Buttermilk sourdough…

This loaf came about from pure experiment because I had some lovely lively starter and wanted to do something different with it, plus I have always got various cartons of buttermilk to hand nowadays, and so this idea was born.

This recipe produced a lovely silky dough which baked into a crusty loaf with a wonderfully soft interior and a great flavour, and the smell was amazing! Due to the inclusion of plain all purpose flour the crumb is pillow soft rather than the usual chewy sourdough crumb, and the buttermilk only adds to that.

I made this loaf with a ‘sponge’ method…

The evening before you want to bake the loaf mix:

100g of very bubbly lively starter

284ml carton of buttermilk (or 300g)

150g of plain/cake flour

Mix it all together really well, get it as smooth as you can, then cover it and leave it out on your kitchen counter overnight. (Top 2 photos below)

Next morning it should have grown and be spongelike. (Bottom 2 photos above – you can see how much it’s grown between the two sets of photos)

Now add:

300g strong white flour

1tsp salt

2-3 tablespoons of warm water as needed to loosen the dough

Mix it all together roughly, cover again and leave for an hour. (Top 2 photos below)After that hour, bring it into a dough, not too tight, not too sticky, performing some pulls and folds in the bowl to pull it into a smooth dough. (Bottom 2 photos show before and after pulls and folds)

Cover and leave on the counter again.

After a couple of hours you should already see this dough growing happily, the dough may even be starting to grow out of the bowl already; perform just enough pulls and folds to pull it into a ball with a smooth finish, don’t handle it too much.

Place the dough, smooth side down, into a well floured banneton.

Cover with a plastic bag or shower cap and place in the fridge to slow down the proving process and to increase the flavour. You should find that it keeps growing nicely over the next few hours, even in the fridge, as below. This was how the dough looked after only a few hours in the fridge. It grows very fast!

When you’re ready to bake, take the banneton from the fridge and leave the dough to warm up to room temperature whilst your oven warms up.

Heat the oven to 200C fan/230c non fan.

When the oven is ready, place a piece of baking parchment over the top of the banneton, then place the pan you are baking it in over the top and invert it all together to turn the dough out into the pan. You should have a lovely pale dough that holds a good shape.

Slash as you like, then put the lid on the pan and put it in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.

After 50 minutes carefully turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool. Allow the loaf to cool for at least an hour before slicing.

As you will see, the crumb is closer than a standard sourdough, which is perfect for making my son’s school sandwiches. In fact, the interior of the loaf was softer than any bread of any type I’ve ever baked. I’ll definitely be baking loaves like this again and again.

And I have now made 3 loaves the same way, this was the third one, and again, the interior is beautifully soft…

NOTE: please always keep in mind that flours differ around the world, yours may need more or less liquid than mine, just as your oven may behave differently from mine.

63 thoughts on “Buttermilk sourdough…”

  1. Sorry for the delay in replying! If you want to leave it overnight I would put it in the fridge as it does grow quickly

  2. Have you ever tried it with whole grain? I was curious if it would be just as fluffy but a bit more nutritious.

  3. How long should the second proof be without refrigeration, assuming ambient temperature of 65 degrees F? And if let proof in the fridge, since the dough rises so fast, what should be the maximum time in the fridge without running the risk of over-proofing? Thank you.

  4. Hi, I wouldnโ€™t do the final proof at room temp personally. This dough is quite fast moving so a few hours in the fridge is usually enough..

  5. This recipe looks great. I would love to try it. Could I use milk kefir instead of the buttermilk? I make my own milk kefir and I would love to use if I can. Thank you!

  6. Can I use your cold oven, cold bake?
    I’ve had such fabulous results with this method.
    Thank you

  7. I should think so, I wrote this a long time before discovering cold baking…

  8. Hi Elaine, Iโ€™m going to make this one next. Iโ€™m excited to put some buttermilk to use. Can you tell me what size bannetone you typically use with the master recipe and this one as well? I havenโ€™t gotten a bannetone yet, just been using an oval basket, but I want to get a round bannetone ASAP.

  9. Hi Tammy, I hope you like it ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป
    I typically use a 22cm diameter banneton which is also what I used here x

  10. This looks fabulous. Gotta try it. But I much prefer a chewySD crumb. What would lessen the pillowy soft crumb? Skip AP and go all strong flour? Suggestions??

  11. Hi, when you use dairy in the dough it always softens the crumb, whatever flour you use, but yes, you could try all string flour and see what happens?

  12. Hi Elaine,

    Iโ€™m making this recipe for the first time. I noticed that you refer to a set of photos which are missing from your page. Right after adding the additional flour to the sponge, you say the top 2 photos are of the dough roughly mixed and the bottom 2 photos are before and after the s&f. I donโ€™t see them…
    I have enjoyed learning about sourdough by baking your master recipe. I keep getting better each time I bake it. This buttermilk loaf is my first venture using a different recipe for bread. Thanks for your great website and FB page. You make it painless for us newbies.

  13. Hi Donna
    Thank you, Iโ€™m so glad you like everything I share and that youโ€™re enjoying your sd baking ๐Ÿ™‚
    Yes, it appears the photos have disappeared for some reason but hopefully it wonโ€™t affect your experience of the recipe…

  14. Youโ€™d have to experiment, it will depend on the weather and temperatures where you are..

  15. Is the first part of this recipe the starter or did you have a starter ? I would love to make this but I don’t have a starter.

