Ben Starr

The Ultimate Food Geek

Simple Sourdough for Lazy People

This recipe has gone viral on YouTube, as it’s vastly easier than most of the other sourdough recipes out there. Please use sleepy, unfed starter straight from your fridge. No kneading for more than a few seconds. No levain/preferments. No stretching, slapping, or folding. Just 5 minutes of effort on day 1. And 5 more minutes of effort on day 2. It’s as simple as that.

(The “Print” feature is at the bottom of the recipe.)

My Favorite Sourdough Toys:

(I’m an Amazon affiliate. If you buy something from these links, I’ll get a few cents. Thanks!!)

4 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

(The product description says this is black enameled on the inside, and in my video I reference raw but seasoned cast iron. This is the exact Dutch I have been using for years for this recipe and I always assumed it was raw on the inside, but I might be wrong. Regardless…this is my favorite. It’s the perfect size and functionality for this loaf. If this link doesn’t work, search for a 4 quart Dutch oven, approximately 9″ in diameter and 4″ deep.)

Professional Kitchen Scale

(Tough, accurate, runs on AAA batteries rather than pricey ones.)

My favorite oven gloves

(Comfy, fit well, dextrous, totally heatproof.)

My favorite bread knife

(I get a new one every 2 years or so…it’s not that easy to effectively sharpen a serrated knife.)

The Recipe

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 4 oz / 113g sourdough starter (UNFED, straight from the fridge…at 100% hydration…meaning when you feed it, you feed equal WEIGHTS…not cups…of flour and water)
  • 12 oz / 340g water (ideally filtered. These are ounces by weight…not fluid ounces…although they are one and the same when it comes to measuring water.)

Stir to distribute the starter into the water. Then add:

  • 1 lb 4 oz / 567g flour (all purpose OR bread flour, it doesn’t matter. If you want to introduce some whole wheat, you may sub up to 8oz whole grain flour. If you do, add up to 1 additional ounce of water to compensate for the whole grain. 100% whole grain sourdough is not effective with this method.)
  • 0.7 oz / 20g salt (Morton’s Kosher is the brand I use. Avoid iodized table salt, if possible.)

Stir until it’s too stiff to work with a spoon. Use your hand to bring the ingredients together into a uniform dough, about 15 seconds. (If your dough is too sticky, your starter is higher than 100% hydration. Watch my “Troubleshooting Simple Sourdough” video for a fix!)

Oil the bowl and return the dough, covering the bowl. (Or place the dough in an oiled, gallon-sized ziploc bag.)

Rise at room temperature until at least doubled in bulk. For most people, this will take at least 12 hours, though robust starters or warm fermentation temperatures may decrease this time, and starving starters or cold temperatures may extend it upwards of 30 hours or longer. You’ll get to know your starter’s characteristics as you bake more frequently.

Once the dough has doubled, you have an additional window of 12ish hours that the dough can remain at room temperature before it needs to be shaped. (I typically rise about 20 hours before shaping, so I start my dough about 24 hours before I plan to serve bread.) The longer the dough rises, the better the flavor will be. You can also refrigerate this dough immediately after mixing, for up to 4 days. Remove from the fridge 3-4 hours before shaping.

Shape the dough and place it into a GREASED baking vessel…a Dutch oven or loaf pan. Cover and rise on the counter-top for 90 minutes. (NOTE: If your initial rise was fast…less than about 12 hours…your second rise should only be 45-60 minutes. If your initial rise took longer than 30 hours, your second rise may need to be 120 minutes or longer. You will learn your starter’s ideal timing the more you bake with this method.)

(If your dough is too wet and sticky to handle, your starter is over 100% hydration. Discard all but 2 ounces of starter, feed with 4 ounces flour and 4 ounces of water, sit for 1 hour at room temp, then refrigerate. The next day, repeat this step. This will bring your starter closer to the 100% hydration rate that works for this recipe. Salvage THIS dough by kneading in a little more flour until the dough is firm enough to shape.)

Score the loaf, either with a razor blade or lame, or with scissors. Place into a cold (un-preheated) oven and turn the oven on to 425F / 220C oven and bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from baking vessel and cool fully before slicing.

This recipe can be baked in a 9″ loaf pan. Ideally, invert another loaf pan of the same size on top of the loaf pan containing the dough, to create the same moisture-concentrating effect as the Dutch oven. Bake for the same amount of time, starting in a cold oven and turning on to 425F, for 45 minutes covered with the other loaf pan, and 15 minutes uncovered.

This recipe can be baked in a cloche or multicooker. Place the shaped loaf onto some parchment on the base of your cloche, score it, then cover with the lid and let rise according to the times in the recipe. Bake according to the recipe.

This recipe can be baked on a baking stone or steel. After shaping, place the loaf on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet, and cover with a bowl to rise for 2-3 hours, or until it is almost double. Preheat your baking stone/steel at 475F for about 30-45 minutes before baking. When the loaf is proofed, score it and spritz it with water, then move the pan to the oven on top of the baking stone/steel. Toss a few ice cubes into the oven to create steam. Close the oven and immediately lower the temp to 425F. Bake 45 minutes.

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