Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread

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Baking a healthy and nourishing loaf of sourdough bread—with your sourdough starter—is gratifying, to be sure, but what if you're not home all day to check in on the long-fermented dough? I mean, some of us do have to work, right? This simple weekday sourdough bread is an uncomplicated recipe and schedule for mixing and baking a loaf of bread during the busy workweek.

This post is full of pictures and videos to help convey the process clearly and concisely4. But why is this recipe so easy compared to others here?

What makes this weekday sourdough bread recipe easy?

  • It's a no-knead sourdough bread recipe: mix everything in one bowl
  • It uses only two types of flour: bread flour and whole-wheat flour
  • It's moderate hydration—no messy dough or counters
  • It's baked in a Dutch oven or combo cooker
  • Timing is extremely flexible

Let's go over the workweek schedule.

Dough in Heath Ceramics bowl
Michael Hoeweler

A simple weekday sourdough bread schedule

In the past, I've talked about a weekend baking schedule that outlines a schedule for low maintenance during the week with a bake on the weekend. The following schedule, however, gives the option to bake during the week around a typical nine-to-five workday. It's also quite flexible, and you always have the option to place the dough in the fridge longer to bake when you get a chance.

Read through my ultimate guide to dough proofing for more information on adjusting the proofing period for this sourdough bread.

A timeline for baking sourdough bread during a weekday
7:00 a.m. (before work)– Make the 10-hour levain (ready ~5:00 p.m.)
– Save time later, scale-out flour & salt into bowls and cover
5:00 p.m. (after work)When levain ready, mix dough for autolyse
5:30 p.m.Finish mixing and begin bulk fermentation
9:00 p.m.Divide, pre-shape, and bench rest
9:30 p.m.Shape and place into the refrigerator to proof overnight
7:00 a.m. (next day)– Bake the next day before work
– Alternatively, bake after work

The schedule above has example times so shift the timeline earlier or later according to your schedule. Don't worry if you don't hit the times exactly as they're written, there's some flexibility there.

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Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread Crust

A Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread Recipe


Total Dough Weight1,800 grams
Pre-fermented Flour8.0%
YieldTwo loaves

Total Formula

The following table shows all the ingredients needed to make this bread. In the method steps below, each ingredient will be called out as needed.

My final dough temperature for this simple weekday sourdough bread was 75°F (24°C). See my post on the importance of dough temperature for more information on this.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
806gHigh protein bread flour, malted (King Arthur Bread Flour5)80.0%
202gWhole wheat flour (King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)20.0%
19gSalt (sea salt)1.9%
8gSourdough starter (100% hydration)0.8%


1. Prepare levain – 7:00 a.m., before work

A levain is simply an off-shoot of a sourdough starter, whereas a sourdough starter itself is never used up completely, it's continually fed day after day indefinitely. It's created with a small bit of a starter and left to mature (ferment) until ready to be used to mix into a dough. Ultimately, it meets the same fate as the dough itself: it's baked in the oven.

In the morning before work, mix together in a jar:

40gBread flour
40gWhole wheat flour
8gMature sourdough starter

Loosely cover the jar; it should be ready after about 10 hours at room temperature, 72-75°F (22-24°C).

2. Autolyse with Levain – 5:00 p.m. after work

An autolyse6 gives our dough a chance for the flour to fully hydrate and begins the gluten development process (all without kneading).

Add all the ingredients below to a mixing bowl. Mix with wet hands until all dry bits are incorporated. Cover, and keep somewhere at warm room temperature for 20 minutes.

Note: the water in the table below is 50g less than the total water for this recipe; the water (and the salt) are held back for the next mixing step.

Dough Mix
766gHigh protein bread flour, malted (King Arthur Bread Flour)
161gWhole wheat flour (King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)
635gWater, Autolyse
169gRipe levain (created in Step 1)
Beginning and middle of mixing
Left: before autolyse. Right: after autolyse.

