Overnight Sourdough

This recipe involves a slow, cold fermentation process that allows the sourdough flavors to develop and intensify. The result is a bread with a beautifully crisp crust, soft interior, and deep, complex flavors. Ideal for those who love a rustic, artisan-style loaf.


5/26/20232 min read

The overnight version of sourdough bread is commonly referred to as "cold fermentation" or "retardation". The primary reason for this is to slow down the fermentation process, thereby extending the proofing time. This process enhances the flavor of the bread and allows the baker to have more control over the timing of the baking process.

During the cold fermentation process, the yeast's activity slows down, allowing the lactic acid bacteria present in the sourdough to produce more acetic acid, which gives the bread a distinctive tangy flavor. Additionally, the slow fermentation process also helps in developing a better dough structure, leading to a better rise and more open crumb.



  1. A kitchen scale.

  2. A glass or plastic container for your starter.

  3. A large mixing bowl.

  4. A Dutch oven or bread cloche.

  5. A banneton (bread proofing basket) or another bowl for shaping and proofing your bread.

  6. A lame or sharp knife for scoring the bread.

  7. A bread thermometer (optional).


  1. 50g sourdough starter.

  2. 350g lukewarm water.

  3. 500g bread flour.

  4. 10g salt.

Starter Creation

(skip if you already have one)
  1. 50g sourdough starter.

  2. 350g lukewarm water.

  3. 500g bread flour.

  4. 10g salt.

Sourdough Steps

  1. Feed your starter 8-12 hours before you plan to make your dough.

  2. When the starter is bubbly and active, combine 50g of starter with 350g of lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Add 500g of bread flour, and mix until no dry flour remains.

  4. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for about 30 minutes.

  5. Add 10g of salt and mix to incorporate.

  6. Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature. Perform stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first 2-3 hours.

  7. After the initial room-temperature fermentation, shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges into the center, then flip it over and use your hands to pull it towards you, creating tension on the surface.

  8. Place the dough seam-side up in a well-floured banneton or a bowl lined with a well-floured towel. Cover, and place it in the refrigerator for a long, slow overnight proof. This can be anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, depending on your schedule.

  9. Preheat your oven to 500F (260C) with the Dutch oven inside.

  10. Carefully turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Score the top with a lame or sharp knife.

  11. Lower the dough (on the parchment) into the hot Dutch oven. Be very careful to avoid burns.

  12. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 450F (230C) and bake for another 10 minutes.

  13. Remove the cover and continue to bake until the bread is a deep brown color and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 20-30 more minutes. Optionally, use a bread thermometer to confirm the bread is done; it should read about 210F (100C) in the center.

  14. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

This overnight version of the sourdough bread recipe allows you to break up the bread-making process, making it more manageable for those who can't dedicate an entire day to baking. Plus, you'll get a wonderful, tangy flavor from the extended fermentation process. Enjoy your baking!