This recipe is identical to our yeast-leavened No.8 No-Knead Bread, only we've swapped commercial yeast for homemade starter. Both undergo a long bulk fermentation (that is, a first rise at room temperature) and an extended cold fermentation in the refrigerator, which helps them develop more flavor. The final product will look exactly the same, though you might taste a bit more of that telltale sourdough tang.
Give this no-fuss bread a try, and when you’re ready to tackle a (slightly) more traditional sourdough loaf, check out our recipe for Simple Sourdough.
You can make this bread with both unfed starter (aka discard), or starter that’s been recently fed and allowed to double in size.
As with our other loaves, there are myriad ways to play around with sourdough no-knead bread. Once you’re comfortable with our basic method and recipe, try working other flours into your dough. We recommend swapping up to 50 percent whole-wheat flour, up to 30 percent whole-grain flour, or up to 20 percent rye flour.
You can add any mixins and flavorings while you mix the dough. Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, grated cheese, and chopped olives all work great.
Our recipe calls for you to preheat the Dutch oven while the oven warms up. While you wait, this is a great time to apply a layer of seasoning oil, following the Field Method.
No.8 No-Knead Sourdough Bread
600 grams (4¾ cups) all-purpose or bread flour
9 grams salt (1½ teaspoons fine sea salt or 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt)
420 grams (1¾ cups) water
80 grams (½ cup) starter, fed or unfed
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, water, and starter. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon or nonstick spatula until you can’t see any dry flour; the dough will be sticky and somewhat lumpy. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. During this time, the dough will rise and bubbles will form on the surface and you might see long strands of glutinous dough clinging to the side of the bowl as it rises.
Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and let sit until you’re ready to bake, 1 to 5 days. During this time, the dough is undergoing cold fermentation, which both strengthens the network of gluten (making the dough easier to shape and transfer later) and develops its flavor (to taste more like a sourdough bread).
When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough and place it on a well-floured surface. Stretch and fold one side of the dough over the middle, then repeat with the opposite side (like you’re folding a letter). Rotate the dough one-quarter turn and repeat. Sprinkle the dough and your hands with flour, then fold the sides under to form the dough into a ball (the top of the ball will be stretched and tight, with the seam underneath). Generously flour a clean kitchen towel and drape it over the dough ball. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.
About 1 hour before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven (usually the second rung from the bottom) and place a No.8 Dutch Oven (with its lid) on the rack. If you have a baking stone or steel, place it on the lowest oven rack.
Place a square of parchment paper next to the dough and transfer the dough on top. Cut the parchment into a circle around the dough, leaving about 3 inches of space on all sides. Using a bread lame, razor blade or very sharp knife, score the top of the dough with ½-inch-deep slashes; you can either make a criss-cross or square pattern.
Place the preheated Dutch oven next to the dough, grab two sides of the parchment paper with kitchen towels or potholders (to protect your hands!), and gently drop the dough into the Dutch oven. If the dough looks off center, give the pot a wiggle.
Cover the Dutch oven and transfer to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking until the crust is deeply browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 200°F to 210°F, 35 to 45 minutes longer.
Remove the loaf from the Dutch oven and transfer to a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes, and ideally a couple of hours or longer, before serving.