My Love for Sourdough Bread

I LOVE sourdough bread. It’s the best and my absolute favorite kind of bread. However, it wasn’t until I moved to the Bay Area about a decade ago that I had the opportunity to try the characteristic San Francisco-style sourdough bread and fell in love with it!

Over time, I stopped buying pre-packaged bread at the grocery stores, even if it was labeled as sourdough, and started purchasing freshly baked sourdough bread from a local San Francisco bakery in the Ferry Building near my work or from other local bakeries that offer their fresh sourdough bread at grocery stores. After all, San Francisco is considered the mecca of this type of bread, and the bread-baking scene in the Bay Area is amazing, so why not get the best stuff!


Baking Bread At Home 

I never thought that I would someday become a bread baker myself. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, while shopping at the Le Creuset store, that the person at the register asked me if I was buying the Dutch oven to bake bread at home. That’s when I first learned about the “no-knead” bread, which was trending all over Pinterest.

I was amazed at all the home bakers creating these incredibly good-looking rustic breads. I spent days researching to find the perfect recipe to try, and I came across a super helpful video. After watching it, I successfully baked bread at home for the very first time!

Experimenting with Flavors for No Knead Bread

After that, there was no stopping me! If you check out my Instagram feed, you’ll see how I experimented with the no-knead bread recipe. I played with different kinds of flours including whole wheat and plain bread flour, also their proportions and created a variety of flavored breads like sriracha, jalapeño-cheddar, and more. The possibilities were endless, and I loved the therapeutic experience and the joy of baking bread at home.

Now I regularly bake a 50-50 whole wheat and all purpose flour boule every weekend that we use up during the week for breakfast in the morning, to make lunch sandwiches or to accompany some creamy burrata cheese before dinner. 

My Hack for Baking Sourdough Bread Without the Starter

I adore sourdough bread so much that I embarked on a mission to bake it at home. However, every recipe I encountered called for a ‘sourdough starter,’ as the key ingredient and the first step in the process, which I found quite intimidating. Despite hours of research, watching numerous videos, and even seeking guidance from friends who graciously shared their starters, I still couldn’t muster the courage to make my own.

Feeling almost discouraged and on the verge of giving up, I had an ‘aha’ moment. I pondered, ‘What’s sour and commonly used in various baking recipes?’ Then, like a light bulb turning on, it hit me: buttermilk!  

I experimented with it right away, and it was a resounding success! After several batches of sourdough bread baked with buttermilk, I shared them with friends and family. They all agreed that the buttermilk imparted the same delightful sour taste without compromising the porous texture.

A Forgiving Recipe

My super easy and incredibly forgiving sourdough bread recipe calls for very basic ingredients: flour (all-purpose, bread flour, whole wheat flour, spelt, einkorn or a combination – I have tried them all!), salt, instant or active dry yeast (either kind works), water, and humble buttermilk. Homemade buttermilk is amazing, but store-bought reduced-fat buttermilk works just fine. Simply combine all the ingredients in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or a spatula until you have a shaggy dough. The best part is that there’s no need for extensive kneading; instead, you let it double in size with lots of tiny bubbles right on your countertop.

This fermentation process takes at least 12 hours, with 18 hours being the ideal duration to develop that desired sour flavor and the perfect soft, porous texture when you pull it out of the oven. I have outlined step-by-step details below that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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No Knead, No Starter Dutch Oven Sour Boule


  • Author: Vasanti

Description

Recipe for no-knead sourdough bread baked with buttermilk for sour flavor and not the sourdough starter.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour + 1/4 cup for scraping the dough later
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (see Notes)
  • 1 tsp salt (I use fine Himalayan pink salt)
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temp (see Notes)

