rustic sourdough: the secret to making amazing bread at home
[5 ingredients | simple baking]

rustic homemade sourdough bread rustic homemade sourdough bread and butter

This post has been a long time in the making. Back in March when my Irishman and I decided to give it another go, we came up with a brilliant plan. We would try and swing things so we could live 3 weeks every month in the snowy mountains where my Irishman works and spend the other week based in Sydney. All my life I’ve dreamed of having the balance between city and country living. I couldn’t believe we’d figured it out so soon.

All my life I’ve also dreamed of being able to bake amazing bread. So with this move to country living, with no access to good local bread, the time was right. My first port of call was the wonderful Bourke Street Bakery cookbook to get my sourdough culture going. And while the results were OK, flavourwise. The texture was no where near as light and airy as I would have liked. Plus it was wickedly time consuming kneading each loaf for half an hour.

For a week or so I battled with my minimalist tendencies to not acquire any more kitchen equipment and the need for a stand mixer with a dough hook to improve my bread making attempts. And then I had a stroke of genius. Years ago Mark Bittman had written about a no-knead bread that the blogosphere went a bit crazy about. Maybe that was the solution?

My first attempt, using yeast was so wonderful. I almost couldn’t believe that I’d been able to make such a gorgeously imperfect loaf. Actually it starred in a post I wrote about living on $2 a day.

The next logical step was to take this method and convert it to a sourdough recipe. And the rest is history really.

sourdough bread video

rustic homemade sourdough
makes 1 loaf

In the early days of your starter you can use it for the extra flavour but you’ll need to use 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast to work it’s magic. But once your starter is active and bubbling away, you can ditch the yeast. Just make sure you don’t put any of the commercial yeasted dough near your starter or these stronger strains will takeover. Good idea to always use a clean spoon when making your starter.

I prefer to use unbleached, stone ground organic bread flour and filtered water, but I’ve also used supermarket flour with great results.

325g (11oz) bread flour
200g (8oz) sourdough starter, recipe below
275g (10oz) water
1 teaspoon find grained salt
semolina, optional

1. In a large bowl combine flour, starter, water and salt until just mixed together.

2. Cover with cling wrap and leave overnight for at least 8 but preferably 12 hours.

3. Form your loaf. Place a generous amount of flour on your kitchen counter. Scoop dough out onto the flour then sprinkle generously with more flour. Gently fold the edges from the outside in to form a round loaf.

4. Place more flour on a clean tea towel. Place loaf with the rough top side down. Sprinkle with semolina, if using, or more flour. Cover.

5. Place a large oven proof dish with a lid in the oven. Preheat oven and the pan to the highest setting for at least 1/2 hour.

6. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Remove lid. Sprinkle a little semolina, if using in the base of the pan. Gently place loaf in the pan inverted so that the rougher surface is now on top. Don’t worry about smoothing it out or having it centered – it will work itself out in the oven.

7. Pop the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes.

8. Remove the lid and turn the oven down to 200C (400F) bake for a further 15 minutes until the loaf is deep brown.

9. Cool on a wire rack uncovered for at least 30mintues if you can wait that long.

rustic homemade yeasted bread
makes 1 loaf

The method is basically the same, but instead of the starter you just use more flour and water and some yeast. This is a great way to see how wonderful homemade bread can be.

425g (15oz) bread flour
375g (14oz) water
1 teaspoon find grained salt
1/4 teaspoon dried yeast
semolina, optional

1. Follow method above but add the yeast at the same time as the salt in step 1.

how to make a sourdough starter video

sourdough starter

From day 3 you can start using your sourdough starter to add flavour to your bread and keep supplementing it with yeast until it is active enough to go it alone.

Once you have the starter established, just keep it in the fridge and feed it about twice a week, or more often if you’re making bread regularly. If you need to go on holidays you can give it a massive feed but I wouldn’t be keen to leave it for longer than a week. You’ll know if it dies because you’ll get awful looking mould growing on the top. It happened to my first culture. But don’t stress if you have a starter death on your hand. You’ve made it once you can make it again.

