No-Knead Artisan Sourdough Bread

(adapted from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

The top loaf was made in King Arthur’s Glazed Long Covered Baker and the bottom loaf in the blue Le Creuset 5 qt. Dutch oven

Makes 2 – 1 ¾ lb. cooked bread loaves

See “How to Get Started” tab for Supply and Ingredient list.

To start the sourdough recipe from scratch, I highly recommend the website Simple Sourdough Starter. I have read a lot of instructions and watched quite a few videos and this seems the simplest for me to follow. It looks like a lot of instructions below, but that’s just because I like to break things down into detailed steps to minimize confusion.

You will need 2 cups of starter for the recipe below (1 ½ cups for the recipe and ½ cup to save in a mason jar in your refrigerator for the next time you want to make bread.)

  1. Wash your hands while singing “Happy Birthday” twice. 😉
  2. In a large bowl or KitchenAid mixer with paddle attachment, add 1 ½ cups of starter mix. Put the other ½ cup of starter in the refrigerator, ready to make your next loaves.
  3. Add 2 ¼ cups of lukewarm water (you can’t feel the water on the back of your wrist – not more than 100°).
  4. Add 1.5 tbsp. kosher salt (1 tbsp. + 1 ½ tsp.)
  5. Add 5 ¾ cups of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Just scoop and level off the flour with a straight edge. Don’t pack it down.
  6. Mix until all ingredients are well mixed, scraping the sides of the bowl. It will be sticky. Resist the urge to add more flour. If you’re mixing by hand in a bowl and it gets too hard to mix, use very wet hands to mix it together at the end.
  7. If using a bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap. If using a mixer, scrape into a large plastic tub with a snap-on top. Snap 2 of the 4 sides down to let the dough expand.
  8. Let sit for 4-6 hours. It rises more slowly than white bread dough so it takes a bit longer to rise.
  9. You can cut the dough in half and start forming it now (a serrated knife works well) or wait until it’s been chilled. It’s much easier to handle when chilled a few hours and even better chilled overnight.
  10. If you are only making one loaf, put the other half in the refrigerator and make within 7 days.
  11. Dust your clean hands with flour. Add a bit more flour along the top of the dough and pick up half of the dough. Gently stretch the surface of the dough from the top to the bottom and tuck under. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat 3 more times. This smooths out the surface of the dough and is called “cloaking” the dough. Don’t knead it. It’s ok that the bottom isn’t smooth. It will smooth out when it is baked.

To form the bread, here are instructions for a few alternatives: Loaf Pan, Dutch Oven, or a Free-form “Boule”.

Loaf Pan:

  1. Prepare a 1.5 lb. loaf pan by spraying a non-stick spray on all sides. I prefer canola oil spray. Drop the dough into the loaf pan. Let it sit for at least 40 minutes or, even better, until the dough fills the sides of the pan and rises to the top. This makes for an airier loaf. It doesn’t need to be covered.
  2. Half an hour before you’re ready to cook the bread, turn your oven to 450° and place a metal pan on a lower shelf to preheat.
  3. Just before sliding the dough in the oven, sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and with a sharp knife (I actually use a razor lame now – see supply list) make some ½” slices in the top to give the bread room to expand without randomly cracking. Have fun making your signature slices!
  4. Slide the loaf into the middle of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water in the bottom pan for steam and set the timer to 30 minutes.
  5. Take the bread out when the top looks golden brown or the temperature in the middle of the bread is 190°. I highly recommend an instant read thermometer!

Dutch Oven:

  1. Lightly flour a work surface. Use a pastry cloth or clean dish towel to line a round colander. Dust the cloth with flour.
  2. Transfer the dough to the colander, smooth side down. Cover with the towel and let the dough rise for 1-2 hours. It will be airier the longer it rises, and will taste great even with less time.
  3. Thirty minutes before baking, place a cast-iron Dutch oven (lid on) or enameled cast-iron pot with a lid (on) in the oven; preheat to 475 degrees.
  4. Carefully remove the hot pot from the oven.
  5. Flip the dough into the hot pot from the towel. Don’t worry if it spills over a bit or gets misshapen – it’s homemade – it’s okay!
  6. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the top of the dough. With a sharp knife (I actually use a razor lame now – see supply list) make some ½” slices in the top to give the bread room to expand without randomly cracking.
  7. Immediately cover with the hot lid. Bake for 18 minutes, then reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Uncover and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is dark brown or the thermometer indicates 205 degrees.

Free-form Boule:

  1. Sprinkle corn meal on a pizza peel and place the “boule” (ball) of dough on it or place the boule on parchment paper on a pizza peel. No need to cover. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours. It will be airier the longer it rises, and will taste great even with less time.
  2. Half an hour before you’re ready to cook the bread, turn your oven to 450° and place a Pizza stone on an upper shelf and a broiler pan or cookie sheet on a lower shelf to preheat.
  3. Just before sliding the dough in the oven from the pizza peel or parchment paper, sprinkle a bit of flour on the top of the dough and with a sharp knife (I actually use a razor lame now – see supply list) make some ½” slices in the top to give the bread room to expand without randomly cracking. Have fun making your signature slices!
  4. Slide the loaf into the middle of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot water in the bottom pan for steam and set the timer to 30 minutes. If you’re using parchment paper on the hot stone, remove it after 20 minutes of baking to allow time for the bottom to get “crustier”.
  5. Take the bread out when the top looks golden brown or the temperature in the middle of the bread is 190°. I highly recommend an instant read thermometer!

For any of the shapes, once removing the bread from the oven, flip it onto a cooling rack and flip it back over to cool. Don’t leave it in the pan as the bread will get soft and soggy. Let it cool for ½ hour or so before cutting.