Sourdough starter: free to good home! (plus baking instruction)


I recently made a nice, active sourdough starter if anyone wants some.

If you find the idea of baking with sourdough intimidating, I use a variation of the very simple no-knead method, which, although it doesn't quite give high-end artisan sourdough loaf results, is still very good and considerably better than supermarket bread.

1. Whisk about 50g of starter ("levain") with water. Add 500g flour, 1tsp salt, and about 350ml water (depends on the flour you use - wholemeal needs more) until it is just combined. Cover with a damp tea towel.
2. Leave to rise at room temp for about 12 hours. If you can, fold it a few times during this process. (Literally just fold the dough in the bowl with your hands a bit).
3. When it has been rising ("bulk fermenting") for about 12 hours (longer if it's cold) fold it a few times to knock the air out and tip onto a floured surface (I use a non-stick mat).
4. Place a hand underneath it, gently grasp some dough, and pull/fold the dough towards the top centre. Go round the dough so that the dough forms a ball with some tension on the underside.
5. Flip over onto whatever you are baking it on. I use the non-stick sheet, others use parchment paper lined with cornmeal. Sprinkle with flour and cover with a clean tea towel.
6. After it has roughly doubled in size (±2 hours) slash the top with a wet, sharp knife and bake in a hot oven (230C) for about 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 190C for another 20. It helps to cover it for the first 25 minutes (to retain steam, which keeps the crust softer, and allows more rise). I bake in a special cloche; people often use casseroles. I have also used a large Pyrex bowl upturned over a baking sheet. Otherwise, place some ice cubes on a sheet under the loaf.
7. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then eat more than you probably should because fresh bread is irresistible.

You can use the same technique with 1/4 tsp yeast instead of levain. The recipe is very forgiving, and while it may not make amazing bread every time you will rarely get a total disaster. (I started doing this after getting a bread machine and realising that it wasn't much better than a supermarket loaf - no-knead bread is MUCH better, and once you are used it to it, very little effort for the reward). One can use whatever flour or blends you like, although 100% wholemeal will result in a very dense loaf (try cutting it with 20% white). One can also add seeds or other ingredients if desired.


  • Ooo...thanks for this. I've been looking for a recipe I can fit into working full time and not really having the weekends free either. This seems a bit more possible than the method I've been using.
  • You're very welcome! With a bit of practice it becomes very quick: 5 minutes (or less) to weigh and mix ingredients, 5 minutes (or less) to shape the loaf, and the rest of the time is really just waiting. One can get better bread, bit it takes a LOT more effort - this is a sweet spot as far as I am concerned for effort:reward. It's almost as god with yeast as it is with levain.
  • I have been using a bread maker for about a year and it is the best bread i have ever tasted so yours must be the bread equivalent of riding a unicorn.

    I use the most basic recipe so just (wholemeal) flour, yeast, water, salt and a bit of oil.

    I cannot eat shop bought stuff now as i can taste the oil and other assorted nasties in it.
  • Bread-maker bread is a step above shop-bought - but not a very big step! Give no-knead (with yeast) a try - you'll be pleasantly surprised, I think. The big difference is in the time the dough has to ferment and develop flavour and texture.
  • I used to make soda bread to my aunt's recipe a few years back but would end up eating the entire loaf with cotchells of butter on top or even better soda bread bacon sandwiches, heart attack on a plate.

    I'll give your recipe a go.
  • I would like some, if possible. It feels like it's time to up my bread game.
Sign In or Register to comment.