Sourdough bread recipe

Sourdough bread recipe is how the ancients made the daily loaf before the advent of commercial raising agents; this page is about making your own starter.

Both whole rye and wheat flour contain yeasts and bacteria which ferment the sugars in the carbohydrate, producing gas to make the dough rise.

Whole dark rye flour is the best; lactobacillus and various natural yeasts get on with what they do best once you add water and put your starter in a warm place.

Chlorine will kill the bugs, so use natural bottled spring or rainwater; it should be warm, at around blood temeprature.

Keep your starter whilst you are preparing it as close to 30 degrees Celsius as possible; that's about 86. Thereafter it lives in the refrigerator.

I put our growing starter in the battery room of our solar generator which produces a steady warmth. Cooler or hotter and the fermentation process slows down.

A teaspoon of raw honey will help the process along by providing more yeast cells and readily available sugars; the pasteurised stuff from the supermarket is probably quite useless; try though if you have no other option.

The fermentation from the lactobacillus also reduces the effect of phytates in the bran that may bind minerals like calcium that our bodies need.

Talking of calcium, 100 percent whole meal flour is a good natural source of the mineral; taking it in supplemental form incidentally gets deposited in the intima of the coronary arteries increasing the specter of heart disease.


Foaming sourdough starter

For your starter you can either get it from a friend, or make your own. This is a very simple four day process.

On day 1, mix about 3 tablespoons of rye flour and a quarter cup of warm spring water in a plastic container with a lid, adding a little raw honey.

Keep it in a warm place.

It's a bubbling, living creature; look upon it as a pet, but you only have to feed it now and then, depending on how often you make your sourdough bread recipe.

On day 2, add a further three tablespoons of rye flour and another quarter cup of warm spring water to your mixture; again stir it into a sloppy paste. Press the lid of your container on firmly and return it to the warm spot.

On days 3 and 4 repeat what you did on the second; it will start to froth and bubble; luckily there should be no trouble.

On the fifth day your starter is ready. You could store your container in the refrigerator in yet another sealable plastic tub as the pressure of the gas liberated will pop the lid.

There's risk of contaminating your starter, and stinking out the fridge; actually it's a very small problem. I used to store it that way, but no longer.

Maintaining your starter

Maintaining your starter is very simple; every time you use a couple tablespoons of the paste, add more rye flour, spring water and honey; the quantities are not really important; it's very tolerant. Return it to the fridge.

Do try to be as sterile as possible though; I keep my fingers out, for example, and use only clean cutlery.

Easy sourdough bread recipe

Now you have the starter for your easy sourdough bread recipe. A purist would knead it with no added commercial yeast.

I used to do it that way but now, time restricted, I use a bread machine and cheat with a little commercial yeast to make a lighter loaf. You do it your way; there are so many options.

One thing is sure; having made your own sourdough bread, you'll never readily go back to eating the commercial loaf.

Pretty please, don't spoil it with margarine. An enormous research project putting 80 of the main butter-margarine researches into one, show there's absolutely no benefit changing to hydrogenated oils. In short, butter is back.

It's the hydrogenated fats that have now been shown to be the villain of the piece, not the saturated fat in butter. What foods have trans fat is a very important question.

But still, enjoying your 5-10 coloured salads and fruits every day is the solution to keeping your cholesterol down and enjoying a body without inflammation and pain.

Low GI bread

To make low GI bread all you need is the above sourdough bread recipe to which you add extra fat and protein. I use a good scoop of our authentic hummus recipe and another dab of butter.

Then you have a low GI sourdough bread recipe!

Gluten intolerance

Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance in the gut, is a not uncommon food intolerance; roughly 1/200 people suffer from it, causing chronic diarrhoea. It is one of the autoimmune diseases that occurs in certain genetically susceptible people. Total abstinence from wheat, rye and barley is recommended.

The reason for it is that the amino acid proline is unique in its structure, being cyclic, and is very resistant to breakdown by enzymes in the bowel.

Interesting research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology PMC348803 reveals that 13 of 17 patients with Celiac disease in a double blinded study did not react to sourdough bread. Lactobacillus bugs in the sourdough starter were able to break down the proline in the gluten. Note that the exposure time was 24 hours, much longer than our four hours before baking.

On a personal note, I find ordinary supermarket bread often gives me severe indigestion, and it's tasteless, but I am far more tolerant of sourdough bread. I can even have a slice of bread at night, which I haven't been able to enjoy for years.


Here's an update; I am now in the process of reducing the industrial yeast added to my sourdough bread recipe; so far I am down to 1/2 of what I use in my Panera bread menu recipe and it's had no obvious effect on the leavening process; the wild yeasts and lactobacillus in the sourdough starter are doing their trick.

