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Duncan Parsonage

Sourdough Bread


Duncan is currently business development Chef for Unox UK, the worlds leading manufacturer of commercial ovens with his role involving recipe testing, innovation, demonstrations, training and sales support. He has 20+ years behind the stove, working at private members clubs, hotels and rosette restaurants including a stint with Tony Tobin formerly of TV’s Ready, Steady, Cook fame.


It’s a bit of a labour of love this recipe, but once you’ve mastered it, the bread is far superior to shop-bought alternative. Sourdough also makes the BEST toast too!


Special equipment required:

  • Proving basket/Banneton

  • Extremely sharp knife or razor blade. Better still, a bakers Lame

  • Pizza peel or flat tray for transferring your loaf into the oven

  • Water spray bottle 


You will need a lively Rye starter or ‘mother’ to kick things off.

Here’s how:

Day one: mix together in a bowl 50g Organic rye flour and 50g filtered water (yep- weigh the water too 1g= 1ml anyway it’s more accurate) then cover with cling wrap or enclose inside a plastic bag and leave at room temperature away from direct sunlight

Day’s two, three, four, five and six: Repeat the above process adding more water and rye flour to the mix. By day seven you should have a lively, bubbling and fruity kinda yeasty mass. If it smells bad, discard and start again with fresh flour and water. If the starter isn’t alive, feed for a couple more days.

Day seven: you will have a total of 600g of starter. Transfer to a suitable storage container- (I use a clip-lock plastic box) You can now store your ‘mother’ in the fridge. 

‘Mother’ needs a feed once a week, or no longer than two. Simply discard (or use) 150g and then stir in 75g each of fresh rye flour and water. Leave at room temperature until you see your starter beginning to wake up and grow, and then transfer back to the fridge.



Day one around 8 am


in a mixing bowl add:

  • 150g Starter

  • 225g Filtered (or boiled and cooled water)

  • 100g Strong white bread flour (I use Shipton Mill Canadian wheat)

Day one around midday:

  • Add a further 100g Strong white bread flour to the above and stir in

  • Day one around 4 pm:

  • Add a further 300g Strong white bread flour and 11g of fine sea salt to the above, combine with a dough scraper or the handle of a wooden spoon until it forms a dough, then tip out onto a workbench. Don’t be tempted to add any more flour!

  • Knead for 8-10 minutes until it becomes elastic and smooth. As this is a long overnight prove, kneading isn’t overly important, the gluten will develop anyway.

  • Next, lightly oil your bowl from before, then transfer your dough back into it. Cover with oiled cling wrap or enclose inside a large bag and leave at room temperature for a further 2 hours. After the two hours have passed, tip the dough out again and flatten slightly. Now gather each edge into the middle, creating tension on the underside and a nice taught shape. Flip the dough over, and using your cupped hands turn and continue to form a neat ball. Imagine you are trying to catch water from the tap with your hands!

  • Heavily flour a proving basket then transfer your dough into it, seam side up. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave out for another hour before transferring to the fridge overnight


Day two:

  • Carefully remove your risen dough from the fridge and remove the cloth.

  • Boil the kettle and pour the contents into a tray inside your oven. Put your risen dough on the shelf above, then close the door. 

  • Allow approximately 2 hours for the dough to get warm and rise a bit more. You are aiming for an increase in the size of approximately 75% of the mass you began with. Touch the dough lightly it should spring back, indicating that it is still raring to go.

  • Turn your oven to the highest it will go, ideally 250◦C and put either a pizza stone, an upturned oven tray or a Dutch oven* inside to get hot whilst pre-heating

  • Meanwhile, carefully invert your dough from the proving basket onto a piece of baking parchment dusted with flour, then ease the dough onto the peel or tray. With a sharp knife or razor blade make a couple of slashes in the top of the dough, being sure not to deflate it. Spritz the surface generously with water

  • Take your dough to the oven and slide onto the tray inside, quickly spritz the inside of the oven a few times before closing the door

  • After 10 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 200◦C. Bake for 30-35 minutes until chestnut brown. 

  • Allow cooling properly before slicing!


*If using a Dutch oven, take the preheated pot from the oven and remove the lid before using the edges of the baking parchment to lower it carefully inside, spritz the inside of the pot and trap the moisture inside with the lid. After 15 minutes remove the lid and return to the oven*

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