Lockdown Sourdough

The surge in home baking.

About 5 years ago I blogged about the cult status of sourdough and included a recipe which works very well but, looking back now, feels overly complicated. Like many I returned to home baking during the Covid 19 lockdown and started baking sourdough again at home. I made the recipe I blogged in an earlier life but also tried several others and there was one that stood out. It came from a friend Paddy Williams, an excellent chef who runs a lovely restaurant, Kudu, in Peckham with his wife Amy. He posted his recipe on his Instagram account, so I gave it a go. For me it is head and shoulders above all the others I tried. Whether you are a Sourdough master or an absolute beginner it gives you a reliable dough with great fermentation and flavour producing a wonderful crust and crumb, and not much to go wrong. I hope he won’t mind me sharing it with you here.

It assumes you already have an active starter but if you need to make one please click on this link to my original Sourdough blog http://thecheffoundation.com/foodforthesoul/myth-busters-sourdough/

Paddy’s Sourdough


20g Starter + 40g Flour + 40g water


100g levain

400g flour Paddy uses 340g Strong white + 60g Wholemeal. I used 350g Strong white + 50g Rye but you can mix your own blend

10g salt

260g warm water

Before going to bed weigh out 20g of starter and add 40g flour + 40g warm water. This is the levain. Leave out overnight in a bowl covered with cling film

In the morning weigh out the 400g of flour and 10g of salt. Mix with 260g of warm water, cover and leave for about half an hour. This is the autolyse

Add the levain to the autolyse and knead for 10 minutes either by hand or in an electric mixer with a dough hook on a slow speed. If you prefer not to knead then the gluten will develop perfectly well on its own, just give the dough more folds, personally I like the process and finish from kneading by hand.

Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove

Once the dough has started to rise (2 to 3 hours) give a wet fold and return to the bowl. Cover and leave to rest (1 to 2 hours)

Give another 2 wet folds making sure the dough has plenty of time to rest in between

Dry fold and shape and leave on the workbench for 10 minutes to rest

Final shape and place in a banneton or bowl lined with muslin dusted with flour. Fold over the muslin to cover the dough and leave to prove (1 to 2 hours). Once it has started to come up nicely place in the fridge overnight

In the morning preheat the oven to 230.C. Turn out dough, score the top and bake. When you put the dough in the oven pour some water into a tray on a lower shelf to create some steam

15 minutes at 230.C

25-30 minutes at 180.C

To check if the bread is cooked knock the bottom of the loaf. It should sound hollow

When you start to get low on starter feed overnight with equal amounts of flour and warm water

Eg: 100g starter +100g flour+100g water

This dough will cook very well in a Dutch oven if you have one

Here is a table with amounts for some different sized loaves. I use the smaller one as it fits my banneton better.

LevainSmaller LoafMedium LoafLarger Loaf

Links & Further Reading:

The Ultimate Guide to Sourdough Bread by Alice Webster

Myth busters-Sourdough

Kudu Collective

Chef Foundation Diet-recipes ideas

Hopefully some of you have started the Chef Foundation diet and are now over one week in and have got your heads round the concept and are enjoying a wheat and animal-fat free month. I have been eating lots of fruit, salads, soups and roasted vegetables and as promised here are a few simple recipes to help spice up meal times for you. These can be eaten with other items or as they are as a snack if you get peckish during the day.

You don’t need to weigh or measure anything for these recipes all amounts are just guidelines so just make things so they taste right to you. Add things like salt and pepper bit by bit. You can always add more but it is difficult to take it out!

Smashed Guacomole


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 finely chopped shallot
  • Handful of coriander
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Splash of House dressing/olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Peel and stone the avocados
  2. Place in a bowl and crush with the back of a fork
  3. Add finely chopped chilli , shallot and garlic to taste
  4. Add the juice of 1 lime
  5. Add a handful of roughly chopped coriander
  6. Add a splash of house dressing (see recipe) or Olive oil
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Stir
  9. Some people like to add some chopped tomato too.


SalsaThis is an excellent addition whether you are dieting or not and can be made with dozens of variations. My favourites are Black Bean Salsa and also Basil and Ginger Salsa and I make mine quite wet but you can add any ingredients you have to hand and just experiment

Core items

  1. Sweetcorn (fresh, tinned to frozen)
  2. Chopped tomato (fresh or tinned)
  3. Chilli
  4. Garlic
  5. Herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon, coriander) all work well
  6. Chopped peppers
  7. Sliced spring onions
  8. Chopped Cucumber
  9. Chopped Onion/shallot
  10. House dressing/olive oil
  11. Optional extras black beans, cannellini beans, avocado, roast aubergine, mango  and much more


  1. Chop and mix
  2. Season to taste

White Bean Hummus

white bean

This is great as a dip for raw veg sticks or  thin it down with water for a sauce or dressing.

