Classic Sourdough Bread

Makes 1 sourdough

Made with the simple basic ingredients of our ancient grain flour and water; there are three distinct stages to making a sourdough loaf (1) The Starter (2) The Ferment and (3) The Dough itself. 

* Alternatively, use Organic Wholemeal Emmer, Organic Wholemeal Spelt Flour or Organic Wholemeal Rye Flour.*

For additional guidance with hints and tips, see our Guide to Sourdough Making alongside our handy Sourdough Starter Table.

Free from Egg, Soya, Dairy, Nuts
Vegetarian, Vegan, Without crystal sugar

Ingredients

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Starter – use this handy chart to help you keep track of your feeding times.

  1. On the first day, put one tablespoon of flour and one of water into a 500ml glass bowl and mix together.
  2. Wet a clean tea towel, wring it out well, lay it over the bowl and leave in a warm place for about 12 hours.
  3. After the 12 hours have passed, add another tablespoon of flour and another of water, mix together, cover with the damp tea towel and leave for another 12 hours.
  4. On day two (24 hours since beginning your starter), stir in the third tablespoon of flour and a third spoon of water, stir to mix, cover again with the damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 12 hours.
  5. For the second feed of day two, add a tablespoon of flour and one of water, stir to mix, cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for 12 hours.
  6. For the first feed of day three (36 hours since beginning your starter), increase the feed by adding two tablespoons of flour and two of water, stir to mix. Re-damp the tea towel if necessary, lay it over the bowl and leave in a warm place for 12 hours.
  7. On the second feed of day three, add one tablespoon of flour and another of water, mix together, cover with the damp tea towel and leave for another 12 hours.
  8. At this point, your starter should be bubbly and ready to create your ferment. If the starter is not showing bubbles, repeat the 12-hour feed and water routine, and ensure the starter is kept in a warm place.

Ferment

  1. Once your starter is bubbly, stir the starter and then measure 50g of the starter into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add 100g flour and 150ml water, stir to make a paste, cover with the damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 4-12 hours until bubbles appear. When bubbly, your ferment is ready to use (you can either dispose of any unused starter after bread making or keep and feed it regularly until your next baking session).

Dough

  1. Dust the inside of the banneton with flour and sprinkle flour over a large oven tray.
  2. Add the white bread flour and water to the bowl of ferment and stir to mix.
  3. When roughly mixed, add the salt and stir until incorporated.
  4. Using your hands gather everything, gently pressing into a sticky ball of dough.
  5. Knead the dough in the bowl for 100 presses without adding flour.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and put into the prepared banneton.
  7. Turn your mixing bowl upside down, place it over the banneton and leave in a warm place until double in size which may take 4 – 12 hours.
  8. Pre-heat the oven.
  9. Remove the mixing bowl and very gently turn the bread out of the banneton onto the prepared oven tray.
  10. Using a very sharp pair of scissors, quickly make two snips into the top of the loaf to form a cross.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  12. Transfer the bread to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Click this link to find a handy Sourdough Starter Chart which when printed has space for you to enter the day and time that you feed your starter with flour and water and to help monitor progress.

This Guide to Sourdough Making contains lots of hints and tips for successful sourdough bread making.

Equipment

25cm/10” Round banneton, baking tray, glass bowl

Temperature

220˚C, Fan 200˚C, 425˚F, Gas7

Cooking time

40-45 minutes
I already had a starter but used this recipe to make sourdough bread. It's easy and I'm in a good routine with it now. Take sourdough starter out of fridge in the morning, make the levain as it suggested, feed sourdough and put back into fridge. That evening add the rest of the flour, water and salt and do the 100 hundred 'presses', sometimes it's quite a wet dough but that's fine. Put it into an oiled bread tin. Next morning bake it, leave to cool and eat. This recipe gives a nice crusty loaf but soft on the inside.
By Faith
22 Sep 2019
As a total sourdough newbie this recipe, both for the starter and the bread, was one of the clearest I've found online. I followed the steps to create the starter exactly as outlined, and found I only needed one further 12 hour cycle for the starter to be ready to use. I similarly followed the recipe for the bread very closely and was very pleasantly surprised at how it all worked out. I let one batch of dough sit in the warm for too long, probably over proving it, with the result that it collapsed a bit, but other loaves have been fine. I now let my dough rise over night in the fridge which works well. I really like that the starter recipe uses just one tbl spoon of flour at a per feed. Some recipes suggest much more but the quantities given here resulted in creating a really strong starter that is producing good bread.
By Michael
29 Nov 2018
I've found with all sourdough recipes that there's a lot of room for interpretation. For this recipe (and this is the first where I've had real success) I used a mother starter that I've made up from reading other blogs, etc. I used that to create my ferment using Dove's Farm white spelt (which was also used to make the mother). I left the ferment for about 12 hours overnight in a relatively cool (18-20 degrees?) kitchen. I then mixed all dough ingredients and kneaded on an unfloured surface (a dough scraper helps here) until it was just smooth. I left this for 5 hours in an oven with its light on and the door ajar to create about 24C, and after each hour, performed four folds to the dough. At the end of the 5 hours, I created a boule by pulling the bread towards me as I rolled it along the surface and then rested on the work surface for 30 minutes. Then I performed the folds again to create tension, left it to sit for a minute to be sure the folds had 'stuck' and tipped it carefully (exposed folds upwards, into a collander lined with a very well-dusted tea towel. After about an hour and 20 minutes I tipped it onto a pizza stone that I had warmed up in an oven from cold to 260C (don't put cold stone into hot oven!). The dough was slashed and spritzed with water first. I then reduced the temperature to 220 for 20 minutes or until it sounded like a drum when the underside was tapped. Folding and shaping techniques were picked up from seriouseats.com's workhorse loaf recipe which is hugely informative and is what I have always used for my yeast-based bread.
By Gareth
05 Nov 2017

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