This quick sourdough bread recipe bread is easy make and taste like a real sourdough bread but without the sourdough starter. Baked and flavoured with natural yoghurt, caraway seeds, vinegar and sea salt. You can also use a discarded sourdough starter to flavour this bread, but it’s optional.
Whilst I love the traditional way of making sourdough bread, I do often make this style of bread too. The flavour is very close to the traditional sourdough bread with caraway seeds adding extra earthiness to the bread.
Because we’ll be using normal yeast in this bread, you won’t get as many lovely air bubbles and holes that you’d normally get in traditional sourdough. The commercial yeast makes the distribution of air pockets much neater, and they appear smaller.
To make the sourdough flavour, I’m using yoghurt, vinegar and caraway seeds to react together to give me that slightly sour tangy flavour. You can also add discarded sourdough starter if you had any (but I’m assuming you won’t, so I’ve not added it in this recipe).
Why make quick sourdough bread without a starter ?
- Get the taste of sourdough without the lenghy time that it takes to bake the traditional sourdough
- Use up your discarded sourdough starter for this bread (if you have any – this is optional)
- Easy to make even for beginners
- Takes much less time to bake than traditional sourdough
Can you make sourdough bread without starter?
First of all – and just to put everyone mind at rest – there is no such thing as true sourdough bread that’s ‘quick’ or can be made without a sourdough starter. Yes, you can make sourdough bread without a starter, for example, San Francisco Sourdough Bread, which takes about 7 days to make.
San Francisco Sourdough Bread is made from ‘scratch’ without ‘starter’, but it takes about seven days to make as you gradually increase the amount of fermenting dough. The flavour is amazing, and it’s certainly worth making an effort to make this bread. So, whilst made without a sourdough starter, it’s certainly not quick!
Well, the only thing you can do is to make a cheaters sourdough bread. A bread that will resemble the taste of sourdough, but won’t take that long to make. The trade-off here is that you will need to use commercially produced yeast in this bread.
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Sourdough Bread Baking Resources
- How to make your own sourdough starter >>
- What to do with discarded sourdough starter >>
- Is sourdough gluten free? >>
- Is sourdough easier to digest ? >>
- Bread Baking Tips & Troubleshooting >>
- The essential bread baking equipment to get you started >>
- What to do if you bread sticks to your baking tins >>
- How to re-heat your bread in oven >>
Ingredients & Substitutions
White bread flour
Always use strong or bread flour with good amount of gluten and make sure that your flour hasn’t gone off and is of good quality. I’ve used strong white bread flour in this recipe as it makes the bread lighter, but you can easily use brown or wholemeal bread flour.
If you have leftovers of different bread flours – say wholemeal, rye, white bread flour, you can mix them all together as long as you end up with 500 grams of flour mix at the end. Ideally, you don’t want to add more than 100 grams of low gluten flour – rye flour. If you add to much low gluten flour the white bread flour gluten might not be able to ‘hold’ your bread shape and it might collapse when you bake it.
50% wholemeal bread flour and 50% white bread flour would work as well, just bear in mind that it will change the flavour of your bread.
I use wholemeal rye flour, but if you wanted to make the bread lighter, you can use white rye flour. It has plenty of flavour, but it’s lighter and whiter in colour.
Yogurt is all about flavour in this sourdough bread recipe, so use full-fat plain Greek yogurt for best flavour. Alternativelly you can also use:
- Low fat plain Greek Yogurt
- Keffir yogurt drink (plain)
- Full fat milk (or any type of dairy milk)
- Dairy free milk
- Dairy free yogurt
I really like the combination of rye bread and caraway seeds – they go so well together! They give the bread richer flavour and also add a bit of tang to the bread (which is exactly what you want for this faux sourdough bread)
You can buy caraway seeds in any large supermarket or specialist food shops, such as Mediterian or Eastern European food shops. Caraway seeds are much more in common in Europe, than in UK cooking or baking.
I often buy both whole caraway seeds and ground caraway seeds, as the ground caraway seeds are much more intense in flavour. Use whatever type you have at hand and if you can’t get hold of caraway seeds where you are, don’t worry you can leave them out. The flavour will change, but you will still end up with a lovely tasting bread.
Vinegar is quite essential to this quick sourdough recipe, so don’t skip it. You can use whatever type you have – basic, malted, cider vinegar, vine vinegar or any other flavour.
Vinegar will slightly react (and also compliment) the plain yogurt and add the right amount of tang to your bread.
If you don’t have vinegar, use the same amount of lemon juice instead.
I’ve used quick action yeast in this recipe, which technically is designed to work with just one proving. This means that if you are really short of time, you can knead the bread, shape it and leave it to prove once and bake it straightaway.
The one proving seem to take a little longer than 2 provings divided by 2, but it’s still quicker.
If you are using real yeast, use double the quantity that the recipe card mentions.
I often use smoked sea salt in this recipe, because it works great with the sourdough flavour. You can use any type of salt, just bear in mind it will add a tiny bit of flavour to your bread.
Salt is a personal preference, you can use more or use none – your bread will still rise as salt doesn’t have any impact on the dough, it’s just a flavour thing.
The amount of water will depend on how dry your flour is. The best thing to do is to hold a little flour back, start mixing and kneading and then add more water if the dough needs it. The rye flour will make the dough stickier than usual, so use less water especially if you are not used to handling wet dough.
For me, sugar is a flavour thing and I don’t care much about the fact that it’s a ‘sugar’. Your bread won’t taste sweet if that’s what you are worried about.
Sugar, especially dark molasses sugar, brown sugar or demerera sugar will add flavour and colour to your bread, so it’s definitely worth adding in.
