How to Make South African Sourdough Bread

You’ll Love the Bread from this Delicious Recipe

  1. Start with a heaping tablespoon of culture (Starter). About 10 grams. Get starter from me or at
  2. Triple it by adding its weight in flour and in unchlorinated water, and stir thoroughly – 30 grams
  3. Let it ferment into a sponge for 8 hours
  4. Triple and ferment 8 hours again – 90 grams
  5. Triple and ferment 8 hours again -270 grams
  6. In a pint jar, mix 70 grams sponge with equivalent water and flour. I call this “feeding” it. This becomes starter for the next batch. You may keep it in the fridge, covered, and feed weekly, or leave it out and feed it every 8 hours.
  7. Mix thoroughly in large bowl
    1. 200 grams sponge
    2. 600 grams unchlorinated water,
    3. 20 grams (4 tsp) salt,
    4. 2 tablespoons olive oil, and
    5. 3 tablespoons sugar or honey
  8. Mix into the liquid
    1. 1000 grams (1KG) bread flour, any brand.
    2. You may substitute half of the bread flour with any other flour – spelt, barley, rye, whole wheat, oat
    3. Start by mixing in half the flour with a whisk till smooth
    4. Finish by using hands in the goo and mixing thoroughly the rest of the flour. It should seem stiff and a little sticky.
    5. Do not knead at all
    6. Clean hands by scraping with spatula and toss the scrapings into the bowl
    7. Oil a small bowl the size of the lump of dough.
  9. Soak a clean large washcloth in unchlorinated water, wring out the water (don’t leave it soggy or dripping)
  10. Stretch and fold the dough 3 times as follows:
    1. Transfer the dough into the oiled bowl. It makes handling easier.
    2. Cover the dough with the wet washcloth. This keeps its surface from drying out.
    3. Wait 45 minutes the first two times, 15 minutes the third time.
    4. Dust countertop with flour
    5. Gently dangle dough from middle or ends and let its weight stretch it while pulling it end to end about 12″ to 2 feet long.
    6. Lay the dough on the counter top and dust the top of it.
    7. Stretch it side to side to make an 18″ wide rectangle.
    8. Poke your fingertips into every bit of the surface of the dough without mangling or tearing it. Try not to puncture it with nails. Use knuckles if you have long sharp nails.
    9. Fold the top and bottom ends inward to the middle and poke all over.
    10. Fold the sides to the middle and poke all over.
    11. Fold the ends together.
    12. Fold the sides together. You should now have a lump.
  11. Shape the dough into a symmetrical log 18″ long
  12. Cut it with a sharp knife across the middle
  13. Oil two 9″ meatloaf/banana bread pans lightly
  14. Put one log of dough into each breadpan.
  15. Cover each pan with plastic wrap.
  16. Set out of direct heat or cold and out of temperature extremes until the dough rises at least 1″ and no more than 1.5″ above the top of the loaf pans. Symmetrical, equal weight logs of dough will rise about the same height.
  17. Preheat the oven to 475 F and put the top shelf in the center of the oven.
  18. Paint the top of each loaf with milk, cream, or milk mixed with whole egg or just egg white.
  19. Dip kitchen shears into milk and snip at least 3 inches deep along the centerline into the top of each loaf from end to end. You should produce a rough groove,
  20. Sprinkle the loaves with sesame or other seeds if you desire.
  21. Quickly stick them in the oven on the top shelf and shut the oven door.
  22. Turn the oven down to 400F immediately
  23. Set the timer to 40 minutes
  24. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR till 35 minutes of bake time.
  25. At 35 minutes open the door quickly and Insert an oven thermometer probe into the end of one of the loaves at the pan top and drive it angled down in to the center, leaving about an inch out of the bread.
  26. Shut the oven door quickly
  27. At 192 F internal loaf temperature, remove the loaves and turn them out onto a wire rack
  28. Set the rack on top of the hot bread pans to keep moisture from gathering on the loaf bottoms.
  29. Wait 30 minutes
  30. Cut with a serrated bread knife, gently sawing the slices so as not to gob up the bread.
  31. I use the above method and make perfect bread every time. My biggest sin: impatiently baking too soon. Let it rise, but when it gets to the right height, bake it. I use a $15 kitchen scale for weighing starter, water, flour. I bought a probe thermometer with a cable for about $10 at This dough usually rises in 3 to 4 hours. If I use unfed sponge (it sat for more than 8 hours without feeding it) the bread will take longer to rise. Today these loaves took 10 hours to rise after the last stretch and fold.
  32. I use these ratios of weights of necessary ingredients (you need only these ingredients):
    1. 1X sponge
    2. 3X water
    3. 5X flour
    4. .1X salt

Here you see the sequence after completion of the rise time.

Bob Hurt    bh   Blog 1  2 • Email    f
2460 Persian Drive #70  Clearwater, FL 33763 USA
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Author: bobhurt


One thought on “How to Make South African Sourdough Bread”

  1. That bread looks absolutely divine!!
    We used to make sour dough bread in the 70’s and 80’s. Now we’re too lazy
    and just don’t make or eat bread anymore.
    aloha, sharie in hawaii

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