The process of making a sourdough leavened no-knead loaf (at least the way I do it) is almost identical to the instant yeast variety. I just substitute 1/4 cup of sourdough starter for the 1/4 tsp. instant yeast.

Of course, working with sourdough can alter things quite a bit depending on how wet you keep your starter and how healthy it is. Some starters are very liquidy and can be poured out of their containers. I keep mine pretty thick. It has to be spooned out of the jar. I go into quite a bit of detail on how I manage my starter in the various related videos.

That said, here’s the most basic recipe that I use quite frequently.

  • 1 cup (5 oz.) whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (11 oz.) white bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups purified water
  • 1/4 cup starter

The baking times and all that are the same as the basic no-knead method. So you can easily just watch that video but follow this recipe. I usually bake the bread at 500° for 30 minutes with the lid on and then remove the lid and continue baking for 15 more minutes at 450°.

You might have noticed that there’s a bit of difference between what I say in the video regarding recipe quantities and what’s written. The weights shown are probably more precise, but you should be fine either way as there is a fair amount of leeway in this recipe.

Generally speaking, the wetter your dough the bigger the holes will be, which many people really like. However, a drier dough will make it easier to get the bread to rise while baking, giving you greater “oven spring” and a more spherical loaf versus a pancake. With practice, you’ll get so you can come closer to predicting how your bread will turn out just based on the consistency of the dough when you’re mixing all the ingredients together. You can adjust the amount of water and flour to get the consistency that suits you best.

Many people want to know how to make their bread more sour. Breadtopia reader, Rhine Meyering, enjoys success with this by using just 1/8 cup of sourdough starter and extending the fermentation time by refrigerating the dough. Click this link to his October 7, 2007 post to read what he says. It makes a lot of sense based on my understanding of sourdough baking too.

Also, click the following link to Ariela’s post of November 25th, 2007 where she describes her success with the sourdough no knead method using spelt flour. She includes the actual recipe she uses too – very nice.

No Knead Revisited – A Three Year Check UpIt’s been over 3 years since the original New York Times no knead bread recipe was published. That’s also about the same time Breadtopia was born. By far the most common difficulty people write or call in about is with the dough being too wet to handle at the end of the long first proofing period and also when it’s time to place the dough into a covered vessel to bake at the end of the second rise.

When you run into this, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it other than attempt to follow through on the instructions and ultimately wrest the dough into your heated baker and into the oven. Your “mistake” may turn out better than you expected and if nothing else, you’ll learn from it. The next time around you can do one or a combination of a couple things differently.

  1. Add more flour and or use less water than you did the first time. Dough has a way of getting more slack as it sits for many hours so if you start off with the dough being a little stiffer than you think it should be, that’s fine and maybe it’ll be easier to handle later.
  2. Consider reducing the long proofing time by several hours. Don’t get stuck on the idea of 18 hours. Depending on your room temperature and humidity, 18 hours may result in over proofing. When dough proofs too long, the gluten breaks down, the yeast looses some oomph and it can just get downright soupy. Most of the time, I find 12-14 hours to be about right. If you want or need to prolong the proofing time, but don’t want to risk over proofing, stick the dough in the fridge for several hours or overnight. That will slow things down a lot. Then resume proofing at room temp until it’s ready to bake.

The same principle holds true on the second rise. While 1-2 hours is the suggested range, I’m almost always at about 60 to 75 minutes.

Another concern we hear a lot is about the dough not rising much during that second short proofing period. I don’t see mine rise much then either and it doesn’t matter so long as you see a good rise during the first several minutes that the dough is in the oven. That’s called oven spring and it’s a very good thing. By keeping your proofing periods on the shorter side, you’re more likely to get good oven spring from the still vigorous yeast or sourdough starter.

Of course all of the above is assuming your yeast or sourdough starter is fresh and viable to start with.

In summary, most problems can be helped or solved by stiffening the dough a little and/or shortening the rising times.

If you’re new to bread baking, don’t think from reading this that it’s difficult or tricky to get great results. Most people find it a breeze and enjoy success right out of the blocks. Others may find it takes a few tries. It’s important to have fun with it and don’t worry about bombing. There’s no significant downside to bread baking but the upside can be fabulous. Enjoy!

March 20th, 2010 update: Beadtopia reader, Beth Adams, emailed this:

I have been a follower and contributer (through the comments sections) to the site for a few years. I just tried something that I wanted to share. I added a tsp. of lavender to the regular sourdough recipe and had great results when using it for sandwiches. Hope you are able to enjoy it!

For more no-knead recipes using sourdough, check out No-Knead Recipe Variations.

1,331 thoughts on “Sourdough No Knead Method

  1. Made my first loaf following your video and it turned out fantastic. My husband loves this bread, he even said he could eat half a loaf it was so good.

    I used a rectangle wicker basket that I lined with a cotton cloth for my proofing bowl and quarry tiles as my pizza stone. Worked beautifully!

  2. Cora

    Has anyone tried this recipe using a pizza stone instead of a ceramic baker?

    • Kathy

      I use a stone I purchased from Eric. I like the stone because I can make any shape loaf from round to baguette. Sometimes I cut my dough in half for two small loaves. I keep a cast iron skillet on the top shelf of the oven to add water to for steam. I am sure I will eventually purchase La Cloche, but for now, I like the freedom of the stone.

    • Anita

      Hi Cora,
      Yes, I have tried this recipe with both a preheated cloche and an inverted pot on a baking stone, and now I use just the stone. All three methods work fine. I bake 3-4 smaller loaves on parchment at 475 or so and spray with water after the first 5 minutes . The crust is not as thick and dark, but more delicate and golden. I also have tweaked the recipe to use up more starter and to add different flours, sesame seeds, etc. I’m too impatient for a long rise, so I usually bake in 3 hours, as soon as the dough increases 2-1/2 X. Maybe the extra starter helps this happen so quickly. The flavor is mild.

