Sourdough Starter & Baking Recipe

I trialled a few kitchen experiments to make a sourdough loaf,  as I was a bit daunted by the time involved and was looking for short cuts… Could I produce the dough in a bread machine?…  Could I  bake the sourdough loaf in the bread machine?  Short answers = no!

However it’s not as time consuming as I’d feared, and I found the dough rising/proving quite easy to pop in around my evening activities.  E.g. I make the dough when I get in from work, allow it to rise whilst I’m out at bootcamp, prepare it for proving when I get back home, allow it to prove overnight before baking in the morning.  Obviously I don’t do this daily… I am not going to attempt to bake bread before heading off out to work!… but working from home twice a week does mean that I have 2 mornings where I can bake a fresh sourdough loaf.

Sourdough starter (takes about 5-8 days)

Day 1: Mix 100g strong bread flour with 120ml lukewarm water to make thick sticky dough.  Cover with clingfilm  and leave somewhere warm (I put mine on top of the fridge).

Day 1:  Sourdough starter

Day 2: You should see a few small bubbles here and there.  This means that the wild yeast are making themselves at home… they’re eating the sugars in the flour and releasing carbon dioxide (bubbles) and alcohol.  Bulk up and feed the starter… add 100g flour and 120ml water and mix together.

Day 3: Bulking up… Feed the starter… add 100g flour and 120ml water

Day 4: Bulking up… Feed the starter… add 100g flour and 120ml water

Tastes sour and vinegary

Day 5: Bulking up… Feed the starter… add 100g flour and 120ml water

Day 6: Bulking up… Feed the starter… add 100g flour and 120ml water

Day 7: Discard half the starter, as your bowl is likely to be quite full now and we’re moving on to maintenance stage.  If your starter is bubbling well, you can use the discarded half to bake with.  Feed your remaining starter with 100g flour and 120ml water.

Baking a sourdough loaf

Ingredients: 500g strong flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp honey, 300g sourdough starter


  1. Tip flour, 225ml warm water, salt, honey and sourdough starter into the food processor.  Combine (add a little flour if it’s too sticky or little extra water if it’s too dry).  Knead for a few minutes until soft and elastic.  The dough is ready when it bounces back when gently pressed with a finger.  Place dough in large, well oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave in a warm place to rise for 3 hours.  (You may not see much movement as sour dough take much longer to rise that a conventional yeasted bread)… {I start this when I get in from work in the evening, and revisit it after my evening meal/activities}
  2. Line a medium sized bowl with a  clean tea towel and flour it well.  Tip the dough on to your work surface and knead briefly to knock out any air bubbles.  Shape the dough into a smooth ball and dust with flour.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave for 6-8 hours… {I leave mine longer to prove overnight}
  3. Place large baking tray in the oven, set to 230C/210Cfan/gas8, to heat up.  Fill a small roasting tin with water, and place in the bottom of the oven to create some steam.  Remove the baking tray and sprinkle with flour.  Tip the dough onto the tray.  Slash the top with a  sharp knife.  Bake for 35-40 mins until golden brown, and hollow sounding when tapped.  Leave to cool on wire rack before serving… {I bake my bread on a home-working morning, grabbing my shower whilst the loaf’s in the oven.}


Maintaining your starter

If you’re going to bake bread every day or two, maintain your starter using the discard half, add flour and water method detailed above… keeping it at room temperature.   If you want to keep it longer between bakes, keep it in the fridge for a week without feeding.  Bring back to room temperature and give it a fresh feed to get bubbling and active again.  Apparently you can even freeze the starter, and it will reactivate on thawing (but I haven’t tried this yet).




Increasing Vegetable Intake & Using Leftovers: Stir fry

Following the recent media attention on having ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day, here’s a fast recipe that gives you at least 3 portions of vegetables and uses some Sunday dinner leftovers.  The nutritional guidelines haven’t changed, and remain to have ‘at least 5 portions of fruit and veg’… so don’t get hung up on numbers, just eat a little more veg!

To serve 4 in less than 15 minutes:


Cooked chicken (ours were leftovers from the weekend roast, so I guesstimate 150g)

300g frozen squid rings (defrosted)

2 red peppers (chopped)

1 onion (chopped)

130g baby sweetcorn (halved)

250g chestnut mushrooms (halved)

250g asparagus & tenderstem broccoli (halved)

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder

200g rice noodles

1 tsp reduced salt soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce



  1. Heat pan/wok.  In a large bowl, combine chicken and vegetables with oil and Chinese 5 spice powder.  In a separate bowl, cover rice noodles with boiling water.
  2. Cook oiled-spiced chicken and vegetables in pan/wok over a high heat for 5 minutes.  Add defrosted drained squid rings and cook for 3 minutes.  Add drained rice noodles and stir through to combine with soy sauce and fish sauce.
  3. Divide between 4 plates and enjoy!



I had bought fresh veg so this cost me £2.13 per portion (£8.54 total).   If I used frozen veg, I’d save 43%: coming in at £1.22 per portion (£4.88 total). (N.B. I’ve not counted the chicken, oil, spices or sauces.)

Nutritional Value per portion:

352 calories, 24g  protein, 49g carbohydrate, 5g fat


Slow Cooker Yellow Split Pea Dhal

I know that I said my recipes would take no longer than 30 minutes, and obviously a  slow cooked meal is going to take a lot longer than 30 minutes to cook, but bear with me here… the preparation time is less than 10 minutes and the cooking is done whilst I’m out at work.

Dhal on the double… ready to table in <5 minutes

Now that autumn has arrived properly, there’s nothing nicer than coming home to the delicious smell of a comforting lightly spiced dhal; knowing I just need to add some rice or naan bread and dinner’ll be on the table in 5 minutes.  The slow cooker meals work well for our family, when everyone needs their meal at a different time of the evening due to work, athletics, rainbows, cubs, scouts, explorers, etc.

This recipe serves 6 and costs less than £1.50 for all 6 portions!  It’s low calorie with less than 200 kcal, provides 30% of your daily protein requirements and over 4g fibre in each serving.

I prepare/mix the ingredients together the night before, pop them into a tupperware and into the fridge overnight.  Then all I need to do in the morning is to pour the mixture into the slow cooker and switch it on… I find that a post-it note reminder on the front door is useful, as dinner is not always the first thing on my mind as I leave the house at 7am.

Slow Cooker Yellow Split Pea Dhal 


300g yellow split peas

1 medium onion, chopped

200g tinned tomatoes

thumb sized piece of ginger, grated

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp turmeric

2 garlic cloves, crushed

700ml stock (I use a stock cube)

1 red chilli


Mix all the ingredients together.  Pour into tupperware container.

Ready to go from fridge to crockpot

Place in fridge overnight.  In the morning, pour the dhal mixture into slow cooker crock pot.  Switch on slow cooker and get on with your day.  Ready to serve 2 adults and 2 ravenous teens in the evening, with enough leftover for 2 lunches next day… all for a total cost <£1.50 for 6 portions.

Here’s the nutritional info bit:

Per serving: Energy: 201kcal, Fat: 1.8g (of which saturates 0.2g), Carbohydrate: 30.3g (of which sugars 3.9g), Fibre: 4.4g, Protein: 13.7g