How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

So, y’all keep asking for just a plain sourdough loaf recipe.

Even after the whole world was baking bread last spring (and I thought most of you had gotten it out of your system), I still get people asking about baking sourdough bread.

Who knew this would still be ‘a thing”?

Well, last year, I did an online bread baking class for the gals over at How to Cake It to see if I could ‘ease’ people into baking bread.

You see, when we were knee deep into the first stages of the pandemic last April, everyone was looking for something comforting to do while they stayed at home. All bread bakers around the world said “bake bread…it’s easy”…

Well, if you’re:

  1. not comfortable in the kitchen
  2. not comfortable baking
  3. not comfortable working with yeast
  4. not comfortable with directions like “add flour until it feels right”…

…then, baking a loaf of sourdough bread and getting it right on the first go won’t be a walk in the park.

First Step in Learning About Sourdough and Bread:

When I taught the class, we started easy (with my soda bread recipe which you can find here)…bread you can have in an hour without fussing with yeast.

Second Step in Learning About Sourdough and Bread:

Then we moved onto regular bread that you can make in a day using store bought instant yeast (you can find a great recipe for baguettes in my book)…which, for those of you who haven’t ever baked with yeast, there are some hard rules you need to know so, again, practice makes perfect.

Then we ventured into sourdough.

Third Step in Learning About Sourdough and Bread:

But first we had to learn about ‘all things starter’ (you can learn too if you just go to this post I wrote answering all your questions about sourdough starter)…then we all made a starter together and we checked in for the next week to see how everyone’s baby was growing.

Then we (finally) made a loaf of sourdough.

See what I mean? If you are not patient, things may not go as planned.

Fourth Step in Learning about Sourdough and Bread:

If you’ve gotten this far and never made a loaf of sourdough, I have this recipe for Toasted Walnut and Chocolate Chip Sourdough Loaf (and it’s a good one to start with because it uses a bit or store-bought yeast, just for ‘rising’ insurance, and can use unfed starter (that is, starter that isn’t necessarily active).

But, now I think we’re ready for a plain ol’ loaf of sourdough, amiright?

Now You’re Ready to Make Sourdough!

So, today we are going to make a pretty easy loaf (in terms of sourdough bread standards). There is a ton to learn and if you want to delve a bit deeper into how you can achieve a more open ‘crumb’ and everything-you’ve-always-wanted-to-know-about-autolyse, then you can head over to my friend Emilie’s post here…she also has a fabulous book that was my first book on sourdough baking!!. If you like YouTube videos, I also like this one... Kristen is the queen of the open crumb (aka…big, ‘holey’ bread!!)

One more thing about sourdough – for those of you who are scared of carbs…

It is considered a more digestible bread than regular yeasted breads because of the fermented starter…some people who are gluten intolerant even claim it doesn’t affect their guts like regular bread (you can read all about the healthy stuff here).

So, let’s get to this recipe…

We will start with our starter (yes everything is weighed…it’s the best way to bake…get a scale!). I give you the option of adding a pinch of yeast just until you feel comfortable knowing when your starter is active. You don’t need it, but if it makes you feel better, it’s just insurance.How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

Once everything is mixed, it doesn’t have to look perfect yet. This is a shaggy dough and it will come together as you mix it and get it ready to ‘put to bed’.

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough LoafOnce you’ve used your starter this recipe, you need to feed it (refer back to the starter post here).  Then you can put it back in the fridge for your next loaf (the elastic on the jar is just so you know where the starter level was when you put it in the fridge…it’s good to know because, even though the starter will rise when you take it out, it may also rise in the fridge…albeit much slower).

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

Remember that salt is not of friend of yeast but sugar is (that’s why we add a bit of honey at the beginning)…I like to add the salt during the second knead because the yeast has already had a chance to strengthen.

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

Many people think you need to use flour on your hands when the dough is sticky but, sticky is often good (and too much flour makes your bread more dense). So I like to use the pincer method (you can see Ken Forkish’s method here). When you are kneading the dough, wet your hand in a bowl of water and you’ll be surprised how ‘unsticky’ it is!

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

If you have a banneton (below), which is a wicker rising basket used by many artisan bakers, you can use it to get the pretty circular shapes during the final rising stages. Just remember to flour it well (I find rice flour works best for this … I keep a small dish with extra rice flour in the banneton, then I put the whole thing in a plastic bag and keep it in my cellar)

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

An easier way is to keep the dough ball in a bowl that has been lined with parchment (so there is no need to flip the dough…you can simply lift it out and place it in the cast iron pan).

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

You can see here that you won’t get the pretty circles but you will still see the ‘ear’, which is what happens when you make a cut (see last photo) during the last proof…it gives it an extra lift by providing a space for the bread to spread and creates a beautiful top.

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

It looks like and ear, doesn’t it?

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

You can see here that there are some open holes (and open crumb) but with a higher hydration (a recipe with less flour and more water), along with more stretching and a longer rise, it will be even more open. Also, using higher protein flour (aka bread flour versus all-purpose flour) and sifting your flour into the wet mixture will often give you a better bread texture.

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

So how are you feeling? Do you think you can do it??

I think you can!!

Show me all your loaves…I can’t wait to see them!!!

How to Make A Simple Overnight Sourdough Loaf

Simple Sourdough Bread

It may not seem so simple to you but some sourdough recipes take literally hours and days. This one is pretty straight-forward!

Course bread
Cuisine American
Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 80 grams sourdough starter see above for link on how to make your own
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast optional
  • 370 grams warm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 470 grams bread flour
  • 5 grams salt

Instructions

  1. {timing: first night at 4pm} Take your sourdough starter out of the fridge (assuming you fed it before you put it in), and let it come to room temperature on your counter (it should rise to double where your 'marker' is - see photo above with elastic band) 

  2. {timing: first night at 6pm} By 6pm, the starter should have risen; take out 80 grams and place it in a large bowl, feed remaining starter and place it back in the fridge. Stir together the starter, yeast (if using), honey and water in a bowl, distributing the mixture while mixing together. Add flour into the bowl (sift it in if possible), mixing well, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit for one hour.

  3. {timing: first night 7pm} Add the salt to the dough mixture in the bowl. Combine the dough using a wet hand and folding the dough over from the bottom to top and "pinching" the dough (the Ken Forkish method I talked about above)

  4. {timing: first night 8pm} Repeat the above method, cover and rest for another hour
  5. {timing: first night 9pm} Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, your dough should have doubled in size (warmer kitchen would take less time and a cooler one, more time); give the dough one more turn and pinch, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

  6. [timing: next morning 7am} Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface (the dough will relax when you take it out of the bowl). Taking one section of dough at at time, fold the sections over the rest of the dough until you have a tight ball shape. Then tighten the dough by pulling it towards you by cupping the dough with both your hands. Place a piece of parchment onto your work surface and gently transfer the dough to the paper and gently place into another similar sized bowl to your baking pot. Set aside for another 2 hours or until it is doubled again.

  7. {timing: next day- bake 9am} This recipe uses a dutch oven for baking. Preheat your oven to 500ºF with a rack in the center of the oven. Put the dutch oven with the lid on the rack while the oven preheats. Once the oven has reached the right temperature, quickly pull out the oven rack with the pot and remove the lid to a heat-proof area and then take the dough and carefully lift it, transferring it to the dutch oven. Cover the dutch oven and place it back in the oven. Lower the temperature to 475ºF and bake, covered for 30 minutes then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes (check the bottom for too much browning in case your oven runs hot). When done, tilt the bread out of the dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

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