      • Kathy

        3 hours? Wow! Part of my problem has been not wanting to stay up late to prepare the dough for first proofing, then having to get up in the morning and immediately prep for 2nd proofing! I’d love to be able to do this whole no-knead process in one day. How much extra starter do you add, Anita?

        • Anita

          I usually use 1 to 1-1/2 cups.(You need to alter the amount of flour and water you use in the recipe based on the starter quantity). If it has just been fed (within a week), I’ll bring it to room temp, then mix the dough (in a warm bowl) and let it rise, covered with plastic wrap and a towel in a warm, humid spot (80-85 degrees) til it increases 2-3X. It usually takes about 3 hours if I maintain that warmth. (I use the microwave as my proofing box). Then I preheat the oven and stone, turn out the dough onto sheets of parchment, cover and rest for 30 min until the oven is ready. If the refrigerated starter needs to be fed, I do that the night before, and then mix up the dough in the morning. It all depends on the strength of the starter – if it hasn’t been fed for several weeks, I know that I will probably have to give it a mini-feeding in the morning, and then mix the dough about 3 hours after that. I just make it work to fit my schedule and try to bake as spontaneously (ha!) as possible.

        • CarolynF

          Hi Kathy,
          If the late night + early morning is a bother I have a way to stretch it out to fit a little better. Mix the dough in the afternoon or early evening, then cover it and put it in the fridge. Before you go to bed set it on the counter for it’s first rise. This is the only way I’ve been able to get a full 18 hour rise, even in the winter. And our house isn’t particularly warm — about 66 during the day and 60 at night. Go figure. But chilling the dough definitely makes a difference.

          Yesterday I mixed the dough about 3 chilled it until 6, and left it on the counter overnight. At noon it was doubled.

          But I think I’d like to try Anita’s way, too. Thanks for sharing Anita.

          CarolynF

          • Kathy

            This method sounds good because I would use less starter and I can leave in the fridge according to when I want to bake. I love the idea of having the bread come out of the oven at dinnertime! I also give quite a bit away and I’d rather deliver later in the afternoon. Thank you so much! And I think I may try Anita’s method as well. Isn’t this fun??!!

          • Anita

            Thanks, CarolynF, I’ll try your method when I have more time- I’m sure I will appreciate a more sour flavor for a change, too. The main reason I experimented with using 1,2, or more cups of starter in a recipe was because I accumulated a lot one time and just wanted to make use of it, not throw it out. Now, I keep it under control by only feeding the portion I’ll use in a recipe, and letting the rest stay dormant until I need to increase it. The more I learn, the more things change and evolve, that’s what makes it fun and fascinating!

            • Cora

              I’ve been trying the 3 hour rise method, but I can’t get a good rise. The loaf always turns out very dense. I have a whole wheat starter (1.5 cups), and my bread is half rye and half all purpose flour (2.5 cups total). I’ve been rising it in a warm oven. Any tips?

  3. Hi All,

    I’m super excited – I’ve got my first round of sourdough in the fridge as I type – What I’m hoping is all will work, as I’m trying to reduce the time in the fridge fermenting – anyone have a tried an true version?

    My plan – dough when in round 7pm last night, I’ll take it out to rise on the counter overnight tonight – and bake it up tomorrow after work. Wish me luck!

  4. thanks everyone who sent feedback regarding sourdough predigestion of wheat maybe making it tolerable for us – i’m excited to try it. another question – until i get some $ set aside for a baking pot, what temp and how long should i bake a spelt loaf in a regular bread pan? thanks again so much:)

  5. Kathy King

    Okay, I made my first HUGE mistake today with no-knead bread. I decided to prepare a long loaf with cinnamon & raisins, let rest, then slice into “cinnamon rolls”, which I put on my cold Fibrament stone for the 2nd proofing. Bad mistake. The rolls taste great, but the bottom is so stuck that I had to literally tear the rolls off of the stone and the bottoms are stuck on. Does anyone have any idea how to clean the stone? Evidently, they are not supposed to be washed. Not my finest hour….

  6. Fred

    Has anyone tried using altus, which is ground and soaked left-over rye bread? I just heard about it and wonder if it would make a very sour bread.

  7. Alfi

    Hello Breadtopia,

    This bread looks really great and I’m willing to try it during this weekend.

    I’ve watched your video and apparently the weight of the flour and salt you mention in the video are a little bit different than what appears in the written recipe.
    As I’m a “measurer” person (I weigh every ingredient I use for baking), can you please tell me what are the right quantities?
    For example, you say in the video 4 oz. of whole wheat flour and the written recipe says 5 oz.

    I’ll greatly appreciate any of your help.

    Thank you for this recipe and for all the other great videos that you share with us. I truly learn a lot about baking by watching them.

    Alfi.

      • Alfi

        Thank you kindly and have a nice weekend, Alfi.

  8. Hi al you out there,
    The no knead sourdough bread is getting better and better. I now use a starter made from flour of: wheat, rye, oat and barley. To start it I took 1,5 cup of the 4 grain flour and 1,5 cup of water. Stirred it every day twice. After 4 days it started to be alive. I added 0,5 cup of water and 0,5 cup of water during 3 days. I had it near my AGA stove, so quite good temperature. I bake the bread in a “Dutch” oven and a Aussie campoven. They come out beautiful. And to the mixture I add one quart tsp dextrose. That really helps the starter to work. I leave it rise for about 14 hours near the AGA. And it tastes like heaven!!!

    • Kathy

      Very tasty looking!

  9. Jamie

    I made the SD NK bread today and it was SO EASY!! I could not believe how easy it was. I got my starter 3 days ago. I fed it per directions about 4 times. I was perfect looking…nice and bubbly. I mixed the dough up and it seemed like it needed more water (which I just eyeballed…adding a little at a time). I let the dough rest 18 hours and it was a little over double in size this morning…PERFECT!! I let the dough rise a second time in a COLD, olive oiled and cornmeal dusted dutch oven. It went crazy and rose beautifully. Then I preheated the oven and baked it at 450 for 20 minutes and 400 for around 30. It came out beautifully! It tastes great…very sour. It was so much fun…I am ready to bake my second loaf. Thanks for the starter and all the great info Breadtopia!!

