Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Sourdough Bread from scratch

 I love baking bread,  and I like the idea of using wild yeasts to do it.  I also like the idea of using my sourdough starter, which I have had for a couple of years now, and looking after it so that I will still have it over a number of years into the future.  I have taken it with me on our road trip to Perth last year where I made sourdough bread for our family over there, and then brought it back again, and it survived beautifully. It now even has two offspring as well, just in case the Mother has a problem. Mother is the name that Artisan bakers give to their sourdough starter, ha, ha. It also means that I have extra to give to friends if they would like to start baking bread.

My sourdough Mother, has now been sitting in the fridge for 6 months or so since I last used her to bake bread,  however I have kept feeding her regularly with some plain flour and water. The most important thing with baking sourdough bread,   is to have a vigorous starter.  The starter needs to be fed frequently, until it starts to froth and bubble at the surface and is able to rise and grow itself. I needed to ensure that my starter would be vigorous enough to build my bread dough. The subtle distinctive aromas of the sourdough starter  as it starts to grow, the tactile element of kneading it gently, the satisfaction of the rising of the dough, and then the smell of the freshly baked bread filling everyone with anticipation, is very rewarding and quite addictive. If you think you would like to make some sourdough bread, but don't have a sourdough starter, there is plenty written about it and it is easy to make your own with a little time and patience. However you might have a friend who is already making their own sourdough bread and will happily give you some of their Mother to get started. Or if you live near an Artisan Baker who is making sourdough bread for sale, they might be happy to give you some of their Mother starter if they have some warning in advance. I have found that Artisan Bakers are very proud of their craft and are usually happy to share.

I try to keep at least 500g of Sourdough Starter or "Desem" in Baker's recipe language in the frig at all times.Very occasionally if I am in a hurry and my sourdough starter is active, I will scoop the amount of starter that I need for a loaf from under the surface of the dough and use that to start  a loaf of bread for that day. That method will work, however the resulting loaf is never as good as if I take a small amount and then feed it and grow it over a couple of days.

Activating your Sourdough Starter (the most essential process to ensure a successful loaf of sourdough bread)

For my usual Multigrain Sourdough Bread recipe I use 160g of Desem or starter, so I need to grow my starter from 60g to 160g.  This will take 2-3 days. I take 60g from my Mother dough in the frig, and place it in a dessert size bowl with a lid. Plastic, glass or china doesn't matter. Then in another small bowl, I add 40g of flour and 20 grams of distilled or boiled water and mix that to a paste. The flour and water paste is then mixed into the dough in small batches. A little bit more water may need to be added so that it is a nice consistency, but not runny. The rule of thumb is that I use 2/3 flour and 1/3 water to the weight of flour to add to my sourdough each time to grow it. So for 60 g of sourdough, I use 40 g of flour and 20g of water mixed together and add it to the starter. This is left in a warm spot, covered overnight, and then next day it should have doubled  to about 120g when you weigh it.

You now have 120g of starter. Scoop off 30 grams, bringing your starter back to 90 grams, and start again. I find it hard to throw out that discarded 30 grams so often I keep it in the frig for later. (See my Sourdough Pancake post.) To my 90 grams of starter in the bowl , I do the maths and add  60 grams of flour (2/3) and 30 grams of water (1/3)  mix it together and let it double overnight as well to 180g.  In the morning you will see a change in consistency of the dough, and evidence that it has started fermenting and has grown and it will smell beautifully sour. There will be a few bubbles in there as well. It is starting to work and ferment and it is alive.  So now you have 180 grams of vigorous starter . I scoop off 20 grams so that I have 160 grams as required for my recipe and I am  ready to start making bread. That discarded 20 grams can be added to the 30 grams you have in your frig, add a little more to it to make 60 and you can get that started as well to make more bread or use it for something else.  Now you have a potent starter full of wild yeasts and bacteria. This will rise your bread dough beautifully.

It might seem like a lot of work, but in terms of flavour, crumb, nutrient value, and storage potential, your sourdough bread should be far superior to bread made from a standard packet of yeast.

Sourdough Bread Recipe

This is my basic Sourdough bread recipe that I use most of the time:-

360 g of Bakers Flour (I mostly use the Laubke Rye flour now, however I have used multigrain here)
112g of Other Normal Flour (Normal Plain flour or 1/2 and 1/2 Plain and Wholemeal)
10g salt
140 g of Sourdough starter or Desem which  I have been fermenting for a couple of days
278g water (1 1/4cups approx.) (Best results obtained with warm boiled or distilled water)
21g good local honey
31g Macadamia or Vegetable Oil (any oil can be used but I have found Macadamia is lighter with a nicer flavour)


Mix the Desem with the lukewarm water to which you add in the oil and the honey making a kind of slurry
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and combine well.
Add the Desem, water, oil and honey  mix to the flour and combine well with a large spoon. Rest this dough for 10 minutes in the bowl.
Turn the dough mixture onto an oiled or floured bench and kneed gently for ten seconds folding the dough over itself rather than pounding it.
Knead again gently and place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl  and cover with a moist tea towel or a fitted shower cap.
Place in a warm spot and allow to make a 50% rise. This will take up to 4 hours probably.
When this happens, take it from the bowl, knead it again gently and place your dough in a lightly oiled bread tin.

Allow it to rise again in a warm spot to near the top of your bread tin, this should only take about an hour. Take a very sharp knife and cut a few surface incisions across the top of the dough, and then add a sprinkling of flour or some oatmeal flakes or seeds for that rustic appeal.

Cook in a hot oven at 220 deg for 10 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 200 degrees for 20 minutes.

I then take the bread out of the tin, and put it back in the hot oven on the oven rack for 5 minutes to crisp up the sides of the loaf. Just watch it though so that the top doesn't burn.

Take out the bread, and although it is tempting to eat it straight away because it smells and looks so good, allow it to cool off to just warm as it will keep cooking in the middle.

Your delicious sourdough loaf is now ready to eat.

I often double the quantities of this recipe, and then freeze a sliced loaf for later. Some small fruit buns can also be made with extra dough if you double the quantity.

Best wishes and happy bread making.



  1. Pauline I have two lots of dough rising at the moment. As it is colder here I have the bowls in an esky with a hot water bottle :-)

    1. Chel, I'll remember that technique for when we have a cold snap, LOL.It has been quite cold here though but there is a nice sunny spot on our patio which is great for rising bread.

  2. HI Pauline just found your blog and would love to try to make my own sourdough. Thank you for such clear directions.

    1. Hi Bernie, It is so worthwhile and I am happy you found my blog helpful. Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions along the way. Thanks so much for your comment. It makes blogging worthwhile. Pauline.


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