08 September 2008


Sourdough is bread with a natural leaven i.e no yeast. Dating back to 1500BC, it is the more than likely to be the original leavening available for bread baking. This is biblical bread.

As sourdough uses no yeast you need to create your own leaven or 'starter' of flour and water, and feed it for several days in the hope of catching the natural yeasts in the air and breeding them, as they breed they give off carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide produces a bubbly mix which (hopefully) will help your bread rise.
I cheated a little by making my starter on my bread baking day, hoping that the yeast in my dough (and therefore in the air in my kitchen) would encourage the natural yeasts in my sourdough to breed.

I used Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall's recipe from 'The family cookbook'

day one

Measure 3 heaped tablespoons of organic strong white flour into a large mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of organic wholemeal flour. Tip in the juice of half a orange and enough lukewarm still mineral water or rain water (I used boiled and cooled tap water but Hugh says not too) to make a thick stir-able dough - about 4 tablespoons.

Stir this mixture and then beat it with a wooden spoon or a whisk for a few minutes to drive air into it. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set it aside in a warm place.

day two

Day two:

Check for frothy bubbles- signs that your mixture is 'breeding' and therefore producing carbon dioxide gas.

Beat in another 4 tbsp of white and wholemeal flour just as before, plus 4 tbsp of water.

Cover with more clingfilm and leave overnight.

day three

Day three:

Hopefully the dough will be quite active - bubbling furiously and rising up the bowl.

Beat in another 4 tbsp of flour and 4 of water.

Cover and leave overnight.
day four

Day four:
Tip in 6 tbsp of organic flour - 5 of white and 1 of wholemeal. Stir well and allow the dough to rise again but just for 2-3 hours this time.

final stage

The dough will look puffy.

Take out 2 tbsp of dough mix and put in a small bowl and put to the side. (This is now your starter for your next loaf.)

Tip in 125ml water and 300g organic strong white flour, plus 2tsp of salt and enough warm water to make a smooth dough.

Mix, knead, prove and bake (200c for 25 - 30 Min's) as you would any other loaf. This loaf will take much longer to rise than a regular loaf and won't rise as much either.

unbaked dough

fresh from the oven

Although this was a lengthy process it wasn't hard work, in fact it was rater fun to keep checking in hope of finding your starter had worked and started breeding.
The starter had a slightly sour smell to it, not unpleasant, rather like beer (unsurprisingly)
The dough was great to work with too, the finished bread was delicious, it wasn't as heavy as I'd expected it had a lovely texture and chewy crust....with a slight sour tang, delicious!


Anna said...

Well done for making sourdough, very brave! :-)

Maria said...

Wow thats some process but worth it! Your bread looks delish ;o)


Anonymous said...

Well done Erica! That looks amazing.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Your patience is impressive! And I'm sure it would work perfectly fine with tap water...gathering rain water seems like a pedantic instruction from Hugh F-W! The bread looks absolutely delicious :D

Linda F said...

Aren't you a clever clogs??? and patient too! Looks fantastic!

Nickki said...

Wow! Great looking bread. Well done! I've been looking at this recipe for ages now, but haven't plucked up the courage to try it yet. :)

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Laura - yes, I thought it was rather pedantic too, lol.
It was a great bread, but yes, it took a lot a patience, I like to see (and eat) results quickly.

Rosie said...

A very beautiful Sourdough bread!! Well done andI bet it tasted SO good!

Rosie x