Once you get the hang of it, making overnight sourdough bread is a simple thing to add into your schedule…and it tastes delicious!

I love to make food the old fashioned way without lots of extra accessories. In this blog post, I’ll show you how to make overnight sourdough bread without all the extras.

Tools you’ll need for overnight sourdough bread

There’s only 2 things you’ll need to have that you may not have on hand. The first is a kitchen scale. They are really important when you’re baking in order to get consistent results. You can find an inexpensive one on Amazon that will serve you for a long time.

The other thing you’ll need is a cast iron dutch oven for baking the overnight sourdough bread. I’ve been experimenting with how to make sourdough without the dutch oven, but I haven’t gotten consistently good results yet. I’ll share them as soon as I do!

Other than those two items, you should have all the other tools – bowl, wooden spoon, plastic wrap, etc…around the house!

Ingredients for the Overnight Sourdough Bread

Unbleached flour (all purpose or bread flour)

I usually use King Arthur flour because I know it is high in protein which allows the gluten structure to develop well. But I go back and forth between their bread flour and the all purpose flour. Both seem to work well.

No matter what brand you choose, just make sure it is not bleached, as that could also damage your yeast in the starter.

Filtered Water

It is important not to use tap water for this recipe. The chemicals and fluoride in the water can kill your active yeast culture. You’ll want to make sure you’re using some sort of filtered water for this recipe.

Himalayan Sea Salt

I use Himalayan sea salt in my home because the minerals have not been stripped out of it. But any old salt would work fine!

Bubbly and active sourdough starter

I originally got sourdough starter from my brother in law. Over time, though, I learned how to make my own. It was so freeing to know that I had the skills to make it myself if I ever accidentally killed it – like I have done many times!

(Because I’ve killed it a few times, I now keep preserved sourdough starter on hand. You can read my blog post here on how to freeze sourdough starter. I have another blog post here on how to dry sourdough starter. )

I put off making sourdough starter for myself because I was terrified that I would ruin it. When I did it for the first time, I was shocked at how easy it was! I wanted to make it even easier for you by making a Sourdough Starter Checklist that takes all the guesswork out of it. I’ve included instructions on one page, and a handy little checklist on the second page to help you remember where you are in the process. Fill out the information below to have your Sourdough Starter Checklist sent to your email box!

sourdough starter checklist

Feeding the Sourdough Starter

Once you have a starter that is ready to use, you begin by feeding the starter to get it good and bubbly. I usually use 100g. of starter, 100g. of filtered water, and 100g. of unbleached flour. Mix it up and allow it to sit for 6-8 hours until it is doubled in size.

I normally do this around lunchtime so that a couple hours before bedtime it’s ready for me to mix up my dough.

mixing sourdough starter

It should look like this after it’s mixed up. It’s kind of like thick pancake batter. Put a lid on it but it doesn’t need to be screwed on tight. I just put it on and very gently screw it on.

just mixed starter

Make sure you have it in a jar that is at least big enough for the starter to double. It always stinks to come back to sourdough starter drying all over your jar and countertop because your container was too small and it bubbled over!

This one is starting to get bubbly in the picture below. It hasn’t doubled but it’s beginning to work. When it’s all bubbly and doubled in size, you can begin to make your overnight sourdough bread. Again, this normally takes 6-8 hours.

sourdough starter rising

Mixing the Ingredients for Overnight Sourdough Bread

About 2 hours before bed, mix all the ingredients (flour, water, starter, and salt) in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  I begin by mixing my water, salt and starter together with a danish whisk. You can absolutely use a wooden spoon. It works great too. I just love how the danish whisk works for this part!

whisking water, salt and sourdough starter

After you’ve mixed the starter, water and salt, go ahead and add the flour. I add it all at once and then begin to mix it all in.

adding flour to ingredients

Oftentimes you won’t be able to incorporate all the flour into the dough using a wooden spoon or a danish whisk. That’s totally fine! At this point, just use your hands to work the flour in. You don’t need to worry about kneading the dough. Just get to the point where all the dry flour is mixed in.

working the flour into the sourdough

Stretch and Folds

Now, cover the dough with plastic wrap. You’ll need to do 4 sets of stretch and folds in the two hours before you head to bed. So I set the timer for a half hour. Once it goes off, I do a set of stretch and folds and set the timer for a half hour again and do that until I’ve done it 4 times.


It does not have to be that scientific. If you’re less forgetful than I am, you can just wander over to it every half hour or so to do the stretches. It doesn’t technically have to be at 30 minute intervals. Just make sure you get 4 sets in before you go to bed.

overnight sourdough bread dough

Why do stretch and folds?

Doing stretch and folds in sourdough bread is equivalent to kneading regular bread dough. It works the dough to give it more structure and develop the gluten. Sourdough is easy, but not easy enough to mix it and forget it. You’ll want to make sure you do this step in order to have a light and fluffy loaf.

How to do stretch and folds

After it’s been sitting about 30 minutes, uncover it and do a series of “stretch and folds”. You do this by grabbing the dough, stretching it up and folding it over. Turn the dough 1/4 turn and repeat.

