Easy No-Knead Sourdough Bread

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Sometimes when baking sourdough bread, the simplest recipes prove to be some of the most satisfying. And that's certainly the case with this easy no-knead sourdough bread: this dough is all hand mixed, given a few folds during bulk, proofed overnight, and baked straight away in the morning. No levain to make and no kneading, a bread that, somewhat paradoxically, satisfies more than some of the more complicated and involved recipes and formulas.

This sourdough bread is the recipe you want to make when you want to spend little time in the kitchen—life!—and you still want a loaf for dinner, or sometimes, you want a no-fuss approach to healthful and delicious bread. The formula is relatively lower hydration compared to many of the high hydration formulas you'll find here, and this makes for a dough that's easy to handle and much more stable. Using medium protein flour—all-purpose white flour will work well—for most of the dough means a reduction in hydration is the right move. Still, there are certainly no compromises in doing so: this bread has a soft crumb, crunchy crust, satisfying flavor, and beautiful color.

Be sure to read on to the end of this post for tips and troubleshooting.

No-knead sourdough bread crust
Final baked loaf coated in raw wheat bran for nutrition, texture, and flavor.

Flour selection

This is a straightforward mix of medium protein bread flour (all-purpose flour will work) and whole wheat. I like to use a lower protein flour for this bread instead of higher protein “bread flour” for improved texture: increased tenderness and toothsome. The whole wheat brings additional flavor and nutrition, even if not in a significantly high percentage (check out my whole wheat sourdough bread for the other end of the spectrum).

No-knead sourdough bread baking timeline

Baking schedule

This bread is very flexible. I like to do a two-day ferment on this dough for additional flavor, retarding the dough by proofing it overnight in the refrigerator. However, you can choose to bake this all in a single day for a more delicate flavor and condensed schedule. Instead of placing the dough into the refrigerator, proof it on the counter for around 2 hours until it passes the poke test: the dough will slowly spring back when poked with a finger.

Proofing baskets

Thank you to MadeTerra for sponsoring this post and providing me with the wonderful proofing baskets (bannetons) you see throughout the post. Their baskets are handmade in Vietnam, super sturdy, and high quality—sure to stand up to any baking adventures in the kitchen.

I'm using their 9-inch round banneton with included liner, which comfortably holds 800g to 900g of dough for this no-knead sourdough bread recipe. The liner encourages the dough to remove cleanly from the basket, but if you wanted to see a spiralized design on your dough, remove the liner and dust the basket with white flour to impart a pattern.

MadeTerra proofing basket
MadeTerra handmade banneton with included liner.

MadeTerra also offers oblong baskets for batard-shaped loaves, triangle baskets for getting extra creative, and many more baking tools.

No-knead sourdough bread formula

Vitals

Total dough weight1,600g
Hydration68%
Pre-fermented flourAppx. 9%
Levain percentage in final dough18.00%
Yield2 x 800g loaves

This recipe can be split in half to make a single loaf of bread following baker's math operations: divide all the ingredients in half.

Total formula

Desired dough temperature: 76°F (24°C). Check out my guide to dough temperatures for more information on the desired and final dough temperatures.

WeightIngredientBaker’s Percentage
767gMedium-protein bread flour or All-purpose flour (~11% protein, Central Milling Artisan Baker’s Craft or King Arthur Baking All-Purpose)90.00%
85gWhole wheat flour (Central Milling High Pro Fine or King Arthur Baking Whole Wheat Flour)10.00%
537gWater 1 (autolyse)63.00%
43gWater 2 (mix)5.00%
15gFine sea salt1.80%
153gRipe sourdough starter (100% hydration)18.00%

No-knead sourdough bread method

1. Autolyse with starter – 9:00 a.m.

Typically, when I perform the autolyse technique it's simply mixing flour and water and resting for some time. However, with this recipe and its reduced hydration, it helps to include the sourdough starter in the flour and water in the recipe.

To a large mixing bowl, add the flour, water 1, and sourdough starter and mix with wet hands until no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes in autolyse.

2. Mix – 9:30 a.m.

Add the salt to the top of the dough and pour on water 2 to help dissolve. Mix by hand until the salt is incorporated and the dough comes together in a single mass. This is no-knead sourdough bread, so it's not necessary to vigorously fold or knead the dough at this point.

Sourdough starter and mixing
Top-left: ripe sourdough starter; Top-right: adding starter to autolyse; Bottom-left: mixing by hand; and Bottom-Right: dough at end of mixing.

Transfer the dough to a container for bulk fermentation and cover.

3. Bulk fermentation – 9:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

At a warm room temperature, around 74-76°F (23-24°C), bulk should take about 3 1/2 hours. Give the dough four sets of stretches and folds during this time. The first two sets are at 15-minute intervals (10:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) and the last two at 30-minute intervals (10:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.). Perform vigorous stretches and folds, as seen below, for the first 3 sets, then a gentle set for the last set.

Stretches and folds during bulk fermentation
First stretch in the first set of stretches and folds.

After the last set, cover the dough and let it rest until the end of bulk fermentation.

4. Divide and preshape – 1:15 p.m.

At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should have risen considerably in the bulk container. It will be bubbly, smooth, and elastic, showing signs of significant fermentation.

No-knead sourdough bread at end of bulk fermentation
No-knead sourdough bread at end of bulk fermentation.

Gently scrape the dough out of the bulk fermentation container and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a loose round and let rest for 30 minutes, uncovered.