Also, because of that very interesting research on how lactobacillus breaks down the proline that makes wheat indigestible and toxic for the bowel for many, I'm extending the leavening time. Basically, I mix the dough, and then wait several hours before switching the machine on to its bake cycle. In summer one would need perhaps to keep it in the fridge whilst it's curing. Experimentation continues.

The aim of the exercise is to reduce the need for industrial dried yeast, quite a large part of the expense of your homemade bread, improve its digestibility whilst still keeping the process simple and hassle free. Slow food, made fast, remains our slogan; in this instance, made simply might make more sense.


Sourdough is given its name with good reason; whilst proline has a sweet taste, its breakdown products may have a bitter, or acid flavour once acted upon by the bacilli in your starter. Much research has been done on this in the making of cheeses.

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Proline is the fly in the ointment, so breaking it down is what we are after; I recommend you gradually increase the time that your healthy flour is exposed to the starter, getting used to the taste, until you find your happy medium.

And only leave it overnight and longer in the fridge if you have a specific gluten intolerance. I like the sour taste, but she who must be obeyed doesn't when it gets too strong.

There are some concerns about the absorption of minerals from bread, particularly if there is added smart bran. Phytic acid binds to iron and calcium for example, reducing their absorption in the gut.

Exposing the dough to the affect of the bacteria in the starter greatly reduces this effect; it's not really a problem in whole foods, only when there is added smart bran. Are phytates bad is the question occasionally heard.

If you leave the dough plus starter for a longer period, for some reason the paddle in the breadmachine doesn't always stir up the corners of the baking dish. Use a rubbermate to get into the nether parts before baking.

Have fun, this baking stuff is really interesting, and the subtle changes of flavour are truly remarkable, and more healthful. Interestingly our hens go crazy over our stale sourdough bread, but often turn up their noses at the supermarket loaf; they are more discriminating than we humans are it would seem.

Smart bran

Smart bran is to be found by using only 100% whole wheat flour, and frankly it's difficult to find. Don't be fooled by smoothing talking millers who describe their product as whole grain meal; they're allowed to do that, even though up to 40 percent of the goodies have been removed; the bacteria in the sourdough bread recipe ameliorate the influence of any phytates.

If you want a healthy sourdough bread recipe don't use added smart bran; but you may gave to grind your own. The 100% wholemeal is from our twenty year old Hawo electric flour mill; expensive but still going strong; it's paid for itself many times over. 

Research indicates that the smart bran in your 100% wholemeal is far more effective than added bran to cereals and cookies.

Healthy flour

Does healthy flour go bad, is a question often heard; it's certainly a concern if you're baking a sourdough bread recipe.

Yes, wholewheat flour certainly does go bad.

Store it in the deep freeze in an airtight container and, if you are serious about baking spend the money and buy a wheat grinder. They are expensive but they last for ever; ours in twenty years old and works every day.

Then you'll have a ready source of freshly ground 100% wholewheat flour at about half the price of refined flour. Plus you will never again have to buy bran or vitamin E capsules; it pays for itself in cash eventually. In the short term your health will benefit within weeks; how much store to by that?

Whole wheat vs whole grain gives new insights into the deceit of the food manufacturing industry. There are a lot of hidden details when it comes to making your sourdough bread recipe.

Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley

Bread matters by Andrew Whitley is a must for serious home bakers; it's been a great help to me when wanting to understand the inner details for example of sourdough bread recipes. Then perhaps you want to see how Jamie Oliver makes Sourdough bread recipe.

More sourdough starter recipes

There are 101 sourdough starter recipes; they all have one thing in common; a living culture of bacteria and fungi to make your bread rise.

Some like to use milk, others apples and grapes; I suspect they all work, though the living bugs in your starter will vary.

BBC's Paul Hollywood makes a starter from green grapes; perhaps you might like to try it. He's an engaging character, and his enthusiasm comes through for making sourdough bread.

Our sourdough bread recipe is a low GI bread, but that's not necessarily true of all sourdough bread. This is made from 100% wholewheat with added protein in the form of our homemade hummus. So you can without guilt enjoy a little butter and gooseberry jam recipe on it.

Useful links

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I got the sourdough bread starter from a friend but how to keep it alive is important. How often should it be fed? That's a good question, and one …

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Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston is a lover of the mysteries and complexities of life; this sourdough bread recipe is just one of them. Plus he loves great food; the healthy kind, and this tastes so good that he bakes it every single day.

Sometimes he bakes it twice a day; yesterday he gave a loaf to a friend who's son is severely asthmatic. Research shows that 100% whole wheat and fish are greatly beneficial  for those who wheeze.

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Add protein, butter and freshly ground seeds.

The queen was in her parlour ... add cheese and butter to lower the GI; then you can indulge in a teaspoon of raw honey.

Bread and butter, and a healthy salad makes the perfect lunch.