    • Jamie

      Sorry…couldn’t figure out how to turn the picture around:)

  10. Phil Dellinger

    This is a loaf of no knead sourdough bread. I altered the recipe to 1 1/2 times on all of the ingredients. This bread is so tasty and easy to make.

  11. glenn

    I’ve read some very good and interesting inputs on this site. I have used the KN method before very successfully. I have a couple questions if anyone can please help. 1. I tried the “refrigerator” slow down yesterday. After an initial 5hrs at room temp. I put it in the frige overnight. This am the dough was stiff and it was not sticky anymore, more like regular bread dough. (yes it was covered well) I folded it and am giving it a couple hrs to see if it rises. I have little hope it will or will rise in the baking cycle. Any suggestions?
    2. I see several folks saying they are making 3 or 4 loaves. As I only have my one dutch oven. I have to do one at a time. To do 3 wouldn’t I have to start making them at different times the day before and be baking for at least 4 or 5 hrs the next day to time them correctly? Thanks glenn

  12. Kathy

    So I just finished 3 loaves of sourdough (basic recipe, all white flour) in which I stretched my dough, then layered diced jalapenos, minced green onions and grated sharp cheddar. I pressed those into the dough, then rolled the dough, let it rest, then proofed for an hour and a half. Rolling the dough creates some really neat holes with the melted cheddar. I sprinkled my fabric with some wheat germ and toasted sesame seeds. I cut the top of the bread and cheese oozed through, making the bread very visually attractive. Did I think to photograph? No! sorry.

    • Les V

      Man that looks good!! Oh… wait…

  13. CarolynF

    I’ve been baking sourdough NK loaves for quite some time now, thanks to Breadtopia! Now I’m working on sandwich loaves. I’ve watched the video (thanks so much) but I’d like to use sourdough in place of yeast. When I do, I use a scan 1/2 of starter that’s pretty thick. My last attempt produced a loaf that wasn’t quite a brick, but nearly so. I know the starter was good because I’d just done several round loaves.

    The first rise was 23 hours without it even doubling fully. After putting it in the bread pan and letting it sit in a warm place for a couple of hours there was, again, not nearly enough rise but I baked it anyway. No oven spring.

    The only changes I made to the NK recipe were: using SD instead of yeast and using 1T sugar plus 1T agave. I do weigh my ingredients.

    I don’t understand why I have such good luck with round NK sourdough and such terrible luck with the sandwich bread. Would it work to double the amount of starter???

    Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions.

    • CarolynF

      oops… I meant to say “I use a scant 1/2 Cup” of starter.

      • Bill

        Hmm. I only use a 1/4 c. of starter, so I doubt using more is the issue. My starter is a bit on the dry side – I use just a bit more flour, by weight, than water. Close to 50/50, but more like 55/45 I guess. Oh, and I don’t use the sweeteners.

        Plus I’ve never tried making anything but rounds. Sorry, this probably didn’t help, but maybe someone else can add a puzzle piece.

  14. I’ve been making no knead bread for the past 1.5 years and find it to be pretty foolproof…I’ve only had 2 failures out 0f 60+ loaves, 1 from over-baking and the other from over-rising. I vary my ingredients almost every time, but try to keep the proportions the same – whole grains, roasted garlic, dried tomatoes, olives, raisins, seeds, ground flax seeds are some add-ins I’ve tried.

    I think I do a couple of things differently than many of you, based on what I read here. For one, I use a crock pot ceramic liner as my baking pot and a pizza stone as the cover. When I first started making KN bread, after the 2nd rise, I transferred the dough into a hot pot, as most of the recipes recommend. I found that to be a bit uncomfortable, so I started putting the dough into a room temperature pot instead. It works great! I spread canola oil and cornmeal into the pot before the dough goes in and bake @ 450 for 30 minutes and 10-12 uncovered @ 425. For a crispier crust, I spray the dough with a little water and scatter seeds on top just before it goes into the oven.
    The loaf pictured is made with King Arthur white bread flour 2c. and KA white whole wheat flour, 1c.

    • Bill

      That is a great looking loaf! Tell me, Marty, do you preheat the oven, or put a cold pot into a cold oven?

      I’ve taken to cooking my bread with the top on the entire time to keep the crust from getting too crispy – in deference to my wife.

      • I pre-heat the oven Bill. If you want a softer crust, after it’s cooled, put it into a plastic bag. I like mine crispy, so keep it on the cutting board, cut side down for 2-3 days.
        Oops…I didn’t realize I was posting in the sourdough forum. I haven’t tried that yet. I should, though.

    • Kathy

      Yum!!!! And nice and round. good oven spring!!!

  15. Diane

    I baked 2 loaves of Sourdough bread today and was a little disappointed in flatter loaves…What would cause less oven spring and a flatter loaf?
    I have had the starter for several months but have kept feeding it and then put in the fridge to let it rest til i could get to it…Would that be the problem?
    Thanks, Diane

    • Bethany

      I had the same problem! Best loaf of sourdough I have ever made, but flat and ugly–looked like a honey colored cow pie! I’d love some guidance as well!

    • Bill

      My thought is that your dough is too wet. After many, many loaves, you get a feel for just the right amount of water. I weigh everything, but even so, amount of water varies with different flours, so I add 365g water to 500g flour and add more if I think it needs it – a LITTLE bit at a time. The more wheat flour, the more water it will need. Try a bit drier dough and see what happens. And don’t over-proof.

    • Kathy

      I agree with Bill, your dough is too wet. I’ve found that when I am mixing my dough, it is very dry. But after proofing for 18 hours, it’s just right. I sprinkle flour on as I stretch. It’s sticky, so I add as much flour as I need so it doesn’t stick to my hands. I’ve ended up with great crust and crumb. I use a stone, though, and I will back off of the 500 degrees. I bake at that temp for maybe 15 minutes, then change to 450. I do have one issue, however, how do I get my bread more sour?