This would be a great project to do with children. It’s like having a new pet that doesn’t need toilet training!

The wonderful flavour of great sourdough is a result of particular strains of lactic acid bacteria. To encourage these little creatures to grow in your culture, I like to use natural yoghurt. But if you wanted to keep it dairy free you could skip the yoghurt or use a few organic grapes.

bread flour
natural yoghurt

day 1: In a clean bowl or jar, mix together 50g (2oz) flour, 50g (2oz) water and 2 tablespoons organic natural yoghurt. Cover with cling wrap and leave somewhere warm.

day 2: Using a clean spoon, add 100g (4oz) flour and 100g (4oz) water. Mix to combine. Recover and leave in a warm place.

day 3: Today you can make your first loaf. But you’ll need to use some yeast as well. When you’ve removed 200g starter. Replenish with 100g (4oz) flour and 100g (4oz) water. Mix to combine. Recover and leave in a warm place.

day 4 onwards: Remove 200g starter and either use it to make bread or throw it away. Using a clean spoon replace with 100g (4oz) flour and 100g (4oz) water. Mix to combine. Recover and leave in a warm place

somewhere between about day 10 and day 15
Your starter should start to show signs of life. Basically it will start to bubble. When this happens you can stop using the yeast in with your bread. And you can start to keep the starter in the fridge and stop feeding it everyday. Aim to feed it (remove 200g (8oz) and replace with 100g (4oz) each flour and water) twice a week or more often if you’re baking more frequently.

rustic homemade sourdough bread & butter

Have had a wonderful response to my Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. I have a mother and daughter signed up to learn together – maybe it’s something you could share with a loved one. The price covers everyone in your household. If you haven’t already done so, why not check out the very first class called Solve Your Dinner Dilemma starting October 24th.

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jules January 30, 2011 at 6:44 am

And I thank you for sharing your rye experience – wonderful! Will have to get my hands on some rye flour.

thanks vintage macaroon
enjoy your sourdough starter – it’s like having a new pet in the house!

coco March 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm

hey jules,

cheers for the fantastic recipe! i’ve just pulled my loaf out of the oven after it has been filling the apartment with a mouthwatering aroma for the past 45mins. despite sticking to the tea towel a little (oops!), it looks gorgeous and, when tapped on the base, sounds promising. i can’t wait to show it off to the boyfriend when he gets home from work!

i have my starter bubbling away (at day two) so i’ve gone with the yeasted version. i also tweaked the recipe slightly by using fresh yeast and almost equal parts of ’00′ flour and wholemeal stoneground spelt. i was hesitant to use entirely spelt on my first attempt, but i will be experimenting with different flours as i gain confidence.

for now, i simply can’t wait to tear into this beauty tonight! thanks again – i had never considered myself capable of baking my own bread until i found your site.

chas June 22, 2011 at 6:45 am

instead of semolina one can use corn meal – (not corn flour/corn starch)
-what makes ‘corn-meal muffins’ from.

Roger July 1, 2011 at 1:19 am

Hi Jules
Thanks for your encouragement with the Rustic Sourdough bread. Was going to write that it is “BO” day (Bread in Oven), but the initials looked a teensy bit awkward, somehow. Will let you know how it works out (btw, although it is summer here on the left coast of Canada, it’s the chilliest, rainiest on record — and my grandmother sold the house with the linen closet — so keeping the ‘starter’ in a warm place has been the most significant challenge to date!

jules July 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm

yes you’re right – BO isn’t a good look for this bread..
hope you get some warmer weather!

The Starving Student October 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe! I just made it yesterday using my homemade starter and I already have plans to make another loaf today! It is so simple but the results are unreal. Mine turned out almost like ciabatta in terms of texture but it still had that background sour flavour. After many failed attempts, this recipe was my saviour!

