. Digital scale: Weighing ingredients is the most accurate way to bake.
2. Glass Bowl
3. Banneton for your final proof or rise. You can also use a glass bowl lined with a tea towel. Just make sure you use a good amount of flour to coat it. The banneton is what gives your bread those fancy rings.
4. Bread lame to score your sourdough bread. A Sharp razor blade works just as well. I would not use a knife, it just won’t score it properly.
6. Dutch Oven – Rated for 500 degrees. I use a vintage cast iron dutch oven but used an enamel coated one for a while and it worked great. The dutch oven itself was rated for 500 degrees but the knob was not. Luckily I realized that before baking and ordered the knobs that can withstand the temps. So it really doesn’t matter what dutch oven you use just make sure it and the handles and knobs can withstand the high temps.
7. Bench scraper: This helps with the final shape of your dough.
8. Thermometer: Best way to see if your bread is done is to have the internal temp reach 205 degrees.
1. 550 grams of unbleached all purpose flour. I know during this quarantine time flour has been very difficult to find. I really prefer the taste and texture to all purpose but I have been using bread flour as well. Both work well, they just have a slightly different texture. Honestly the rest of my family cannot tell the difference.
2. 360 grams of water
3. 175 grams of starter: Make your own starter
4. 9 grams of sea salt
5. Brown rice flour for dusting your banneton or tea towel
I know what your thinking. Where is the milk, the eggs, the SUGAR? None of that is needed! The reason other breads need milk and sugar is to activate the instant yeast packets but you do not need that because you have a starter that will do all that work for you.
The number one thing to remember when caring for and baking with a starter is everything takes time. That includes bread. Don’t wait a few hours before dinner and whip something up, plan it out. In a pinch I know you can use a combination of active dry yeast and starter but then that kinda defeats the purpose of having a starter.
So lets look at the timeline for an example. A starter is at its peak once it has doubled in size. That is around 8 hours for me and you will start to learn when that is for you. Also, as your starter matures it could start to rise a lot quicker. The dough takes about 3 hours to assemble (But only about 10 min of actual hands on), then we do a bulk ferment in the fridge for 12 up to 48 hours (again no hands on time for that).
Then when your ready to bake, the loaf needs to do a final proof in a banneton basket (or towel lined bowl) for around 2 hours. Once it does its final rise it takes about 45 min to bake and then an hour to cool. So if I want the freshest bread for dinner I work backwards. Here is an example:
I want sourdough bread for Sunday dinner around 6:00. Here is that timeline:
Sunday 6:00 Dinner
Out of oven by 5:00
In oven no later than 4:15
Out of fridge at 2:00 and ready for final proof (or rise)
I like my bread to bulk ferment in the fridge at least overnight so that means I make my dough the day before and then take it out really anytime of the day that works with my schedule..
By 2:00-5:00 start mixing my dough
Feed Starter in the morning.
So you can see with my timeline from the time I feed my starter to the time I can slice into the bread it takes around 36 hours, but you will find that actual hands on time is very minimal. I think I have the entire process down to about 30 minutes of actually doing something. The rest of that 36 hours is just the starter rising and bread left alone to do its thing. I have made so many loaves now that this is all second nature to me and I can quickly calculate in my head when I need to make everything. You will get a feel for it.
Lets make bread!
Take out your scale and add in the 175 grams of starter. Set it aside and give your starter a feed and put it away. I like to do this first so its off my counter and I know its done. I’m also always afraid when I go to add the salt I don’t want to accidentally add it to my starter instead.
If you do not have a scale and would prefer to make this recipe in cups instead, my friend Alexa at The Duvall Homestead has that recipe for you!
It’s sometimes challenging to get the exact amount of starter. If you go over a few grams its not a big deal.
Add in 360 grams of water to the starter and mix with a fork until incorporated.
Add in 550 grams of flour and 9 grams of salt
Mix with a wooden spoon until all incorporated and then use your hands to form a rough ball. Note: Sourdough is a very wet and sticky dough. I would suggest getting your hands wet first. This will help with handling the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and set for 1 hour.