      • Bill

        Kathy, I use a levain starter. It’s very mild. I don’t care for the San Francisco style, which is quite sour. So you might try the San Francisco starter. I’ve also heard of putting rye flour into your starter to sour it more, but haven’t tried it.

        • Kathy

          I made my starter from the Bread Maker’s Apprentice recipe, which starts with rye flour. No biggie. I don’t want every loaf sour anyway. I will say, this stuff is sure active! Today I am attempting to make baguettes. I’m just using flour-sack towels to shape, so we’ll see if that works. I wanted to make some crostini later. So far, the bread makes excellent croutons also! Breadtopia has given the me “hobby” I needed!

  16. Kathy

    Cinnamon/raisin/walnut loaf #2. I laughed when I saw it because those 3 raisins making the “happy face” popped up out of the bread.
    My next experiment is to roll the bread like I did here, but instead of the above, I’m putting grated pepper jack and cheddar cheese and a few diced jalapenos. I’ll keep you posted!

  17. Diane

    Hi,
    Because of the holidays i was too busy to do any bread baking and and have a couple of questions. First, i was wondering while keeping the starter fed about once a week is it crucial to take some of the starter out each time i feed it? Because i have not been doing that.

    Also does the lid on the jar that i have the starter in need to seal or can it be a loose fit?
    Thanks, Diane

    • Hi Diane,

      The reason people discard starter when feeding is just to keep from building up way more starter than you can use or conveniently store. If you bake often enough and/or use enough starter when you bake, it’s not necessary to discard any. Also, if you keep a small enough amount on hand, then you can feed it a few times and still not end up with a ton of it. It’s OK to keep just a very small amount of starter, like a few tablespoons and just feed that really well the day before baking.

      Loose fitting lids are probably best so a lot of pressure doesn’t build up inside the container.

      • Diane

        Well, this all sounds good and that i have not messed up the starter! I did bake a loaf of sourdough just after Thanksgiving and my 17 yr old grandson said it was the best bread he has ever eaten, now he wants to learn how to make it!

        Thank You for the info, i will be baking soon!
        Diane

  18. Kathy

    Anita:
    I have a large jar that contained artichoke hearts from Costco. Seriously. So the lid seals, but not like one that has a rubber gasket. I’ll take my starter out of the fridge, let it warm to room temperature, discard some and feed it, leave it another couple of hours, then back in the fridge. It goes nuts, so the jar must be just right.

  19. Matt

    Eric,

    I just finished my best no-knead bread yet, thanks to you and all of your wonderful tips. I tried to make my own starter with fairly good results, but decided I’d give your starter a shot. And the results are awesome!

    Here’s my favorite so far: 10 oz Bob’s Unbleached Bread Flour, 6 oz Golden Temple Durum Atta (white bag, not the whole grain version which is too course), 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt, 100 grams starter, and 1.5 Cups water. I like using a scale to be consistent with the dry/wet ratios.

    Twelve hours later it was nice and bubbly, your starter has some kick! I find this phase pretty tricky with the stickiness of the dough. I start on a floured surface for the spread and fold, then use a little olive oil spray and scraper to help with the transfer to an oil-sprayed/cornmeal dusted parchment paper which rests in a frying pan (Cooks Illustrated method). Another dusting of cornmeal, cover with plastic wrap, and carefully lowered into the Lodge dutch oven after around 100 minutes. The NY Times flipping the dough into the dutch oven method never worked well for me for the durum bread, too unpredictable, could be messy, could be too much de-gassing. Baked 30′ at 500 degs covered, 10′ at 450 degs uncovered.

    The end result. Magic!

    Chewy, nice crumb, and a flavor that brings me back to my brief career in baking 20 years ago. I never thought it was possible to bake bread this good at home. No-knead has brought me back to baking, so easy, and so tasty. Thanks to you I’ll be baking for many years to come.

    Happy Holidays!

    Matt

  20. Scott Plank

    I’m so glad to have found this site. I am a novice bread maker and am getting what I think are fantastic results! My family loves it and I think we are done with store bought bread.

    This is my 4th loaf of no knead. I added an extra 1/2 cup of spelt flour on this one to see what would happen. Baked in my La Cloche at 485 for 30 min then 450 for 15 min with the lid off.

    • Les V

      Looks really good!

      • CarolynF

        Hi Scott, that looks great! So… just to clarify for myself, you used the regular Sourdough No Knead recipe PLUS you added 1/2 Cup spelt? I’d like to try adding spelt, so just thought I’d try to get it right. Thanks!

        • Scott

          Carolyn

          Yes, I just added 1/2 cup of spelt flour. I felt my dough was too slack and all I had left was spelt so I gave it a go – and it worked great.

          I am considering using a stoneware bowl inside my LaCloche so I can get a higher loaf with wetter dough, rather than keep trying to find the optimal “dryness”.

      • Kathy

        Beautiful!!!

  21. Kathy

    I hope all the pictures are here! The bread is amazing! Still, next time I will do lots more cinnamon and raisins! Can’t wait to toast tomorrow for breakfast!

    • Kathy

      Hopefully we get more than one picture at a time…

      • Kathy

        Nope, well that’s okay. It’s really really good! I’m learning to spread my wings a little. But I will say, if it weren’t for Breadtopia, I would have NEVER considered making sourdough!! Thanks, Eric, for making this all so simple!

        • CarolynF

          Thanks Kathy, I’m going to try it! Did you measure the cinnamon & raisins? Wondering how much I should add.

          And I’ll SECOND the praise and Thank You to Eric! This place is PERFECT for me, the timid cook.

          • Kathy

            No, I just sprinkled and smooshed the raisins in. The nuts could be left out except maybe for the top. Stretch out the dough, sprinkle heavily the cinnamon/sugar, then smoosh down as many raisins as you can. Then I rolled the dough. I can believe how it had “oven spring”! This is soooo much fun. I love trying new stuff and if it doesn’t work (which is rare)…oh, well, I try something else! Good luck!!!

