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The Family Sourdough


210g of tepid water
5g of salt
1 teaspoon of a brown sugar
1 teaspoon of molasses or treacle
175 g of sourdough starter
75g of wholemeal spelt flour
75g of wholemeal bread flour
40g of a rye flour
210g of Canadian strong white bread flour


Put 100g of warm water in the mixing bowl (We use a stand mixer) and dissolve the salt, sugar and molasses in the warm water, then add the remaining 110g of cool water. Add the sourdough starter and give a gentle stir. Add in all the flour and mix gently just until all the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 1 to 2 hours.

We use a combination of mixer and hand kneading for the next stage. Leave the mixer on a low speed for 5 minutes or so. We usually leave it on 1 for most of the time with a burst at 2 for a minute or so. (No reason for this that I know but just habit or superstition?)

While that is mixing prepare a lightly dusted board and have your dough scraper ready. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl – it can be quite sticky at this point. Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes only adding the smallest quantity of flour to the board to allow it to develop a bit of a skin. The inside will remain wet and sticky though. It will be ready when you can stretch the dough enough to see light through it and it does not tear.

Put it back in the bowl, cover with the plate again and leave for 3 hours in moderate warmth – the window in summer or near a radiator in winter.

After 3 hours have your board ready and dust your proving basket generously with flour. Turn out your dough and shape on the board. It will feel a bit sticky still. When you have the shape and size you want, invert the dough into the basket. Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight in the fridge or somewhere cold.

The next morning preheat your oven to 230°C with your Dutch oven in the oven. We use a round Pyrex dish with lid as our Dutch oven so you get to see it rise. If you decide to dust your Dutch oven with flour be prepared for the smoke alarm to go off. Turn your dough out from the basket and place it in the Dutch oven. Sometimes the dough sticks to the basket so it can take a bit of tapping and using your hand to release if from the cane of the basket. Once in the Dutch oven slice the top in whatever pattern you like, cover and place in the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes during which it should rise nicely. After the first 25 minutes remove the lid and bake a further 25 minutes during which time it will colour up nicely. Turn out and allow to cool.