Beginner’s No-Knead Sourdough Bread Recipe and Guide

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A no-knead sourdough bread recipe for beginners and advanced bakers alike! This crusty artisan sourdough is prepped one day and baked the next, which gives it a deep and delicious sourdough taste.

Woman holding no-knead sourdough bread

Baking homemade sourdough bread is a science and an art. Over the years, I’ve had long seasons of baking bread and short seasons without baking. No matter what though, I always find myself back in the kitchen baking sourdough.

On the surface, it’s a fun and rewarding hobby with the added payoff that it feeds my family. Deeper than that though, baking sourdough offers simplicity and familiarity in an increasingly complicated and changing world.

I know that sounds dramatic. But truly, it is a wholesome, simple practice that allows me to step out of the daily chaos momentarily. And along with food preservation like freeze-dried eggs and fermented bell peppers, sourdough nurtures the suburban homestead lifestyle I crave for my family.

As such, over the last year, I’ve craved baking sourdough—whether it is a crusty boule or sourdough sandwich bread. While we were on vacation last month, I had to laugh at myself because I couldn’t wait to get home and bake sourdough. I missed the routine and structure that baking sourdough offers.

Above all else though, the greatest joy of baking sourdough is sharing it with my family. Recently, when I pulled a sourdough loaf out of the oven, my two-year-old said, “I want to eat that bread.” It’s one of the few things she consistently eats and enjoys. And I love that she enjoys it that much.

Is Baking No-Knead Sourdough Hard?

I truly believe anyone can make delicious sourdough bread! And this no-knead sourdough bread recipe is no exception. In fact, it’s the perfect starting point for new sourdough bakers.

You’ll need a sourdough starter to bake homemade sourdough bread rather than commercial yeast. If you haven’t learned how yet, my simple sourdough starter video is a great starting point.

In short, a sourdough starter cultivates wild yeast to leaven your bread. So while making this no-knead sourdough bread recipe isn’t hard, you will need to know how to make and care for a sourdough starter (which is totally easy!).

Woman pouring sourdough starter into bowl

People often say they are nervous about baking sourdough because it seems technical. In some ways, it is. But more often than not, I’ve found that sourdough is relatively forgiving. So don’t let the science and the technical components–and definitely the chatter on the internet–deter you.

You can 100% bake sourdough bread with good results. I’m sure of it!

And hey, if your bread doesn’t turn out sometimes (because that happens occasionally), you can still use it for toast, croutons, and sourdough breadcrumbs. It’s a win no matter the result. Remember, this is a no-knead sourdough bread recipe for beginners, so give yourself the chance to practice a few times!

Is Sourdough Bread Healthy?

I am not a nutritionist or health professional, so I don’t want to get too in-depth about the nutritional qualities of sourdough. However, sourdough is generally considered a healthy option because of its long fermentation process.

It is also widely suggested that gluten-intolerant (not celiac) people can tolerate sourdough. However, if that applies to you, I suggest talking with your healthcare provider to see if sourdough is a good choice for you.

Bulk Fermenting vs. Cold Proofing

Bulk fermenting is the step in which you allow the dough to ferment for many hours…in bulk. During this time, the yeast and bacteria are metabolizing the wheat; you are performing stretches and folds, and, eventually, you let the dough rise or double over the course of many hours.

Rather than a second rise in the traditional sense, sourdough’s second proof is in usually in the fridge. Cold proofing is when you store the bread dough in the refrigerator. During this time, the fermentation magic is still happening, but the cold temperatures slow the process down. Cold proofing is how you develop sourdough’s hallmark and coveted sour flavor.

YouTube video

Scoring Sourdough Bread

The internet is chock full of beautiful images of artfully scored sourdough bread. And though I often like to strive for aesthetics in the kitchen (strive is the operative word, not achieve), no matter what my bread looks like, it tastes delicious.

You can even see in the picture below that my sourdough isn’t scored perfectly. Still, it is a scratch-made-with-love loaf of sourdough that my family can enjoy- and that is beautiful.

If you feel intimidated by sourdough bread scoring or if this is your first time making this no knead sourdough bread recipe, my bread art stencils are a great option! Using a bread art stencil is simple. All you need to do is stencil with all-purpose or rice flour, give a simple score, and bake.

So if you are new to baking sourdough bread, don’t get hung up on scoring. Just focus on baking for now, and use a sourdough art stencil to simplify the process.

Can You Skip Scoring?

No. I know I just said don’t worry about artful scoring. But you will need to score your bread even if it is just a single slice or “X” on the top.