  22. Kathy

    So here’s my experiment for today: I’m using the basic sourdough recipe. But once the dough is all stretched, I thought I’d sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar and “press” a few raisins and chopped walnuts into the dough. Then try to roll the dough so I end up with a swirl. The bread with be more torpedo-shaped. And instead of wheat germ or polenta, I’ll sprinkle my proofing basket with finely-minced walnuts. If it works, I’ll let you know!

    • CarolynF

      Oh yummy, I really want to hear about your results. Photos of the process too if possible. My mouth is already watering!

      • Kathy

        No, I have not done Chart House Squaw Bread yet. I need to locate malted barley flour and caramel coloring (so it will be dark). I’m on my 2nd proof for the cinnamon bread. I’ll take a picture and try to figure out how to get it onto the site. HAHA! I’m better at bread than computers.

  23. Carolyn

    Anyone have any luck making this loaf in a half-size? I would plan to divide everything in half to make smaller loaves as gifts…curious if this would work ok. I have done the no-knead recipe countless times now and it always comes out great but I don’t want to try to package and bake off full 1lb loaves for Christmas. Any thoughts for the skilled folks here?

    • Kathy

      I’ve had great success! I don’t have a La Cloche, but I bought the stone from Breadtopia and love it. I have a pan on the top shelf I add water to a couple of times for steam. Anyway, I cut the baking time at 500 degrees to 15 minutes and finish at 450 for about 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on the loaves, when they are good and brown, they are ready. Great gifts or perfect size for a big dinner.

    • CarolynF

      Hi Carolyn!
      I always bake half loaves. I mix everything exactly the same, then after the stretch & fold I cut the dough in half, let it rest, and continue with everything exactly the same. I get 2 nice little loaves just right for dinner.

      One thing I do differently than most people…. because the dough likes to flatten out, and these loaves are so small, I use a light weight foil pan to proof *and* bake them it. They are 5.5″ across the bottom. This way the dough is forced to rise up rather than out. I get nice little cannon balls! I still place these on a clay tray and cover them with a pot (like a cloche).

      I get the foil pans in a set of 2 at the dollar store, in the wedding section. They’re supposed to be for “take home” and even come with a stiff paper “lid”. I wash them and have used them many times. It works for me. Good Luck & Merry Christmas!

      • Carolyn

        Thanks Carolyn F. & Kathy – I think I’ll mix up some dough and give it a whirl! Merry Christmas to you both!

  24. Thanks, my great sourdough bread just got improved!!!
    The only change I made was the baking method; I still kneaded everything as i always had done. I am wondering how you keep your starter. Here’s what I do which may help you or others.
    Since I only bake about once a month, I kept a tiny bit of starter in the refrigerator. I USED TO add flower and water, and after it was fed, I would throw it all out except a small amount and feed again for about 3 days until it was really strong to use. The last few times I baked, I saved what I used to discard in the refrigerator. When I bake, I use it all. I add water, 2 1/2 C of white whole wheat flour, etc, and knead in my machine till it is just coming off the bowl, a wet dough. and after the second rise, I dropped it in the hot pot and voila!!!

  25. I just took this loaf out of my oven and while I can not yet speak for the taste, this was the easiest loaf of bread I have EVER made! And it looks beautiful! I baked it in my Le Creuset and it came out perfect! I can not wait to try the parmesan olive version! I used AP white and whole wheat and it looks divine! I can not wait to cut into it. Thank you for such an easy recipe!

  26. terri7

    This will either please or annoy some bread makers, but I have to say I have at last found a reliable sour dough method without physically kneading the dough.
    My shoulders give me bother if I do even a little kneading, so i had to find another way.
    I contacted the author of a sour dough book and she suggested using a particular brand of bread maker on the Pasta setting to mix and knead the dough.
    Bought a used machine for not much money, and it does the job beautifully.Takes only 23 minutes.
    I check it then let rest in the machine for an hour 2o minutes, then take it out and start the shaping process.
    I use good quality bread tins as I’m wanting a sandwich style loaf, and the results are just perfect for us.
    From start to finish cooking takes about 6-7 hours.

    • terri7

      I should add that to get this amount of rise without using added yeast, I have usde about 40% white flour.
      I will now experiment with lower levels to make it more wholemeal.
      Quite amazing how much the bread rises in the oven.

  27. Kathy

    So…I have made several of your recipes and they are easy and delicious!!! I love sharing starter and telling my friends about your site. But I have a question. Can almost any recipe be prepared “no-knead”? There is a recipe for Squaw Bread I have from the Chart House, but the directions are for a breadmaker. Can I prepare the ingredients, let proof for 18 hours, rest, proof again and then bake? And, not being sourdough, I am sure the temperature would be lower, maybe 350? I’d love your feedback!!

    • Hi Kathy,

      There’s something about really wet dough where the gluten can develop, without kneading, as long as it’s given enough time. A “normal” (not so wet) dough would normally require kneading to accomplish the same thing.

      However, kneading doesn’t have to be the labor intensive, sweat producing process one usually thinks of. A series of “stretch and folds” over a period of time can work just as well for just about any dough. This process involves stretching your dough ball out and folding it back on itself a few times and then waiting 10 minutes and repeating that process a few more times. Each stretch and fold period takes only about 10-15 seconds and almost no effort to speak of.

      I use this technique in my sourdough spelt bread video.

    • CarolynF

      Hi Kathy,
      Did you try the Chart House recipe yet? I’d love to know the results. Thanks. CarolynF

  28. Brad Jordan

    Good morning. I am brand new to bread baking outside of my bread machine and tried making the sour dough no knead bread this morning. Everything looked great and I baked the bread in my cast iron dutch oven. Its shape was perfect when I pulled it out but it was badly burned to the bottom of the pan. My oven must run hot. How do I adjust the time so this won’t happen again? Do I reduce the time with the cover on at 500? Or try reducing the temperature?

    • Hi Brad,

      You could try dropping the temp by 25 degrees or so. A lot of people have found that placing a baking sheet on the rack below the Dutch oven helps with the burnt bottoms too.