You can see the direct result of even a short autolyse in the image above. The left image is the shaggy mass just before I finished incorporating everything. The image at right shows how smooth and strong the dough becomes simply by resting. Let's take this further with a little mixing.

3. Mix – 5:20 p.m.

Add the ingredients in the table below to the top of the dough: first, add the salt and then add the reserved water slowly to help dissolve the salt. Add the water a little at a time, depending on how the dough feels: it should be shaggy and loose, but not “soupy.” You can pause midway through pouring the water to incorporate it with a wet hand. If it feels like the dough can handle the rest of the water, add it all.

50gWater, Mix (as needed)
After autolyse, folding to strengthen

Using wet hands, mix everything until it comes together into a shaggy mass. This dough is rather strong and doesn't require any intensive kneading (like slap and fold), but do give it a few folds in the bowl, perhaps 5-10, until it smooths slightly (see the image, right).

Cover the bowl with reusable plastic and keep it somewhere warm in your kitchen for bulk fermentation.

3. Bulk Fermentation – 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Bulk fermentation, or first rise, is when the dough is leavened (through the production of carbon dioxide gas) and flavored (through the production of organic acids) as a result of natural fermentation. Below, you can see how much my dough rises during this 3 hour and 30-minute bulk fermentation at 75°F (24°C).

During this time, give the dough 2 sets of stretch and folds where the first set is 30 minutes after the beginning of bulk fermentation and the second set is 30 minutes after the first. After the second set, let the dough rest, covered, until the next step.

As you can see in the video above, each set of stretch and folds is simple: with wet hands grab one side and gently stretch it up and over to the other. Perform this fold at each direction: North, South, East, and West.

4. Divide & Preshape – 9:00 p.m.

Fill a bowl with some water and place it on your work surface. Scrape out your dough from the bulk container onto your dry counter. Divide the mass in half using a bench knife. Using a wet hand and the knife in the other, gently preshape each half into a loose round. See my guide to preshaping bread dough for a video and more instruction.

Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes until it's relaxed outward.

5. Shape – 9:30 p.m.

As seen in the video below, flour the top of the round and your hands and flip it over. Take the bottom edge and fold it up to about the middle. Take the left and right sides in your hands and fold the right over to about 2/3 of the left side. Repeat for the left side. Then, take the top and fold down to about the middle and gently seal. This should form a little envelope shape.

Now, flip over the entire thing and begin dragging and sealing the dough underneath itself (top-right, above). Using both hands, rotate and drag the mass toward you to create tension on the top. Repeat the dragging if necessary.

Read through my guide to shaping a boule for more instruction.

If you'd like to top this dough with seeds or other items, check out my guide to topping bread dough for an in-depth look.

6. Proof – 9:45 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. (the next day)

Cover both proofing baskets entirely and put them in the fridge to proof overnight. The fridge allows us to slow fermentation to bake the next day before or after work.

7. Bake – 7:00 a.m. (pre-heat oven at 6:00 a.m.)

Preheat your oven with the rack at the bottom third to 450°F (230°C). Place your Dutch oven inside, 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 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 bread dough

Score the dough and load it into the Dutch oven; then, bake for 20 minutes covered. Check out this video of me scoring this “box cut” technique (and a few other styles):

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). If you live at a high altitude like me, read my post on how to bake at a high altitude.

Remove the loaf to a cooling rack for 2 hours before slicing, and be sure to use a sharp bread knife for the cleanest cuts. Return the Dutch oven to the oven (without parchment) and bring it back to temp to bake the second loaf. Follow my guide to storing sourdough bread to keep it fresh for the next week (or freeze it for longer!).


And there you have it; this simple weekday sourdough bread can be made daily and adjusted to fit your schedule. Now there's no reason not to bake. This recipe is also a great place to experiment: mix 125g of nuts like walnuts, pecans, and/or dried fruit like cranberries, cherries, or raisins.