Scoring gives you control over where and how the bread expands during baking. All dough has a weak spot that will crack as the bread expands in the oven (known as “oven spring”). As such, if you were to forgo scoring, your bread will chaotically expand and crack in random places.

By scoring your sourdough, you are creating an intentional weak point that will control which way your bread expands. And as an added bonus, it looks pretty.

Two Types of Scoring

Expansion scoring: This is the deep slash you often see on homemade sourdough bread. Generally, is type of scoring is 1/2 inch deep and be long enough for your bread to full rise.

Artistic scoring: This is the beautiful art I find myself admiring on sourdough. The purpose of artistic scouring is to add decorative appeal. These scores are usually around 1/4 inch deep.

My Baking Schedule

In general, when making this no-knead sourdough bread recipe, I prefer to prep my starter the night before. It does, however, depend on how active my starter is. If I’ve recently fed my starter whole wheat flour, I only have about 4-6 hours before my starter has doubled. So feeding the night before doesn’t work because it has already doubled and deflated by the time I wake up. If my starter is only digesting all-purpose flour, I usually have 10-12 hours before it’s ready.

This schedule assumes I need 12 hours to achieve an active sourdough starter.

The night before

  • 10:00 pm: Remove starter from refrigerator. Discard half and feed 1:1 flour/water. Leave out on the counter.

The next morning

  • 10:00 am: Combine flour and water in a large bowl, and mix until combined. Wait 60 minutes (this is called autolyse. It allows the wheat to soften and enzymes to release)
  • 10:30 am: Add starter and salt to the flour/water mixture. Mix with clean hand for 3-5 minutes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • 11:00am: Begin stretch and fold
    • First set: 3 times every 15 minutes
    • Second set: 3 times every 30 minutes
    • This is a total of 6 stretch and fold cycles over the course of 2.25 hours.
  • 1:30pm (ish): After last stretch and fold, cover dough with a damp towel and allow to bulk ferment for 5-6 hours.
  • 7:30pm (ish): Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two pieces using a dough scraper. Shape the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  • 7:50pm: Place dough face-down in a banneton basket or towel-lined bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 12-15 hours.

The next day

  • 10:00am: Preheat cast iron dutch oven for 30 minutes.
  • 10:30am: Take the dough out of the refrigerator, turn it out onto parchment paper, and score. Place the bread in a Dutch oven with the lid on. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • 10:55am: Remove the Dutch oven, take off the lid, and drop the temperature to 475. Bake without lid for 10-20 minutes or until done.

My Favorite Ways to Eat Sourdough Bread

There’s no wrong way to eat bread–other than not eating bread, haha! But there are a few ways I really love to eat homemade sourdough:

  • Toast for days! I don’t own or use a regular toaster. Instead, I melt butter in a cast iron pan and toast the homemade sourdough bread on the stovetop. It’s so crispy and delicious this way!
  • With homemade herb butter! Lightly toasted sourdough makes delicious garlic bread. I like to add garlic chives from my garden, butter, and a touch of salt.
  • Sourdough is a vessel for other deliciousness! I enjoy cutting my sourdough into cracker-sized pieces and eating other goodness on them. Chicken salad, hummus, cheese, you name it! It’s all better on bread.
  • Au naturale! Sometimes, a plain old piece of warm bread hits the spot. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious and satisfying. 
  • Did someone say sandwiches?!?! Yes, please!

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Tools You Will Need

No-Knead Sourdough Bread Ingredients

  • 750 g All Purpose Flour
  • 200 g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 200 g Active, Bubbly Starter
  • 650 g Water (room temperature or warm water, but not hot)
  • 20 g Coarse Kosher Salt
Woman stretching sourdough dough

Instructions for Making No-Knead Sourdough

Prepare the dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and water. Gently mix until combined. Allow to sit for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Add sourdough starter and very gently mix/dimple into the flour mixture. Using a wet hand can make this somewhat less messy. 🙂
  3. Add salt and mix by hand for five minutes. Remember, you aren’t kneading here; instead, you are gently combining the ingredients.
  4. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Stretch and fold

For detailed instructions, check out my stretch and fold tutorial.