      • Joan

        If you lower the temp and that doesn’t work, you could bake it on the top rack and put a pan of water on the bottom rack, directly under the bread – that has worked for me in the past.

      • Bill

        Try putting a pizza stone under your dutch oven, Brad.

  29. Shannon Demers

    I made my very first loaf of no-knead SD tonight, and actually it’s also my first loaf of bread made outside of a store bought bread mix made in a breadmaker, period. An old high school friend sent me some dried starter and linked me to this website and I revived it using your directions. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, but the taste is fantastic! For an old hand at baking, this is probably not a big deal, but though I love to cook, baking has always intimidated me (I’m the type of person who manages to mess up TollHouse cookies!) I know I have a long, long way to go, but I’m so excited and just had to share! Yay me! This is a terrific site, thank you so much.

    • Carolyn F

      Shannon,
      Yay…. Congratulations and welcome to the club! You’re right, this is a great site, keep coming back, it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding. Enjoy!

  30. Bill

    Part whole wheat on left, formed on the tabletop.
    All white on the right, formed in a basket.

  31. Dave W

    Jac,
    I am also in the south and I really think you are proofing too long. I only proof for 12 – 13 hours and it always comes out with a good oven spring.
    Good Luck! :)
    Dave

    • Jac

      Dave, I will give that a try tomorrow. I was proofing as I do for the reg bread flour, when I proofed I always had the dough touching the towel, thanks for your reply. Jac

  32. Jac

    Help! I received your starter and after 6 days of feeding which has enlarged the original greatly. I tried to make a SD bread. The first one I used all KA bread flour using the same receipe. I used 1/4 cup of SD mixed with water added it and proofed for 18 hrs. It proofed about the same as just KA. I’m in Florida and keep my AC at 76′ after the 18 hrs I did the 15 min and fold etc. It’s hard to hold in my hands trying to make the ball, I do my best then put into the proofing basket for one and a half hours. It dosen’t rise at all, my KA almost touches the towel covering it. after baking in my clay I see no signs of oven spring and when done comes out about 2″ high. Any tips what I’m doing wrong. The bread tastes sour enought but I want a taller loaf. My second try wasn’t any better, even using 12oz KA and 4oz wheat. But it is still fun. Thanks Jac

  33. Annie B

    Hi- Funny story about my first time making sourdough bread from this recipe:

    I always wanted to make sourdough starter, but before the pineapple method, it always failed. With anticipation for over a week I have carefully stirred, fed and burped the bubbly brew. Yesterday I finally mixed up my first loaf and stored the rising dough away from cats and bugs in the cabinet overnight. This morning, voila! Success! I put the dough over to the side, for a second rise and checked after an hour. Working but not quite done. With 15 minutes left to go, I hear my daughter say, “Um MOM, little problem here!” Our beloved Turkish Van Astro mistook the rising mound for a CAT pillow! HAHA! There was still life in that there dough so I make a ball and put it in the waiting stove anyway… It worked! Well sort of. The cats sat VERY interested as me and my daughter lit into our first try. The texture was a bit dense due to the “third rise”. I am eating the “Astro loaf now… The flavor and crunch are perfect.

  34. Maria from Pennsylvania

    Please help. I have been making no knead sourdough bread with your help for a few years and I love the results. I have started milling my own flour and the bread is like a brick. I am searching on breadtopia to see if there is a link that will explain what type of grains to use instead of the store flour and can not find any. Could you tell me what grains do you mill for bread flour, whole wheat etc. or if this is at all possible.
    Thank you very much for your help
    Maria

    • Elizabeth

      Maria:

      I also mill my own flour but if you use hard red wheat you need to mix it with some white flour. When I use whole wheat I use a 50/50 mix or it’s hard as a rock. You might try milling soft white wheat berries to see if that helps.

      Elizabeth

      • Maria from Pennsylvania

        Elizabeth, thank you for your answer. I used 1 cup of soft white winter berries for every 2 of prairie gold spring wheat. Do you add more water when you use fresh mill grains? I am going to look at the site you gave me to see if I can get the conversion of commercial to wholemeal flour.
        Thank you so much for your info.

        • Elizabeth

          I can use the exact same measurements in the recipe and there will be times I add extra water and other times it won’t be necessary. I’ve had it happen with fresh and store flour so I can’t say for sure fresh flour requires it.

        • Christine

          Maria,

          I am curious how your bread turned out adding the soft white wheat to the mix. I also mill my own grains and would love to not have to use any storebought flour to get great results.

          • Maria from Pennsylvania

            Christine,
            I wish I could say that it was great but it was not. I also made some with hard red spring and hard white and it was a little better but not much. I did not take a picture so I took one of two slices the one on the right has soft white and the one on the left hard white, as you can see there is not much difference. I can eat it but is too hard specially the crust.
            How do you do yours, how much store bought flour do you use? post a picture I have to try something different because my bread was great using the flour I got at the store.
            I am using a Thermomix to mill my grain and it could be that is not as fine as it should be. I am going to ask my family to give me a Wondermill for my birthday so I have to wait a month to see the difference.
            Good luck

            • Christine

              Hi Maria,

              I haven’t tried to make sourdough bread yet. I have a Nutrimill to grind my grain and a Zojirushi bread machine that I use to make all my dough. I’ve read it’s the only one that will handle whole wheat flour. I like mild wheat so I usually only use hard white wheat for my breads..I do add a teaspoon of gluten to my recipes to help the rise. I don’t use any store bought flour but really miss sourdough bread. I was really hoping to find some good advice here. I do know by accidental experience that soft white wheat berries don’t do well in yeast bread…save those for your cakes, cookies, muffins, cornbread….things that use baking powder or soda and don’t rise much. You can go to the website http://www.breadbeckers.com and find some good bread and roll recipes using all freshly milled wheat however they are definately “knead” recipes and use regular yeast. I will continue my search for a sourdough solution as I am starting a sourdough starter tonight. I will keep you posted if I find anything good. Don’t give up on your freshly milled wheat though. It is a nutritional powerhouse and maybe the solution for now would be to make traditional kneaded bread if at all possible. I’ve included a picture of some Garlic and Herb rolls I made yesterday using freshly milled hard white wheat flour.