Michelle October 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

I’ve been making a version of the no-knead bread using yeast for ages – and yesterday tried this one using a spelt sour dough starter – it was SO much better My starter seemed much wetter then yours in the video so I used a bit less water till the final dough looked about right……and it was fantastic! There are a heap of websites that always made me feel as though I had to have science degree to make sourdough, so thanks for making it so damn easy!! Cheers, Mich

Linda October 16, 2011 at 5:56 am

I have not made a starter in quite a while. Your demonstration is clear and your notes make it easy to understand. I love your simple rustic bread recipes and I am absolutely going to try it. For some reason, that style bread is not available in my local markets. I have to drive to another city to get to the natural and/or organic food supermarkets to find it. Knowing that I can make it on my own is a plus.

Blessings as you continue to share what you’ve mastered with me/us. I have subscribed.


Craig November 12, 2011 at 5:59 am

Hi there,
I followed your recipe and ultimately it turned out really good.
I would say though your recipe called for WAY too much water. I guess my starter is a bit wetter than yours (mine is 50% hydration). I had to add at least another cup of flour and the next day it was so sticky and hard to handle. It turned out really well in the end though, but for others I would suggest that 10oz of water is too much.

david December 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I have the same problem. I followed the quantities, but reduced the water to 275 ml (water comes as a liquid! I’ve tried drying it but it doesn’t seem to work very well). It’s still the consistency of wall paper paste.
Tomorrow I will add the extra flour and, on the next try, cut the water to 100ml (and make two loaves, probably).
Report later.

jules January 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Weird David that it’s so runny… it’s meant to be super moist but not wall paper paste.. but not as firm as a regular dough.. have you tried baking the paste?… what sort of flour are you using?

Kate Smith February 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hello there. I know it’s a while since you first posted this, and a while since it appeared on ROTH (winter 2010, I think) but as I’ve been very happily making this bread since then I would really like to be able to credit you with the technique and recipe on my own very little blog at If you’re happy for me to do this I’d be very pleased!
Thanks, Kate

Jodi May 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Hi Jules,

I’ve have a great starter nicely fermented and have made this recipe several times. It’s a great flavour but it always comes out slightly moist. Do you have any idea which element I change to fix this – less starter, less water or more time in the oven? I’ve tried a few different ways but it always comes out a bit moist and I’ve no idea of the science behind so can’t seem to fix.

jules May 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

Great question!
SOund like its underbaked.. so I’d experiment with longer baking with the lid on first…

Izabella Hyde June 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm

So excited to find this!
I am giving the bread starter a go this weekend. Fingers crossed it will work.

Looking forward to yummy bread to come!

Bella :)

Izabella Hyde July 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hey Jules!

Its Bella again…just letting you know that the bread worked! I’ve made my first ever bread!
It looks fantastic and will be posting photos on my blog!

Your recipe is fantastic for the starter!


jules July 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Wonderful Bella!
So glad it’s working for you
Thanks for reporting back!

carolyn July 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Hi Jules,
Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
I just made my first yeasted loaf supplemented with some of my starter (a my starter still being established.)
The top of the loaf stuck to the tea-towel (I must not have used enough flour), but still a success for my first attempt!

jules July 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Glad you liked it Carolyn
You do need loads of flour to stop the dough sticking.. so you should be OK next time.

Jules (masculine) August 22, 2012 at 2:21 am

Suggestion: I use my starter to keep my yeasted breads fresh and without mold longer but in smaller quantity than in a sourdough.

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Thanks for the tip Jules

Hilly August 22, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Fab recipe for sour dough bread – but just too much of a bother…Have you researched the original Irish bread??? on the same line but takes only 10 min. to prepare and another 40 min. to bake.

jules August 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Hilly

Yes! Love Irish soda bread – have a recipe based on my fiance’s (he’s Irish) mother’s recipe

It’s very different to sourdough though

Anja September 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Hi Jules,
I made my first ever sourdough this morning and it turned out beautifully! Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I’m planning to make another loaf tomorrow but would love to add some olives. Have you made olive sourdough using this recipe? Do you think it would be best to add the olives before or after it proofs?

jules September 15, 2012 at 1:04 am

I haven’t tried olives Anja but am sure they’ll be lovely
I’d add them after it proofs

Louise.T September 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Made your starter and sourdough, which I was afraid of doing as everyone I spoke to explained how difficult it would be to do. I am amazed at how simple it was and I enjoyed everyy part of the process. I make regular bread by hand all the time and it is quite hard work so to come across this simple recipe is brilliant. Thank you so much Jules! I have finally conquered. Sourdough which I have been wanting to do for a very long time. Thanks again!

jules September 15, 2012 at 1:03 am

Awesome Louise!

