Making, baking and breaking bread: My love of sourdough bread making 16



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I love making and baking bread and have been doing so for years. These were ordinary loaves made with yeast and regular white flour. About 6 years ago I came across an article that was a reprint of Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times article on his now famous ‘No Knead Bread’ which featured a recipe courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery. This recipe produces a chewy, crusty loaf which comes as a result of a fairly wet dough and a long slow rise. I love it as the work was minimal and the dough required a long rise which was overnight and in the fridge. The dough was baked in a pre-heated cast iron pot and the chewy, crusty loaf had me converted. I was still not satisfied though and longed for the taste of a good sour dough bread.

Having done a lot of research on the internet I discovered quite a few methods of making a sourdough starter. All it required was stone ground organic flour, filtered water, organic honey or grapes and lots of patience. The natural yeasts produced by the starter (which has to be fed regularly) eventually produce a starter that is kept going and can keep for as long as you feed it. My starter is now just over 4 years old, lives mostly in the fridge and taken out and fed and revived a couple of days before I need to make a new loaf. I have left the starter untended for over a month when away on holiday and all it requires is being taken out of the fridge an re fed for a few days and then when re fed with flour and water it bubbles back to life ready to produce yet another wonderful loaf.

There are many recipes for making your own starter available online, and I would suggest doing your own research and finding one that suits you. I started mine off with some stone ground wholemeal flour, organic grapes and filtered water. The initial process took just over a week and there were times that it looks disgusting but be patient because it will produce a lovely frothy yeast mixture when it takes off.

At times – especially after a long holiday – I add a teaspoon of organic honey to help the starter on its way. Like a Master Stock, a sourdough starter can be kept going for ever.

I have since been experimenting with different types of flour, quantities of water and methods of cooking. I’ve even tried feeding the starter everything from rye flour, buckwheat flour, whole meal or plain flour and at times a mix of flours, I have found that rye and buckwheat flours provide a more pronounced sour dough. My recent breads have been made using 4 cups of flour which is a mix of 2 cups organic multi grain wholemeal, 1 cup spelt and 1 cup wholemeal flour. To this mix of flours I add about 2 cups water stir in and leave for 30 – 40 minutes. I then add 2 cups of my sourdough starter, 1 tsp organic honey and a teaspoon of salt. Mix this in and add a little more water if required and leave to rise for 30 minutes. The dough is quite sticky, add more flour if necessary. After 30 minutes I stretch the dough and fold it into 3 (the 2 ends towards the centre), repeat this twice more at 30 minute intervals and leave in a covered bowl for at least 12 – 18 hours hours. I usually do this late evening and leave the bowl covered in plastic wrap in the fridge overnight. The next morning get it out of the fridge, it would have more than doubled in size, and bring back to room temperature (2 – 3 hours). Stretch dough and fold once more and leave for 30 – 45 minutes, on a piece of baking paper.

Heat oven to 220º and place a cast iron dutch oven to heat up. Lightly dust the risen dough with flour or semolina, fold/tuck in sides if the dough has flattened, slash the top with a sharp blade and place the dough and baking paper in the pot. Spray with water and cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Loaf should be golden brown and risen. Remove lid, spray once more, reduce heat to 200º and bake for another 30 minutes. The loaf should be crusty, brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool on a rack for at least 1 hour. Don’t be tempted to cut it immediately. I prefer to slice it at least 2 hours after baking.


I sometimes add ¼ tsp of dried yeast to my dough at the time of mixing in my starter – this results in an airier loaf – with bigger holes. Although it is fairly time consuming, the joy of making your own bread and the pleasure of sharing the loaf with family and friends is great. You will soon learn when to start the process and get the timings right., as you will with the quantities of water which can vary depending on the weather and season. Experiment with flours, water and add herbs, olives, grains and nuts – have fun!

uncooked loaf

I have just read an article where the dough is NOT allowed to rise and placed into a cold oven and allowed to rise whilst the oven reaches temperature – I can’t wait to try this out!



I hope this will inspire you and like me you get hooked on the joys of sourdough baking.


Tell us, do you bake your own bread? What advice do you have for people who are perhaps considering making some for the first time?


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Kumar Pereira

Born in Sri Lanka, Kumar studied typographic design at the London College of Printing. After working in London he lived in Hong Kong for 18 years. He left Hong Kong for Australia in 1988 and lives and works in Sydney. He has worked in publishing in Sydney before joining Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW Design Centre, Enmore where he was Senior Head Teacher Graphic design, until 2007. In 2011 he was a contestant in MasterChef Australia, series 3 where he made it to the top 12. In 2012 he was part of MasterChef All Stars. In addition to design and cooking his interests include gardening, walking and illustration and travel. His Book ‘Kumar’s Family Cookbook’ was published by Allen & Unwin, Australia in May 2013 and is available in Australia and internationally. ‘Paletteables’ a set of 6 illustrated cards with cooking suggestions was published in March 2014 and is available at select stores and online;

  1. I love making bread, but I tend not to. I also love eating it – with lots of butter, cheese, jam etc etc. One piece is never enough.

  2. Yes make bread for my husband, and have been doing so for about 25 years. Contemplating trying out a bread make. Bit tired of the kneading process. I make a very, dense loaf.

  3. Love to make bread! The recipe i usually make is quite dense, ideal for bruscetta. Might try a different recioe to see if i can make a lighter loaf. ….more like sandwich loaf .

  4. Love making bread too, and have just returned to it after about 30 years, when my kids were teenagers made bread and pies and cakes every Saturday. The smell was divine! I do use yeast though, have tried that special cake made with the fermented mix, and does work well. My bread is from ‘golden grain’ style so a bit dense, but very good for us! I am now tempted to return to making buns, and other treats, perhaps with the lighter flours, but the waistline is the first victim….we both could do without it really. I try to slice it when cold and put in portions sizes in the freezer.

  5. Try Laucke brand bread mix from the supermarket. It’s a South Australian family owned mill.They have a few varieties including sour dough, rye, multi grain etc, all include premeasured flour & yeast sachets, enough for two loaves, just add water & mix. Instructions are given for making by hand or in bread machine. Very easy & delicious, I have made all varieties in machine & by hand, including ciabatta by hand & prefer this method as it makes a lighter less dense loaf, or two smaller ones, I even made ciabatta rolls which my Italian daughter in law loved. Their sour dough is delicious too. They also make a scone mix that you just add water to, great for camping, pre measured and makes two batches. .happy bread making – gayle

  6. I have a bread maker, but have never really had a successful result.i will give it 1 more try with the Laucke brand mix after that big endorsement Roderick

    2 REPLY
    • I regularly use Lauke’s premix bread packs and have found that to make it successfully it is better to cut the water

      1 REPLY
      • (sorry, had a fault with the page reloading) I cut the water back to 400mls per mix and it is more successful. I also add ground flaxseed or LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond ground) as well as steel cut oats, makes for an awesome loaf! (using their Sourdough blend)

  7. Nothing like the aroma of fresh bread being baked. So many variations
    Love doing it havent 4 ages but intend 2 get back onto it soon.

  8. I am like U Roderick bread maker machine. Recently moved from NSW 2 QLD bought new machine before I moved haven’t as yet used it as Bakers Delight is 2 tempting when I go 2 Redcliffe.

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