  1. Perform 3 stretch and fold cycles every 15 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough until you begin to feel resistance from the dough. This is usually somewhere between 4-8 times per cycle. Do this for three cycles. (So each “cycle” is a series of 4-8 stretch and folds) Cover with a damp towel between cycles.
  2. Then, increase the stretch and fold cycles to every 30 minutes, again stretching and folding until you feel resistance from the dough. Cover with a damp towel between cycles
  3. After all stretch and fold cycles are complete, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest on the counter at room temperature for 5-6 hours or until doubled. I’ve found that any space below 70 degrees slows down the process, so find a warm spot. If you don’t have a warm enough spot, you can also use a proofing box.
  4. Once the dough has doubled, gently remove it from the bowl and place it on a clean counter or work surface.
  5. Split the dough in half using a scraper or sharp knife.
  6. Shape each half into a ball by turning and spinning it toward yourself. The friction on the dry counter will create tension and aid in shaping.
  7. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Place each ball into a banneton basket, proofing basket, or tea towel-lined bowl FACE DOWN.
  9. Gently pinch the left and right sides together. Then, pinch the top and bottom together. This creates tension and a nice seam.
  10. Cover it with plastic wrap or a plastic bag (I like to use a plastic shopping bag), and stick it in the fridge for 12-15 hours.

The next day

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a cast iron Dutch oven (or two) inside. Allow the Dutch oven to warm with the oven and stay in for about 20 minutes to get scorching hot.
  2. Once the Dutch oven(s) is ready, remove the dough from the fridge and gently turn it onto a piece of parchment paper. Since the dough was placed in the basket/bowl face down, it should be right-side up when you turn it out.
  3. Rub the top of the dough with a little flour and score using a razor blade or lame.
  4. Place the dough on the parchment paper in the hot Dutch oven.
  5. With the Dutch oven lid on, bake at 500 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  6. Take the lid off, drop the temperature to 475, and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden. Ovens vary, and mine takes about 12 minutes at this point, so keep an eye on it. Bread is generally considered “done” at 190 degrees internal temperature.
  7. Remove from Dutch oven and let cool to room temp on a wire rack.

More Sourdough Recipes

If you tried this recipe and loved it, leave a review!

Sourdough bread with hearts stenciled on top

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Yield: 2 boules
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 22 hours
Total Time: 23 hours 30 minutes

A no-knead sourdough bread for beginners and advanced bakers alike! This crusty artisan sourdough is prepped one day and baked the next, which gives is a deep and delicious sourdough taste.

Ingredients

  • 750 g All Purpose Flour
  • 200 g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 200 g Active Bubbly Starter
  • 650 g Water
  • 20 g Coarse Kosher Salt

Instructions

    PREPARE THE DOUGH

  1. Combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and water. Gently mix until combined. Allow to sit for 30-45 minutes.
  2. Add sourdough starter and very gently mix/dimple into flour mixture. Using a wet hand can make this somewhat less messy.
  3. Add salt and mix for five minutes by hand. Remember, you aren’t kneading here. Instead, you are just gently combining the ingredients
  4. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. STRETCH AND FOLD

  1. Begin the stretch and fold process. Stretch and fold the dough 5-8 times (until you notice resistance from the dough). Do this for three cycles in 15-minute intervals. Cover with damp towel between cycles.
  2. Increase the stretch and fold cycles to every 30 minutes. Complete three cycles of stretch and folds. Cover with damp towel between cycles
  3. After all stretch and fold cycles are complete, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest on the counter for 5-6 hours or until doubled. I’ve found that any space below 73 degrees slows down the process. So find a spot that is warm or use a proofing box.
  4. Once the dough has doubled, gently remove from the bowl onto a clean counter.
  5. Split the dough in half using a scraper or sharp knife.
  6. Shape each half into a ball by turning and spinning it toward yourself. The friction on the dry counter will create tension and aid in shaping.
  7. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Place each ball into a banneton basket or tea towel-lined bowl FACE DOWN.
  9. Gently pinch the left and right sides together. Then, pinch the top and bottom together. This creates tension and a nice seam.
  10. Cover with plastic (I like to use a plastic shopping bag), and stick in the fridge for 12-15 hours.

THE NEXT DAY

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a cast iron dutch oven (or two) inside. Allow the dutch oven to warm with the oven and stay in for about 20 minutes to get scorching hot.
  2. Once the dutch oven(s) is ready, remove the dough from the fridge and gently turn out onto a piece of parchment paper. Since they were placed in the basket/bowl face down, they should be right-side up when you turn them out.
  3. Rub the top of the dough with flour and scoring using a razor blade or lame.
  4. Keeping the dough on the parchment paper, place inside the hot dutch oven.
  5. With the dutch oven lid on, bake for 500 degrees for 25 minutes.
  6. Take the lid off, drop the temp to 475 and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden. Ovens vary, and mine only takes about 12 minutes at this point. So keep an eye on it. *Bread is generally considered “done” at 190 degrees internal temp.
  7. When done, remove from dutch oven and let cool to room temp on a wire rack.
YouTube video

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 487mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 3gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

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