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Mary’s 1kg Sourdough Loaf

It's fairly wet dough but as long as you i) fold in a big mixing bowl until you get to the shaping stage and ii) use a straight scraper to help out on the work surface then you should be able to avoid getting your kitchen and yourself covered in glue (I tried and I was tested)! I'm currently using more non-white flour than usual in order to eke out my precious white bread flour during the shortages, but I like it, especially the malted taste. I make a round loaf in a big cast iron casserole ('Dutch oven') - again mainly because it seems less messy than trying to create steam in my oven. You can get a good 'spring' and lovely crust, especially if you assemble what you need in step 8 before getting your hot casserole out of the oven in step 9 ;) These days I do use a proper proving basket as I love the stripey look that it creates but don't be put off if you haven't got one - you can make great tasting bread using a bowl and a tea towel for the proving stage.


100g activated rye starter (requires 50g of rye flour and 50g water to be fed to starter in jar)

350g water

300g strong white bread flour

150g wholewheat bread flour and malted bread flour mixture (50:50 is good but any mix will do)

10g salt

rice flour and semolina for dusting


1. Remove starter in jar from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Feed with 50g of rye flour and 50g of warm water and place in a warm spot (e.g. airing cupboard) for 5 hours until active and bubbly. Alternatively leave at room temperature overnight.

2. In a large bowl, combine 100g of starter with 350g warm water and stir. Then add 450g of flour (white, wholewheat & malted). Gently bring the dough together but don’t overmix. Cover with a tea towel and leave in warm place for 30 minutes. Return leftover starter in jar to the fridge.

3. Add salt to the mixing bowl. Gently pull the salt through the mixture – it will tighten up slightly into proper ‘dough’. Cover with the tea towel and return to warm place for 30 minutes.

4. Stretch and fold the dough by dipping a hand in water, taking hold of the underside of the dough in the bowl and stretching it over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action 3-5 times, rotating the bowl between folds. Stretch and fold at roughly 30-minute intervals for 3 hours. The dough should get ‘billowy’ and increase in volume 20 to 30 percent. If not, let it rise for up to an hour more. Between folds, return the dough to the warm place.

5. Dust your worksurface and the top of the dough with plenty of flour for the pre-shape. Use a soft scraper to tip the dough onto the worksurface and stretch and fold as before. Flip the dough over onto a little more flour. Use a straight scraper to tuck the sides of the dough underneath and rotate to create a smooth round top. Cover with a tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.

6. Dust your proving basket with rice flour. Lightly dust your worksurface and the top of the dough with flour for the final shape. Flip the dough over and stretch it out into a rectangle. Fold in the sides to form a windmill shape, then roll down from the top, applying gentle pressure to stretch out what will become the crust. With the smooth side uppermost, use floured hands to tuck the sides if the dough underneath, rotating the dough on the worksurface and pulling it towards you to increase the tautness of the top. Place the dough upside down (seam-side up) in the proving basket. Pull the edges into the middle and pinch together for one last element of stretch. Cover and place in the fridge to prove for 8-12 hours (or in the warm place for 3-4 hours).

7. Take dough out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

8. Pre-heat your oven to 250C / fan 230C / gas 10, with a lidded casserole inside. Assemble a peel (a flat baking tray will do if you don't have a pizza peel), greaseproof paper, semolina and a razor blade (or your sharpest knife) ready for use.

9. Gently ease the sides of the dough away from the basket to free any sticky spots. Carefully take the casserole out of the oven and sprinkle the bottom with semolina. Put greaseproof paper and a wooden peel over the loaf in the basket and turn it out onto the paper. Transfer the loaf on the paper into the casserole and using the razor blade, confidently slash the top of the dough. Put the lid on quickly, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the lid of the casserole and bake for a further 15 minutes.

11. Once crust is brown, take the casserole out of the oven and allow the loaf to cool slightly.

12. When safe to handle, remove loaf from casserole and cool on a rack for at least an hour.