Neville Chun's Sourdough

11:35 am on 5 December 2016

Pain au Levain (natural leaven bread)

Day 1 – make the preferment the evening before

13g active mother starter

65g white flour 

80g water

Stir sourdough into water then add flour. Stir to form a thick smooth wet mixture (batter like). This type of preferment is called a ‘poolish’. Cover and leave at room temp overnite, around 10-12 hours

The preferment will be very active and bubbly (see photo). To test ripeness, drop a bit into a glass of water. If it floats, its ready to use


Day 2 – make the main dough (62% hydrated)

320g white flour

40g rye flour or whole wheat flour or mix of both

215g water

8g salt

2g (pinch) diastatic malt

Add water to preferment, stir to loosen. Add flours and stir until shaggy and all water has combined

Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest 40-60 minutes (autolyse)

Add salt and combine/knead (see Ken Forkish’s Youtube video)

Place into a large bowl, cover and let bulk prove until double in size (2-3 hours depending on temperature and how active your mother starter is)

When bulk proved, tip out on to bench

Reframe from flattening the dough, handle gently to preserve its light airy texture. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes (allows dough to relax and make shaping easier)

Shape loaf as required

Place into a banneton, cover with a damp tea towel and let final prove (3-4 hours depending on temperature and how active your mother starter is).

There are method options at this stage to place the banneton into the fridge overnight and let the loaf prove slowly at a low temperature (retard). In the morning you bring the loaf out and bake.

Baking method

Preheated hot oven 240C

Recommend you use the Dutch Oven (DO)  method for best results 

The DO method …

Preheat oven & DO to 240C for at least 40mins 

With oven gloved hands remove the hot DO from oven & place on to a wooden board 

The proved loaf from your banneton is knocked out & placed in the DO. Give it a good misting with cold water 

Put the lid back on and into oven

Bake for 20mins. Do NOT lift the lid off the loaf during this period 

After 20mins remove the lid. Continue baking loaf for a further 15-20mins to develop crust colour. Longer you bake, darker the crust & flavour (don't worry loaf will not burn) 

When desired crust colour is reached, take the loaf out of oven, off the skillet & on to a cooling rack to cool down & admire. 

Probably the most satisfying part of the process, baking the loaves. Every baker has their own unique style. I like to bake my loaves quite dark. The dark caramelised crust permeates the crumb for a deeper rich flavour. So you are baking sourdough, don’t be scared to let it bake an extra 15 minutes for a deeper, rich flavour for crust and crumb. You can’t burn a loaf, it wont catch fire! Typically sourdough breads are baked at 240C for around 30-40mins +. For home bakers to replicate the baking properties of a commercial baking oven – bake your loaves using the dutch oven (DO) method. Your loaves will come out as good or even better than using a commercial bakers oven.


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