Sourdough bread
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Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread Crust

Simple Weekday Sourdough Bread

  • Author: Maurizio Leo
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 25 hours
  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Category: Bread, Sourdough
  • Cuisine: American


A loaf of delicious sourdough bread designed around a busy workday. The levain is prepared for this bread in the morning and left to ripen while you're at work. When you get home, continue with the baking process. The dough can then be baked at night or the next day in the morning, or after work.



  • 40g bread flour
  • 40g whole wheat flour
  • 81g water
  • 8g ripe sourdough starter

Main Dough

  • 766g bread flour
  • 161g whole wheat flour
  • 19g salt
  • 685g water
  • 169g ripe levain


  1. Levain (7:00 a.m. before work)
    In a small container, mix the Levain ingredients and keep it at a warm temperature for 10 hours.
  2. Autolyse with levain (5:00 p.m after work)
    In a medium mixing bowl, add all of the levain, 766g bread flour, 161g whole wheat flour, and 635g water (50g was reserved for mixing, later) and mix until no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix (5:20 p.m.)
    To the mixing bowl holding your dough, add 19g salt and some of the reserved 50g water (or all if the dough feels like it can handle it). Mix thoroughly and strengthen the dough for about 5 minutes. Using wet hands, mix everything until it comes together into a shaggy mass. This dough is relatively strong and doesn't require intensive kneading (like slap and fold), but give it a few folds in the bowl, perhaps 5-10, until it smooths slightly. Transfer the dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.
  4. Bulk Fermentation (5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
    This dough will need 2 sets of stretch and folds during bulk fermentation, the first set 30 minutes after bulk fermentation begins. Perform the second set 30 minutes after the first, and then let the dough rest the remainder of bulk fermentation.
  5. Divide and Preshape (9:00 p.m.)
    Lightly flour your work surface and scrape out your dough. Using your bench knife, divide the dough in half. Lightly shape each half into a round shape. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Shape (9:30 p.m.)
    Shape the dough into a round (boule) or oval (batard), then place the dough in proofing baskets.
  7. Proof (9:30 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. the next day)
    Cover proofing baskets with reusable plastic and seal shut. Then, place both baskets into the refrigerator and proof overnight.
  8. Bake (The next day, bake at 7:00 a.m. before work, or 6:00 p.m. after work)
    Preheat your oven with a baking surface or combo cooker/Dutch oven inside to 450°F (230°C). 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 204°F (95°C). Let the loaves cool for 2 hours on a wire rack before slicing.


  • This recipe is wonderful left plain, or you could top the dough with rolled oats, white sesame seeds, or flax seeds. 

What's next?

Many recipes here at my site can be adapted to this simple weekday sourdough bread schedule. Most notably, my Beginner's Sourdough and my Fifty-Fifty Whole Wheat recipe. Both recipes are flexible doughs, and the fridge furnishes even more.

For a more hands-off approach, check out my easy no-knead sourdough bread recipe—this can also be adapted to bake in a single day or pushed to ferment longer for an easier schedule.

Happy baking!

If you use this recipe, tag @maurizio on Instagram so I can take a look!

  1. In fact, you might notice this post is slightly different than others here—I'm trying to keep it compact!

  2. Which already contains malt.

  3. I typically don't do an autolyse with the levain included, but in this simple weekday sourdough bread recipe, we'll do that because it's a short time period.

  4. In fact, you might notice this post is slightly different than others here—I'm trying to keep it compact!

  5. Which already contains malt.

  6. I typically don't do an autolyse with the levain included, but in this simple weekday sourdough bread recipe, we'll do that because it's a short time period.

Maurizio Leo
Maurizio Leo
Maurizio Leo is a home baker, James Beard Award winning and New York Times Bestselling author, and the creator of the award-winning sourdough website, The Perfect Loaf. He has spent the past decade baking sourdough bread in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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