After a lot of experimenting and tweaking, I am so happy to share my perfect, minimal hands-on time, easy no-knead sourdough bread recipe with you!
Are you looking for the easiest no-knead sourdough bread recipe ever? Well, you came to the right place!
I am going to show you that you can make a delicious loaf of artisan-style bread that is fluffy and light.
Maybe you have already checked out my no-discards and no feedings method to make a sourdough starter. Then you also know that I like things to be simple. No fuss.
And with an active starter and a European-style whole grain bread recipe, I was looking for something lighter and, yes, whiter.
Therefore, I have been playing with an artisan sourdough bread recipe in my cast iron dutch oven. And for that reason, I now have two sourdough starters (a white one and a dark one).
Why another sourdough bread recipe?
While there seem to be a gazillion good sourdough bread recipes out there, most of them are pretty involved. There is a lot of folding and stretching and keeping an eye on the clock.
My perfect recipe should be
- minimal hands-on time
- a reliable recipe that makes a perfect loaf every time
- great bread with delicious flavor
- a flexible recipe (that I can make with different types of flour and grains)
I wasn’t looking for big holes but a nice, fluffy texture and good crust.
With a bit of trial and error and experimenting with unusual ingredients, I am so happy with the recipe that I have come up with. And I am even happier to share that with you!
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“Secret ingredients” of this no-knead sourdough bread
This bread is a true sourdough bread because we are using an active sourdough starter (you can easily make your own). And there is a 10 or so hour fermentation time. So you get all the health benefits from sourdough fermentation.
However, I am adding these two “secret ingredients” to boost this recipe:
Adding yeast to the sourdough helps with the rising. Sourdough, while I love it, can be a bit temperamental. It is highly affected by ambient temperature, humidity, and wild yeast in the air. Using dry or instant yeast is a bit of insurance to get a good rise. I can just step away from the bread dough and know that in a certain amount of time, I will get a loaf of good bread, no matter what.
And for any sourdough purist out there: wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria are all part of the microbial make-up of sourdough!
Diastatic barley malt
You may have never heard of this ingredient before. But trust me, professional bakers use it all the time. I would say it is a bit like steroids for the yeast. Because of its sugars, it boosts the yeast, and gives the bread a better flavor, texture, and crust. Ever since I started adding a bit to my yeast doughs, I have only been loving the results. This malt flour is pretty easy to find (go here).
No-knead sourdough bread ingredients:
Here are the ingredients for one big loaf – or you could make two smaller ones:
2 cups warm water (about 500 grams)
1 cup very active sourdough starter (about 200 grams)
5 ½ cups of flour ( I prefer using about 70% regular white AP flour and 30% whole wheat flour but any ratios will work, even 100% whole grain flour)
1 tsp of dry/instant yeast
1 tsp of diastatic barley malt
and 1 tablespoon of salt (about 20 grams)
How to make this easy no-knead sourdough bread
This bread couldn’t be simpler! I start making it right before I go to bed. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, I add the dry ingredients, give them a quick stir, and then add the water and my active starter. I’ll mix all the ingredients into a shaggy, sticky dough. Since it is a no-knead bread, you will not have to knead it. Then I cover it with plastic wrap (or my homemade beeswax wraps) and let it sit overnight for the first rise. You can also cover it with a damp kitchen towel to keep the dough from drying out.
The next morning, I line my cast iron dutch oven with a big piece of parchment paper. Then, I put a little flour on my hands and form the dough into a ball. Often, I use a dough scraper to get all the dough off the bowl. Just know that this is a very wet dough that will tend to stick to your hands! Now I let the dough ball rise right in my dutch oven for a few hours.
When I am happy with how much it has risen, I might score the bread with a sharp knife or razor blade. Just know that the dough is very fragile. You might end up tearing the top of the bread more than scoring it. Then, I put the bread (in the dutch oven with a lid on) in a cold oven, set the temperature to 450 degrees, and the timer to 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, I take the lid off.
Then I bake it for another 20 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.
Let the sourdough bread cool on a wire cooling rack. Done!
Most of the time, the bread smells so good that we can barely wait to cut a slice or two once the bread has cooled enough to touch it for cutting. We love it with a bit of homemade butter and salt.
Sourdough breads do keep for a while but they do taste best fresh.
Do you see how there really is very minimal hands-on time? That is my kind of recipe and I have a feeling you might fall in love with it, too!
No matter how you’re spending your day, it is very easy to weave making this sourdough bread into your schedule.
Frequently asked questions:
Does this sourdough bread need to rise in a warm spot?
Not necessarily. Most of the time, I just let mine ferment at room temperature and it will rise just fine.
Can I do the second rise in a pretty proofing basket?
I don’t recommend that. This particular dough is just too wet and shaggy. It would be very challenging to remove it from the proofing basket without “destroying” it.
How long do I need to let the dough rise?
I would say, it depends. In the summer, your dough might rise faster than in the winter. A lot of people let the dough ferment overnight and just watch it for the second rise.
Can I increase the sour taste of the bread?
A little bit. After all, this is a sourdough bread. However, by adding a tad bit more salt and yeast and decreasing the rise time, your bread will taste less sour. Likewise, if you slightly decrease the amount of salt and yeast and increase the fermentation time, your loaf of bread will be a bit sourer.
Can I use whole grains for this bread?
Yes, you can. That is I have used different flours and different ratios of whole grain flours to all-purpose flour with good results. This is why this is such an easy sourdough bread recipe!
Is this bread recipe good for first-time bakers?
Absolutely! Since it doesn’t require much work or baking skills, you will get a nice loaf of bread with your first attempt.
Can I make two loaves of bread instead of one big round loaf?
I have done that by shaping two smaller loaves in two smaller dutch ovens with excellent results.
Why do you add commercial yeast if this is a sourdough bread?
Since I am busy, I wanted a super easy recipe with minimal hands-on time. Next to lactic acid, yeast cultures are part of the microorganisms that make up the sourdough. Adding a few more is not cheating in my book.
Can I make this sourdough bread without added yeast?
Technically, you can. I have not tried it myself and can’t promise that you will get the same fluffy, airy bread that you will get with this recipe.
Do I have to use diastatic malt?
In short, no, you do not. You can always leave it out completely. Or use about 1 tsp of sugar instead. However, I highly recommend using the diastatic malt, especially if you want to bake this bread more often.
Do you have a recipe for an equally easy sourdough starter?
I do! You can read this article here in which I share my super easy method for making a bubbly starter.
How do I get a crackly crust?
You can do a few things. During the second rise you can keep the dough ball uncovered. This will dry out the bread a little bit. Also, you can place an oven-proof container on the bottom of your oven. This will create steam during baking and help make the crust more crackly after you take the lid off.
Why don’t you place the bread in the hot dutch oven?
You can certainly preheat your dutch oven before baking. I did that with my first loaf and found it challenging NOT to burn myself. Ever since then, I have been placing my dough into a cold dutch oven and like that method much better.
How do I store my sourdough bread so it will last?
I have to admit that this bread will be best fresh. To keep it for the next days, we like to wrap it either in linen (or a linen bread bag) or place it in a paper bag. Often, I place it in my stove where there is a lot of airflow. Just remember to take it out before you use it! You can also store it with the cut side down in a big stoneware crock.
You can place your sourdough bread in the refrigerator but it tends to make it harder and chewier.
Often, when we know we won’t eat it within a few days, I cut it in half once it is cooled down. I then place one half in a plastic bag and keep it in the freezer.