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!
What I’ll Teach You in This Post:
- Sourdough Starter
- What is Natural Wild Yeast?
- Sourdough Bread Benefits
- Why Overnight Sourdough Bread?
- Kitchen Tools Needed
- How to Make Artisan Sourdough Bread
- Common Questions
- Easy Overnight Sourdough Recipe
First thing’s first: The best sourdough bread starts with an active, bubbly sourdough starter.
You’ll need an active starter to make any sourdough recipe. I’m linking my easy sourdough starter recipe. This fast sourdough starter is literally fail-proof thanks to my pro tips. And it has step-by-step instructions – perfect for a beginner.
What is Natural Wild Yeast?
Sourdough is wild, natural yeast. It comes from mixing water and flour together and letting it ferment in a warm spot. Natural yeast is a living organism, so it needs nutrients and air to thrive.
The kind of yeast you buy in the store is referred to as commercial yeast. It is quick and easy to use.
Using natural sourdough yeast has gained popularity recently when commercial yeast was in short supply. Why rely on getting yeast from the store to make homemade bread when you can make your own?
Plus, you can use your starter to create other things, like a sourdough pizza crust, sourdough stuffing, pancakes, sourdough banana muffins, sourdough banana bread, or even soft-crusted sandwich bread!
This overnight sourdough recipe yields a perfectly soft but chewy pizza crust. And it’s our favorite pizza recipe.
Sourdough Bread Benefits
The natural, wild yeast used to create sourdough bread offers several health benefits as this Healthline article discusses:
- Natural yeast slows digestion to help you feel fuller for longer. The lactic acid and natural salts in sourdough slow down digestion.
- The organic acids produced during natural yeast fermentation lower the glycemic index of sourdough bread. This helps keep your blood sugar in check.
- Due to the natural yeast in sourdough bread, consuming it lowers the body’s glycemic response to all carbohydrates. Amazingly, it was even more so than if the person had whole wheat bread made from commercial yeast. This response to carbohydrates remains lower for hours after the natural yeast is consumed.
- Natural yeast has been shown to help strengthen the immune system. And, the lactic acid produced by sourdough bread inhibits the growth of certain bacteria and mold.
As you can see above the health benefits of sourdough bread are numerous.
Learn more about why sourdough bread is healthier and more nutritious in this article on the health benefits of sourdough.
This sourdough bread recipe uses an overnight rise that allows the grains to ferment with the starter.
The fermentation process 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!
Why Overnight Sourdough Bread?
This overnight sourdough recipe does not require kneading, unlike many other recipes. Instead, it uses an easy folding technique that stretches the gluten.
Natural, wild yeasts need a longer rise than doughs 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, preparing the sourdough in the evening, and letting it rise overnight is ideal. Within a few hours of waking, you’ll have fresh sourdough bread.
Kitchen Tools Needed
How to Make Artisan Sourdough Bread
In the morning, feed the starter to get it active and bubbly. Wait at least 6 to 12 hours before using 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.
Since I am an infrequent baker, I put the rest of the starter in the fridge until I need it. Refrigeration hibernates the sourdough starter, allowing me to feed it every week or two, instead of daily.
Mixing Easy Sourdough Bread
Stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until a thick, shaggy dough forms. Wet your hands, and finish mixing dough by hand. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
No Knead Sourdough Folding
Coax the dough from the bowl and fold the dough 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.
Overnight Fermented Rise
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp clean towel, and let rise overnight (at least 8-10 hours) on the countertop or an area that is ideally about 75º Farenheight.
Sourdough needs a long rise to allow the dough to ferment and activate.
Do not refrigerate the dough! This sourdough recipe uses a bulk overnight rise at room temperature.
In the morning, lightly flour your countertop and shape the dough by folding it aIn the morning, lightly flour your countertop and shape the dough by stretching and folding it again.
Baking Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread
Gently lower the parchment paper dough into a cast iron dutch iron, with a tight-fitting lid.
Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake for 20 minutes. After that, carefully remove the bread from the pot and bake it directly in the oven each for 10 minutes to crisp the exterior.
Let the artisan sourdough bread cool for at least one hour before cutting. Otherwise, the loaf of bread will deflate if cut too soon.
Just look at this beautiful loaf of artisan sourdough bread! With this easy sourdough bread recipe, you’ll soon have your own beautiful bread, too.
Troubleshooting Sourdough Bread
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.
See Below for the Complete Sourdough Recipe with Video!
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 Recipe
Easy Overnight Sourdough Bread
- 4 – 5 quart Dutch Oven with Lid - or a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid
- ¼ cup (50 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.