Sourdough bread

How to make sourdough bread

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(26 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr Cook: 40 mins plus 8 days for the starter and 3 hrs rising

A challenge

Makes 1 loaf

Make a sourdough starter from scratch, then use it to bake a flavoursome loaf of bread with our simple step-by-step recipe.

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal245
  • fat1g
  • saturates0g
  • carbs48g
  • sugars1g
  • fibre2g
  • protein8g
  • salt0.4g


    For the starter

    • 700g strong white flour

    For the loaf

    • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
    • 1 tsp fine salt
    • 1 tbsp clear honey
    • 300g sourdough starter
    • flavourless oil, for greasing


    1. First, make your starter. In a large bowl, mix together 100g of the flour with 125ml slightly warm water. Whisk together until smooth and lump-free.

    2. Transfer the starter to a large jar (a 1-litre Kilner jar is good) or a plastic container. Leave the jar or container lid ajar for 1 hr or so in a warm place (around 25C is ideal), then seal and set aside for 24 hrs.

    3. For the next 6 days, you will need to ‘feed’ the starter. Each day, tip away half of the original starter, add an extra 100g of flour and 125ml slightly warm water, and stir well. Try to do this at the same time every day.

    4. After 3-4 days you should start to see bubbles appearing on the surface, and it will smell yeasty and a little acidic. This is a good indicator that the starter is working.

    5. On day 7, the starter should be quite bubbly and smell much sweeter. It is now ready to be used in baking.

    6. Tip the flour, 225ml warm water, the salt, honey and the starter into a bowl, or a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir with a wooden spoon, or on a slow setting in the machine, until combined – add extra flour if it’s too sticky or a little extra warm water if it’s too dry.

    7. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 mins until soft and elastic – you should be able to stretch it without it tearing. If you‘re using a mixer, turn up the speed a little and mix for 5 mins.

    8. Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for 3 hrs. You may not see much movement, but don’t be disheartened, as sourdough takes much longer to rise than a conventional yeasted bread.

    9. Line a medium-sized bowl with a clean tea towel and flour it really well or, if you have a proving basket, you can use this (see tips below). Tip the dough back onto your work surface and knead briefly to knock out any air bubbles. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and dust it with flour.

    10. Place the dough, seam-side up, in the bowl or proving basket, cover loosely with a sheet of oiled cling film and leave at room temperature until roughly doubled in size. The time it takes for your bread to rise will vary depending on the strength of your starter and the temperature in the room, anywhere from 4-8 hrs. The best indicators are your eyes, so don’t worry too much about timings here. You can also prove your bread overnight in the fridge. Remove it in the morning and let it continue rising for another hour or 2 at room temperature. The slower the rise, the deeper the flavour you will achieve.

    11. Place a large baking tray in the oven, and heat to 230C/210C fan/gas 8. Fill a small roasting tin with a little water and place this in the bottom of the oven to create steam. Remove the baking tray from the oven, sprinkle with flour, then carefully tip the risen dough onto the tray.

    12. Slash the top a few times with a sharp knife, if you like, then bake for 35-40 mins until golden brown. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 20 mins before serving.

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    Comments, questions and tips

