Sneak Preview: Make this Classic Sourdough Bread Machine Recipe with No Yeast using the DOUGH cycle on your bread machine. This simple sourdough bread contains four ingredients: starter, water, flour, and salt. The result will be a delicious and beautiful loaf with an open texture and 70% hydration.
Have you ever wondered if you could make sourdough bread without commercial yeast in your bread machine? What if you could use the DOUGH cycle to accomplish the mixing and kneading phases instead of using your hands?
You can! With this recipe, the hard work of mixing and kneading happens in the machine. Then, you get to do the fun part: a few stretch-and-folds, shaping, and then baking in a conventional oven for a superior crust.
No one will ever guess you used a bread machine to mix this tasty sourdough bread.
Why bread machines are not suited for making a traditional sourdough loaf from beginning to end:
Every naturally-leavened sourdough loaf is slightly different. So putting the whole process on a timer would be almost impossible. Besides, a bread machine oven doesn’t get hot enough to produce a good oven spring or a crisp crust that many people like and expect with naturally-leavened sourdough bread.
The few bread machine sourdough recipes I’ve seen online were not simple traditional recipes. Instead, they call for extra ingredients such as sugar or butter and often, a small amount of instant yeast thrown in for good measure. That is a loaf of hybrid sourdough bread, as seen here. Excellent, but not the same!
Some of you might say, “There is a sourdough setting on my bread machine. Why can’t I use that?” That setting refers to making a sourdough starter on any machine I know about. The machine will keep a new starter at the perfect temperature when it’s getting started. Since I use my machine all the time, I don’t want to tie it up.
Why use a bread maker to mix and knead the dough?
- It’s convenient. Dump all the ingredients into the bread maker pan at once and walk away for 20-30 minutes. When you return, the dough will be mixed, kneaded, and ready to put into another container for the long and serious process of rising.
- It’s a life saver for people with arthritic hands.
- A good bread machine does a better job of kneading than most people can accomplish by hand.
Why I prefer a conventional oven for baking naturally-leavened sourdough bread:
I’m particular about the crust on my bread, so I bake ALL of my bread machine recipes in my oven. Why?
- A bread machine does not bake at high enough temperatures. There is no way you can get a thin, blistered, and crispy crust.
- The shape is limited to the shape of your pan.–no boules or batards like you see at the bakery.
- Many people like to cut fancy designs into the top of their bread. It’s incredibly satisfying to produce a beautiful sourdough loaves with an “ear” and big expansion cracks on top.
What you should know about this recipe:
- This recipe yields a 2-pound loaf that is easily mixed in most home bread machines.
- This recipe can produce a loaft of sourdough bread in approximately 24 hours–including an overnight final rise in the fridge.
- No custom bread machine cycles are required for this recipe. If your machine has the capability, you can use them to make the whole process more convenient.
- Although not absolutely required, digital kitchen scales, a bench knife, and a large Dutch oven are suggested.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- STARTER: If you don’t have a starter yet, your first step is to get one. The most basic starter contains flour and water. Because I’m a yogurt maker, I used a little yogurt whey to make my starter. The process can take 10 days up to several weeks to create a starter strong enough to make bread.
If you are impatient, I recommend buying the fresh starter offered by King Arthur Flour. Once you receive it in the mail, follow the directions. You’ll have a starter that’s ready to bake within a couple of days. I’ve tried it. Works great!
I use 100% hydrated starter. That means the amount of water is equal to the amount of flour in WEIGHT. But water is much heavier than flour, so don’t use the same volume of both. My starter looks like a thick paste before it starts to proof.
- WATER: I often use refrigerator-cold bottled water or tap water (chill after it sits on the counter for 24 hours to let the chlorine evaporate). Why cold? Because the paddle action of a bread machine can heat up the dough to nearly 90˚F which can make the dough a bit sticky to knead well in my experience. (Note: This may not be necessary during the wintertime or if your kitchen is quite cool.)
- FLOUR: My recipe calls for 15 grams of whole wheat flour and 485 grams of bread flour for a total of 500 grams of flour. The higher protein in bread flour makes for better oven spring. However, I’ve produced good loaves with all-purpose flour, too.
Regarding the whole wheat: I think a small amount improves the taste, gives the starter extra energy, and enables a higher level of hydration. Whole grains absorb more water than white flour. You can substitute bread flour for whole wheat flour if you prefer, but you may have to adjust the water down a bit.
