Sourdough bread

How to make sourdough bread

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • 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.

  • Freezable
Nutrition: per serving
NutrientUnit
kcal245
fat1g
saturates0g
carbs48g
sugars1g
fibre2g
protein8g
salt0.4g
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Ingredients

For the starter

For the loaf

Method

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 5

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

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 8

    Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and cover. 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 10

    Place the dough, seam-side up, in the bowl or proving basket, cover loosely 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.

  • STEP 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.

  • STEP 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.

RECIPE TIPS
BE PATIENT
It can take between one and five days for your starter to begin fermenting, depending on the temperature and environment. Persevere for up to six days – if you still don’t see any signs of life, or the starter smells unpleasant, throw it away and start again. 
DO I NEED A PROVING BASKET?
The dough will rise perfectly well in a bowl, but for the distinctive outline on the side of your loaf, use a proving basket (also called a banneton). Usually made from natural cane woven in a spiral pattern, they come in oval or round shapes. Make sure that you flour the basket really well before using, pushing flour into all the grooves, and never wash it – simply tap out the old flour after every use. You can buy them from cookshops or online at johnlewis.com
STORING YOUR STARTER
If you plan to make sourdough every 2-3 days, keep it at room temperature, and feed it every day or two. If less often, keep the starter in the fridge, feed it once a week, then leave it at room temperature for 24 hours. 
FOR BEST RESULTS
If using the starter from the fridge, leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Always try to use your starter when it is ‘hungry’ (has not been fed for 24 hours). Leave about 200ml of the starter in your jar for the next loaf. 
KEEP A LOAF IN THE FREEZER
Sourdough bread freezes really well, so if you know you won’t eat the whole loaf, freeze half for another day. Defrost on a wire rack, covered with a tea towel, so that the bread doesn’t dry out or develop a soggy bottom. 

Goes well with

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    Rating: 4 out of 5.29 ratings
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