Sourdough - A Classically straightforward, super and simple step-by-step approach to superior Sourdough.

Welcome to another step-by-step recipe from BreadClub20. Why not drop by our main Facebook page by clicking here.... If you like what you see and enjoy the recipe, we hope you go on to join us by 'Liking' and 'Subscribing'.


Do you want to make sourdough that looks great, is simple to make, tastes like classic sourdough and is super simple? 

Fancy a step-by-step approach? Then you've stopped by just at the right time. 

We're going to make four 1 kg loaves ay 76% hydration - not too high to cause difficulties but not too low to be 

I'm using 2 large plastic mixing bowls that are 30 cms wide and 16 cm deep. Of course, you adapt your equipment to what is at hand. These are my 'weapons of choice'. 

First, a word about my starter. 

Last night I took 130 gms of sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed it with 130 gms of spelt flour and 130 gms of filtered water at room temperature. (Ratio 1:1:1, i.e. 100% hydration) This was then placed in a warm spot (24⁰C) for approximately 8 hours. By breakfast, it has doubled and is ready to use. 

If you haven't a starter to hand, you might like to try making one.

Alternatively, find someone nearby who makes sourdough and ask for some....they'll always have plenty. 

Why spelt? I like using spelt in the starter - it produces a nice, creamy texture that is hungry enough to go to work converting the flour and creating gluten development. I also use rye flour from time to time. 


To each bowl add, in this order: 

750 mls of filtered water at room temperature (if you can't filter your own water, buy the cheapest bottled spring water that your supermarket sells)

100 gms of active starter

200 gms of wholemeal / wholewheat flour

800 gms strong white bread flour

20 gms sea salt (NOT iodised salt)


Mix it thoroughly together. You'll see in the picture below two of my favourite 'weapons' from my kitchen 'armoury': A Scottish porridge spurtle and a lurid green silicone flexible scraper. I really wouldn't be without either. 

Cover. Again, I've found the ideal covers for large bowls - these are disposable shower caps from a company that sells to the dreadlock or long-hair market. They are large and very long lasting. Just awful colours!

Place on the kitchen worktop for 30 minutes. At this point, the temperature of your kitchen isn't significant. In the mornings in tropical Wales, my kitchen can get as warm as 19⁰C! 


What's left of my starter is transferred to a container and placed in the refrigerator ready to be activated prior to the next time I bake. These little soup containers are great. 


Thirty minutes later, I'm ready for the first set of four 'stretch and fold' procedures. The 'stretch and fold' helps develop gluten and gluten is what makes bread out of four simple ingredients. 

I'm terrible at remembering how many 'stretch and fold' procedures I've completed, so I lay out four teaspoons and put one away after every turn. That way I know that when I've run out of teaspoons, I can move on to the next stage. 

If you've never used 'stretch and fold' as a technique, watch this video: 

The only difference with my technique is that I do it one-handed while holding the bowl with the other hand. We all find our own way. As you stretch and fold, the dough tightens up. As a result, you'll find you need less stretches and folds on the third and fourth time of doing it than you needed on the first and second. Be firm, but don't be rough. There's no need. And stop when you feel the dough tightening. 


#1 : Stretch and Fold (30 minutes) 

#2 : Stretch and Fold (30 minutes) 

#3 : Stretch and Fold (30 minutes) 

#4 : Stretch and Fold (30 minutes) 


Mark the level of the dough with a pen or piece of tape. Leave it at room temperature. 

This is where this chart come in very useful. 

I'm using 10% starter / levain (vertical axis) and my kitchen is 19⁰C (horizontal axis). Where the two meet tells me that bulk fermentation should take approximately 11 hours and 19 minutes from start to finish. 

So far:
Initial waiting : 30 minutes
Stretch and fold : 2 hours

That leaves approximately 8 hours and 38 minutes. 

It's usually not far off......I'm waiting for the level to show that the dough has more or less doubled in volume.

Key signs that bulk fermentation has completed:

1. Dough will have risen more or less double the initial volume
2. The surface of the dough will be reasonably full of air bubbles
3. The surface of the dough will be slightly domed. 


OK, let's recap.

We've mixed and waited for 30 minutes. 
We've completed four sets of 'stretch and fold' at 30 minute intervals.
The level of the dough is now marked and it's sitting at room temperature until it doubles in volume.

Gosh, 20⁰C - we're having a heatwave!


The dough has doubled in volume. Right on time! Look at how it is domed and how the marker shows the movement over the course of the day. 

Now, the dough goes in the refrigerator (bottom shelf) overnight. 

This is called cold-proofing.

Incidentally, in 'real time' it's actually 6.20 p.m. - the dough is going to be at 3⁰C for about 16 hours. And that's just fine. 


It's the following morning.....

Preheat your oven to 240⁰C and find yourself a baking container. There will be a selection lying around in most people's kitchen cupboards. Today, I'm using two old cast iron casseroles or faux 'Dutch ovens'. 

I've cut two BBQ baking sheets / oven liners into bread slings to help put the dough into the pots more tidily when they are really too hot to get near. I've also got a garden mister to help provide just a little more steam prior to baking.

Two homemade slings and the garden mister

Two 'temporary' bannetons and the lame. 

You'll remember that we prepared two bowls for a total of four loaves. 


Bring one of the bowls out of the refrigerator when the oven is ready. There is no need to bring the dough back to room temperature. It's continued to rise and is full of lovely air bubbles. 

Carefully tip the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. I always use rice flour at this stage; it makes dough so much easier to handle. 

Divide the dough into two equal portions and carefully being the edges together before flipping it over and forming a boule. It's handy if you can then draw the dough down the worktop towards you using the edges of your palms so that you help create a little tension on the surface of the dough. 

Place the dough into a well-floured 8 inch banneton (if you don't have a banneton, any bowl of roughly the same proportions will suffice...just make sure it's well-floured. It's not staying in there for long, it just shapes the dough for the oven. 

Flip the dough out of the banneton onto a board or, preferably, a sling. 

Using a sharp blade or lame, score the dough with swift strokes. 

Place the dough into the pot, misting before and after.

Immediately replace the lid and  return the pot to the oven and drop the temperature to 230⁰C for 20 minutes. 


After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for about 25 - 30 minutes (the internal temperature of the bread should be about 99⁰C). the bread will be golden to dark brown (it depends on how much you like the caramelisation on the crust).

Remove the bread from the oven onto a cooling rack. Return the pot to the oven and reheat to 240⁰C


Repeat Steps 7 - 9 with the second batch of dough. 

And there you have it....four lovely classic superior sourdough baked using a straightforward, super simple method in a step-by-step approach, BreadClub20 style. 

Remember to leave the bread for at least two hours to allow the crumb to set. 

I hope you'll try it and post your results on our Facebook Page, 

Happy baking....


Popular Posts