≡ Menu

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.

{ 171 comments… add one }
  • Debbie 18 July, 2015, 6:15 am

    I’ve been struggling to capture that elusive sourdough loaf – crispy outside, moist large holes and tender crumb – for a couple of years, but started backwards, trying to do it with heavier flours first. After finding your recipe, I tried it with my regular starter and although the flavor was good, it was dense and just not the “hole-y Grail.” Second attempt I did with your starter – perfection! Now I’m trying to get the rise ability into my flavorful starter (with some rye, einkorn, and other flours in an old starter). I love your recipe! Thank you so much!

  • Annemieke 6 August, 2015, 4:01 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe. For a few years already this is my number 1 recipe I ever found. We love the bread!

    • jules 10 August, 2015, 2:48 pm

      so glad you like it annemieke!

  • Carolyn 14 August, 2015, 9:09 am

    Hi Jules so love your recipes just a question can you use spelt flour for the bread recipe cheers

  • Kay 15 August, 2015, 5:34 am

    I’ve tried this recipe for three times now. The first attempt was horrendous. After mixing the ingredients together the dough was fine. After raising it overnight it had turned to liquid. I poured it into dutch oven and baked it (more like fried it) and it resembled a spanish flan. The second time i added more flour and the dough was more manageable, but it didn’t rise. The bread was dense and tasted simply bad. My sourdough was active and i’ve used it for many other recipes with good results. My third attempt ended with dense bread with a cardboard like taste. If made with given ammount of flours the dough turns into liquid during night. If i add even a slightest bit of more flour it turns into dense crap.

    • jules 18 August, 2015, 2:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing Kay..
      I’m really sorry it didn’t work out for you :)

    • Alison 19 March, 2016, 10:11 am

      Same Kay – absolutely liquid mess after overnight. I have checked many recipes and the propitious simply can’t be right. 10 oz water definitely needs at least 500g flour. Thank goodness I have some experience and hopefully I have salvaged this by adding another 159-200g flour! Very disappointing, and also wondering why there is no kneading????

  • Christie 20 August, 2015, 3:48 pm

    Hi Jules,

    I am wanting to make a rye sourdough.. I have almost completed making a rye sourdough starter.. Would the measurements for my flour be the same as the bread flour ?

    • jules 25 August, 2015, 3:57 pm

      I haven’t ever worked with rye flour Christie… sorry!

  • Kerrye 24 September, 2015, 4:03 am

    Excellent results with the sourdough bread recipe. Weighing is essential and not doing so may be the problem for some extra wet dough.
    Question- when using the established starter from the refrigerator, should it be at room temperature for any length of time or added in immediately to make the bread?
    Thanks so much for your VERY helpful page that has made my first bread making endeavor a success!

    • jules 29 September, 2015, 3:39 pm

      Wonderful Kerrye!
      And good reminder to weigh for extra accuracy and avoid wet dough.
      You can use the starter from the fridge as the long prooving time will allow plenty of time for it to come up to room temp.

  • Mari 2 October, 2015, 7:48 am

    Hi Jules,
    I really want to give this method a go, but since I’m new to the subject I have no experience whatsoever, I don’t have clear if I have to put some yeast to the starter every time I feed it…? Thanks!

  • Vicky 15 October, 2015, 12:43 pm

    Finally started making the sourdough starter and then your website crashed! So glad you’re back… I’m at day 4 and my starter looks lifeless. No bubbles, just smells sours and the flour and water separate. Do I still persist? I used a wholemeal unbleached flour but a rather “commercial” organic yoghurt (although fresh was not that tasty).

    • jules 19 October, 2015, 2:13 pm

      If there aren’t any bubbles sounds like you don’t have an active culture Vicky so I’d start again… Good luck!

  • Jocelyn 31 October, 2015, 10:41 pm

    Just wanted to correct one thing in this post, the lactic acid that forms is due to the fermentation of the wheat by the wild yeast, not any addition of lactose from dairy products. Amazing traditional sourdough bread is 100% dairy free. Thanks.

  • Maya 4 November, 2015, 9:18 pm

    This recipe looks amazing, but I don’t own a dutch oven. Can I use a normal bread loaf tin?

    • jules 16 November, 2015, 2:26 pm

      No Maya… You need the dutch oven to capture the steam and create a mini oven to cook in… A regular loaf tin won’t work I’m afraid.

