Ok, so we now have our sourdough starter sitting ominously in a jar at the back of the fridge gently seeping brown water. Time to make some bread. For a recipe I turn to the Observer Organic Allotment Blog and follow their elaborate and long-winded instructions to the letter.

Sourdough disaster

Preparation time: a wasted 48 hours
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Skill level: wizard, master of dark arts


  • strong white flour
  • warm water
  • blood
  • sweat
  • tears

I’ll not bother writing up the recipe as it is not worth the pixels it is written on.


After two days of low level anxiety I ended up with a kilo of clammy slop indelibly stuck to a tea-towel.


A clumsy visual metaphor

Too runny to form into a loaf I determindly poured this doughy schlem into a bread tin and waited all evening for something to happen. Tired and way past my bedtime I eventually shoved it in the oven in the optimistic hope that the next 40 minutes would produce a miracle.


The result was more ballast than loaf. I think I can safely say it lacked the characteristic lightness and crunch of traditional sourdough.

Verdict: Not a good start although in true Masterchef style I am 110% determined to succeed.

Drink: Driven to it.

Entertainment: The penultimate episode of ‘The Wire’, Season 4. “Yo, tickle my nuts”


  1. Could you please put the recepie online? or maybe only mail it to me, i’d love to try an dark arts recepie ^^, love something that is hard to make 🙂

  2. Hi Nicolas

    I’ll be giving a different recipe a go over the next week or two and will post it up if it is a success. In the meantime, here is the recipe I tried (and failed).

    Good luck … or why don’t you try the Chewy Light Rye Bread – it’s dark, fairly involved and very, very tasty.


  3. OMG! you are hilarious! i am really sorry the recipe didn’t work for you. will you tell me what you did and I can try to help fix it? not to place blame, but it could really be your starter. it needs to be active for the recipe to work. the photo in the blog is real, made from the recipe, so let’s figure out what went wrong. i want to help you succeed in this. really.

  4. Hi Claire

    Well thanks for your concern. I think the problem was a combination of overly complicated recipe and an exhausted, possibly dead, starter. I’ve since bought an excellent book on the subject and intend to continue with the experiment in the new year.

    In the meantime, any tips/advice would be much appreciated.

    Violet Cakes looks interesting – you a professional baker?

    Thanks again


  5. The sourdough recipe I always use and have never had any failure with is this one – it takes a long time, but involves almost no effort. I start it late one evening, then finish it off the next. I’m afraid I don’t have a source for it:

    450g strong white flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 cup sourdough
    1 1/2 cups water

    Mix the sourdough and water, add the flour and salt and mix well to a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 18 hours.

    Turn out onto a wet surface, spread out like a pizza, then fold the two edges in thirds to the middle (like a menu), then in half. Lightly grease a bowl, dust with cornmeal or flour, then drop in the dough, messy-edge up. Leave for 2-3 hours. Turn out onto a baking tray, bake at 230C for 30 minutes, then a further 15 minutes. For best results, bake in a casserole dish that has been pre-heated to in the oven, removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.

  6. Hi Matt

    Thank you very much … that’s probably our first helpful comment ever. I’ll give your technique a go.

    Thanks again


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