Fraudulent easy sourdough

June 23, 2021
8 Ratings
  • Prep time 22 hours
  • Cook time 30 hours
  • Makes 1
Author Notes

Ever wanted to make a sourdough and stopped cold at the words "sourdough starter"? Well, you're not alone. Instead, make a cheater's sourdough with active yogurt! —Mandy @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups (405 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (385 grams) plain unsweetened yogurt containing active cultures
  1. NOTES: Let’s talk yogurt for a little bit. It’s important to use a sharp and tangy yogurt for this recipe for the “sourdough” effect, but how do we control that? I’m not, by any means, a yogurt or live culture specialist. But I do know the “older” a live yogurt is (meaning the longer it cultivates at room-temperature), the more tart it tastes and thicker in consistency. If you already make your own yogurt at home, you’d have no problem controlling the desired tartness and thickness of the yogurt. But if you’re using store-bought like I do, choose a plain, unsweetened yogurt that contains pro-biotic/active live culture, with a nice tang to it. If you find your store-bought yogurt not tangy enough, let it sit in your fridge for a few days as the bacterias will continue to grow, and makes the yogurt more tart and thick.
  2. In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, or in a large bowl by hands, mix bread flour, instant dry yeast, salt and plain yogurt on medium-low speed for 2 min until a dough forms. If the dough is too dry and has difficulty coming together, add 1 tbsp more plain yogurt. If you'd like, continue to knead the dough on medium-low speed, or with your hands, for a few more minutes until springy. The dough should be very sticky, but able to retain shapes.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment at room-temperature for 18 hours (NO MORE than 20 hours or the yogurt may spoil and become bitter!), or 6 hours depending on your schedule (note that the amount of yeast varies). The dough should almost doubled when finished.
  4. After fermentation, dust the counter with flour then transfer the dough on top. Use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, fold the dough gently (without crushing all the air bubbles inside) over itself like folding a letter. Turn 90 degrees and fold again. Then shape the dough into a ball-shape. Transfer to a piece of floured parchment paper, then cover a large bowl on top and let proof again for 1 ~ 2 hours. The dough is ready when it almost double in size again, and should not spring back when you press it with a finger.
  5. 45 minutes before the dough's ready, preheat the oven on 450F/225C with a large dutch oven, or a heavy-bottom pot (both should come with lid) inside. To bake the bread, lift the parchment paper to transfer the dough into the preheated pot, cover the lid and bake for 30 min. Then remove the lid, and bake until the crust is golden browned. Let cool on a rack for 20 min.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rena Panush
    Rena Panush
  • Stephanie Lighter
    Stephanie Lighter
  • noreen.gamble
  • Scott Thatcher
    Scott Thatcher
  • CHeeb

17 Reviews

Stephaniej1953 June 8, 2023
I have made this recipe three times and each time my loaf came out hard as a rock like a hockey puck. The taste was fabulous. It absolutely tasted like San Francisco sourdough but the bread was very dense and heavy. Can anybody tell me what I’m doing wrong? I followed the recipe verbatim.
Nicole D. June 8, 2023
Hi Stephanie! Did you try using mrseclaire's suggestions at the very end of the comment thread about adding a little over a cup of room temp water? It looks like that ingredient is missing above.
Stephaniej1953 June 8, 2023
The dough was so wet and almost not able to be handled that I did not add any more water. I will give it a try, thank you.
Rena P. August 27, 2021
Has anyone used non-fat yogurt for this recipe?
Ahtoy June 23, 2021
This recipe has been very reliable for me. I usually do a long autolyse period and cold fermentation according to the max times that Mandy recommends. I time it over 2 or 3 days so that the long rests are overnight, which makes the dough very low maintenance and delicious. I have tried placing the cold fermentation either during the first bulk rise or after shaping. Both work as long as you are paying attention to whether your dough has risen enough without overproofing. I also appreciate Mandy's tips on fermentation in hot climates, like mine. I love the convenience of using yogurt instead of sourdough starter. I am never home frequently enough to care for a starter properly. This recipe allows me to make sourdough wherever I travel to. I have used many types of yogurt successfully. My favorite is Fage, but I recently found that Bulgarian yogurt imparts a unique flavor. Finally, I really appreciate that she suggests the parchment paper method - it prevents burns and clumsy handling, so you get to keep all your hard-won air bubbles! Thanks, Mandy! The book is just amazing, and not only because of this sourdough recipe.
msstein February 21, 2021
I have now SUCCESSFULLY followed mrseclaire valuable suggestions in tweaking this recipe. As suggested, I added a generous cup of room temperature water to the mix and proceeded as directed, and as per Food52 baking instructions. Perfetto! Thanks so much.
msstein January 2, 2021
Well-I had high hopes until I woke this morning with a bowl of dead dough. I used a Greek plain yogurt, followed the directions to a tee and... nada. Any suggestions? Should I not have used Greek yogurt? That's what I had on hand. I've baked many variations of overnight fermentation bread with great results, until now. Help!!
mrseclaire February 19, 2021
Try upping the yeast to 1 scant teaspoon. I used 1 cup of greek yogurt and a little more than 1 cup of water. I've found that the dough needs to be really wet/soggy. Almost too wet to even handle. After 2 hours at room temp, I put the bowl (with the dough in it) in the fridge and let it rest overnight. I made my dough at 2:30pm, put it in the fridge at 4:30pm. Took it out of the fridge at 7:30am and let it sit at room temp until 9:30am (total of 19 hours resting). Took it out of the bowl and placed it on a large teacloth sprinkled with cornmeal (this will help stop it from sticking and also give your bread a great crust) and covered it with another cloth. I let it rest for 2 more hours in the teacloth before putting it in the oven (I followed the usual steps of preheating the oven first with my le creuset in there, etc)
Bread came out perfect. Light, airy, crusty. Perfection!
The biggest different came from making sure the dough was very wet. That, at least for me, always makes my bread lighter and just plain better!
msstein February 19, 2021
Thanks SO much for the suggestions. I’m trying again tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Stephanie L. July 20, 2020
Fantastic recipe my family loved it!
noreen.gamble June 20, 2020
Hi, I have a question... Could you ferment the dough for 8 hours on the counter and then put in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more?
Thank you ahead,
CHeeb June 20, 2020
As a frequent no knead baker,I would say yes Noreen. Refrigerating only brings out more flavor and little chance of yogurt souring beyond safety.
noreen.gamble June 21, 2020
Thank you CHeeb so much for taking the time to answer me. I felt it was ok but I just wasn't 100%
Scott T. May 24, 2020
Super easy, turned out amzingly, first time doing a sourdough style bread, first time using a dutch oven approach. I wish I could share a photo.
Tlcm123 April 19, 2020
I love making bread. One of my all time favorite commercial breads to buy is Turano from Chicago. This is the closest I've ever gotten to replicating the recipe!!!
CHeeb May 25, 2015
Made this with a minor substitution . I did not have the entire 1.5 cups of yogurt. My alternate was to use .5 cups of sour cream with 1.0 cups of yogurt . It worked fine. The heaviness of this dough belies how fine a crumb you will achieve. I aim for 192 degrees internal temp to ensure the dough is cooked inside. This is critical with a heavy dough like this one. It also browned very darkly, maybe due to the dairy components. I rubbed it down with a cold stick of butter for a light coating . This allows smoother slices and doesn't shatter your crust. This is a delightful ,unusual ,method and taste...many thanks
inpatskitchen February 24, 2015
Made this yesterday (the 6 hour method) and we both just loved it! Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful (and easy) recipe!!