Basil and coriander sourdough


From Bread by Paul Hollywood

Any well-made sourdough will have a fantastic taste, and fresh herbs give yet another dimension. For an attractive appearance I deeply score the loaf into eighths – the slashes open out like petals on top of the loaf as the dough expands. This is a lovely rustic bread to tear into pieces or cut into wedges – great for dipping into home-made soup. Alternatively, you can slice the loaf and toast it to bring out yet more of its herby sourdough flavour


Makes 1 loaf

  • 375g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g sourdough starter (see page 159)
  • 7g salt
  • 130–175ml tepid water
  • Handful of chopped basil
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • Olive oil for oiling
  • Semolina for dusting

Combine the flour, starter and salt in a large mixing bowl. The amount of water you will need to add will vary according to your flour and the thickness of your starter. Add 110ml water initially and mix it into the dry ingredients with one hand. Then mix in as much of the remaining water as you can in small amounts to get a soft dough. Mix in the herbs. Pour a little oil onto a work surface, then tip the mixture onto it. Knead thoroughly for 10–15 minutes or longer, until the dough is soft, elastic and smooth. The dough is ready when it is stretchy and starting to form a soft, smooth skin.

Tip the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a tea towel, or put into an oiled roomy plastic box with a lid. Leave to rise for 5 hours, or until at least doubled in size. The ideal temperature is 22–24°C; don’t let it go cooler than 15°C or higher than 25°C. Mix equal quantities of white flour and semolina together for dusting and scatter on a work surface. Tip the risen dough out onto the surface. Push the dough down with your knuckles and the heels of your hands, then with your fingers to knock out the air. Fold the dough in on itself several times to strengthen its structure.

Flatten the dough down into a rough rectangle. Fold the two shorter ends in towards the centre and press them down to get a chunky squarish shape. Turn the dough over so that the join is underneath. Now shape the dough into a ball: cup it with your hands on either side and turn it round and round, tucking the dough in slightly underneath as you go and pulling it in to create a ball with a smooth, taut top. Heavily dust a baking tray with plenty of the flour and semolina mix. Put the shaped loaf on the dusted tray. Dust the top of the loaf with the flour and semolina mix. Use a baker’s scraper or a large sharp knife to deeply slash the top of the loaf, first in a cross and then into eighths. This is for decoration rather than dividing up the end loaf into segments; the dough will come together as the loaf proves.

Put the tray inside a large, roomy plastic bag, making sure there is plenty of space above the surface of the dough so it won’t touch the plastic when it rises. Leave the dough to rise for at least 4 hours, or until at least doubled in size. The dough is ready when it springs back if you push a finger into it. Don’t rush the proving; it’s an important stage for the development of the flavour and structure of the end loaf. Heat your oven to 220°C. Put a roasting tin on the bottom shelf as the oven heats up.

Pour 1 litre water into the roasting tin in the oven. This creates steam in the oven and helps the crust form well. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 200°C and bake it for a further 15–20 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it on the base. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.


Last updated: almost 2 years ago