Sourdough Bread

Who doesn’t love homemade, fresh, crusty bread? Sourdough bread is a definite winner at work and at home. Some people get put off by making bread (especially sourdough) because they find it too hard, it doesn’t bake properly, doesn’t prove to the right size or they don’t know how to create a sourdough starter… well I’ve created a sourdough bread recipe that will cure your fear! Once you have made this simple but delicious bread, you’ll be adding all sorts of different ingredients to pimp up your bread!

Sourdough Bread

Makes: 1 loaf


For the Rye Starter:

Day 1: 50g Wholegrain Rye Flour

Days 2, 3, 4 and 5: 1tbsp Wholegrain Rye Flour

For the Stiff Starter:

85g Strong White Bread Flour

To make the Sourdough Loaf

400g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting

50g Wholemeal Flour, plus extra for the proving basket

50g Rye Flour

12g Fine Sea Salt

Oil for the bowl

400ml Water


Here’s how

To make the Rye Starter:

  1. On day one just mix the flour together with 50ml of cold water. Cover the mixture with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  2. On each consecutive day, add one tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of cold water to your existing starter, and mix together.
  3. By day five it should be nice and lively, with some bubbling and a slightly alcoholic aroma.
  4. To turn this into a stiff starter (used in many sourdoughs), put the strong white bread flour, 50ml of water and 50g of your rye starter into a bowl and mix until combined. Cover with cling film or a shower cap and leave at room temperature for 8-14 hours.

For the Sourdough:

  1. Put 145g of the rested stiff starter and 400ml water into a large bowl and begin to break up the starter into smaller parts by squeezing it through your hands.
  2. Now add the flours, and salt.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and easy to handle. It should take around 10 minutes.
  4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Place the dough back onto the floured surface and knead for a minute or two.
  5. Shape your loaf and place on a lightly floured tea towel or flour a bread basket, and place your dough inside and cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 30-40 minutes.
  6. Preheat an oven to 200°C/400°F.
  7. Place the loaf of bread onto a baking tray, create two slashes on top of your bread and place in the oven. Place 100ml of cold water into an ovenproof bowl and put into the bottom of the oven ─ this will create steam which will help develop the crust and improve the loaf.
  8. Bake for approx. 30 minutes until golden and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom the bread.
  9. Here is a list of some of my favourite flavours to add to my bread: Chorizo, potato and rosemary Prune and pistachio Treacle and walnut Poppy Seeds Red wine soaked raisins with rosemary and thyme- serve the bread with a warm camembert Cheese and marmite

Tip 1: Always use bread flour Buying the right flour is the first task you must get right in order to make great bread. Allison flour is a great quality, trusted and a reliable brand that will help you achieve great results. Bread flour is sometimes described as strong flour as there is a higher protein level in the flour. This means more gluten, so when you knead the bread the dough becomes stretchy and that will help hold the air inside when it is left to rise.

Tip 2: Avoid adding flour when kneading When kneading the bread it is really important to avoid adding any additional flour if possible, as the more flour you add the tighter the dough will become and you will end up with a dough that cant expand and rise due to the amount of flour.

Tip 3: Knead by stretching and rolling back When teaching in my cookery school we focus heavily on the knead as most people don’t knead for long enough. Try holding the dough in one hand and stretching the dough with the other hand until you reach the edge of your work top, the more you knead the stretchier the dough will become.

Tip 4: Prove at room temperature until doubled in size

There is an old wives’ tale that says pop your bread in the airing cupboard. If you speed up the proving time by placing it in a warm place like an airing cupboard you will have a bread with very little taste. The longer you can give your bread to prove the better, so leaving it at normal room temperature to prove and double in size is a much better option. It’s more important that the dough doubles in size than a set length of time as everybody’s kitchens are a different temperate. When your dough has doubled in size it is really important that you knock out all the air so that you have a flat dough. This means that you will get an even rise on your bread when it is being baked.

Tip 5: Add steam for a crisp golden crust When your bread is finally ready to bake, please make sure you pre heat your oven. You need a surge of heat when baking bread to give it a lift so it rises up. I also like to add a little steam to the bread when first baking and I do this by having a water sprayer in the kitchen, I add a little mist to the top of the bread and into the oven as I put the bread in to bake. The moisture on the loaf help crisp up the outside of the bread and it results in having a golden crusty loaf.

Tip 6: Release the steam If you do add water to the oven and you want your loaf to stay crispy, make sure you open the oven door for a few minutes when the bread is cooked to let the steam back out of the oven. If you don’t, your loaf will be golden and crunchy when it first comes out of the oven but 1 hour later it will be soft.

Tip 7: Tap the bottom to check the bread is baked Lastly, to check that your loaf is baked throughout tap the bottom of your loaf. If the loaf sound hollow then your bread is ready.


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