Lainie Anderson October 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Lovely simple recipe Jules. I’ve been making sourdough bread for a little while now and wanted a really simple recipe to give to a friend, and made this myself without kneading (of which I was skeptical) but they turned out very similar to the ones I labouresly knead, fold and turn the works so I think I will stick to your recipe too! Although you do get a better rise from kneading the taste is just the same. Thanks, Lainie :)

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Great Lainie
Thanks for sharing your kneading vs no kneading knowledge!

Mike December 3, 2012 at 6:22 am

Hey Jules, I just wanted to let you know that I followed your instructions for getting the sourdough starter going, and within a week it was bubbling away happily. We had a brunch for about 20 friends today so I made two rustic sourdough loaves that turned out just beautifully (they looked just like yours do in the pictures!). I have never made a sourdough before and always thought that it was a big investment in time for a very uncertain result. By following your advice in the blog and video, it was easier than I expected and delivered far better results than I could ever have hoped for. Your video tutorial was very helpful – I would never have believed the dough was supposed to be so wet if I hadn’t seen this. I resisted the temptation to add more flour, and am glad that I did. Thanks for the inspiration!

jules December 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for reporting back Mike!
So glad we’ve turned you into a sourdough baker :)

CJ January 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

Is Bread flour something special or may I use an quality all purpose flour? Must I purchase a special Bread Flour?

jules January 9, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Yes bread flour is special as it has a higher protein content than all purpose.
You can use all purpose but the texture won’t be as light and springy (and bready!) as with bread flour

The Carpet Cleaning January 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

I didn’t know that about bread flour. I just thought the difference was that it had been sifted or something.

Kerry January 23, 2013 at 10:01 am

As a fan of no-knead bread, I absolutely love these recipes!

Is it a simple case of doubling ingredients to double the loaf size, or does it not work particularly well? I know it doesn’t always :)

Maria@pinkpatisserie January 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thank you for such a fantastic recipe! Made my first loaf today using the 3 day starter. Turned out beautifully! I did need to add a slight bit more flour to reach the right consistency but once I did it worked great. I am only on day 4 of my starter and it’s already bubbling. Should I begin to store it in the fridge or wait until day 10? I don’t want to ruin it! :)

Kerry January 30, 2013 at 11:30 am

Oops… yoghurt sourdough starter spoiled with pink and black dairy moulds appearing at day 4. I suspect it’s because I got yoghurt on the sides and rim of the jar and would definitely recommend making it in something with a wider mouth, that is still easy to cover.

Also, I discovered with the rustic yeasty bread that making the dough in the afternoon, then ignoring it in an airtight container until the evening of the following day, I could just pour it into the dutch oven without touching it and get the most amazing results.

Delicious recipe Jules! :)

Georgie February 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Hi, I’ve just put my first Sourdough loaf into the oven and am very excited. Mine stuck to the tea-towel too, but having read all the comments I know what to do to remedy this. I am a bit skeptical, but will let you know how it turns out. My starter seemed to improve when I took some out to make the bread ( I’m on about day seven, but I didn’t take any out before)
thanks for the recipe. x

Georgie February 18, 2013 at 12:11 am

Hello from Bradford, England. It turned out okay, but wow does it have a strong flavour! I left mine longer than you said because I didn’t have time to put it on til lunchtime so it had been about 16 hours, is this why the flavour is so strong? Mind you I am used to plain tasting bread machine bread. It is denser than yours but that’s perhaps because I used lots of wholemeal flour. I also missed out the yoghurt as I got my recipe before I saw your site. Can I add some yogurt to my starter now or is it too late? Thanks

Melissa February 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hello Jules from Central California!