5. Shape – 1:45 p.m.

After the dough has rested and relaxed outward some, shape each piece as a boule and place the dough in the proofing basket seam-side-up.

After shaping the dough but before placing it in the proofing basket, I rolled the top of the dough (the smooth side) on a bed of coarse wheat bran for a little extra nutrition, flavor, and texture. You could also use wheat bran, rolled oats, white sesame, or omit the topping altogether.

Recommended reading: Read through How to shape a boule for a step by step on shaping (with video).

Shaping no-knead sourdough bread
Shaping no-knead sourdough bread as a boule

6. Proof – 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. (next day)

Cover the baskets with a large, reusable plastic bag and seal them shut. Place the baskets in their bags into the refrigerator overnight.

SAME DAY OPTION: Instead of retarding the dough overnight, let proof on the counter for about 2 hours until a poke to the dough slowly springs back.

7. Bake – 9:00 a.m.

Preheat your oven with the rack at the bottom third to 450°F (230°C). Place your Dutch oven inside, open, with the lid and bottom side-by-side.

Take one basket out from the fridge and uncover it. Your dough might not have risen considerably in the fridge, but that's just fine. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the basket and place a pizza peel (or large cutting board) on top. Using both hands, flip the entire stack over and remove the basket.

Scoring sourdough bread dough

Score the dough and load it into the Dutch oven; then, bake for 20 minutes covered. After this time, remove the lid and finish baking for 30-35 minutes or until done. The internal temp should be around 205-210°F (96-99°C) (unless you live at a high altitude).

Remove the loaf to a cooling rack for 2 hours before slicing. Then, return the Dutch oven to the oven (without parchment) and bring it back up to temp to bake the second loaf. Follow my guide to storing sourdough bread to keep it fresh for the next week (or freeze for longer!).


No-knead sourdough bread crumb
Extremely tender crumb and crunchy, satisfying crust.

The soft crumb, crunchy crust, and wonderful flavor of this no-knead sourdough bread is a beautiful example of how, when baking, sometimes the best things only need time and require little in the way of fuss. Of course, I love a multi-step bake with complicated levain builds and a melange of ingredients as much as the next baker, but it's satisfying knowing superlative bread can be made at home simply by stepping back and letting natural fermentation do all the work.

Buon appetito!

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No-knead sourdough bread recipe

Easy No-Knead Sourdough Bread

  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Category: American

Description

My recipe for two loaves of delicious no-knead sourdough bread.


Ingredients

Main dough

  • 767g medium-protein bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 85g whole wheat flour
  • 580g water
  • 15g sea salt
  • 153g ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration)

Topping

  • Coarse wheat bran, rolled oats, or sesame seeds for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Autolyse with starter (9:00 a.m.)
    To a large mixing bowl, add the flour, 537g water, and sourdough starter and mix with wet hands until no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes in autolyse.
  2. Mix (9:30 a.m.)
    Add the salt to the top of the dough and pour on the remaining 43g of water to help dissolve. Mix by hand until the salt is incorporated and the dough comes together in a single mass. Transfer to a bulk fermentation container and cover.
  3. Bulk Fermentation (9:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.)
    At a warm room temperature, around 74-76°F (23-24°C), bulk should take about 3 1/2 hours. Give the dough four sets of stretches and folds during this time. The first two sets are at 15-minute intervals (10:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) and the last two at 30-minute intervals (10:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.). Perform vigorous stretches and folds, as seen below, for the first 3 sets, then a gentle set for the last set. After the last set, let the dough rest for the remainder of bulk fermentation, covered.
  4. Divide and Preshape (1:15 p.m.)
    Gently scrape the dough out of the bulk fermentation container and divide it into two pieces. Using wet hands, preshape each piece into a loose round and let rest for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Shape (1:45 p.m.)
    Shape each piece of dough into a round (boule), then place the dough in proofing baskets.
  6. Proof (2:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., the next day)
    Cover proofing baskets with reusable plastic and seal shut. Then, place both baskets into the refrigerator and proof overnight.
  7. Bake (9:00 a.m., the next day)
    Preheat your oven with a baking surface or combo cooker/Dutch oven inside to 450°F (230°C).

    When the oven is preheated, remove your dough from the fridge, score it, and transfer it to the preheated baking surface or combo cooker. Bake for 20 minutes with steam. After this time, vent the steam in the oven or remove the lid (you can keep it in the oven or remove it) and continue to bake for 30 minutes longer. When done, the internal temperature should be around 205°F (96°C).

    Let the loaves cool for 2 hours on a wire rack before slicing.


If you use this recipe, tag @maurizio on Instagram and use the hashtag #theperfectloaf so I can take a look!

No-knead sourdough bread troubleshooting

My dough didn't rise in bulk fermentation

Be sure your sourdough starter is healthy, rising and falling predictably each day. It's important to use your sourdough starter when it's ripe for mixing this dough.

My dough was sticky and hard to shape

The dough might have been over hydrated, under-strengthened, or a little of both. Next time, try reducing the water in the recipe by 25g and give it a fifth set of stretches and folds.

My loaf was gummy and wet inside

Almost always this is due to either cutting the loaf too early before it had a chance to fully cool and set, or it was due to under proofing. If it was under proofing, be sure to give the dough plenty of time in bulk fermentation until it has risen significantly, smooths, strengthens, and perhaps has a few bubbles visible.


Thanks again to MadeTerra for sponsoring this post and for providing me with several of their handmade bannetons. As always, the recipe, opinions, and content here are always my own.

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