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Sourdough Bread

(based on an original Nigella Lawson recipe)

Think of sourdough as a bread made in three parts, with time inbetween for the dough to mature and acquire the characteristic tang.

For the Starter:

  • 150g rye or strong white flour
  • pinch of yeast from an easy blend yeast sachet (like a small pinch of salt) or a fatter pinch of fresh yeast
  • half tsp of milk
  • approximately 200ml water

Combine the flour, yeast and milk and as much water to make a mixture like a think pancake batter, and leave, loosely covered, for 3 days.

For the Sponge:

  • 180ml of starter
  • 180ml of warm water
  • 100g rye or strong white flour

Mix all the ingredients together and leave tightly covered for 12-18 hours. Longer is better but shorter time is enough if that is all you have got.

For the dough:

  • 375g wholemeal flour ( for the rye sourdough or 500g strong white flour)
  • The rest of the yeast
  • all of the sponge from above
  • 1 scant tbsp Flaky Salt with Kelp
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds (for rye sourdough only)
  • 250-300ml warm water
  • vegetable oil for greasing bowl
  • 1 baking sheet
  1. Put the flour and the yeast in a large bowl, then stir in the other ingredients till you've got a shaggy mess thta looks like it's on its way to becoming a dough.
  2. Knead, either by hand or by machine, adding more flour as needed, to form a dense, smooth, dough.
  3. Form into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, turning once so that the top is also greased. Cover in cling film and leave to double in size, either overnight or in a cold place or the fridge, or for an hour or so somewhere warm.
  4. When the dough's done its stuff, punch in down, knead for 1-2 minutes and form it into a round loaf and sit it, covered with a tea towel on a baking sheet.
  5. Uncover after 30 minutes, and score the top of the loaf. For ease, you should use a razor blade for this but a sharp knife will do. It must be very sharp though because you don't want any pressure or the now nicely puffy loaf will deflate. I make about 5 slashes all the way over the top diagonally one way, and then the other to make a rough chequerboard design.
  6. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minute, until the loaf is cooked and sounds hollow when you rap it firmly on its underside.
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