Fifty fifty Sourdough

Fifty fifty Sourdough

This delicious and deeply flavoursome bread is made using the dough starter sourdough (desem) technique. It's meant to be baked on the sole of the oven, and when you get it right, you should have a nice, open crumb - though it won't be as open as a dough made entirely on white flour.

You can't have everything, I guess, but having said that, to my mind, anything based around whole wheat flour has a fuller flavour, and lots more nutrients, so this is a great recipe to begin your whole grain journey!

This lovely sourdough bread tastes like a fine wine - deeply sour, but understated. It's a treat for the senses, and will require a bit more commitment than some of the more basic recipes here. But the rewards, ahh, yes, the rewards...

The beautiful thing about sourdough breadmaking is that there is always another technique worthy of investigation. The dough technique has had me enthralled since I began using it. So much so that I have ceased using liquid starters in my breads these days - the dough method does the job better.

Fifty fifty  Sourdough Bread Recipe

using the 'dough starter' sourdough method.

You'll need:

600g of white stonemilled wheat flour

600 grams of wholegrain wheat flour

20 - 120 grams of dough starter - more for faster leavening, less for long and slow.

600 - 800 mls of water

25 grams cooking salt


Mix the dough starter with almost all the water - reserve about 100 mls for adding later. Break up the dough starter and stir through the water. The water will become cloudy with little lumps through it. Allow to stand for ten minutes to disperse, if you like.

Add all the wholegrain flour, and stir till it forms a lumpy mixture. You have now made a sourdough sponge, or preferment. 

For a fast dough, leave this out of the fridge till lots of bubbles form. This could be a couple of hours in hot weather, or up to eight in cooler months. 

For a slow dough, wait fot about an hour, then pop the sponge in the fridge and leave it for twelve hours. Again, you should see plenty of bubbles when you take it out. If not much is happening after twelve hours, your best bet would be to put it back for another eight hours or so.If there are still no bubbles, proceed anyway. You have a good, cold fridge, cold enough to almost pause fermentation action.

After it has bubbled, or the next day if you've put it in the fridge, add the white flour and start kneading it into a large ball, pulling it away from the edges of your container as you go.

Allow the ball of dough to rest for a minimum of half an hour, but no more than an hour. This resting process is often called autolyse, and it allows the development of an amino acid called cysteine to occur. Cystein is part of a chain of amino acids that make up gluten, and it can't develop while salt is present. 

After the autolyse, spray the dough with water and sprinkle on the salt. The water will help the salt to adhere to the dough.  Push the salt into the dough with your fingers, making deep holes in the dough. The salt will spread through the dough.

Once you've done this, work the dough from the outsides, covering and folding until you have a very rough looking lump of dough. Take it our of the conatiner and give it a good bench knead, being careful not to let the dough tear. Always treat any dough with whole wheat in it nice and gently. It stil requires a good amount of work, but don't stress it. Work it until the dough begins to shine.

Now it needs to have its first (or primary) proof. If you leave it out of the fridge, the dough should ripen in about three to four hours in warm weather, and in up to eight hours in cooler weather. Even easier, pop it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It will ripen more slowly this way, and the flavour will become more pronounced as well.

After the first proof, remove the dough from the box or bowl it's in. Place it on the bench, and simply divide the dough evenly in two. You can weigh it, or use your eye.

Round the chunks or dough. Place them back in the box and leave them overnight for their second proof, or simply leave them out until they fully 'gas'. This can take a few hours if the dough is cold, or an hour if the dough is already at room temperature.

Rest for another fifteen minutes, then pick up each cylinder using only the outsides of your hands, cupping the dough like a bowl with your hands underneath. I guess you could say it is a bit like holding a book in your palms. Stretch the face of the dough to begin a cylinder shape, and simply squeeze the base together with the outside edges of both hands.

Lay the two cylinders on the benchtop, spray with water and dust with rice flour or semolina. Make a curvey 'S' shape shallow slash, and cross it through the middle to make a running writing 'f' (creative licence for 'flemish' sourdough...). 

Place on flat baking trays, allow to proof (in boxes, as usual) until quite large and not resisting being poked with a little fingertip.


You will get quite a good rise from this. The crumb, when it's baked, will glow - because of the development that you will have achieved from so many kneadings.

This dough will rise very quickly from the final turn, so watch out. Have the oven preheated, with water placed in a bowl on the floor for slow release of moisture.  This bread will also get a good amount of oven kick, if you've mixed and turned the dough correctly.


As a default setting, I preheat my oven to 200 degrees celsius for all breads baked on trays. Once the bread is in the oven, I wind it down gradually in 20 degree intervals every 15 minutes. Once the bread has coloured well, it's done. This can be an hour or more. Once you get down to 140 degrees, don't go lower. Just hold it there. 

This bread is best made with a thick crust, and is utterly delicious. I have to say that I've tasted a lot of sourdough bread in my time, and this one is up there for flavour. It's complex, delicate, earthy and subtle, all at once. Quite an achievement. 

Like the idea of learning the basics of home sourdough breadmaking in a workshop context? Why not book into one of our School of Sourdough workshops? Follow the button for more information.