  • 400g  Cannellini beans (tinned or dried)If using dried beans soak overnight in cold water with a teaspoon of Bicarb, this will help soften the skins then cook in fresh water till soft.
  • Handful of Coriander
  • 1 clove of Garlic (you can always add more!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • a teaspoon of Tahini (optional…I don’t bother)
  • Glug of House dressing
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper or a little Tobasco


  1. Blend all the ingredients except the coriander in a food processor until smooth
  2. Check the flavour, consistancy and seasoning
  3. Finish with roughly chopped coriander and make be some toasted pine nuts

Easy Chutney



  • 1 kg overripe tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 450g chopped Onions
  • 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 2 eating Apples, skin on just core and chop
  • 2 Cloves
  • pinch Ginger
  • pinch Cinnamon
  • pinch  Mixed spice
  • 1 shot brandy
  • 300g Sultanas
  • 200g Brown sugar
  • 500ml balsamic vinegar


  1. Put the onions, spices and liquids in a saucepan and boil until the liquids have reduced by half
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook out slowly for about an hour stirring regularly
  3. The chutney will gradually turn brown as the liquids evaporate, make sure it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan
  4. Allow to cool


Atkins…Paleo…South Beach…oh yeah Joe Wicks!

Atkins…Paleo…South Beach…oh yeah Joe Wicks!

Tis now the season of the diet and they are big business.J Wicks Wicksy, front page tabloid stuff & waffle board stomach, is 90 days subscription, yes 90 days. Some slimmers spend years on Weightwatchers making themselves miserable and still cough up every month.


We all overdid it at Christmas…you have to… so January always means diet. It is part punishment, part penance. Each year sees a craze of new wonder diets and fads most seem more focused on relieving you of pounds sterling than imperial.

atkinsDiets are difficult to stick to because they are often too complicated, too long, expensive, no fun and because we are all different a lot of them just don’t work.

I have got my own diet that I do twice a year, it is easy and has always worked for me, not just for weight loss but to freshen up and detox too. I call it The Chef Foundation diet. It’s not about eating less, your body needs fuel, It’s not about about suppressing desire cos we all enjoy treats. Its about cutting out a lot of the crap we all eat with an easy and straightforward formula.

The Chef Foundation diet is a short term life style change best adopted for a set period, I recommend a calendar month, this is long enough for your system to purge and change but not too long that the end is never in sight and manageable for most people. I like to start on the 1st of the month and run through. I am on it now.

The rules are simple. No animal fat and no wheat.

Apart from that you can eat and drink what you like. This does not have to be a vegetarian month. If you crave or miss animal protein then chicken breast (no skin) or white fish best poached, steamed or chargrilled can all be eaten. The secret is your mindset which is why a month helps too. By day 3 I am usually on it and the closer the end of the month gets the easier it becomes. Personally I never weigh myself. I know if I am losing weight from the way my clothes fit. When the month is over I feel better, have always lost some weight and have changed the way I look at my food intake. Our western diet is so wheat and additive driven and this causes lots of issues, food intolerance, bowel disorders, cancers etc.

The key for me is plenty of fresh fruit. I always have a big bowl of fruit salad in the fridge, I like acid and aqueous fruits, Grapefruit, orange, apples, melon, pineapple etc but you can add what you like. I eat this for breakfast and to snack on during the day. Evening meal I will have roast vegetables (great hot or cold), rice dishes, soups, salads, there’s loads of choice…sounds dull…not at all. I prepare in bulk and meal times become easy. I then add some fish or other protein when I fancy it. Tart things up with your own homemade dips, salsa, white bean hummus, aubergine and miso, guacamole, easy chutney. Add crunch with seeds and nuts or toasted pearl barley. Bulk up with sticky rice, wheat free granola on your breakfast, so much choice…

If you are going out for an evening meal try to stick to the rules. So don’t order deep pan pizza with extra cheese and chorizo. There are nearly always sensible options available. Reduce your use of salt and sugar and notice how your palate and taste buds wake up.


