Making a Sourdough loaf

It takes the best part of a day to make the Moorbakes sourdough bread, so I thought I’d put together a page on how it’s is made….

Step 1: Lunchtime the day before

So I start at about lunchtime and need to work out what I’m going to be baking for tomorrow… Sourdough isn’t something you can make at a moments notice – this is a 20 hour process! So for tomorrow I’ll be making 3 small Maltsters and 3 small Devon Rustics. Fortunately these both use the same starter (white wheat) so I only need to make up one lot of levain.

First job is to make up the levain, or starter. For the above 6 loaves, I need just under 650g of levain – I only keep about 500g of the mother in the fridge, so I use the mother to make the levain for the bread. I take the mother out of the fridge, measure out enough to make up the levain add in flour and water, mix, cover and leave in a warm place for the next 8 or 9 hours. (Not forgetting to top up the mother and put it back in the fridge!)

levain-1This is our starter mixed with flour and water. It’s not looking that exciting yet…

If I was only making 2 large or 3 small loaves, I could skip this step and take 320g of the mother and use it directly, however it’s impractical to keep much more than that mother in the fridge, so this two-stage process works well and it very easy to scale up if I were making 2 or 4 times the amount of bread I’m making here.

That only took a few minutes, but it’s the start of the (almost) day-long process.

Step 2 – Mix and Knead the Dough

… Some time later – at about 9:30pm to be precise, and this is what the levain looks like now:levain-2

…it’s now a light and airy mix, full of bubbles with a nice tangy smell and taste to it. It smells and tastes like it should  (I always taste a tiny bit just in-case!)

This is split between 2 bowls – one has the white + wholemeal mix for my Devon Rustic loaves and one has the Shipton Mill 3-Malts and sunflower seeds mix for the Maltsters.


Add water, salt, a bit of kneading and there we are:


After kneading, a little bit of vegetable oil is rubbed round the bowls and the dough is transferred back into them and covered and left to rise overnight. They’re going to get about 9 hours rising time!

Step 3 – Scale, shape and rest/prove

Now it’s about 7am which isn’t too bad a time to get up. Quite reasonable for some! The dough has risen slowly and gently overnight and now we have 2 full bowls of nice soft and sweet smelling dough:

drustic2Devon Rustic dough, after an overnight rise

maltster2Maltster dough, after an overnight rise

Nothing special here for people who already make bread – tip the dough out, divide it up using the scales to make sure each piece is the right weight, then pre-shape in preparation for the final shaping on the baking trays:


proving…final shape and proving on trays

Step 4 – Decorate/slash and bake

When they’re ready – usually after 45 minutes to an hour, it’s time to get them ready for the oven.

provedThe maltsters get a dusting of flour and 3 cuts, the Devon Rustics get sesame seeds and 3 cuts too.

ovenIn the oven

The loaves get a roasting at about 240°C for 11 minutes with a good slug on water in a tray at the bottom to create some steam, then the oven is turned down to about 210°C for a further 21 minutes before they’re checked for readiness and removed to cool.

coolingCooling on a rack

drustic3Devon Rustic


After that, they’re bagged and labelled and take up to the shop where they’re sold and hopefully enjoyed by happy customers!