- SALT: Fine sea salt or table salt will dissolve quickly.
You can cut back the amount of salt if you like, but don’t cut it out completely.
How to make Bread Machine Sourdough Bread – No Commercial Yeast:
Mixing and kneading the dough:
Choose the DOUGH cycle on your machine and press START.
If the bread doesn’t rise long enough during the bulk rise, it may turn out too dense. Sometimes, under-proofed bread will have tunnels between the compact crumb.
If the dough rises too long and over-proofs, the bread will spread out and develop giant tunnels. The flavor and color may be off when you bake it. Oven spring will be less.
Over or under-proofing makes a sad loaf. But don’t let it ruin your day.
You’re one loaf closer to success. The silver lining is that the bread usually tastes delicious even if it’s not Instagram-worthy.
Preheat a conventional oven before taking the shaped dough out of the fridge. Set your oven to 500˚F or as high as it will go. Let it preheat for 45-60 minutes. Set a Dutch oven inside the oven to preheat at the same time.
Be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommended maximum temperature. Some will tell you never to preheat an empty pan. If that’s the case, preheat the oven first. Then, place the bread in the pan, then into the oven. The Dutch oven doesn’t have to be preheated (although I have much better luck when it is).
FAQ about naturally-leavened sourdough bread made in a bread machine:
70%. Using baker’s percentages, 500 grams of flour times .7 equals 350 grams of water.
Yes. Use baker’s percentages to figure out the amount of water you will need in relation to the amount of flour you want to use.
Yes. 250 grams of flour will require 175 grams of water.
Even though you won’t be using your machine for baking the bread, a thousand grams of flour would be too much for all the home machines I know about.
Make one batch and remove the dough after the kneading stops. Then, start another batch. Most machines take about 20-25 minutes to mix and knead a loaf. That does not count pre-programmed preheat cycles or resting phases built into the DOUGH cycle by some machines.
Yes. Remove the dough from the machine when the DOUGH cycle is completed.
Do some stretch-and-folds or slap-and-folds (about 10 times) on a damp flat surface until the dough is smooth and you can stretch a portion of the dough so thin you can see light through it (the windowpane test). The dough will be sticky so keep a bowl of water handy to dip your hands in occasionally.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place it into a lightly-oiled bowl or clear casserole dish (8×8-inch) for the bulk rise. You don’t need to mess with the dough again until it’s ready to shape.
Maybe not. No-knead sourdough recipes and recipes with higher hydration levels than 70% depend on water and time to build gluten.
You could always use the machine to mix the dough, then stop it as soon as it is well mixed. (It will probably take you longer to wash the pan than to mix the dough.) Dough that is too wet won’t knead very well in a bread machine. The paddles can’t get traction with thin dough.
Spray the crust thoroughly with refrigerator-cold water. Then, bake inside a pre-heated Dutch oven at high heat.
Place a cookie sheet or broiler pan onto the bottom rack located directly below the rack holding your bread.
1. Spray the paper with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle the bottom of the dough with semolina flour or cornmeal before turning it out of the banneton or basket.
3. Use a grill sheet cut in the shape of the bottom of your pan instead of parchment paper (my favorite solution because it’s reusable)
Water works better. I keep a bowl of water handy for dipping my hands and keeping them damp. Use a damp bench knife as much as possible and damp fingertips if necessary.
You can use flour if you like but do it sparingly. Too much flour will cause your bread to turn into a sticky mess.
1. The less starter you use, the slower the rise. The slower the rise, the better the flavor.
2. Too much starter contributes to a higher hydration percentage which makes the dough more challenging to manipulate.
3. A long bulk rise period fits into my schedule better.
Playing with the amount of starter and the ambient temperature in the proofing read are both ways to make this bread fit into your life. Less starter and cooler temperatures slow everything down. More starter and higher temperatures accelerate the rising process.
The built-in timer is a huge plus. Since the kneading is on a timer (as part of the DOUGH cycle), you don’t have to worry about how long to knead or if you’re doing it right.
You can set it and walk away. With this sourdough recipe, you don’t need to check the moisture level unless you’re worried that you didn’t measure right. Remember to come back and remove the bread dough from the machine.
In my opinion, the secret to sourdough bread with no yeast is learning to read and handle the starter and dough. That takes experience. Knowing when to go to the next step is crucial and hard to learn from pictures.
The reward for persistence is one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever experienced in the kitchen.