  • Prepare things in bulk so that you have food for a couple of days.
  • Review your shopping habits
  • Buy organic
  • Get your partner to join in
  • Don’t be sanctimonious
  • Enjoy the month
  • Don’t weigh yourself every 10 minutes.

This is not just about losing weight it is about rebalancing your body dynamics.

Some recipes and meal plans will follow over the next few days to help you get started.

Come on give it a go.

Venison-The Game Larder

Having just finished bleating on about how cookery books aint wot they used to be someone comes along with a bloody stonker!!

The Game LarderVenison, The Game Larder, by Jose Souto and Steve Lee is a massive body of work and a fascinating journey into one man’s obsession with wild food and countryside management captured and beautifully brought to life by another man’s photographs.

Jose is a well-respected chef and lecturer at Westminster Kingsway college in London. The flagship catering college in the country for as long as I can remember standing head and shoulders above the rest. I first met Jose at one of his game seminars at Westminster about 8 years ago . Attended by chefs, foodies, the press and other colleges this was and still is the best one-day game event for chefs anywhere. Jose always has the full range, and I mean THE FULL RANGE, of indigenous game on display, in depth knowledge on everything form the feeding habits of the Snipe to the Red Deer Rut in the Cairngorms. Vincent Rooms

The day includes an excellent lunch in the Vincent rooms cooked by the students and finishes with a comprehensive butchery master class breaking down an entire carcass of venison into dozens of different cuts. His obsession with game, ability with a gun and love of the countryside and falconry are reflected in his work as a chef and Steve has captured all this brilliantly for you to share.

Steve Lee is a professional food driven photographer creating stunning stylish contemporary images of food, drink and people, mainly in the studio I guess. Creeping about on all fours following Jose on a 4.00am winter stalk in the highlands must have been a bit of a shock but without him this book just wouldn’t work. Wild life shots that bring the countryside to life, articulate images of cuts of meat that really help understand the butchery involved.

Great portraits of the team in the field, and pub, and recipe shots that don’t make you feel you have failed miserably when you decide to make one of Jose’s dishes.

The recipes are both traditional and up to date, smoking and curing, venison pastrami, air-dried hams, black pudding, kebabs, pulled shank, hot pot. There is a good selection of recipes from other chefs Tom Kerridge, Phil Vickery Brett Graham, Jun Tanaka and a lovely section with contributions from ex Westminster students too.

Jose & SteveAlthough Jose and Lee have spent 8 years, field and kitchen, creating this book it was well worth the wait and I take back everything I said about modern cookery books not being fit for purpose.


Just go out and get a copy!

Venison, The Game Larder is published by Merlin Unwin Books http://www.merlinunwin.co.uk/

For more of Steve’s work http://www.steveleestudios.co.uk/
Jose’s game seminars http://www.westking.ac.uk/

Love your old cook books

A friend recently leant me a couple of old cookery books she picked up rummaging second hand shops in Kennington Sarf London. She is one of those annoying people who seem to be just browsing but always comes away with something rare or special.

There are no glossy pictures in these books, in fact no pictures at all, no oven temperature charts, conversion tables, trendy chapter headings or suggested Spotify playlists. These books score zero on the coffee table scale and yet I found myself reading both of them from cover to cover and then started digging out a few I had on the shelf at home.

The first was Arabella Boxer’s Book of English Cookery (1991)…not that long ago…. Arabella BoxerThrough reminiscences of her childhood she charts the changing trends and fads in town and country dining between the wars. Big yawn, not for a minute.

The world of the professional chef had already been permanently changed with the publishing of Escoffier’s Guide Culinaire in 1903, over 5000 recipes and still in use today, although every restaurant kitchen had a copy this was not for dinner party cooks or hostesses. Boxer pays tribute to the society darlings, Nancy Astor, Jessica Mitford “it took the butler 6 minutes to walk from the kitchen to the dining room at Chatsworth” then comes Boulestin and many more leading on to Constance Spry (1942) and Elizabeth David (1950) and they pave the way for Robert Carrier, Jane Grigson, our Delia, and the road to Saturday Kitchen and home cooking as we know it today.

Her recipes are scattered with anecdotes and lots of name-dropping, but it’s soooooo readable. Potted shrimp sandwiches, Yeah, “I remember these from Goodwood races”, the picnic section closes with a recipe for sloe gin. Look a little deeper and there’s water biscuits here too.

The second book was Countryman’s Cooking by W.M.W Fowler (1965).