Do this 4-8 times until the dough is too tight to stretch. Sometimes when it starts getting tight and won’t stretch easily, I’ll try to stretch it and then bounce the dough to get it to stretch enough for me to fold it over.

After you’ve done 4-8 stretch and pulls, cover the dough with plastic wrap. Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 2 hours, or a total of 4 times.

stretching the overnight sourdough
folding over the overnight sourdough

Initial Rise

After the final stretch and fold, cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise overnight. This is what my dough looked like after the 4 sets of stretch and folds. I covered it and went to bed.

sourdough loaves ready to rise

And this is what it looked like when I woke up in the morning! So puffy and beautiful!

overnight sourdough bread after the overnight rise

One thing I should mention is that sourdough rises faster when it’s warm and slower when it’s cold. So if you house is super warm, it may rise too fast if you sleep for more than 8 hours. I had a batch this summer that was in my super hot house and rose really fast. It was fine, but it did make for a more sour bread!

One thing you’ll learn with sourdough is that there’s no absolutes! But if you have air conditioning and heat, then you’ll probably keep it at a similar temperature all year long. That should help with consistency.

Shaping Your Overnight Sourdough Bread

When you first wake up, you’ll want to shape your loaves. Put a a very very little dusting of flour onto the counter. Then dump the dough out onto the counter and divide it in half.

Bring all four sides into the middle. Then flip it upside down onto an area of the counter that has no flour on it. Begin gently pulling it toward yourself. Give it a quarter turn and do it again until it starts to get a nice taught top – usually 4-6 times or so.

I realized I didn’t have any photos for this portion, so I’m linking this video to show you how to do it. The first 2 minutes of the video are great.

I don’t do what she says after that. I do not let it rest and shape it a second time. I’m a lazy sourdough baker and I think that’s overkill!

So I just fold in the edges, flip it, pull it toward myself a few times to get the top nice and taught and then pop it in the tea towel lined bowl or banneton for the second rise.

Using a bowl for overnight sourdough bread

Once it reaches this point, you can line a mixing bowl with a tea bowl and generously flour the tea towel. I try to make sure I use a bowl with a more narrow bottom. It makes for a taller loaf that way. Flip the loaf upside down into the bowl so the pretty, taught top is on the bottom of the bowl. That will be the top of your bread when you bake it!

Using a banneton for overnight sourdough bread

Alternately, you can use a banneton. I’ve used them with the fabric inside and then just covered it with plastic wrap. I’ve also removed the liner and floured the surface of the banneton and then used the liner to cover it. It gives a really cool circular design to the top of the bread that way.

You absolutely do not need a banneton, but lots of people like to use them!

The 2nd Rise

There are two ways you can do the second rise. Either way, you take the bowl with the dough and cover it up with the rest of the tea towel and let it rise.

sourdough bread ready to rise

Bake Immediately

The first thing you can do is to bake it right away. If you do it this way, after you cover the bread, set it on the stove and preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your cast iron dutch oven inside it. After at least 1 hour, but as much as 2-3 hours later, you can bake it using the instructions below.

Refrigerate and bake in the next 1-3 days

Another way you can do it – and the way I prefer to do it – is to cover the loaf with the tea towel and pop it into the fridge. Let it sit there for 1-3 days and bake it whenever you’d like in that time period.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the cast iron dutch oven inside it. Once it has been preheating for about an hour, take the dough out of the fridge and follow the baking instructions below.

Baking your Overnight Sourdough Bread

When you’re ready to bake the sourdough, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the cast iron dutch oven into the oven while it’s preheating. Allow it to heat for about an hour before you bake your bread.

Rip a piece of parchment paper a little larger than your loaf of bread. This is the brand I use. Dump the loaf of sourdough out onto the parchment paper. The part that was in the bottom of the bowl is now the top of the loaf.

Score it

Use a very sharp knife or a lame to score the dough. You can just make a slash in the bread like I did below. Or you can practice making fancy designs in it. It tastes the same either way!

sourdough bread ready to go into the oven

Once it’s slashed, lift the parchment paper and gently set the dough and parchment inside the dutch oven. Put the lid on quickly and let it cook for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes is up, take off the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes. I usually cook for 10 but my brother in law loves the color to be deeper and lets his go longer. There’s no right way to do it. Just let it cook until it is the color you like to see.

Take it out of the oven and set it on a cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut it until it’s cooled. If you cut it while it’s still hot, it can make the inside of the loaf gummy. People don’t realized that all that steam trapped inside keeps cooking the dough for a while.

overnight sourdough bread

I cook mine one loaf at a time in the dutch oven so I just cook them back to back and it works well for me. Some people say to let the oven and cast iron dutch oven reheat before you make the second loaf. I don’t find that I need to do that.

Do I have to do Stretch and Folds?

If you have a Kitchenaid, it can do the stretching and folding for you by kneading your dough with a dough hook! This is the simplest way to make overnight sourdough bread in my opinion.

Making overnight sourdough bread without stretch and folds

Put all the ingredients into the Kitchenaid, fitted with the dough hook attachment. Turn it on low. As soon as the dough comes together, set a timer for 5 min and let it knead your dough.

