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Soft Sourdough French Bread Without Yeast!

This loaf of soft sourdough French bread contains no yeast, and has that delicious tang from sourdough!

A sliced loaf of Soft Sourdough French Bread No Yeast all baked with a dish of olive oil and vinegar in the background.

This loaf came about because of a lack of good sourdough French bread recipes on the internet.

My birthday was coming up, and I decided that what I wanted most was to have a bruschetta potluck. I would provide the bread and we all would bring toppings!

Of course I wanted to make sourdough for the bread. But a search of the internet brought up no reliable soft sourdough French bread recipes that had no yeast. So I decided to write my own recipe! It turned out beautifully the first time.

And that’s how this sourdough French bread was born! Let’s get to making it…

How to Make Soft Sourdough French Bread

Fed sourdough starter on a scale.

Of course you need to start with an active sourdough starter. An active starter is one that’s been fed 8-12 hours previously, has doubled in bulk, and is bubbly and sour.

Make sure to check out my How to Make Sourdough Starter tutorial over on The Pioneer Woman’s blog if you’re new to sourdough.

The dough in a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment.

Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. The key to soft sourdough French bread is to get the hydration of the dough right. You want it to be really soft, and almost tacky. Definitely lean more towards a wet dough than a dry one! Knead for 15 minutes on medium-low speed (I set my mixer to 2/10).

The risen sourdough french bread dough in a large bowl on a marble surface.

Place in a well oiled bowl and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, about 8-12 hours.

Grease your work surface.

How to Form Soft Sourdough French Bread

First steps for forming a sourdough french bread loaf.

Plop the dough out onto the work surface. Working with greased hands, form the dough:

1) Grab the top edge of the dough, stretch it upwards…

2)…and fold it over to the middle of the dough.

3) Using the side of your hand, press the edge of the fold in place.

4) Grab the close edge of the dough…

5)…stretch it out…

6)…and fold it over the middle of the dough. Using the side of your hand, press the edge of the fold in place.

7 and 8: Repeat with the left edge of the dough.

First step in forming a sourdough French bread loaf.

9 and 10: Repeat with the right edge of the dough.

11 and 12: Repeat once more with the top and bottom edges.

Last steps for forming a soft sourdough French bread loaf.

13) Pinch the seam to seal it.

14) Flip the loaf over and use your hands to stretch the dough under itself to build more surface tension.

15) Pinch the ends of the dough to seal.

16) Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

The formed loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet with a tea towel partially covering it.

Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm spot to double. This can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.

The risen loaf of bread with a tea towel partially covering it.

Here’s what the loaf should look like once it’s nicely risen.

Scoring and Baking

Scoring the soft sourdough French bread with a baker's lame.

Score the dough with a razor blade, lame, or serrated knife.

The baked loaf of bread.

Bake in a 450° oven until golden.

A loaf of Soft Sourdough French Bread No Yeast all baked and on a cooling rack.

Allow your beautiful loaf of soft sourdough French bread to cool completely (or as completely as you can) on a wire cooling rack.

A sliced loaf of Soft Sourdough French Bread No Yeast on a marble surface.

THEN it’s safe to slice it up! I like to slice it on the bias…somehow it makes me feel fancy…?

Dipping a slice of soft sourdough bread into a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Now, besides using this soft sourdough French bread for a bruschetta potluck, it’s also delicious dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat French bread?

More Sourdough Recipes:


A loaf of Soft Sourdough French Bread No Yeast all baked and on a cooling rack.
4.85 from 13 votes
Print

Soft Sourdough French Bread

This loaf of sourdough French bread has no yeast and is delightfully tangy.

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American, French
Keyword bread, Sourdough
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Fermenting Time 22 hours
Total Time 22 hours 45 minutes
Servings 1 loaf
Calories 177 kcal
Author Erica Kastner

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water, 215 grams
  • 1 cup active sourdough starter, 240 grams
  • 3 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour, 470 grams
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp unrefined sea salt, 11 grams
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 18 grams
  • extra olive oil, for work surface

Instructions

Mixing the Dough + First Rise

  1. Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly mix with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough. Attach to the base of the stand mixer and fit with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for 15 minutes. The dough should be quite soft, but clean the sides of the bowl. You can add more flour if the dough seems very wet, but err on the side of wet rather than dry!

  2. Transfer the dough to a well greased, large bowl, turning once to grease the top of the dough. Cover and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, about 8-12 hours.

    The risen sourdough french bread dough in a large bowl on a marble surface.

Forming the Loaf

  1. Grease your work surface. Plop the dough out onto it and gently pat it out to a rectangle. Grab the far edge of the dough and stretch it up and over to the middle of the dough. Use the side of your hand to press the edge of the fold in place. Repeat the stretching, folding, and pressing steps with the bottom edge, left edge, and right edge. Repeat once more with the top and bottom edges. Pinch the seam to seal well.

  2. Flip the dough over and use your hands to push the edges of the dough under itself, creating even more surface tension. Pinch the ends of the loaf to seal.

Second Rise

  1. Place the loaf on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled. This can take anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.

    The risen loaf of bread with a tea towel partially covering it.

Baking the Loaf

  1. About half an hour before the loaf is done rising, preheat your oven to 450°F. Slash the loaf with a razor blade, lame, or serrated knife. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until deep golden.

    The baked loaf of bread.
  2. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing + enjoying!

Recipe Notes

Heavily adapted from Butter For All.

Recipe Rating




Elena

Sunday 17th of October 2021

The recipe doesn’t work very well. the bread did not open as it should . I left it in the refrigerator overnight and baked right after that. The holes were uneven - too large in some places or very small in others. I’m a little disappointed

Erica Kastner

Monday 18th of October 2021

So sorry it didn't work out for you! This recipe is designed to rise at room temperature for both rises, so it will probably work best if you follow the guidelines in the recipe!

Tabitha

Saturday 26th of June 2021

This is my new go-to bread recipe! I’ve been trying sourdough recipes for about 6 months and this is by far the most successful and no-fuss recipe I’ve used! Many other recipes call for baking bread in cast iron (which I don’t have) so this is perfect for me. I am still learning a bit about how to tell when my bread is over-proofed or under-proofed but every loaf I’ve made with this recipe still taste amazing!

Chelsea Koziatek

Saturday 10th of April 2021

Did anyone use steam while baking? I'm nervous it will be pale.

Christi

Thursday 18th of March 2021

Awesome recipe and it’s a keeper! I made this into a boule instead of a loaf. The no-yeast bit is misleading though. A sourdough starter contains wild yeast + bacteria. Only thing we didn’t use here is commercial/baker’s yeast (fresh or dry).

Erica Kastner

Thursday 18th of March 2021

So happy you enjoyed it! I'm using "yeast" to mean commercial yeast. :)

Mari Benjamin

Saturday 27th of February 2021

I just finished shaping the loaf, and I am wondering, do I have to use a tea towel, or can it be a different type of towel? (All the tea towels I have are dirty.)

Erica Kastner

Tuesday 2nd of March 2021

It can be any type of towel or even a clean napkin, as long as it isn't too heavy. That's the advantage of a tea towel: it's thinner than a hand towel usually.

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