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    9th Jun, 2020
    Easy to follow & makes the most lovely bread. Have had a few little blips being new to sourdough baking & have found leaving the dough overnight in the fridge makes it more flavoursome. I was worried about the starter as I forgot to feed it for a couple of days but it seems pretty hard to kill off :)
    Richard Stevens's picture
    Richard Stevens
    17th May, 2020
    I think the flour to water ratio should be 1:1 for the starter (so 100gm flour and 100ml water). And it seems at the end, use 250gm starter, 450gm flour and 250ml water along with the salt and honey. And keep the rest of the starter (approx 200gm) for your next loaf (feed it weekly with 100gm flour and 100ml water).
    Plantyknitter's picture
    21st Apr, 2020
    I made sourdough before but thought I try this recipe. I already had the starter. I must say it was really easy to do and it worked a treat. Due to the Corona Virus I only had plain flour but it worked just fine. The bread was more dense but it tasted great and was much enjoyed by all of us. This week I was lucky to get a strong white bread flour and I’m making it again, let’s see if we get a difference. I use a machine with a dough hook, it makes it so much easier on my arms and wrists. I bake my sourdough in a Dutch Oven (La Cruse) it gives it a lovely crust. This is a great recipe and I shall stick with it.
    Katherine Lynch's picture
    Katherine Lynch
    15th Apr, 2020
    This was the first sourdough recipe I tried (I already had some starter kindly given to me by a friend) and it’s brilliant, had some lovely loaves with this recipe! Make sure you coat the basket if you’re using one, I paste on a cornflour + water mix and then dust the basket with flour to stop it sticking,
    14th Apr, 2020
    Nice and easy to follow, unlike so many out there. Got a good stretch on the dough, got a very lively dough too. Burst out of the proving basket in the fridge!
    25th Jun, 2019
    First attempt at making Sourdough and this recipe turned out to be a complete disaster. Ended up watching an Irish guy on YouTube explain it and it worked perfectly.
    Bente Jo's picture
    Bente Jo
    18th May, 2018
    This recipe does not work. I use equal amounts of water and flour for the starter plus I don't throw half of the starter away each time I feed it. That is complete nonsense. Start with 100g each of water and flour and then feed over the next six days with 50g of each. The dough itself needs at least 12 hours to prove first time round then at least another 4 hours after knocking back depending on ambient temperatures.
    pajbse's picture
    2nd May, 2018
    I think the rise times are ludicrously short. No wonder people report a dense crumb. In my experience It takes whole days of rising, or overnights etc. Very little is going to happen in 3 hours! To develop a decent bubbly soft crumb you need to stop thinking in terms of time, and wait until the dough has doubled in size for the first rise, and again for the second no matter how long this takes.
    5th Apr, 2017
    This was the first time I ever made sourdough, and it produced a beautiful, tangy loaf. Don't be discouraged if the starter smells absolutely disgusting, like vomit, because it does sweeten up and creates a glorious bread. My only fault is that it is quite dense, but once toasted and spread with raw butter it tastes divine!
    lizfisher56's picture
    16th Jan, 2016
    I have tried to make this twice. Both times the starter has separated after a few days and stopped bubbling. I don't like to give up but I think I need to follow a different recipe.


    Sally Young's picture
    Sally Young
    21st Apr, 2020
    When kneading this in the mixer it went from a dough to wet, sloppy and sticky. I added more and more flour, but with no difference. I hate kneading so always use the mixer then give bread dough a quick knead by hand before first prove. Any idea what's going on? Starter was good, flour was new, so not sure what the problem was.....
    Esther_Deputyfoodeditor's picture
    22nd Apr, 2020
    Hey, Esther from the food team here! A sourdough dough is always wetter than a normal dough, it should work by adding slightly more flour if you're worried. I would stick with it and try baking it. Hydration is super important in sourdough, some of my wetter doughs have been my better doughs! thanks for your question.
    18th Apr, 2020
    Fabulous first rise after 3 hours, after brief knead I put in proving basket and left in fridge overnight. Removed from fridge and it’s been at room temp for about 6 hours but no sign that it’s rising again. Any ideas why? Thanks
    Esther_Deputyfoodeditor's picture
    20th Apr, 2020
    Hey, Esther from the food team here! The overnight prove doesn't often mean the dough will rise a huge amount. The flavour will do most of its developing at this stage and it should spring up in the oven. Sourdough is different to an ordinary bread dough as it doesn't rise as rapidly. Thanks for your question1
    8th Aug, 2017
    Not quite sure having read some other sites ... Do you leave your starter in a warm (25°C) room after the initial hour, or put it in the fridge, or just somewhere at normal room temp? "Leave the jar or container lid ajar for 1 hr or so in a warm place (around 25C is ideal), then seal and set aside for 24 hrs." wasn't quite sure.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    14th Aug, 2017
    Thanks for your question. No, you don't need to put it in the fridge, just room temperature. You can pop it in the cupboard if you like.
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