  • Greg 10 November, 2015, 3:22 am

    Hi Jules,
    So although I didn’t use your starter recipie, for my first rustic loaf I used your recipie. Thought you’d like to know it looks and smells fantastic. Worked perfectly. Can’t wait to bite into it at dinner. Thanks for posting it. I’d post an image if I could.

    • jules 16 November, 2015, 2:23 pm

      So glad you liked it Greg!

  • Alicia 16 November, 2015, 9:07 pm

    Hi Jules
    Just wondering if you have had any feedback on the high temp & the black handle on le creuset’s? Their website says max temp is 190 C but everything I see says people are using them much hotter than that…

  • joan wolf 18 November, 2015, 7:26 pm

    hi, jules, thank you for this recipe. i have made 5 loafs so far and they all turned out great. yesterday,i made one with raisins and walnuts. it is the best so far. i find walnuts taste always great in baking. and i got my new romertopf too. this recipe never fails. by the way, my starter is looking good but it does not seem to be ready yet. will it get a bit sticky when it is ready? coz mine is still very watery.
    best, joan

  • Greg 6 December, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Hi Jules,

    So now I’ve made quite a few loafs. All are good. I’ve experimented with whole wheat and other ingredients and they have come out with varied success. What I wondered is if you had ever worked with rye flour. I’d like to try, but every recipie I see is very complicated. So I thought I might see if you had toyed with it.


  • Mike 15 December, 2015, 9:21 am

    Hi Jules,
    I have been looking for a yeast free, dairy free sourdough recipe ever since trying some bread at a french bakery. So I was very excited by your recipes. One problem though.
    Have tried to produce a starter using organic Spelt flour, sheep yogurt, and filtered water as per your directions. It is now day 16 and it does not look like the bubbling tub of liveliness you see in some photos. It has had a few bubbles on the surface every day and has a nice sour smell, but still just a sludge basically. I live in Brisbane so the starter has been sitting in the kitchen with temperatures between 18-30C. Should I throw out and start again?

    • Jeannie 6 January, 2016, 2:20 pm

      I like your tips. Recently I made a starter, but used only water and unbleached flour. It has grown and smells wonderful. Twice a day I remove most and add a scant cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to continue growing it. I’ve made a few things with it. Pizza dough, pancakes, and a wonderful flax seed bread. I didn’t have to add any yeast to the bread, as my starter is strong. What a pleasant surprise at how wonderful the bread turned out. Yum.

  • Alex Berger 1 February, 2016, 12:08 pm

    Hi. I started my starter on the 24th, 7 days ago. At first I was concerned nothing would happen (I had this result with cheesemaking) but sure enough it started to bubble. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! The thing is, your recipe says it would come alive on Day 14, and then put it in the fridge. My question is: do I put it in the fridge, or continue the prune/feed cycle until Day 14?

  • Tomas 19 February, 2016, 1:34 pm

    I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because I’m lactose intolerant I used goats cheese instead of yogurt and after 24 hours it looked really bubbly but it stunk really bad. Maybe I should though it away and start again?

  • Cheryl Hutchinson 25 February, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Hi Jules, Can you help please. I have made three (3) loaves so far and not one has cooked through. They are all “dense and doughy”. I am obviously doing something terribly wrong, but dont quite know what. Using a dutch over, following you instructions to the tee but for some reason they are not cooking through. They taste great, if you like doughy bread. x

  • Lizzy 27 February, 2016, 8:00 am

    I made sourdough with this recipe and it was the best sourdough I’ve ever made. Super simple recipe with a really great result!

  • Emma 28 February, 2016, 2:59 am

    Hi, I’m only on day 4 of my starter and it’s already bubbly and puffing up. Is it ok? Can I stop feeding it every day and put it in the fridge?

  • Dawn 1 March, 2016, 3:36 am

    First, congratulations on your baby!
    I live in Canada and I love your bread, but I always have to add an extra 170g of flour into the recipe… I’m not sure if it is my flour or what! I measure everything perfectly but it’s so wet, it’s like porridge with out the extra flour… Turns out wonderful with the extra flour though! Anyone else had the same problem?
    Or am I doing something wrong!

  • leanne 2 March, 2016, 12:50 am

    at day 3 of starter and mixture already has bubbles do i kep it out of fridge until day 10 and just keep adding and taking out or do i go to twice weekly feeding not to sure what to do.


