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Judith Starling

Transforming your baking


This bread has a light crumb and lovely holes.


The ingredients below make two loaves of around 900g/2lb each. If you don’t have 2 proving baskets/bannetons, you can rig one up by using a bowl and a heavily floured kitchen towel which you place inside the bowl. Halve all the ingredients to make just one loaf.
This method requires you to stretch and fold the dough three times during the fermenting period. You will have to imagine that the dough has 4 “sides” as you will stretch and fold each side.


  • 260g of active Pre-ferment (fed with equal amounts of water and flour of your choice – take a tablespoon of your starter from the fridge and feed it with 130g of water and 130g of flour and wait for it to become active). Feed the remaining starter in your jar with a little flour and water before putting it back in into the fridge.
  • 650g water – it’s best to weigh this as opposed to measuring it in ml as it is more accurate
  • 800g of organic strong white flour
  • 200g of wholegrain flour of your choice (for example 100g of spelt flour and 100g Khorasan flour)
  • 20g sea salt

1) Make sure that you have 260g of active Pre-ferment by lunchtime on the day before you want to bake (see the Ingredients list above for how to achieve this or the Sourdough Stages sheet or No Knead Recipe). Depending on when you last fed your starter, it may need a couple of feeds to become vigorous. At lunchtime, mix 600g of water and 800g of white flour and let it sit to “autolyse” for around 45 minutes (see Sourdough Terminology for an explanation of autolysing). Then add the rest of the ingredients (i.e. mix the salt and remaining 50g of water together and then add that and the wholemeal flour) and and mix thoroughly. You can do this in a food processor with a dough hook or by hand. Put the mixed dough into a bowl and cover with a lid or clingfilm.

2) After 2 hours, wet your hands. You now need to stretch and fold the dough. To do this, slip your wet hands under the dough on the side furthest away from you. Grip the dough and stretch it upwards but not so far as to tear it. Then fold it over, bringing it toward you. Turn the bowl by 180 degrees and wet your hands again. Now stretch and fold the opposite side of the dough upwards and over to the side you started on. Turn the bowl by a quarter, wet your hands and stretch and fold the next side up and over. Turn the bowl by 180 degrees, wet your hands and then stretch and fold the opposite side up and over. When you have stretched and folded all four sides, slip your hands underneath the dough, lift it up and flip the whole dough over, upside down, before putting the lid/clingfilm back on.

3) After another hour, repeat step 2 above. You should notice that the dough is more elastic and that it sits up quite well after folding.

4) After another hour, repeat step 2 above. This is your third “stretch and fold”.

5) After another hour, turn the dough out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured work surface. Half the dough to make two loaves (unless you are only making one).

6) Give the dough a quick pre-shaping by gently forming a ball. To do this, keep the upper side of the dough at the top and gently fold or squeeze the outer edges/sides down to meet underneath the dough, therefore forming a ball. Try to create a bit of tension on the outer skin of the dough by moving the underside of the ball across the worktop surface from side to side or towards you with the underneath slightly catching on the work surface.

7) Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

8) After 15-20 minutes, do a final shape on the dough by again trying to create a bit of surface tension and squeezing the seams at the bottoms of the balls together. Put each ball of dough, UNDERSIDE UP, into your heavily floured banneton, pinch the seams together, sprinkle some flour onto the dough and cover with a plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight.

9) Whenever you want to bake the next day, put your baking steel or stone (if you have one) into the middle section of your oven and preheat your oven to 250C (or as hot as it will go). If you are using a steel or stone, preheat for at least 30 minutes. You can use a baking tray if you don’t have a steel but I strongly recommend getting one for better results. If baking in a fan assisted oven, you need to adjust the temperatures downwards slightly.

10) After pre-heating the oven, put a baking dish with boiling water into the bottom of your oven. Take your loaf out of the oven and upturn the dough onto some baking parchment (the loaf is now seam-side down again). Make a couple of slashes, around 1 inch deep, into the top of the loaf with a sharp, serrated knife (a bread knife works well for this) before sliding the loaf on the baking parchment onto the baking steel/stone or baking tray.

11) Bake your loaf for 10 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius and then turn the oven down to 230 degrees. After 20 minutes turn the oven down to 200 and bake the loaf for a final 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the colour and turn the temperature down even further in the last 10 minutes if the loaf starts to look like it is taking on too much colour. You may need to tinker a bit with the temperature and length of baking as ovens differ so much and results will differ depending on whether you have a proper baking steel or not.

See my starters

See my steels

See my baking accessories

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