How to make sourdough bread

Bread made from a sourdough starter has the deepest flavour, a wonderful crust and a chewy crumb. It is the best bread you can bake...

Bread made from a sourdough starter has the deepest flavour, a wonderful crust and a chewy crumb. It is the best bread you can bake but also, perhaps, the trickiest and therefore a wonderful challenge for a home baker!

The loaf is made with just three ingredients: flour, salt and water. There is no commercial yeast in the dough; it is risen using a homemade, lively, sourdough starter. Marriage's Millers have some top tips for those eager to attempt sourdough but are too scared to try!

What equipment will I need to make sourdough at home?

  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Scales (digital if possible)
  • Proving basket
  • Baking tray/stone
  • Tea towel
  • Plastic container
  • Knife

What flours can be used to make sourdough?

We’d suggest starting with Marriage’s Finest Strong White (1.5kg) or Organic Strong White (1kg). Think of the first few loaves as test runs; it takes several batches for your starter to become established and for you to get the measure and rhythm of working with this unpredictable dough. Once you are happy with the method you can experiment using different flours or combinations of flours. For a nice flavour you can add ancient grain flour such as Spelt and Rye – different bread recipes include different proportions of ancient grains. Marriage’s produce Light Spelt and Dark Rye in 1kg bags for home bakers:

  • Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat. It has a delicious, slightly nutty flavour and is very versatile.
  • Rye flour is darker, with a strong, distinctive flavour. A loaf made with 100% Rye flour has a very dense, close texture, as its low in gluten, so many people mix it with some white or wholemeal flour to give it a lighter texture.

Where do I start?!

The first thing to do when baking sourdough at home is to create a mother dough. You should only use fully active mother dough - follow our instructions for ‘How to Create a Mother Dough’ here. It will take a few days to get your mother dough going but then it can be kept in the fridge and fed with more flour and water to use in future batches for years to come.

How do I take care of my mother dough?

Once it has formed (after 7 days) the mother dough is best kept in the fridge - this will ensure that it’s kept at a consistent temperature all year round. If you bake 2-3 times a week – feed your mother dough every day. Remove 200g and replace with 100g of Marriage’s Finest Strong White flour plus 100ml cold water (to bring the mixture back to 300g). Mix well until it’s a smooth consistency.

Other tips:

  • Whenever possible measure the ingredients using digital scales rather than measuring cups and teaspoons - to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  • Be very gently when moulding the dough to achieve a light bread with large holes.
  • Don’t use bread tins for making sourdough - it’s best to use quality cane proving baskets rather than the cheaper plastic version.
  • If you find that your dough keeps on sticking to the proving basket and you struggle to turn it out - thoroughly dust your proving basket with flour - this should help your dough turn out okay. If you are still having difficulties, gently ease the dough out of the cracks using your fingers.

 

Follow this recipe to make a delicious Sourdough!

Last updated 6 days ago

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