This crusty No-Knead Sourdough Bread is easy to make and uses 1 cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter and NO added yeast. Start early and you can have it on the table by dinner, or prep it a day or two before.
In a large mixing bowl, combine starter, water, flour, and salt.
Mix everything together to form a sticky, shaggy dough. You can add up to an extra ¼ cup water but shouldn’t need much more than that, just be patient and keep mixing. You can cheat and use a stand mixer if you have one — use the paddle attachment on medium speed for 30 seconds to a minute.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm area of your kitchen for 1 hour.
Carefully lift the dough and fold it over on itself a few times. The dough will feel pretty dense. It won’t look very pretty, either. Cover it again, and let it rise for 1 more hour.
Repeat the fold-rise two more times for a total of 3 hours. The dough should have a nice smooth texture after the last fold.
Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight (up to 48 hours).
The following morning (or 8-48 hours later), remove the dough from the fridge. Turn onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Leave the dough on the floured surface. Cover and let rest for 1-2 hours.
If using a floured proofing basket or banneton, place the dough ball inside (here’s the one I use). Place the dough in a warm area of your kitchen.
While the dough is resting, prepare a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or similar pot. Lightly grease the bottom of dust with fine cornmeal, or trim a piece of parchment paper to fit.
When the dough is ready, carefully turn it onto the parchment paper or onto the bottom of the Dutch oven. Cover with the lid and place in a warm area of your kitchen. Let it rise for 3 hours — the dough won't rise much but should relax.
One hour before you’re ready to bake, preheat to 500° F (260° C). Adjust a rack in the middle of your oven (make sure there’s enough room for your Dutch oven to be in the center of your oven).
When you’re ready to bake, dusty to loaf with a thin coat of flour and use a sharp knife, scissors, or a lame to make several ½” slashes on the top of the bread. Cover with the lid and place in the oven.
Reduce the temperature to 450° F (230° C) and bake the bread for 35-45 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake for an additional 5-15 minutes, or until the bread is crusty and a deep, gorgeous golden brown. If you have a digital thermometer, it should read at least 210° F (about 98° C) in the center of the loaf, but if you don’t have a thermometer, don’t worry about it (read below about tapping the bottom of your loaf).
Carefully remove the bread from the oven. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely, about two hours (yes, really). The bottom of the bread should make a hollow sound when tapped.
Use starter that's frothy and bubbly. For Amish Friendship Bread starters, this means a starter that's 24-48 hours after being fed.
I know we all love warm bread hot from the oven, but if you slice into this bread too early, the moisture will escape and the bread will dry out. It may also be gummy inside, which is one of those things that you can’t fix once you’ve cut into the loaf. Let your bread finish baking outside the oven by letting it cool on its own. Diehard sourdough bakers sometimes wait up to 8 hours to let the flavor fully develop.
Once cool, store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature or freeze in a Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. You can slice the bread in advance if you only want to remove one slice at a time.
One of the easiest ways to soften hard bread is to quickly spritz and run under water and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350° F (177° C). I have also steamed it in a rice cooker/Instant Pot for 10 minutes and then toasted it in the oven.