Optional ingredients you can use
These are all about flavour and it’s amazing how you can subtly change the depth and richness of this bread with using extra ingredients.
- Dark – plain chocolate or cocoa powder – Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder or a few squares of melted dark chocolate to add flavour and colour to your bread
- Discarded sourdough starter – this bread recipe is perfect for discarded sourdough starter, just add 2-3 tablespoons of discarded (non-active) sourdough starter to your bread instead of 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt. Keep the yeast quantity in, as discarded sourdough won’t be able to rise your bread on it’s own.
Quantity & bread size
This recipe makes about 750g bread – the best tin to use is 2lb bread tin or equivalent volume basket. You can also make about 12 -14 bread rolls from this recipe.
This recipe is very easy to double or triple – just increase the weight/volume of all ingredients. I often knead (by hand) up to 3x this recipe (about 2.5 kg in weight) and it’s manageable.
Time saving tip
The secret here is to at least double or triple the dough recipe (or get somebody to knead another batch of bread at the same time as you).
The kneading doesn’t actually take much longer if you knead 3 kg or 500grams – it’s still about 10-15 minutes. The beauty is that the bread proving time will be the same and you can put the bread in the oven at the same time, so you are saving time and money.
Regular oven size will fit 6 loaves in large bread tins (or anything like 2 lb cake/bread tins). Three in the middle and 3 at the bottom. I usually remove the bottom shelf or slide it in so that it only just sits off the bottom of the oven. You can do this with regular oven and fan assisted oven. Be careful with gas ovens as the bottom might be way too hot to bake your bread.
In the days, when I used to run my country market bread stall I would always bake 6 large loaves at the same time and kept the temperature of the oven on the highest setting through the duration of the baking.
Important point here is that the bread will still take it’s usuall 30-35 minutes to bake, again saving you time and money when you think about how long it would take you to bake six loaves individually.
Make sure that you have your freezer ready (or your friends and family on stand by…) and once cooled down, freeze whatever you can’t eat within 1-2 days.
How to store your bread
This Quick sourdough bread recipe without starter freezes really well, so it’s well worth making a few loaves at a time. This basic recipe can easily be doubled and you should still be able to knead the dough easily. Then just divide the dough to fit your tins.
How to make this bread
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add the water and leave a little bit out, just in case. The rye flour can make the bread dough a little sticky and you might need more or less water to add depending on the other types of flours you use.
Kneed your quick sourdough bread for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes elastic and very smooth. Shape in a ball and place in oiled bowl, cover with tea towel. Leave it somewhere nice and warm until it doubles in size. This can take up to one hour.
Knock back the bread dough, fold twice and shape by rolling in to a sausage to fit your tin or proving basket. Leave to double in size again.
Slashing the top of your bread
At this point, you can slash the top with bread knife to create the perfect artisan look. Slashing the top of your bread, not only adds an extra rustic look to your bread, but also serves a very practical purpose.
The cuts need to be only 1 cm deep and can be done by sharp knife, craft knife or specialist bread razor. Do this fairly quickly and do not allow the knife to drag the dough. Once in the oven, the cuts allow the bread to rise even more.
Creating steam in your oven
As you are putting your sourdough bread in the oven you might also like to create a bit of steam to help your bread to rise more in the oven. Create steam by placing baking tin at the bottom of your oven before you preheat the oven. Have either ice cubes or boiling water ready and as soon as you place the bread in the oven, throw the ice cubes on the tray (or pour the water).
Shut the door really quickly and be careful when you do this as steam is very hot! The steam softens the top of the dough, which allows it to rise even more in the oven. You can also use a flower water spray can and just mist the top of your bread as it goes in the oven.
Baking & knowing when your bread is done
Your oven should be initially as hot as you can make it (250 C) and after 10 mins reduce it to about 200 C. Bake for about 35 mins (in total) and check by tapping on the bottom of the bread, to see when it is ready. Always check that the bread is baked through by tapping at the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow – it is done. If not, put the bread back into the oven (without the tin).
Cool on wire rack and enjoy with butter!
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Quick sourdough bread recipe without starter
- 400 grams strong white bread flour 3 cups
- 100 grams rye flour 1/2 cup (heaped)
- 100 ml plain white natural yogurt (any kind) 1/2 cup
- 200 ml water 1 cup
- 1-2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt dissolved in water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or demerara, molasses sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons vinegar any type will do
- 1 sachet (7g) dried fast acting yeast this is about 1 1/2 teaspoon
- Weigh all dry ingredients together and add them to a large mixing bowl.
- Mix water, vinegar and yoghurt together and add to the dry mixture.
- Stir initially with a wooden spoon, then turn on to a clean kitchen surface and start kneading.
- Knead the bread for at least 10 minutes to make sure the gluten is nicely woken up and developed. The dough should be elastic and smooth.
- Leave in a bowl covered with a tea towel to double in size. This might take anything up to 45-60 minutes, depending on your room temperature.
- Once risen, shape your dough into the final shape and leave to prove once more. I use prooving baskets for this bread, because of their traditional look and because you get a better crust.
- Once doubled in size (this time it will take it shorter time for the dough to rise) turn carefully on to the baking tray, cut the top of the bread with a sharp serrated knife and put straightaway to a preheated oven.
- The bread should go into a very hot oven. I usually preheat my fan assisted oven to 250 C, but whatever the highest setting on your oven is, will be just fine.
- After the first 10 min, turn the oven down a little, to about 220C. This really depends on how brown you want your bread to be.
- Carry on baking for another 20 min or so, then check if your bread is ready by knocking on the bottom of the bread. If the bread sounds hollow, it's done, if not add it in for another 5 minutes.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.