Easy No-Knead Overnight Sourdough Bread

Easy No-Knead Overnight Sourdough Bread

So, you want to bake sourdough bread that looks and tastes like it came from an Artisanal bakery? Well, you basically can. Planning and a cast iron pot are the two things you need. Oh, of course, your sourdough starter too! If you made one for the Sourdough English Muffins and stashed it in the back of the fridge, now’s the time to get it out and revive it. Making easy no-knead overnight sourdough bread is going to rock your world!

I was going to make an entire page on how to actually to the whole ‘stretch and fold’ process that’s required for this type of bread. However, I reached out to the chef who put this great page together along with videos and asked her permission to share. She was gracious and agreed. Here’s the link to Sylvia’s page for instructions on folding and stretching the dough. Why try to recreate something that is already well done. Cheers to her for willingly sharing her efforts with other sourdough enthusiasts.

Sourdough is not a cookie-cutter bread

As with any bread recipe, much will depend on things like the temperature of your kitchen, the flour you use and of course the vitality of your starter. I find I need more flour than Sylvia does in her recipe, but that’s fine. I made this several times to get the right combo.

As I’m in Canada and the all-purpose flour we have here has a higher protein content, that may be a factor. I ended up using around 40g more flour for the same quantity of water and starter in the recipe.

Update ingredients and quantities (as of June 2021)

Having made this bread so many times now, here are my updated ingredients and quantities. This will give you a dough that is easier to handle. By it’s nature, no-knead, overnight sourdough is a wet-ish dough, but I was finding it just a little too wet for my preference. This will give you a dough that you can actually handle and shape before putting it in the fridge after it’s last folding.

  • 120g starter
  • 300g water
  • 580g flour
  • 18g salt

Talking of starter

As mentioned before, if yours is languishing in the back of the fridge, take it out and let it warm up. I suggest you do this a couple of days before you plan to make the bread. My starter lives on my kitchen counter and is used on an almost-daily basis.

Give the starter a couple of good ‘feeds’ until it’s ready to go. The starter should almost double around four to six hours after the feed. That’s when it will be at it’s best.

A good way to measure this, very simply, is to put it in a clear jar and put a rubber band around it where the level immediately after feeding, then you can see how much it increases.

Overnight rest for easy no-knead overnight sourdough bread

Sourdough takes a long time to proof! Since we are not adding any additional yeast, it will take quite a while for your sourdough starter to ‘do its thing’. This is fine! This is where planning comes in to play. You are going to start this loaf the night before and let it proof overnight. In the morning, there’s not too much to do other than give it another stretch and fold, another little rest – literally to chill – and then bake.

The ‘chilling’ part is a rest in the fridge while the oven and the cast iron pot pre-heat. You can do this in the bowl it sat in all night, or in a Banneton. The Banneton is a rattan/wicker-like basket that you can use with either a floured-towel, an elastic insert that comes with it or just in the basket itself. Please note, the dough is still sticky and will require a barrier between it and the basket or even the towel.

I recommend rice flour for this. Rice flour is gluten free and will not absorb into the bread dough. This is the brand I use, though you may find smaller quantities in the grocery store. This is also a good brand. By coating the dough in the rice flour – or putting an even layer in the basket, you will get the ridges of the Banneton pressed on to the dough. This gives a very nice look to your loaf. Totally not necessary, but very pretty. If you use a cloth in the basket, you will get a smoother top, which is just as nice.

Cast Iron for an easy no-knead overnight sourdough

Please take a look at the update post on using the cast iron pot a bit differently. Thanks!

The major contributing factor in the success of this authentic tasting and looking bread is baking it in a cast iron pot. The pot (Dutch Oven) is pre-heated and has a lid. What happens is that when you put the dough in the pot, steam is created and trapped. This gives the nice chewy crust that is just like a bakery that uses ovens that have steam injection in them. While I love my Le Creuset cast iron for all kinds of cooking, I use one of these very basic Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Ovens for this bread. Amazon had the absolute best price for this and I am very happy with this purchase.

Oven spring, as it is called is the result of this and what happens to your loaf. This is what will give it that Artisanal bakery look and taste.

When you are ready to bake (and oven and pot are hot), invert the bowl or basket of dough onto a sheet of parchment paper. Lift the paper with the dough and carefully place into the very hot pot and put the lid on.

You will need to score (slash) the dough just before you put it in the pot and in the oven. The steam makes the dough expand and if you have not slashed it, it will expand wherever there is a weaker spot in the fold of the dough. Having the slash or cut pattern lets you determine how it looks. You can use a lame to make the cuts or just a fresh safety razor blade held carefully in your fingers. I use both depending on the type of cuts I want. The blades are the ones that go in to the lame.

Getting the dark brown crust

I bake the bread with the lid on for at least 20 minutes. The oven is hot! This is baking at 450-500F. I use the range as some ovens … and some cast iron pots will not/should not go higher than 450F. Remove the lid (carefully) after 20 minutes. Leave it baking without the lid for another 10-20 minutes to get it nice and brown. This amount of time will vary by the heat of your oven.

At the end of this time, the bread should be crispy on the outside, a dark golden brown on the crust and should have an internal temperature of 98C/208F. Sourdough needs a higher temperature inside to ensure complete baking.

Don’t rush, enjoy the process

It’s very tempting to cut into or even tear into a fresh made loaf. Please try to refrain. Sourdough tastes better if you leave it a bit longer. To maintain the nice chewy and crunch crust, make sure it is absolutely cool before you put it away. Storing in a plastic bag will soften the crust.

I hope you enjoy making this easy no-knead overnight sourdough bread. Please leave a comment and let me know how it went for you.

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