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Mathew's sourdough starter tips

To make sourdough  (Best started at around 6pm)

  • Add equal parts starter and strong (white) bread flour to 450g. Add 50g Spelt flour (if you can’t get this, just top up with strong bread flour and 9g salt, then mix. Initially add 175ml of water and mix to form a dough, adding any extra water (you shouldn’t need more than 250ml) as required to fully form a dough. Work the dough for around 10 mins, until it becomes stretchy.

  • For the next 45mins-2hrs (depending on your schedule), leave covered at room temp, coming back every circa 15 mins to briefly work the dough.

  • Cover and leave in the fridge O/N.

  • The following morning, remove from fridge and allow to warm at room temp for 2hrs.

  • Work the dough quickly and then place in a proving basket or appropriately shaped dish.

  • Leave to prove for 2-3hrs. The test here is if you make an indent with a finger, the dough should mostly keep the indent if it is ready. If it springs back to place, it needs longer.

  • Pre-warm oven at 220C (Fan 200C), and place a heavy cooking base in the oven to warm, I use a pizza stone, any heavy cooking vessel will do so long as the dough has space to expand, it needs to transmit the heat into the base of the dough.

  • Turn out your onto the base and cook for 40 mins. Loaf is ready when a finger tap to the base sounds hollow. When cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing. Goes well with- food and drink.

  • Lots of this recipe can be fiddled with. The wetter the dough, the bigger the air bubbles in your loaf with be, but it is harder to work. Start dryish and get wetter as you gain confidence. If you like a softer crust, place a heat proof container with water in the oven when baking. Experiment and have fun.

To maintain starter.

  • You should have around 100g of starter left after baking your first loaf. To this, add 100g of strong white flour. Mix together and add water (careful when mixing here, especially if using a processor) to an almost melted ice cream consistency. Leave covered and out of direct sunlight. Repeat this process every 2nd day.

  •  If you wish to increase the size of your starter, you can do this to whatever size you want, just make sure it is producing bubbles before using to make sourdough, this may take more than 24hrs.

  •  If you wish to slow down the starter, add less water so the starter is closer to a wet dough consistency, then keep in fridge in a covered container, this should be happy for a week untouched. Refresh as you would normally. If then using for break making, remove the starter from the fridge the night before, add some water to bring to desired consistency, ensure that the starter is producing bubbles before using.

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