This is the first time I have ever responded on a blog! Guess that tells you what generation I’m from! :) I wanted to thank you for all your time and effort placed in developing a wonderfully simple Rustic Sour Dough recipe. This is day no. 4 for my starter, bubbling away and I baked my first loaf this evening! Wow…really a beautiful thing! The crisp crunch of the crust along with light airiness of the inside…I found myself thinking…did I just make this at home?

I do have a couple of questions for you:

Is the plain natural yogurt ever added to the starter again or only at the beginning? How would I go about intensifying the sour dough flavor?

I am also perusing through your web page and recipes, I appreciate your fresh perspective for preparing meals to include more veggies. The desserts look and sound great. I’m thinking the almond cake with raspberries might be next!


John March 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Wow this is a great recipe. I have had great success and continue to impress family and friends with the flavour and texture of the bread. One question, my starter is almost one month old and is bubbling nicely however i still need to add yeast to get a descent rise. Any thoughts on this? Could i add more yogurt to strengthen the starter? Thanks from Canada.

John March 5, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Oh, one more question. In the video your sourdough starter has a much thicker texture and darker colour than mine. Mine is a very wet dough consistency and is white. Have you added a dark flour to yours, rye perhaps? Thanks again

Francis Foley March 26, 2013 at 3:57 am

I have a starter going since last week and it smells fruity and I’m getting some good reactions after feeding, the temperature in Ireland is pretty cool at the moment so I have to keep the starter in my hot press. I have looked at receipes on other sites but you would to be unemployed or retired to devote the time to making the bread. I intend to make this bread tomorrow, starting in the morning with the dough and allowing it to work its magic while I earn my crust. By 8 pm tomorrow I will be eating this bread. I will let you know how I got on.

BTW: For those interested, this is a picture of my starter taken a few days ago.

And this is a photo of another yeast bread I make complete with recipe and instructions.

Francis Foley March 26, 2013 at 7:16 am

Added a lot of flour and water to my starter in the space of 3 hours it tripled in size. I decided to begin the bread making process. Mixed everything up, put the mix in the fridge to retard it, will take it out in the morning and it will be ready for the oven in the evening.

The starter:

The dough:

Francis Foley March 27, 2013 at 6:56 am

The Sourdough Loaf
This is my first attempt at baking sourdough bread, I got a good rise, hope it tastes nice. More anon.

Sourdough Loaf Interior
The first cut into the sourdough loaf, very tasty, the sourness was slight and there is not much left after the family dug into it.

Erin April 19, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Our starter, christened “Henry”, is two days old and happily residing in our war, airing cupboard! I want to bake a loaf tomorrow, and you mentioned the need to add 1/4 tsp dried yeast until “Henry” is older. Just one question: what type of dried yeast? :)

Debbie May 1, 2013 at 11:10 am

I’m actually about to start the $2 day challenge next week and making sour dough was one of my plans, which has brought me here. I can’t wait to try this recipe and will be posting my results as soon as I find out!

Maria May 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

Brilliant! Thank you :-)

Anne June 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

Terrific way of baking bread – makes a moist loaf which was tricky to achieve in my old method. Thanks.

Mel Bee June 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Hi Jules, thank-you so much for this gift of a recipe; I’ve been making bread (over-yeasty, dry and dense) for quite some time until…I finally got around to making your recipe. My goodness! I’ve made a loaf or two every day for the past week (yeast version) and it is delicious. And, so far, unfailing! Today, I baked with ~half kamut flour and ~half bakers. It was a different texture to the stoneground unbleached bakers – less open…denser? but still moist and delicious. Rye is next on my list. I like Elisa’s suggestion of caraway seeds. Tomorrow, I pick up 12kgs of biodynamic bakers. Should last a few days, at this rate! Thanks again. I’m really loving making this bread! Grateful me.

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