Note to readers as of 1/22/2022: I continue to modify and make this recipe simpler. The video and process pictures have been updated. paula
p.s. A special thanks to V, one of my faithful readers and a fellow bread machine lover, who has encouraged me throughout my sourdough journey. May you have somebody in your life who will do the same.
More recipes and posts related to bread machines:
Did you enjoy this recipe? If so, you can help others and me by leaving a 5-star 🤩 rating in the comment section below. No comment is required.
p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at saladinajar.com.
Hope to see you again soon!
Classic Bread Machine Sourdough Bread Recipe – No Yeast
- 1½ cup + 1 tablespoon water - 350 gr
- ¼ cup bubbly and active sourdough starter - 40 gr
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (substitute with bread flour if preferred) - 15 gr
- 4 cups + 1 tablespoon bread flour - 485 gr
- 2 teaspoons table or sea salt - 11-12 gr
- Add the water, starter, flour, and salt to the bowl (in that order).
- Select the DOUGH cycle and press START.
- When the DOUGH cycle is complete, transfer the dough to a damp surface.
- Stretch and fold the dough using a bench scraper and damp hands. Do this at least 10 times. This technique builds strength so your bread won't spread out like a pancake when you bake it. If the dough won't stretch, cover and let it relax for 15 minutes, then try again. The dough should become smooth and less sticky.
- Shape the dough into a smooth ball with the smooth side up. Place into a bowl or a clear 8 or 9-inch casserole dish. Cover.
- Let the covered container of dough sit on the counter to rise. The proofing process may take 3-10 hours, depending on the temperature, the vitality of your starter, and the amount of starter you use. You can control the timing somewhat by moving the dough to a warmer or cooler location.
- How to tell if the dough has risen enough: The dough should approach almost double its original size. Look for giant bubbles on top and many bubbles covering the sides and bottom of the dough. (This is why a clear container is helpful.) It should jiggle slightly when you shake it.
- Third fold and preshaping: While the dough is still in the bowl or glass dish, use your fingertips (and a small wet spatula if you like) to complete one more round of stretch-and-folds. Use a bench scraper to scoop the dough out of the bowl onto a slightly damp surface. Flip the ball upside down so the smooth side is up. Cover and let the dough relax for 15-30 minutes.
- Use a damp bench scraper to flip the relaxed dough upside down. Use your damp fingers to gently stretch the dough into a larger circle (approximately 10-inches in diameter.
- Next, pick up one side of the circle, then fold it toward the center. Use your fingertips to tap the seams and "glue" them down gently. Continue folding like an envelope.
- Use a push and pull motion with your hands and a bench scraper to make the ball more compact and create tension.NOTE: If your dough turns into a gooey mess, the dough may be overproofed. (Recovery tip: Scrape the dough into a greased 8½ x 4½-inch bread pan and make a sandwich loaf.)
- Place the dough with the smooth side down into a lined banneton, small mixing bowl, or a small colander. (Line the bowl with a well-floured linen or cotton tea towel. Rice flour works best.) Cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes to an hour on the counter. If desired, "stitch" the dough in the banneton to create more tension. (See video.)
- Refrigerate your covered loaf for 8 to 24 hrs.
- Preheat your oven to 500˚F for 45 minutes before you want to bake. If using a Dutch oven, put the lid on and place it into your oven while preheating (unless the manufacturer recommends against heating the pan empty).
- Remove the bread from the refrigerator immediately before you're ready to bake. Sprinkle the top of the dough with semolina or cornmeal while still in the banneton or bowl so it won't stick to your parchment paper. Turn the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Brush off excess flour with a brush.
- Optional: If you like a blistered crust, liberally spray the crust with COLD water. (I keep a small spray bottle in the fridge.)
- Slash the bread with a sharp knife or razor blade using any design you like. The primary slash should be at least 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Keep it simple if you are a beginner. An 'X' works fine. A big "C" makes a nice ear. Move the shaped dough with the parchment paper under it to your preheated Dutch oven.
- Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place it into your oven. Turn the temperature back to 460˚F. After 20 minutes, remove the cover. Turn the oven temperature back to 435˚F and bake for 20 additional minutes. Total time in the oven should be about 40 minutes.
- Bake bread until it registers 207-210˚F in the middle using a quick-read thermometer.
- Cool the baked bread on a rack for an hour or longer before slicing. Cutting the loaf too early will result in gumminess.