• Side Dish

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • © The Vegetarian Society

Poppy and Linseed Sourdough Loaf

Sourdough is a fermented bread made without using traditional yeast. It may sound complicated, but is actual a fairly straightforward process. A starter culture, made by fermenting flour, water and fruit juice that's used in place of yeast. It can be continuously fed which allows you to go on using it for multiple loaves or other recipes like crumpets.

The recipe has three parts – making the starter culture, building the leaven, which is getting the starter ready to use, and autolysing the bread, which is a method to get the best rise and texture.

  • Makes 1 loaf

  • Preparation 168 hrs

  • Cooking 40 mins

To make this bread from starter to finished loaf, please allow at least 5-7 days. It will take about 40 minutes in the oven when ready to bake.

Poppy and Linseed Sourdough Loaf New Recipe
  • Dairy-Free

  • Egg-Free

  • Nut-Free

  • Suitable for Freezing

  • Vegan


For the sourdough starter
  • 100ml warm filtered or bottled mineral water, *
  • 50g strong white flour, *
  • 50g strong wholemeal flour, *
  • 50ml organic apple or pear juice
  • 2 x 500ml sterile, clean glass jars
  • *You will need an extra 50ml water and 25g of both flours per day, for roughly 5 days, to feed the starter culture.
To build the leaven
  • 20g strong white flour
  • 20g wholemeal flour
  • 40ml filtered water
For autolysing the bread
  • 450g strong white flour
  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 350ml filtered water
  • 100g leaven (from step 7)
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • 50g golden linseed
  • 100ml boiling water
To serve
  • Margarine or butter of your choice


  1. To make the sourdough starter: In your first jar, mix together all the starter ingredients.
  2. Loosely cover with muslin secured with an elastic band and leave for up to 48 hours at room temperature.
  3. Spoon 50g of the mixture into your 2nd jar (see first two points in the tips and info section below for an explanation).
  4. Feed the first jar with 25g strong white flour, 25g wholemeal flour and 50ml water, mix and loosely cover. Leave for 24 hours at room temperature. You should start to see some bubbles forming the next day.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 over the next 5 days. Start putting an elastic band around your jar just after feeding so you can track how much the starter is growing during the 24-hour period. Keep the jars covered loosely as if they're too tight, the pressure may force the glass to over expand and crack.
  6. By the end of the week it should be nice and active with the mixture roughly doubling in size. By this time your starter will be ready to bake with.
  7. To build the leaven: In a large bowl, put in 20g of the starter mixture. Feed the original starter as usual following steps 3 and 4 and store it as normal ready for next time.
  8. With the starter mixture in the bowl, add 20g strong white flour, 20g wholemeal flour and 40ml filtered water, then mix. This is what will be used the next day. Loosely cover and store at room temperature overnight.
  9. To autolyse the bread: The next day, mix the 450g strong white flour and 50g wholemeal flour together with 320ml of water (hold back the other 30ml) by hand until the flour has been fully incorporated.
  10. Place the poppy seeds and the linseeds in a bowl and cover with the 100ml boiling water. Set aside.
  11. Leave both for 30 minutes.
  12. Mix the salt with the remaining 30ml of water
  13. Add the sourdough leaven, seed mix and the salt mixture to the dough mix. Mix by hand well, kneading the mixture for 3 minutes. It will be a bit sticky. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  14. Return to the mixture, scrape it out on to a work surface and begin to “Slap and Fold” the mixture by picking it up (wet hands make this easier) and with a little force, slapping it onto the work surface. Then let go and fold it over itself. This helps to build the gluten strength. After 3 minutes the dough will tighten up. Return it to the mixing bowl and cover. Store it in a warm place.
  15. After 40 minutes, repeat the "Slap and Fold" technique 4 or 5 times, just enough to tighten the dough back up into a ball and then return to the bowl and cover. Repeat this step 3 more times.
  16. When the dough is roughly double in size, pinch a bit of the dough and stretch it with two fingers. The dough should stretch without ripping and you should be able to roughly see through the dough. This is called the “window pane test” and indicates that we have reached the right level of fermentation and strength building in our dough.
  17. Add the dough to an uncovered worksurface and with a dough scraper, shape it into a tight ball. Dust with flour and leave for 30 minutes.
  18. Return to the dough, shape it as you like ensuring plenty of tension is retained. Add to a banneton (see tips and information section) and refrigerate for 6–18 hours.
  19. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
  20. Remove the load from the fridge, turn onto a baking parchment and score the top. Add your loaf to a Dutch oven, adding a couple of ice cubes. If you don't have a Dutch oven any oven proof dish with a lid will do.
  21. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn the heat down to 200°C/gas mark 6.
  22. Bake for another 20 minutes or until done until golden brown. Add to a wire rack and cool.

    Tips and Information:

    · To keep the main sourdough starter going, you need to feed it with new flour and water every day.

    · When you feed the main starter, you also need to discard some of the fully-fermented mixture in the jar to prevent the acidity and volume of starter from building up too much. This second batch can be used for other recipes or discarded if not needed.

    · If you plan to keep it at room temperature, you will need to feed it daily in order for it to stay healthy – by following steps 3 and 4 above.

    ·If you’re not baking daily, you can store your starter in the fridge: After feeding the starter following steps 3 and 4, wait one hour to allow the starter to activate then place it in the fridge. It will be fine for up to 3 weeks in the fridge without a feed.

    · When you want to use the starter again, take it out of the fridge, leave it for an hour then follow steps 3 and 4 before leaving it at room temperature for 12-24 hours. If the starter has been in the fridge for a while, it can become sluggish to regrow. Simple follow steps 3 and 4, 2 or 3 times to supercharge it back to life! If it’s nice, bubbly and has double in size, then it is ready to bake.

    · A banneton is a type of basket used to give bread a crisper texture during proofing, as it absorbs some of the moisture off the surface. If you don't have one, any bowl of similar shape and size will do.

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