              Good Luck!

          • Maria from Pennsylvania

            Christine,
            Your rolls look amazing now I want to make some. Give me the recipe please.
            I order a few days ago the book from breadbeckers.com and can not wait to get it. I would love to order their grain but shipping made it too expensive. I was lucky to find in a store were a live organic grain at a very good prize I order 25 lb of hard spring red and 25 of hard white and I plan to make bread till I get it right.
            I also have a Zojirushi bread machine but it is at least 20 years old, it has only one blade and I do not think it does a good job kneading.
            Look in this web site they have a lot of information on sourdough bread. http://www.northwestsourdough.com/
            If your starter doesn’t work give a try to the one Breadtopia sells or try one from North west sourdough.
            Let me know if it works.

  35. Diane

    I’m trying this Sourdough Bread for the first time. I’m wondering if covering the bread for cooking is crucial. I have made regular bread in the past and never covered it. Would the difference be because the Sourdough has no yeast?
    Thanks,
    Diane

    • Hi Diane. Sourdough does have yeast, it’s just not commercial yeast. So it’s not that. The covering is partly to help hold some of the steam escaping from the baking dough which helps with crust development. It’s a great reason to use covered bakers with the no knead method, but it’s not crucial.

      • Diane

        Thanks! I’m so anxious for the starter to be ready to use so i can make my first sourdough bread!
        Diane

    • Sherry Peck

      Hi Diane,
      My experience has been that covering is not crucial. While it may give you better ovenspring and a more crisp crust, I had no easy covering options a couple of times (when baking at my mom’s house, & when using my long baguette pans), & I was quite happy with my results. In fact, the slightly softer crust (but still crisp) was preferable for my mom. And I was using sourdough in both cases.
      Sherry

      • Diane

        Thanks for your input Sherry!

        Diane

      • CarolynF

        Great information, thanks so much for sharing!

  36. Barbara G

    10/19/11

    Hi:
    Am anxious to bake a loaf of sourdough but the only thing I have is a cast iron skillet. Can I do a rustic round loaf in the cast iron?
    Made my starter from your video and it turned out great.

    Barbara G

    • CarolynF

      Yes, definitely. Have fun!

    • Barbara G

      Thanks will post how it comes out with a photo

  37. sasidhar

    Hi,

    I followed your steps exactly except for the fact that I sat the dough in fridge for about 8 hours over night and left it outside for nearly 12 hours and the dough became slurry to work with , if this happens what can I do?

    please help me by letting me know what I can do in such situations.

    thank you

    regards
    sasi

    • If you’re asking what to do to rescue the dough after the 20 hours, you could try mixing in some more flour and let it proof a bit longer still.

      It’s not uncommon for dough to mysteriously become way wetter after a long proof than what you started with. You get so you know how stiff to make the dough when you’re first mixing up all the ingredients so that after all those hours, it ends up being about the right consistency to work with.

  38. William

    Love this site, just wanted to add a trick that I have had great success with. I use a 2.5 quart corning ware container in place of a dutch oven. Works great!

  39. Bob

    Thank you for your wonderful site. I’m a newbie and am having great success with the no-knead method. My question is about maintaining starter. I would like to bake a loaf roughly every day. If I want to use starter regularly, do you suggest just keeping the starter out (of the refrigerator) and discarding most of it so I’m only working with very small amounts when I feed it? This seems wasteful but I don’t see any alternatives.

    P.S. Right now the recipe seems to work better with just yeast. When I use starter the dough tends to be wet and hard to work with, but I’m working on it. I love the cranberry-pecan variation

    • With daily baking, you could try to keep your starter out of the fridge and keep the quantity small enough to minimize waste.

      Commercial yeast is easier to work with but I think you’ll be happier once you get the knack of of working with sourdough starter.

  40. Bob

    This will be my first sourdough bread. My starter is looking great and
    I think I’m ready to go. I will be baking on a baking stone (quarry tiles) with just maybe a foil pan on top to catch the steam. So I think I might have to bake at a lower temperature I guess 350, does this sound about right

    • 350 is fine. You could go higher (like 400) if you wanted. The important thing is just to bake it until it’s done. 200 – 210 inside.

  41. Catherine Kaikowska

    I am trying to make the most economical bread possible, and am wondering about the necessity of using white bread flour. My local health food store sells only regular whole wheat flour and regular unbleached white flour in bulk. Am I doomed to failure if I use only these flours in my bread? Does adding vital wheat gluten approximate white bread flour?

    Thanks for all your lovely and detailed information, and your timely responses….

    • Erez

      Just try it…
      It took me months of trials till I reached a level that I can be proud of :-)

    • Les

      Regular unbleached white flour works fine. I use it often.

  42. RAY GIRARD

    Can you suggest ways to judge when the starter is at its optimum development after feeding — in terms of time, increase in volume and I suppose appearance? I assume the stage of development is important in determining when the starter is most vigorous and ready to go into the mix —- or can it still be developing, or can it have passed its peak?
    Thanks.
    Ray Girard

  43. Bob

    Plan on making this gread over the weekend I don’t yet have La Cloche bakeware or Dutch oven. how would I do it in traditional oven

    • Sherry Peck

      Hi Bob, I’ve had fine results baking the sourdough no-knead bread recipes in any kind of regular loaf pan, with no lid. Even “disposable” foil pans! It started with my long baguette pans, which are difficult to cover, so I just tried them open & it worked great. Try putting a pan of water in the bottom of the oven for the extra humidity, if possible. Good luck!
      Sherry P.