Overnight rise

After the 5 minutes, cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise overnight.

Shaping into loaves

In the morning, shape the dough into loaves. At this point, you can throw it into the fridge for 1-3 days, or you can let it rise for about 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven and cast iron dutch oven for an hour and bake the bread following the instructions above.

Here’s a photo I took this morning of the bread I made using this method. See? Perfectly fluffy and golden and beautiful and no stretch and folds!

(As a side note, the loaf below had a 2nd rise in a banneton with no liner. That’s what made the spiral design on top!)

overnight sourdough bread

So that is simple overnight sourdough bread! I’d love to hear how the process goes for you. Let me know in the comments!

Simple Overnight Sourdough Bread

Once you get the hang of it, making overnight sourdough bread is a simple thing to add into your schedule…and it tastes delicious!

Ingredients
  

  • 180 grams Sourdough Starter
  • 660 grams Filtered Water
  • 1050 grams Bread Flour
  • 20 grams Salt

Instructions
 

Feed Your Sourdough Starter

  • Begin by feeding your sourdough starter. I normally do this at lunchtime so it's ready to use in the early evening because I mix up my dough 2 hours before bedtime.
    Place 100g. sourdough starter in a jar with 100g. filtered water and 100g. unbleached flour. Mix well and allow to sit loosely covered for 6-8 hours, until it is doubled in size.

Mix Ingredients

  • About 2 hours before bed, mix all the ingredients (flour, water, starter, and salt) in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
    Oftentimes you won't be able to incorporate all the flour into the dough, so use your hands to work the flour in.

Stretch and Folds

  • Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 30 min. Then uncover it and do a series of "stretch and folds" by grabbing the dough, stretching it up and folding it over. Turn the dough 1/4 turn and repeat. Do this 4-8 times until the dough is too tight to stretch. Cover the dough with plastic wrap.
    Repeat this process every 30 minutes for 2 hours, or a total of 4 times.

1st Rise

  • After the final stretch and fold, cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise overnight.

Shape Loaves

  • When you first wake up, you'll want to shape your loaves. Dump the dough out onto the counter and divide it in about half. 
    On one half of the dough, bring all four sides into the middle. Then flip it upside down and begin gently pulling it toward yourself. Give it a quarter turn and do it again until it starts to get a nice taught top. 
    Once it reaches this point, you can line a mixing bowl with a tea bowl and generously flour the tea towel. I try to make sure I use a tea towel with a more narrow bottom. It makes for a taller loaf that way. Flip the loaf upside down into the bowl so the pretty, taught top is on the bottom of the bowl. That will be the top of your bread when you bake it!
    Alternately, you can use a banneton. I've used them with the fabric inside and then just covered it with plastic wrap. I've also removed the liner and floured the surface of the banneton and then used the liner to cover it. It gives a really cool circular design to the top of the bread that way.
    You absolutely do not need a banneton, but lots of people like to use them!

2nd Rise

  • There are two ways you can do the second rise. Either way, you take the bowl with the dough and cover it up with the rest of the tea towel and let it rise.
    Bake Immediately
    The first thing you can do is to bake it right away. If you do it this way, after you cover the bread, set it on the stove and preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your cast iron dutch oven inside it. After at least 1 hour, but as much as 2-3 hours later, you can bake it using the instructions below.
    Refrigerate and bake in the next 1-3 days
    Another way you can do it – and the way I prefer to do it – is to cover the loaf with the tea towel and pop it into the fridge. Let it sit there for 1-3 days and bake it whenever you'd like in that time period. 
    When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the cast iron dutch oven inside it. Once it has been preheating for about an hour, take the dough out of the fridge and follow the baking instructions below.

Bake

  • When you're ready to bake the sourdough, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the cast iron dutch oven into the oven while it's preheating. Allow it to heat for about an hour before you bake your bread.
    Rip a piece of parchment paper a little larger than your loaf of bread.  This is the brand I use. Dump the loaf of sourdough out onto the parchment paper. The part that was in the bottom of the bowl is now the top of the loaf.
    Use a very sharp knife or a lame to score the dough. You can just make a slash in the bread or you can practice making fancy designs in it. It tastes the same either way!
    Once it's slashed, lift the parchment paper and gently set the dough and parchment inside the dutch oven. Put the lid on quickly and let it cook for 20 minutes. 
    After the 20 minutes is up, take off the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes. I usually cook for 10 but my brother in law loves the color to be deeper and lets his go longer. There's no right way to do it. Just let it cook until it is the color you like to see.
    Take it out of the oven and set it on a cooling rack. Resist the urge to cut it until it's cooled. If you cut it while it's still hot, it can make the inside of the loaf gummy. People don't realized that all that steam trapped inside keeps cooking the dough for a while. 
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8 Replies to “How to Make Basic Overnight Sourdough Bread”

  1. I love seeing all the ways people are perfecting sourdough bread. I can’t stand anything else anymore. We’ll have to put this beside overnight oats and be all set for the day!

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