Hackney Wild Sourdough

Through the Real Bread Campaign, I’ve met quite a few people who have said “Sod this”, quit their jobs, and become bakers. Ben MacKinnon is one of them. I first met Ben in the early days of his railway arch bakery, where he’d built an oven from salvaged materials. This is the basic recipe for the E5 Bakehouse’s signature sourdough. It depends on long, slow fermentation to develop a robust dough with a deep, complex flavour.

BAKING TIME: 40 minutes


For the Pre-Ferment

  • 35g/oz/ tbsp wheat or rye sourdough starter
  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp water
  • 40g/oz/ tbsp white bread flour
  • 12g/½oz/ heaping tsp wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour

For the First-Stage Dough

  • 85g/3oz/ cup water
  • 125g/oz/¾ cup plus 2 tbsp white bread flour
  • 30g/1oz/scant tbsp wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour

For the Final Dough

  • 215g/oz/1 cup minus 2 tbsp water
  • 245g/oz/ cups white bread flour
  • 45g/oz/5 tbsp wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour
  • 8g/ tsp fine/table salt


  1. Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together thoroughly, cover and leave in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
  2. Add the first-stage dough ingredients to the pre-ferment and mix together thoroughly. Cover and leave in the refrigerator to ferment for 2 days, or until active and bubbling.
  3. Add all of the final dough ingredients, except the salt, to the first-stage dough and mix together thoroughly. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and knead for a few minutes to mix it in thoroughly. Cover the dough and leave at room temperature for 2½ hours, giving it a single fold every 30 minutes.
  5. Shape the dough to fit a large proving basket, flour both dough and basket well and place the dough in the basket, seam-side up. Cover and leave to prove in the refrigerator for 12 hours (typically overnight).
  6. Heat the oven to 250°C/230°C fan/480°F/gas 9+, or as high as it will go, with a baking stone or baking sheet in place. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured peel, slash the top and slide it onto the baking stone. Bake for 40 minutes, turning the loaf around after 20 minutes to ensure even baking.