Easiest Sourdough Ever (Using Unfed Starter)

July  1, 2024
4 Ratings
Photo by Elvin Abril
  • Prep time 13 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • makes 2 loaves
Author Notes

Sourdough has certainly had its moment over the last few years, with dads across the country nerding out, determined to master the perfect loaf and purchasing every accessory possible (dad, I’m talking to you). This, in turn, piqued my own interest, and while I started my sourdough journey very unsure of what I was doing, I’ve learned that it doesn't always have to be so complicated. Yes, there’s always a way to get your bread to rise higher, get a crispier crust, and make it taste better than your last, but if what you want is an easy, fairly foolproof recipe, and to wake up and enjoy a warm slice of freshly baked bread, then this recipe is for you.

The recipe uses unfed sourdough starter if you don’t have time to feed it the same day. It's no-knead (with the exception of a few folds), and to speed up the process, only needs one true rise. That being said, if you want more flavor development, do a second, full-day cold ferment in the refrigerator the next day.

Tips & Tricks
• When I say unfed sourdough starter, I don’t mean starter that hasn’t been fed in 3 weeks. I mean starter that’s been fed at least within the week. Still, you can absolutely use newly fed starter, too. (Using unfed starter just allows you to skip the feeding part if you’ve forgotten to do it that day, or if you don’t have time.)
• If you don’t have time to bake it off the next morning before work, shape the dough and transfer it to two well-floured bread baskets/bannetons. Cover and place them in the fridge for the day, then bake off in the evening (to prevent them from overproofing).
• Sourdough is resilient, so as long as you follow the general steps it should turn out tasty. There are always ways to perfect it, but this recipe is meant to help debunk the idea that it’s challenging (as it felt to me when I first started). Experiment and play around with different techniques until you’re happy with it!
• Allowing it to fully cool before slicing will preserve the moisture and keep the steam inside the bread, extending its shelf live. However, it’s almost impossible to to wait for freshly baked bread to cool so don’t get too hung up about it. It will still last a day or too and even longer if you slice it up and freeze it.
Nea Arentzen

What You'll Need
  • 160 grams unfed sourdough starter
  • 600 grams lukewarm water (around 75°F)
  • 20 grams kosher salt
  • 20 grams honey
  • 800 grams bread flour
  1. In the afternoon whenever you get off work (could be 5, could be 7), mix together the sourdough starter, water, salt, and honey in a large bowl until the until starter and salt is dissolved.
  2. Mix in the flour until combined. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes. Wet your fingers, then grab the edge of the dough, pull it up and fold it into the center. Turn the bowl 90º and repeat until you’ve done this on all four side. Cover and let rest 30 minutes more. Repeat the process two more times ending with folding so that you’ve done three full rounds of folding and resting. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight (10 to 12 hours).
  3. The next morning, sprinkle your work surface generously with flour. Transfer the dough to the counter and divide in half (it will be loose). One at a time, pull the edge furtherst away from you over itself into the center, then repeat this all around the dough until you have what resembles a slightly square ball. Flip it upside down, then sprinkle it with flour. Cup your hands over it then pull it toward you, creating friction against the counter while shaping it into a ball. Repeat this until the bottom folds are no longer folds, and more like wrinkles, and the top is tight. Place in a well-floured, round banneton (proofing basket) and repeat with the second half. Cover and proof for 45 minutes.
  4. While the sourdough proofs, preheat the oven to 450ºF/230ºC with a Dutch oven placed on the lower third rack.
  5. Take one proofed loaf and turn onto a piece of parchment paper and score using a sharp knife or a lame. Keep the other proofed loaf in its basket, cover, and place in the fridge to rest until the first loaf is baked.
  6. Take the Dutch oven out of the oven, and place an ice cube into the pot. Then grab the sides of the parchment and transfer the dough to the preheated Dutch oven. Place back into oven and bake, covered, until lightly golden and risen, 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until deeply golden brown, another 15 minutes (if you have a kitchen thermometer, it should read at least 210ºF/98ºC).
  7. Let cool slightly before cutting (see tip) and repeat with the second loaf.

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Nea Arentzen

Recipe by: Nea Arentzen

Content creator & recipe developer

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