Instructions

  • Combine all the dry ingredients (listed in the recipe card below) in a bowl. 
  • Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk and water till everything is mixed well.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter, at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
  • After about 12-18 hours, the dough will poof up, almost double in volume and have visible bubbles/holes in it.
  • Transfer the fermented dough to a well floured surface and also sprinkle a little flour all over it.
  • Fold the dough on all sides using a pastry/dough scraper, about 6-7 folds, forming a rough dough ball.
  • If you don’t plan on baking the bread right away, you can loosely wrap the dough ball into a plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Follow the rest of the steps to bake it when ready. 
  • Transfer the dough ball to a bowl, lined with parchment paper and cover with a kitchen towel.
  • Let it stand on the counter top for about ½  an hour so as to let it proof or rise, while you preheat the oven.
  • Preheat the oven, along with a Dutch oven inside it, to 450 deg F.
  • Once the oven is preheated to the required temperature, the dough has proofed or risen a little and the Dutch oven is also preheated, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven (remember, it will be EXTREMELY HOT!).
  • Lift the parchment paper with the dough off the bowl and transfer it into the preheated Dutch oven and cover it with the lid. 
  • Return the Dutch oven into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, take the Dutch oven out of the oven. 
  • Take the lid off. Keeping the oven mitts on, gently lift the bread and remove parchment paper underneath.
  • Return the Dutch oven with the almost baked bread, without the cover, to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes till it develops a darker golden brown crust. 
  • Let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes or more before slicing, otherwise it might look gummy or raw from the inside. 
  • Slice and enjoy it warm or toasted with salted butter, olive oil + balsamic, cheese, jam, or serve it with soup, make sandwiches, etc. See Notes for storage information.

Step-by-Step Details

Step: 1

Combine all the dry ingredients (listed in the recipe card below) in a bowl.

Step: 2

Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the buttermilk and water till everything is mixed well. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter, at room temperature for 12-18 hours.

Step: 3

After about 12-18 hours, the dough will poof up, almost double in volume and have visible bubbles/holes in it.

Step: 4

Transfer the fermented dough to a well floured surface and also sprinkle a little flour all over it.

Step: 5

Fold the dough on all sides using a pastry/dough scraper, about 6-7 folds, forming a rough dough ball. If you don’t plan on baking the bread right away, you can loosely wrap the dough ball into a plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Follow the rest of the steps to bake it when ready.

Step: 6

Transfer the dough ball to a bowl, lined with parchment paper and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it stand on the counter top for about ½ an hour so as to let it proof or rise, while you preheat the oven.

Step: 7

Preheat the oven, along with a Dutch oven inside it, to 450 deg F. Once the oven is preheated to the required temperature, the dough has proofed or risen a little and the Dutch oven is also preheated, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven (remember, it will be EXTREMELY HOT!). Lift the parchment paper with the dough off the bowl and transfer it into the preheated Dutch oven and cover it with the lid. Return the Dutch oven into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Step: 8

After 30 minutes, take the Dutch oven out of the oven. Take the lid off. Keeping the oven mitts on, gently lift the bread and remove parchment paper underneath.

Step: 9

Return the Dutch oven with the almost baked bread, without the cover, to the oven and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes till it develops a darker golden brown crust.

Step: 10

Let it cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes or more before slicing, otherwise it might look gummy or raw from the inside.

Step: 11

Slice and enjoy it warm or toasted with salted butter, olive oil + balsamic, cheese, jam, or serve it with soup, make sandwiches, etc. See Notes for storage information.

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

50-50 works best!

You need a total of 3 cups of flour in this recipe and can play with the ratios of whole wheat to plain flour but for a good, soft, porous and not too dense texture, 50-50 works best!

No Butter Milk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with the same amount of plain nonfat Greek or regular yogurt that does not contain pectin.

Storage?

Store bread in a bread box, airtight plastic container or resealable plastic bag for up to 2 days at room temperature or 5 days in the refrigerator.

How to Freeze?

You can freeze the whole or half of the boule for up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly with aluminum foil and place in a freezer safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for about an hour on the counter before slicing.

Freezing Options

You can also freeze the sliced bread by placing the slices in a freezer safe plastic bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burns.

Recipe Variations

Substitute salt with any kind of salt seasoning like sriracha, ghost pepper salt, garlic salt, onion salt, etc. for different flavor variations.

Make the Jalapeño-Cheddar version by using quartered slices of 1 large fresh jalapeño and 1.5 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese in addition to the ingredients in my recipe. Add them right along with the flour, salt and yeast, before adding the buttermilk and water and then follow the rest of the recipe as is.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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