  16. Great recipe.Now my “go to” sourdough loaf. I increase the recipe 2 1/2 times and bake it in 2 loaf pans and add a little rye and whole wheat to give it a good texture and bake it with some steam at 375f for about 40 minutes.When it come out of the oven I spread a little butter on top.Makes a great sandwich bread or snack with peanut butter and honey. Thanks for the great recipe!

  17. Wonderful! Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

  18. Not a newbie but still make stupid mistakes. I missed up the sponge and put is\t in the fridge. Can I warm it up and proceed?

  19. Yes ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  20. This looks really yummy. Elaine, I love your sourdough starter maintenance method (so much easier) and master recipe loaf but my husband struggles to eat crusty, chewy sourdough loaves. Do you have a sandwich loaf variation of your master recipe or would this be my best bet to try?

    I pre-ordered your book in June and apparently it’s on its way – really looking forward to reading it!!!

  21. Hi, thank you ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป
    This loaf will be perfect for you as the buttermilk softens the crust, but youโ€™ll also find various sandwich loaf recipes in my book ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  22. This tasted lovely and I loved the texture. Your book arrived a few weeks ago and since I have the buttermilk, I bought white spelt so, up next is the Buttermilk White Spelt Master Loaf!

  23. A great recipe. Iโ€™m a novice at sourdough and Iโ€™ve followed your instructions for starter and basic sourdoughs before this with excellent (surprisingly) results!

  24. Hi thanks for this great idea. Iโ€™m a bit new to baking sourdough bread and Iโ€™m going to pull this recipe together starting this evening and bake tomorrow, but I a quick question about the slashes on the dough, did you use stencil to create that look? If so could you please share?

  25. Hi, have fun! I just score whatever I fancy at the time ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป no stencils, no plan

  26. Iโ€™ve made this excellent buttermilk recipe at least 10 times now, varying the combinations and flours that I use. What Iโ€™ve found is that substituting 1/3 of the total flour weight with spelt, multigrain, rye flour etc. gives me the best overall result when trying to switch up flavours and textures. I always make the sponge with white flour, then mix in the different flour at stage two. Thanks again.

  27. I made this loaf back in August and it came out lovely. Went down very well at a family gathering. Got another one just starting now.

  28. I made this loaf with good results several times about 18 months ago and started using this recipe again recently but my three attempts failed miserably. The dough felt rough and didnโ€™t stretch well and the bread was too firm and doughy. I partly put it down to the high grade flour here in New Zealand which is only 11.5% and today after purchasing some gluten, will be my fourth attempt. I wasnโ€™t sure how much gluten I should add so just winged it not adding too much but thinking that even a small quantity should help. Here is hoping to success. One thing I noticed was that the recipe says not to handle the dough too much. I might have done too many pulls perhaps and I never achieved a smooth and billowy texture as in the photos. I always thought that the pulls would strengthen the gluten. I just donโ€™t know what I am doing wrong. If it werenโ€™t for my initial success I would say this recipe is not for me and I just canโ€™t figure out why I am faced with flops now. I hope the adding of some gluten will help. Could you perhaps offer suggestions on what I might have to do to improve?

  29. Hi, thank you for your message. Can I ask if youโ€™re using a different flour from previously?

  30. Help please! I have used a number of your recipes, including this buttermilk one (I used keffir, as I had it) but don’t get anything like the rise I hope for. I wonder if this is because I make small loaves, half the size suggested (best for my use), and thus halve the starter quantity. Is this wrong perhaps? I do everything else exactly as I should ๐Ÿ™ Many thanks for all your encouragement!

  31. Hi, thank you for using my recipes, youโ€™re doing the right thing by halving everything, including the starter. If your loaves arenโ€™t rising, there will be another reason. It would be really helpful if I could see some pics of your bakes, and know more about where you are, and the flour you use etc. if youโ€™d like to email me more info, that would be great?

  32. My grandson is dairy-free for a long testing time. Would I get similar results with almond or coconut milk?

  33. Hi, yes, I use oat milk a lot in my doughs – just use my standard master recipe and replace the water with the milk of your choice ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  34. Love this recipe! Been adding cheese and it’s so good. Also it looks like the pictures of before and after the stretch and folds are missing from the post.

  35. Thank you, Iโ€™m so glad you like it ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป
    And Iโ€™ll check, thank you ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  36. The taste of this is beautiful, and I got a beautiful crumb, but I have trouble with the bake. For a start, my sponge doesn’t rise at all, is that normal? It gets to a sponge texture but with no rise. Secondly, the dough barely rises and didn’t rise much in the oven; it certainly wasn’t growing out of control. Should I let it BF longer than you have suggested? It’s not my starter, because I am baking other normal sourdough loves with no issue. Any tips?

  37. It could well be that it was just cold and needed more time? This is a heavy dough and it doesnโ€™t grown like others but it should still rise it will just be slow.

  38. Are you not preheating your Dutch oven? This sounds lovely, and I can’t wait to try it!

  39. Wowโ€ฆ the bread is really easy to make and bake . Itโ€™s has a tangier taste than a regular sourdough loaf!

  40. Cake Flour? Is that the same cake flour like we have in the US? Or should I just use All purpose flour?

Let me know what you think...