Plain sourdough bread

This recipe from Alan Reid makes 3 loaves of exquisite, traditional, sourdough bread. The wild yeast leaven that makes his loaves rise creates bread that is easier to digest than its modern equivalent
Plain sourdough bread
  • Rating:
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time:
  • Effort: medium


  • 850 ml water
  • 950 g organic plain flour
  • 200 g stoneground wholewheat or whole rye flour
  • 150 g leaven, or wild sourdough, culture
  • 25 g pink lake or iodised salt


1. Roughly mix the flour, water and leaven by hand in a plastic tub. Hold back the salt until the leaven is properly incorporated.

2. Tip the dough onto a wooden bench and knead thoroughly for about 5 minutes or until the dough starts to spring back this indicates that you have developed the gluten in the dough.

3. Place the dough in a plastic container with a lid and leave for 2.5 to 3 hours in a warm place.

4. When the dough has almost doubled in size tip it back onto the wooden bench and divide into 3 equal pieces. Round each lump of dough into a ball, place in baking tins or cane proving baskets, cover with a dry tea-towel and leave in a warm place.

5. Build a neat platform of red bricks in the bottom of your oven to add thermal mass and preheat to 270C/250 fan/gas 9 - bread likes it hot!

6. After another 2.5 hours test the dough by poking it gently if it springs back quickly it needs more time but if it springs back slowly it's ready to go into the oven.

7. Place the tins directly on the bricks or tip the dough gently out of the cane proving baskets directly onto the bricks (this is called "sole baked" bread). Spray several shots of water into the oven with an atomiser gun immediately before closing the oven door the extra steam will help the bread to form a thicker crust.

8. If your bread is in a tin, bake for approximately 30 minutes. If it is sole baked bread, bake it for 18 minutes. Test whether the bread is baked by turning it upside down on an oven glove and tapping the base a hollow sound indicates that it is baked.

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