Weekday Sourdough

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There are days when you want to try out a new sourdough recipe. There are days when you have the time to sit down and improvise; tweaking your own recipe in the search for that 'nirvana' of the bread world. 

And, there are times when you hanker after a straightforward sourdough recipe that, quite simply, 'works'. 

I hope this is the latter. It's modelled on the type of sourdough that San Franciscans know and love. I'd hesitate to call it 'Tartine' sourdough as it does not exactly follow the strict approach used by Chad Robertson over at the Tartine Bakery at 600, Guerrero Street in the Mission District of San Francisco, a wonderful shop from where I bought my first Tartine sourdough loaf. 

However, at 73% hydration, it's a respectable sourdough that is manageable within a busy schedule. I've called it Weekday Sourdough, because it's Monday and it's the sort of bread you should be able to fit in around everything else you need to do. 


850 gms strong white bread flour

150 gms wholemeal flour

700 gms tepid filtered water

20 gms crushed sea salt

200 gms active starter

A note about the ingredients:

Flour - I'm using 13.5% protein strong white bread flour and a basic wholemeal (wholewhat) flour. 

Water - always filtered and always tepid

Salt - Currently, my salt is from Cornwall - sea salt flakes, lightly crushed. 

Starter: this is a rye flour starter. It's been fed 8 hours previously and kept at 20⁰C. For this bake, I feed it at a ratio of 1 part starter to 1 part water and 1 part strong white bread flour. (100 gms of each - the little that is surplus will go back into the motherlode in the refrigerator)


  • Add the flours to a large bowl and mix in the water and then the starter. Mix well to incorporate everything and then cover and leave, at room temperature, for 45 minutes to autolyse. 
  • Add the salt and mix thoroughly. 

Now you have a decision to make. 

For those of you who really do not have a lot of time, knead the dough for about 10 minutes and then leave, covered and at room temperature for several hours until it has doubled in size. 

However, and this is more preferable.....follow the instructions below. 

  • Carry out a set of stretch and folds (Imagine the dough as a compass. Pull up the edge facing north and fold it over into the middle. Then repeat for the remaining three main compass points, west, south and east). Then recover and leave for 30 minutes. 
  • Repeat this stretch and fold process three times more over a two hour period. 

That's the end of the 'work the dough' process. Now we have to allow the dough to ferment. 
  • Tip the dough out into a large container and mark the side with the level the dough is at. Then, cover and place somewhere warm for a few hours. 
  • Don't watch the clock....watch the dough. You're looking for the dough to rise about 80% - 90% above the original volume. Marking the container (or having a straight sided container) can be very helpful. 
In a 'warm place'. 

When the dough has risen to 80% - 90% of the original volume, this bulk fermentation is now at an end. From here on in, handle the dough very carefully. There will be a lot of CO2 trapped in the body of the dough and you want to lose as little as possible. 

Five hours later
  • Using rice flour, if possible, flour a work top and gently tip the dough out onto the surface. 
  • Prepare your bannetons or proofing containers
If you have wicker bannetons, or similar, that's great. However, any bowl will do as a banneton, providing it is well-floured and / or lined with well-floured cloth. Again, rice flour is ideal. Make sure that the size of your banneton matches the dimension of your baking pot, Dutch oven, casserole. Or, if you are baking on a pizza stone or baking steel, then it should be large enough to accommodate the dimensions of the banneton. 
  • Gently, divide the dough into appropriate portions and bring the edges into the middle to form a ball. Turn the ball over so the seams are on the underneath and, with the edges of your palms, drag the ball down the worktop to build up surface tension on the skin of the dough. 
  • Place the dough into the banneton (well-floured), cover or place in a sealed plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. 

My refrigerator is at between 4⁰C and 5⁰C. Remember lower shelves are colder. This process is called cold proofing. The dough will go to sleep and the taste will develop. 
  • Prepare your baking pot and preheat your oven to 240⁰C. 
  • When you're ready, bring the dough out of the refrigerator and gently invert the dough onto a piece of parchment paper or silicone sling.
  • With a sharp blade or razor, slash the dough from the middle to both ends. 
  • Place the dough in the baking pot and bake for 30 minutes with the lid in place.
  • Remove the lid and continue to bake at 230⁰C for 20 - 25 minutes until the dough sounds hollow when tapped on the underneath or the internal temperature has reached 99⁰C. 
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and cool on a rack for at least two hours.

Happy baking. 


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