(vegan baking + other minor obsessions)

Lazygirl Sourdough

lazygirl sourdoughI am selectively lazy. The way I see it, baking your own sourdough from scratch is a worthy endeavour, but kneading, punching down dough and shaping loaves… hmm, not so sure about that. I do look at the beautifully shaped epi baguettes and fougasses in blogs, books and bakeries with admiration for their craft, but to bake regularly at home I want a simple go-to recipe that gives me a full sourdough flavour with minimum effort. Ta-dah… Lazygirl Sourdough.

My starting point was the Light Rye Bread recipe in Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, a book I can’t recommend enough. If you are serious about bread and want to learn all the science, techniques, how’s and why’s, it’s all in there. From there, I worked on simplifying the recipe as much as possible, to see how many shortcuts I could get away with and still end up with great bread.

To make this bread you will need a sourdough starter – borrow from a friend or plan a little in advance and make your own – the method I use is here. Also necessary: a stand mixer, 2 loaf tins (I use these) and a set of scales. It is very reluctantly that I give cup measurements in this recipe – weighing will guarantee consistent results.

When making the sourdough, I mix in all the mature sourdough culture I have (anything from 1 tbsp to 1 cup), let it rest overnight, then the following morning weigh out the amount that is needed for the batch of bread and put the rest in a clean container in the fridge – and consider it ‘fed’ for the week. Thus if I bake once a week, the sourdough never needs to be fed, which is a bonus. I use wheat- or rye-based sourdough interchangeably.

Remember to mix the sourdough the night before to let it develop overnight, and choose for baking a day when you will be at home, so you can give the bread its time to rise and be ready when it’s ready. And finally, practice makes perfect. With bread as with much of baking, you learn more from making the same recipe over and over than you would from baking a new recipe every time. Enjoy!

IMGP3669Lazygirl Sourdough

Makes: 2 large loaves

150g/1½ cups wholegrain rye flour
120g/½ cup water
1tbsp–1 cup mature sourdough culture (see note above)

Final Dough
540g/scant 2¼ cups warm water
20g/1 tbsp sea salt
850g/6¾ cups strong bread flour
1½ tsp instant dry yeast
270g/1¾ cups sourdough
2 cups seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.) or cooked whole grains (optional)

Make the Sourdough

1. The night before baking the bread, mix the sourdough ingredients in an airtight container which has some extra space for the mixture to bubble and grow. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature overnight. I usually prepare this mixture around 10pm.

Final Dough + Baking

1. The following morning (around 8am?) put the water and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix until the salt dissolves. Add the flour, yeast and 270g/1¾ cups of the sourdough mixture (refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for the next batch) and seeds or grains if using. Mix at minimum speed until everything is combined, then go up a speed and mix for 2 minutes.

2. Grease two 12 x 20cm/5 x 8in loaf tins. Divide the dough equally between the two tins and push it down with the tip of a spatula to form a roughly even layer.

Wrap the loaf tins in two layers of plastic bag or cling film and leave to rise in a warm spot in your kitchen for about 1½–2 hours (if you have a dehydrator, this is another great use for it: set it to the lowest temperature, put a bowl of water on the base, and set the wrapped loaves above it).

3. Put a shelf in the centre of the oven and a baking tray on the oven floor.

4. Check the dough: when it has doubled in size and is coming up to between one-half and two-thirds of the height of the tins, turn the oven on to the first temperature – see table below – and bring some water to the boil. If the dough doesn’t seem ready, give it another half hour and check again – times can vary greatly depending on how lively is your sourdough culture and what the room temperature is. If the dough has risen a lot more, put it in a cooler place while you wait for the oven to heat up. Score 2 or 3 diagonal cuts on each loaf – don’t be shy, you can go quite deep – I use an oiled dough scraper to do this.

5. When the oven has come to temperature, put the loaves in and carefully pour 250ml/1 cup boiling water into the baking tray, using an oven glove to protect your hand. Close the oven and bake according to the table.

oven type



start baking at

230°C/460°F for 15 minutes

210°C/415°F for 11 minutes

then lower heat and continue baking

220°C/440°F for 20–25 minutes

200°C/400°F for 17 minutes

6. Remove the loaves from the oven, run a spatula or knife around the sides of each and turn them out of the tins. Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting – if you can!


8 comments on “Lazygirl Sourdough

  1. CateyLou
    29 May 2013

    Gorgeous bread! This looks delicious!

    • vixbakes
      29 May 2013

      Thanks CateyLou! I just had a slice of the batch I baked today, with quinoa + oats. It really is delicious!

  2. Maggie Muggins
    10 June 2013

    That’s got to be my favorite bread baking book and I’m sad to say that I don’t use it nearly as often as I should. Lovely bread, was your starter 100% hydration? I think I may need to take my starter out of hybernation this weekend 🙂

    • vixbakes
      11 June 2013

      Hi Maggie, my starter is 80% hydration. What I love about this method (of keeping a really small quantity of starter in your fridge, then using it all the night before to build up the amount of sourdough you need for that particular recipe) is that, because you use such a small quantity, the starters are pretty much interchangeable. You build up the sourdough for your bread recipe the night before, so that gives you control over the proportions in the sourdough that are specific for that bread, and because you are controlling the amount of time it matures overnight, you also have a predictable outcome in terms of maturity of the sourdough. And, you never have to feed growing quantities of sourdough, or waste anything. Is this clear enough from my explanation? It makes sense to me but I wasn’t sure if it would be clear to readers…
      Another thing I love about this recipe is how versatile it is. I have been playing around with adding seeds + grains, such as quinoa, oats, hemp and chia in different combinations, so it’s a lot of fun and variation from just one recipe! Yesterday I even sneaked in some urad dal lentils, just to add some extra nutrition for my picky kids. Success!
      I’d love to hear from you if you give it a go. Happy baking!

  3. Laura
    9 November 2013

    Oh wow – I’ve been craving sourdough bread! This looks amazing!

    • vixbakes
      15 November 2013

      Thanks Laura! Let me know if you do give it a try. My latest favourite version is made from malted wholemeal flour and oats or hemp seeds… yum!

  4. Sophie33
    20 November 2013

    Mmmmmmm,…!!!!l x

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