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Simple Sourdough Bread

September 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the annual Sourdough September campaign. This is the time of year when the Real Bread Campaign encourages people to make genuine sourdough bread and buy genuine sourdough bread from local, indie bakeries. Genuine sourdough bread is made without additives and leavened only by a live sourdough starter culture.


makes one large (about 800g) loaf, or a couple of small ones

For the leaven

For the dough


1. Make the leaven by combining the three ingredients in a bowl, covering and leaving for about 10-12 hours (e.g. overnight) at room temperature, until bubbling.

2. Weigh the water in a bowl and stir in the salt until dissolved, then mix in the leaven and flour. There's no need to knead – you can stop once you have a shaggy dough but there's no dry flour left.

3. Cover the bowl (e.g. with a carrier bag that you can reuse again and again) and leave to rest for half an hour or so.

4. Scoop the dough out of the bowl with a wetted dough scraper or your hand. Stretch it and fold it in half, then repeat this action. You can find videos demonstrating how on the internet. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover again. Leave at room temperature to prove/rise. Depending on what temperature your room is this might be six to eight hours. Watch the dough, not the clock – if it doesn't seem to have risen enough, leave it longer.

5. During this time, repeat the stretch 'n' fold action every now and then. You could do it hourly or every other hour, but it doesn't have to be that often. Shape the dough however you like e.g. for an oiled tin, banneton, or free-standing on an oiled baking tray. Cover and leave for two or three hours until it's fully risen.

6. Heat the oven (with a baking stone or tray in place if you're proving dough in a banneton) to about 220 to 250°C.

7. Turn out the dough if proved in a banneton, dust the top with flour, if you like, and/or slash it with a sharp knife and put it straight into the oven.

8. Bake a large loaf for about 45 minutes, or small ones for about half an hour, turning the temperature down after 10 minutes to about 220°C if you started higher.

9. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool before slicing – bread can be gummy and lose a lot of moisture if you cut when hot.

Recipes taken from Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young, published by Nourish Books. Hardback, £20.

For more information on Sourdough September, visit or follow @RealBreadCampaign on Insta and FB and @RealBread on Twitter.

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