If you’re looking to get started with sourdough (or natural yeast) then you are in the right place. All it takes is flour and water and a little time to be able to make your own bread from a sourdough starter. You’ll be amazed at how easy this overnight sourdough bread recipe is. No kneading or heavy mixing is necessary. So, let’s make some delicious artisan bread!
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Reasons to Make Overnight Sourdough Bread
- No kneading necessary!
This overnight sourdough recipe does not require kneading, unlike many other recipes. Instead, it uses an easy folding technique that stretches the gluten.
Sourdough is a naturally fermented, wild yeast, and they need a longer rise time than doughs made with commercial yeast. This fermentation allows the natural yeast the time needed to raise the bread. An 8-10 hour rise is common for this overnight fermented or “bulk” rise.
So, it’s easiest to prepare everything in the evening, then let the dough rise overnight. Within a few hours of waking, you’ll have fresh sourdough bread.
First things first: The best sourdough bread starts with an active, bubbly sourdough starter.
You’ll need an active starter to make any sourdough recipe. This easy sourdough starter is literally fail-proof thanks to our pro tips. And it has step-by-step instructions – perfect for a beginner.
Sourdough Bread Benefits
The natural, wild yeast in sourdough offers several health benefits as this Healthline article discusses:
- Natural yeast slows digestion to help you feel full. The lactic acid and natural salts in sourdough slows down digestion.
- Has a low glycemic index.
The organic acids produced during natural yeast fermentation are known to lower the glycemic index of sourdough bread. This helps keep your blood sugar in check.
- Strengthens the immune system. And, the lactic acid produced by sourdough bread inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and mold.
The fermentation process for our overnight sourdough bread recipe creates gut-healthy enzymes and acids. Most other types of bread do not provide these healthy enzymes and acids.
Hooray for freshly baked bread that’s yummy and healthy!
Tips for the Best Artisan Sourdough Bread
- Use a bubbly, active starter.
Wait at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours after feeding to use it, so that it’s at the optimal activity. Below is an example of the rise and activity after a feeding:
In the evening, stir down the starter and remove 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) to make the bread.
- Refrigerate the remaining starter if you won’t be using it for a while.
**For more information, see our post on how to make and feed a sourdough starter.
- Create a thick, shaggy dough.
Stir in the flour, water and sea salt with a wooden spoon or a dough whisk until a thick, shaggy dough forms.
- Wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking.
We think wetting your hands makes it easier to finish mixing the dough. Then, cover the bowl of dough with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Fold the dough rather than kneading it.
As we mentioned earlier, we have a no-knead method for making the overnight sourdough bread.
Simply coax the dough from the bowl and fold it for 15 seconds. Grab part of the dough, stretch it out, push it into the center of the dough, then turn the dough 1/4 a turn.
Pull, stretch, push and turn in a clockwise rotation.
- For the long, fermented rise, keep the sourdough in a warm area.
The fermented rise takes at least 8-10 hours, and depending on the ambient temperature, sometimes even longer. Ideally, you want to let this happen in an area that is about 75° Fahrenheit.
- Do not refrigerate the dough!
If it gets too cold, the fermented yeast will not rise!
Baking Overnight Sourdough Bread
- Be sure the oven is thoroughly preheated.
Preheat your oven to 450º. Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, and turn it over onto the countertop. Next, slash the top of the sourdough with a sharp serrated knife or bread lame.
Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. After that, carefully remove it from the pot and bake it directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes, to crisp the exterior.
Let your homemade sourdough bread cool for at least one hour before cutting. Otherwise, the loaf of bread will deflate.
Just look at this beautiful loaf of artisan overnight sourdough bread!
Sourdough Bread Recipe Troubleshooting
My sourdough bread did not double in size overnight.
If your starter is active (it doubles in size 4-6 hours after feeding and has been fed within 12 hours of baking. Then, it’s possible that your sourdough wasn’t warm enough during the overnight rise. Find a warm place (ideally 75º- 80º F) like a cool oven with the light on, a warm window, or above the refrigerator or dryer to set the bread for 2 hours.
How can I keep the bottom of my bread from turning so brown?
An easy fix is to add a layer of cornmeal to the bottom of the dutch oven and place the parchment paper on top of that. Or, use a 9″ round Silpat silicone sheet, as I do. I place it in the bottom of my Staub cast-iron Dutch oven.
Dutch ovens that are darker in color tend to brown the bottom of the bread more.
Yes, a heavy oven-safe pot with a lid will work. Use one that is about 9″ to 10″ in diameter and 6″ high.
Don’t use wax paper. The wax will melt in the oven at this high temperature and you’ll have a mess on your hands. Instead, use a long sheet of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking oil.
As made, this sourdough bread recipe contains 241mg of sourdough in each slice. A slice is 1/12th of the loaf.
Sure, though you will experience a slightly smaller loaf. If you have vital wheat gluten, use 4 cups of all-purpose flour and 4 tablespoons of vital wheat gluten in place of the bread flour.
If you’re unsure if the sourdough bread is fully baked, the internal temperature should be around 195º – 200ºF.
Easy Overnight Sourdough Bread
- ¼ cup (60 grams) sourdough starter (fed within 12-24 hours)
- 1 ⅔ cups (350 grams) filtered or spring water (about 100ºF or baby bottle warm)
- 4 ¼ cups (500 grams) bread flour (can substitute with all purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons (9 grams) fine salt (I prefer sea salt)
- In a large bowl, add the sourdough starter. Add in water and use a dough whisk or a wooden spoon to stir until dissolved. Stir in the flour and salt until a shaggy looking dough forms. Finish mixing dough by hand in the bowl until all the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.
- Lightly flour your countertop. Pull the dough from the bowl with a dough scraper or by hand onto the countertop. Stretch and fold the dough for 15 seconds (see video below): grab the edge of the dough and bring it straight up it about 4 inches and tuck it into the center of the dough. Then, turn the dough 1/4 a turn. Continue this process until the dough has come full circle and it has tightened. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel (or plastic wrap if you live in a dry area). Let rise overnight for at least 10 hours at room temperature or a warm location (72º and 80ºF degrees to ferment). Do not refrigerate the dough. The dough should double in size and look bubbly on the surface and under the dough when fermented.
- In the morning, lightly flour your counter-top. Pull the dough from the bowl and shape the dough by stretching and folding it again. Let the dough rest 10 – 15 minutes. Line a medium sized bowl with a towel, or use a banneton bowl with linen cover (see photos), and dust heavily with flour. Let dough rise in it for 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450ºF. Do not add your Dutch oven or baking pot, it does not get preheated. Cover the dough bowl with a long piece of parchment paper, about 20 inches long, and turn it over onto the countertop (see video). Slash the top of the loaf with a lame or sharp serrated knife. Gently lower the parchment paper dough into a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. NOTE: If using a pot with a dark interior cast iron pot, I recommend insulating the bottom with a round silicone sheet underneath the parchment paper. You can also place the Dutch Oven pot on a baking sheet. This helps the bottom crust of the bread from getting too dark in color.
- Place the covered pot in the the oven and bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 20 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the bread from the pot. Bake it directly on the oven rack for 5-10 minutes to crisp the exterior (if needed). To ensure your bread is cooked through you can check the internal temperature. It should be 195ºF to 205ºF.