How to make your own Organic Sourdough Bread

Making your own 100% fresh organc sourdough bread is very easy and once you are use to it, only takes a few minutes.

By  trial and error I've simplified it down to a very straightforward and basic procedure that seems to work very well.

Have a go and see what you think.

NOTE: this recipe does not use yeast but a sourdough starter, which apparently is how bread used to be made before the existence and role of yeast was discovered. Making the sourdough starter is easy and a recipe for this is added below.

Step 1: 

put 500 gm of flour in a large glass mixing bowl. I've used organic wholemeal or organic stoneground wholemeal or organic strong white bread flour or organic white rye or organic rye. The same basic recipe applies. I'm sure you can use other flours if you want. Nowadays I tend to use organic rye or organic white rye as they contain very little gluten


add natural sea salt or similar. I add about 1 tablespoon but you can add more or less according to your taste.

Step 3: 

mix these with a wooden spoon (avoid plastic).

Step 4:

Add 300 gm  of sourdough starter (see recipe for te  starter below) and stir it in thoroughly. 

Step 5: 

add water and stir it in until you have a gooey elastic consistency.

I use warm water as it seems to help the dough rise. If you are using rye flour, warm water is essential. In fact you want it quite warm for rye flour - not too hot to touch obviously but about as warm as water used to wash  your hands. Trial and error will teach you how much water. When I started I was mixing the dough too dry so as  to avoid it being too gooey and sticking to my hands, the bread board etc., but this tended to make bread that was a bit dry and crumbly. To compensate for that, I would add a  couple of tablespoons of organic olive oil. But then I found out by accident that if I had the dough quite wet this made a better, moister loaf without the need to add olive oil. By "quite wet" I mean wet enough for it to sag and slowly lose its shape if turned out onto a board and it sticks quite easily to your hands and other surfaces. The stickiness makes it a bit harder to work with and it needs to be baked in a tin but the final result makes the little bit of extra hassle worth it. In any case I've managed to bypass and avoid the extra hassle (read on).

Step 6: 

knead the dough.

I used to  turn the mixed dough out onto a floured board and knead it with my hands the way  most recipes tell you to. But then I found that if I kept it in the  bowl and just worked it for a few minutes with one hand (wetted under the tap to prevent the dough sticking to my hand) whilst holding and turning the bowl with the other, this worked fine. 

Doing it this way saves having to use a board and having to flour the board to prevent the dough sticking to it (a waste  of good flour).

Just a few minutes of one-handed kneading does the trick.

Step 7:

turn out your dough into  two rectangular baking tins (see pic top right). The tins I am using are 9inch x 5inch.

I first line the tins with non-stick baking paper to stop the dough sticking to the tins. This saves having to flour and oil the tins and when the dough is baked it is easier to turn it out of the tin.

Step 8: 

leave to stand in a warm place for at least 24 hours. I use  the airing cupboard. Cover each tin with a clean tea towel when you do so.

NB, you have just  used 300 mg of your sourdough starter so this will have to be replaced. Simply mix 150mg of flour and 150mg of filtered water in  bowl until smooth, then pour into your sourdough starter jar. Mix it in briefly with the live culture and then cover your jar with muslin (see starter recipe below). Return the jar to its warm storage place. Leave a day or two before using again. The two loaves you are making should last you a couple of days, even if you are a bit of  scoffer like me.  Another tip: to compensate for the inevitable natural slight wastage, make your top-up slightly more than 300gm (say 155 gm flour plus 155 gm water= 310 gm)

Step 9:

place an oven-proof tray or dish on the bottom shelf of your fan oven. Preheat the fan oven to240 degrees C. Do not skimp on making sure the oven is thoroughly preheated.

Step 10:

remove the tea towels covering your baking tins and place the tins on the middle shelf of your preheated oven. Shut the oven door. Start your timer (it should be set for 35 minutes)

Step 11:

after a couple of minutes open the oven door and chuck about half a litre of cold water into the dish or tray the bottom of the oven so as to create steam. Immediately shut the oven door. While doing this (takes a couple of seconds) keep the timer running.  (NB. I've since stopped using the steam step as I found it by accident that the bread came out just fine without the steam. Feel free to experiment and find out which works best for you).

Step 12:

at the end of the 35 minutes remove the tins from the oven.  Watch out, they are hot! Turn out the baked bread and remove the greaseproof paper. Tap the bottom of each loaf - if the bread is fully baked it will sound an feel hollow. I find that in my fan oven, 35 minutes produces perfectly baked bread.

If the underside does not feel stiff and hollow, put it back in the oven for another ten minutes at 200C. Trial and error will teach ou what works best for you and your oven.

Step 13:

place your hot loaves on a wire tray to cool.

Step 14:


How to make a sourdough starter.

With apologies for the delay, here is how to make a sourdough starter. It takes a few days to get ready but after that all you have to do is top it up every time you make bread with it. If you do that it stays alive virtually indefinitely. I've now had mine several months and it is still going strong.


In a glass mixing bowl put the following ingredients and mix them together with a wooden spoon (avoid using plastic);

20g organic rye flour

20g spring water or filtered water (should be quite warm -about 30C)

5g organic runny honey

Cover the mixed ingredients with a clean cloth and stand to ferment  in a warm place (I use the airing cupboard) for 24 hours.

During that time, if the fermenting mixture develops a crust, give it a stir.


The fermenting starter will probably be starting to show bubbles on the surface.

Take the starter and mix it with:

40g organic rye flour

40g spring or filtered water (at about 30C)

5g organic runny honey.

Make sure you are using a big enough bowl.

Cover with a clean cloth and let it stand in a warm place for another 24 hours.


Mix your fermenting starter with:

80g organic rye flour

80g warm spring or filtered water

No honey this time

Cover once more and leave to stand for another 24 hours in a warm place.


Mix your fermenting starter with

100g organic wheat flour

100g water

Your starter mix is nearly ready for use

Place it in a glass jar but do not close the lid as you need to let the air circulate. Instead, cover the jar with a muslin cloth to keep the flies out but let the air in.

You can pretty much use your starter whenever you want now but I suggest let it stand for another half day before use.


Refresh it every three days by adding half its weight in flour and half its weight in water.

I use mine every two days on average to make a couple of loaves. Each time, I use 300g of starter (see recipe). 

When I do I immediately top the starter back up with 150g of flour plus 150 g of water and let it stand until I next need it. I've found that it can be used every 24 hours without a problem.

When topping up I sometimes add a few extra grams of flour and a few extra grams of water to allow for natural wastage.

As I make gluten-free rye bread I always top up with rye flour although in the past I've used other flours without problems. If the bread i s going to be eaten by anyone with a gluten intolerance I recommend only using rye flour to top up from here on out.

If you are going away you can put the starter jar in the fridge with the lid on. I believe it will keep for weeks although I've not yet tried it.