  • Ann-Charlotte Ribeiro 12 March, 2016, 5:50 am

    Thank you so much for this “easy to follow” recipe.
    My first loaf turned out great. Now I’m waiting for the sourdough starter to be ready so I can get the flavor I have been missing for so long.

  • Vivien 15 March, 2016, 8:53 pm

    Made a batch of sourdough using Fergus Henderson of St Johns Restaurant, London this week – my starter is bubbling and perfect! I don’t have a mixer with a dough hook, so several exhausting hours later – an acceptable if not quite fat enough loaf. So thrilled to find your recipe and have tried it this morning. Same issue though – my dough is so tacky and sticky that it won’t be shaped and my hands kitchen and everything else are a nightmare to clean. Is your dough very sticky? It doesn’t look like it in the video? Have bunged it in the Le Creuset into the oven but it will be a miracle if it turns into a loaf!

    • Chris 29 March, 2016, 10:28 pm

      I’m having the same problem – my dough is too sticky to tame. I fold some over, it just flops into a gooey ball and it becomes a process of scrape and drop rather than shape. I leave a big portion of it on my hands, the counter, etc. I’m going to try more flour next but I’d love to hear other suggestions. Other than the difficulty I have handling the dough, the bread cooks well and has a great texture. It just ends up very flat.

  • Joseph 17 March, 2016, 7:33 am

    Hi, looking forward to making some sourdough, my first try. I am using your starter recipe and I’m on day 4 and I have lots of action. It is bubbling away, is this normal since you point out that should not happen for several more days. Thanks-Joseph

  • Monika 18 March, 2016, 4:26 am

    I love this recipe, I made the starter using unbleached flour, and on day three I used the yeasted recipe with pretty good results. Day 4 I combined the still infant starter with 10 oz of beer (simple, lager works best, I use Yuengling) instead of water, 11 oz flour, 1 tsp salt with AMAZING results!! The dough rose overnight and was amazingly easy to work with; tasty bread! Beer is bread, they say. Good trick if you don’t know where to get yeast, or you don’t have any around. Chances are someones got a beer. Fresh bread > beer.

  • Adriana Gutiérrez 26 March, 2016, 2:47 pm

    So from Day 4-10 (or maybe 15) the starter needs to be fed daily?

  • Betty 3 April, 2016, 8:17 pm

    Wonderful wonderful bread. Thanks for your excellent instructions. I replaced about 250 grams flour (I doubled the recipe for two loaves) with continental flour. Result – amazing. I left my dough for 24 hours. The crust was truly authentic sour dough crust. Thick and crunchy and oh so tasty. My 85 year old Italian mother was impressed with my results!

  • Sherrie 11 April, 2016, 1:19 pm

    I made the sour dough bread with the starter this morning after leaving it overnight. I had misread the recipe and for some reason only put in about 100ml of water so it wasn’t a wet mixture. Nevertheless the bread turned out beautifully and I am very thrilled . Thank you. I will try again with the correct amount of water next time.

  • mich 21 April, 2016, 8:17 pm

    Have to say this is the best sourdough bread i’ve ever made!
    I made the starter with 2tb of kefir (instead of yogurt) and I baked my first loaf on day 3 with the starter as directed – I didn’t add any extra yeast – and it tastes aaamazing! I also used a mixture of white flour and wholemeal stone ground.
    One thing is when I tipped it onto the bench to fold it stuck to the bench and fingers as it was really wet and had troubles unsticking it. Note to self – use heaps of flour.
    Thank you so much for this, you really inspired me. Love your other recipes too – very big fan of simplicity especially when it comes to cooking : )

  • Ann Ryan 29 April, 2016, 1:37 am

    Surely the amounts listed are all wrong in this recipe. Way too much water!! And I don’t think 11oz = 325gms. All a bit wrong.

    • jules 9 May, 2016, 3:17 pm

      You’re right Anne… 11oz is 311g not 325
      With all respect its the right amount of water… The whole point of this method is to use a super wet dough!
      Thanks for asking though :)

  • Spencer Cindia 18 May, 2016, 1:09 pm

    Hopefully I didn’t skim over it and miss it, but when you say around day or so you can start using the starter but will need a little yeast as well, how much of each ought I use?
    Hope to hear back!

Leave a Comment