    • CarolynF

      Hi Bob,
      Over the past few years here on Breadtopia I seen several alternatives such as Romertopf cookers, pyrex casseroles, pizza stone with various kettles over the top, cast iron vessels. I use my what I laughingly call my “frugal cloche” which is an unglazed terracotta tray and flower pot. (you don’t want lead issues so either test them of set the dough on foil or parchment.) The flower pot has a hole in the bottom which can be stuffed with alum. foil; I’ve fashioned a handle using 2 wide washers, 2 nuts, and a large bolt, to make it easier to lift. Think creatively as you look at the various things you have in your kitchen. A pyrex bowl can be inverted and used as a lid on any number of things such as a cookie sheet, pizza stone, clay tray, etc.

      Good luck with your first loaf, and enjoy the process!

      My one piece of advice is…. don’t set the edge of an inverted bowl, pot, kettle, etc onto the edge of your bread dough!! I did that once and it nearly took a chisel to separate them. Bread dough could make great glue! :-)

  44. Sandra

    Hi Carolyn,
    I decided to make a loaf of SD the same way without changing anything, except to measure my dough while it was proofing. I put it in an 8 cup ziplock rectangular container, marked it with tape, measured where it was and where it would be when doubled. I came back 6 and 1/2 hours later to check on it. To my surprise it had already tripled and was over the container. To shorten things, my loaf still turned out about double what I had achieved before with the longer proofing time. Anyway, I believe I am on my way to a good loaf of WW SD bread,
    Thanks for your help,
    Sandra

    • CarolynF

      Hi Sandra…. great idea! I’m glad you’re moving forward. Remember you can chill your dough to extend the proofing time and allow the flavor to develop more.

    • KXJ

      I’ve been having problems the last month with flat loaves too. I thought it was my starter. Then I thought it was my moisture/flour ratio. However, it’s been very cold here (I live in Lusaka, Zambia) so I’ve been proofing my dough overnight in the oven with the light on, resulting in a very warm, moist dough in the morning (overflowing the proofing bowl). Yesterday I left it out all night on the counter (about 60 degrees) and it had only risen a third when I got up so I put it in the oven with the light on for 2 hours (instead of 12) and took it out just when it was slightly more than doubled. It turned out great — just like it used to!! Turns out that overproofing can be a real deflator. Thanks for bringing the issue to this site.

  45. Sandra

    Hi CarolynF,
    Getting a giant glass measuring bowel/cup sounds like a good idea, I guess I do have a hard time judging when it has doubled. I inherited my 50 year old starter from a friend that passed away a few months ago. Truly a treasure. Quick breads are a snap, but I am having to learn how to use my sourdough for bread, as yeast was much more predictable.
    Thanks for your help.
    Sandra

  46. Sandra

    John, thanks for your input. I do think hydration is a factor with my ww bread coming out flat. The next time I make an attempt, I was planning on trying drier dough. As for adding gluten, I have tried that with no noticeable difference. The temperature has been running right about 70. My dough rises okay, then when I put it in my clay baker it flattens out and has absolutely no oven spring. I am still wondering if over proofing would cause a lack of oven spring too.
    Sandra

    • CarolynF

      Hi Sandra,
      How long and how much to let it rise was something I had to learn, too. So I started mixing my dough in a giant 8 cup glass measuring bowl/cup. I can see how much there is when it’s first set to rise and I can tell when it’s actually doubled. It’s helped me a lot. I believe I read somewhere here that’s it’s better to under proof rather than over proof. It’s great your starter is so robust!

      Keep us posted!

  47. Sandra

    I am making 100% WW bread that is coming out flat. My starter is very active and doubles in two hours after it has been fed. It sounds like this maybe a little fast. I thought maybe my dough is over proofing. Should I reduce my proofing times to compensate, if so how much?

    • It’s not unusual for 100% ww bread to come out flat… and dense. I can’t tell if and how much other factors such as temperature, proofing times and hydration level might be contributing to flatness. You might just have to play around to see what helps. At least you know your starter is vital, which is a very good thing to know.

      • John Fitz

        absolutely true that there are a lot of variables in-play here…hydration has been the biggest for me: I’ve tended towards much drier final doughs lately and get much less “spread” and much more “poof”. I also add gluten to my ww loaves ( cheating, I know , but…) and others that are low-gluten flours ( e.g. rye) and that makes a big difference.
        BTW: “yahoo!” on your starter doubling…mine never gets more than 20% “growth” after feeding, but produces really nicely risen loaves. So I’d say you have an excellent starter. :)
        HTH,
        John.

  48. KXJ

    Les — how did you make your solar oven. The loaf is impressive!!

  49. Carolynf

    Les,
    I’m glad you came back to tell us how it’s going. I’ve never come across a solar oven but it’s intriguing to say the least. I’ll be really interested to find out if you put the yeast in this batch or not, so when you test it again please let us know. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your success!

  50. Les V

    I have made 3 more loaves in the solar oven, and they all turn out great. It always clouds up shortly after I get the bread in the oven, so total baking time is averaging about 2.5 to 3 hours. This gives me a nice brown crust and internal temp over 210.
    Here is a link to an album of photos I made of today’s loaf:

    http://community.webshots.com/album/580596015kUwxbb

    I must add here that this is my “cheater” sourdough bread as described in an earlier post of mine. It’s the regular sourdough recipe but using 1 1/2 cup sourdough starter plus 1/2 cup extra flour plus 1 tsp yeast, let rise 2 to 3 hours, form and let rise in proofing basket 1 hour then bake. I have to do it this way because these days I never know when I’m going to have the day off with time and clear enough skies to bake. It’s not as good as the regular recipe, but it’s almost. The extra 1/2 cup flour is required because of the water in the extra starter.
    Actually, I could swear that I forgot to add the yeast to this batch, but it rose fine. Could the starter itself have risen this well in that short length of time? I’m going to have to try a test batch sometime and see.
    When baking in the solar oven I have to leave the lid on the dutch oven for the whole bake cycle because the bread is white enough to reflect the light and heat back out of the oven, leaving the crust soft and not browned. The iron lid absorbs the heat and makes the crust very nice and brown and even a little crunchy. Today the oven temp stayed between 200 and 280 for most of the bake time.

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