Stretch and Folds (S&F)
Now for the next three hours ( One time per hour ) we are going to do a series of stretch and folds. Each one only takes about 30 seconds so again very little hands on time.
After that first hour remove the plastic wrap and stretch and fold all 4 corners. Pick up the side of the dough, stretch it out and fold it over. Rotate the bowl 3 times and repeat. Cover the bowl back up and rest another hour. You will start to notice with each stretch and fold it will become easier to work with and the dough will feel more relaxed.
Do this for a total of 3 hours and 3 stretch & folds.
The dough in the next photo was on the last stretch and fold and you can see how smooth it is starting to look. You will even notice little air pockets and bubbles. That is what you want! That’s what creates the little holes in sourdough bread when it is baked. You won’t be doing any kneading for this reason. We want all those little air pockets and kneading would remove those ( that’s why we fold it). When you make dough for cinnamon rolls, sandwich bread, and bagels you do more kneading because you do not want a bunch of holes with those breads.
After the final stretch and fold cover back up with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge and let rest for a minimum of 12 hours. I have gone up to 48 and it still turned out great. We mainly let it rise in the fridge because if it were to sit on the counter it could proof to quickly. The cold lets it rise and ferment over a long period of time. This is what really develops the flavor and helps break down those sugars in the flour.
Baking Sourdough Bread
When you are ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and turn it onto a very lightly floured surface, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 min. This will help bring it back up to room temperature.
Shape your dough: I like to use a bench scraper, because it is a very sticky dough, so it helps to keep the dough all together as your working with it.
I carefully pull on all four corners of the dough and fold them over. Very similar to the stretch and fold.
I then place it seam side down ( folds down ) and use the bench scraper to form the bottom into a nice round shape. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It will bake just the same.
Season your banneton or tea towel lined bowl. Mine is very well seasoned but if this is your first time give it a generous layer of flour. You can really use any flour I just really like how the brown rice flour works with the bannetons. With a tea towel I think flour would work just great.
Place your dough in seam ( fold ) side up.
I do not use the cloth liner that comes with the bannetons. I really like how the rings make a fun design in the dough.
Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm location for about 2 hours. In the winter I like to put it in the oven with just the light on for about an hour. Just be careful you don’t accidentally turn it on.
It won’t rise too much during this stage, it will more relaxed and puff up.
An hour into your final rise time turn your oven up to 450 (take your bread out first if its proofing in there) and place your dutch oven inside the oven to preheat. Preheat your dutch oven for about 30-45 min.
Take a piece of parchment paper and place on a cookie sheet. Place both on top of your basket and then invert everything to get your bread to drop out and lay perfectly on the parchment paper. Once you have lots of practice and your banneton is well seasoned you can skip this step. I can now just flip the basket over onto the parchment.
Use a piece of parchment just big enough to lower and lift your bread out of the dutch oven.
Layer it just like this so that when you flip it over the dough will fall out on to the parchment paper.
Now my favorite part about baking a loaf of sourdough bread, scoring! With a bread lame or honestly you can use some kind of razor blade (a knife really wont work) score some fun patterns into your dough about 1/4’‘ deep. This helps the steam escape from the dough and lets be honest it just makes your loaf look so pretty!
Once you score, carefully remove the very hot dutch oven and place the bread inside, place the lid back on and return to the oven for 25 minutes
After the 25 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 205 degrees and the outside is golden and crispy.
When it is fully baked carefully remove the bread and place on a cooling rack for 1 hour. If you listen very close your bread will be crackling. That is music to my ears. It just means the crumb is still cooking and setting, that is why it is very important you do not cut into it for an hour. Fight the temptation and let is slowly cool. I didn’t do this with my first loaf. I had been trying to make bread for over 4 months so my patience had run out. The inside did turn a gummy texture so now I know it’s worth the wait.
And thats it! You just made a beautiful artisan loaf of sourdough bread. Please share your bread photos with me. I love receiving photos from people who are just as obsessed as I am.
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Other Sourdough Recipes:
- Sourdough Starter Breakfast Bites
- Easy Overnight Sourdough Bread
- Easy Sourdough Pancakes Made From a Starter Discard