Posted by: Rachael | February 28, 2008

give us this day our daily bread

Did you try our first recipe for Sourdough Bread? Were you a bit disappointed? Me too. It was not consistently good, and a fair few loaves were suitable as the foundations for the mud brick house we’d like to build some day. I have played round with it considerably, hopefully IMPROVING. Will you give it another go? I think this recipe is much better. It has more ingredients, but it’s *food* we’re trying to bake, not bricks. It’s still easy-peasy. You just need flour, water, salt, oil and a big dollop of patience. Good things take time.

Mix together two cups each of warm water and flour. Cover with a cloth and set aside somewhere warm until it’s frothy (could take a few days or as little as a few hours, depending what organisms you’ve got floating round in the atmosphere….stirring it every day is a good idea if you can remember to). You never need to repeat this step!

Take out one cup of this gloop (which is also known as a starter by Expert Bread Makers…you’ll see I call it gloop). Feed the rest of the gloop with a bit more water and flour and set it aside. (Before I go on, let me tell you that from here on in it’s really hard to go wrong. Your gloop will appreciate being fed a bit of flour and water every few days if you’re not baking, but it’s not absolutely essential. You might think it’s getting temperamental if it develops a black layer on top – this is called hooch – really, truly, it is. But don’t worry – there’s nothing wrong with hooch – just stir it in to your gloop and away you go. In fact, you can stir your gloop whenever you think of it if you like.)

So you’ve got your one cup of gloop in a big bowl. Add two and a half cups of warm water, 6T olive oil, 3T sweetener and four cups of flour (I use organic ground-at-home whole wheat, but you can use what you’ve got). Leave it to go frothy (this is where the patience bit comes in). You can leave it anywhere from 0-24 hours without causing any damage; and you can stir it if you want to. (Very often I skip this rising altogether – it makes for a denser loaf, but still entirely edible; also the longer you leave it, the more sour it tastes). When it’s nice-n-bubbly, add a tablespoon of salt and more flour (4 or 5 or 6C, more or less, depending on the humidity and temperature and type of flour and which apron you’re wearing) until the dough is not sticky. Knead for about ten minutes.
Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth or plate and let it rise in a warm place for a few hours – you’ll have to be patient to wait for it to get at least fifty percent bigger than it was. Trust me, it will happen and it’s nothing short of a miracle. I usually make sure this step happens overnight. In the morning, form the dough into two loaves and put them into greased bread tins (or I guess you could just plop them on an oven tray if you don’t have tins).

But you’re not ready to bake yet! I told you, you’d have to be patient! You need to wait for them to rise for another few hours (one would be a bare minimum……five would not be too long….any longer than that and you don’t ruin the bread, but it does sink a bit).

Preheat the oven to 200°C and bake for about 40 minutes (or a bit longer if it doesn’t sound hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf). Or you can even not preheat the oven. See next post for how I discovered that trick.

Once it’s cooked, you still can’t eat it though. You won’t be able to cut it tidily for another hour.
But once you cut it and smother it with butter you’d better get that gloop container ready to start again, because these loaves are not going to last long!!!

I realise it sounds like a massive long drawn-out process, but really it’s not. Yes, it takes a lot of time…but most of that time you can be weeding the garden, making preserves, darning your socks, cleaning the toilet, sleeping, reading War and Peace, visiting your friends, feeding the poor…oh yes, feeding….the bread… only takes about 15 minutes hands-on time, and that includes grinding the flour. Give it a go!

My Usual Timeline
Afternoon: combine gloop and first ingredients, feed gloop container, set aside
Evening: add salt and flour, knead and set aside overnight
Following Morning: form into loaves, leave for an hour or so and bake

(when in a hurry morning and evening steps can be combined)



  1. […] bread alive!And that’s what the mishap was all about. The bread, not the dusting. I completed steps one, two and whatever…and put the bread in the tin without leaving it to rise in a greased bowl under a damp cloth. I […]

  2. […] As for bread baking, I’ll get to that in another post. […]

  3. […] the pizza base, we might use our sourdough bread recipe. Or our yeast bread recipe (omit the sultanas and spices in that recipe link if you don’t […]

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