Countryman's CookingWhat a guy, totally outspoken, views on everything, not a trained chef or cook opens with “This book is written for men. Men who, through choice or circumstance, live on their own, so that they can give a small dinner party and at the same time remain on speaking terms with their friends”

He goes on to totally equip your bachelor kitchen including how many butchers hooks you will need (6 by the way), gives no-nonsense easy to follow instruction on butchery, the preparation and cooking of furred and feathered game, hunting, shooting, fishing and lots more. He doesn’t do desserts, probably just as well, and closes with a full page of instructions for perfect Brussels Sprouts; the back cover has his recipe for beer and a great quote “my weak will is one of my most prized possessions”.

Having read these very quickly I found myself sorting through the shelves at home, so pleased to find my grandmothers cook book Olio Cookbook (1918) Olio Cookbookwith a forward to mothers and housekeepers, tips on everything, vegetarian recipes, how to harden a newly enamelled bath, oxtail jelly, pickled lemons

931 Cucumber should always be sliced first from the thick end……we know now.

Not a book, a DIY manual for life. There is nothing the modern housewife/househusband can’t make or fix armed with a copy of this!

And saving the best till last…when learning my trade cooking in Paris in 1981 I was asked to make a Foie Gras Terrine  for a friend to take to the family celebrations for St Sylvestre. He thanked me with a copy of Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal & Bourgois (1720) by Paul Prudhome. Prudhome


Written in old French and sometimes quite difficult to read these guys were cooking everything we have today Crayfish & Asparagus, Ris de Veau aux Truffes and Partridge with Morel mushrooms and Cognac.



These books are real gems and we have all got them at home, have a look on your bookshelves, the boxes in the loft, ask your Nan!

So what’s changed?……Take a short trip in the time machine…….you wake up to Heston’s Snail Porridge and deep fried Mars bars. How do they do that?

Modern cookbooks look great, lots of arty photos, you flip through, maybe try a couple of recipes, but why are they always just a bit too complicated and it never looks anything like the illustration, so it goes back on the coffee table….yeah I’ve got the new Jamiepollenstebulifrenchlaundry cookbook…its great.

Nice quote from Prue Leith recently “Clever Chefs? They’ve lost the plot”

Post script.  Most of the things I grumble about have got nothing to do with chefs. I have spent my entire life in the kitchen and have been very fortunate to meet and work with the most amazing, dedicated, talented and lovely people on the planet. They work stupid hours in bloody hot kitchens creating absolutely delicious food that some  moron  covers in ketchup and then slags off on Tripadvisor….. Its marketing, publishers, sales, branding, image rights, Tah dah and all that chews me off. I think I’ll stop there!

Myth Busters……Sourdough

Sourdough is everywhere these days, has achieved cult status and no self respecting restaurant, deli or bakery would be without it …the public are often in awe.Robert Rodrigues Sourdough

What is it? What makes it sour?

And how can you make it at home.




To explain.

When yeast feeds on carbohydrate the fermentation produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. It is the CO2 element that is the raising agent in most bread.

The alcohol content of wine comes from the fermentation of yeasts that occur naturally on the skins of the grapes. In the same way it is the yeasts that occur naturally in wheat that provide the fermentation for sourdoughs. However the small amount of yeast present requires a much longer fermentation time than breads made with the addition of cultivated yeast. The extended fermentation also produces alcohol and it is this that gives the bread a beery “sour” smell and flavour……… Hence Sourdough……..

……….and that’s it.

The secret behind the production of sourdough at home or commercially is really down to creating and managing an active starter culture. This provides the lift and sour flavour. It may take several days for the starter to kick in. When making a new starter I keep mine in the airing cupboard so that it is always warm. Use a large empty yoghurt pot or similar and make a few holes in the lid to let the gas escape. Feed as described in the recipe. Once it is nice and active, easy to spot, continue to feed for a couple of days and then store in the fridge. The starter will live for as long as you look after it and feed/use it. Mine is 7 years old but there are 150 year old starters in bakeries all over the world.

This recipe is adapted from one I received from an inspirational artisan baker Robert Rodrigues, the balance of flours can be adjusted to suit your own tastes. The dough is best made in an electric mixer with a dough hook as this is the most effective way to develop the gluten in the dough, provides structure, but I haven’t got one and always make mine by hand.

Check out the recipe and give it a go!


Rye Bread Sourdough

Adapted from a recipe by Robert Rodrigues

 Starter Culture                                           

100g Rye Flour (Dove Farm Organic)

100g Warm WaterStarter Culture

Keep warm and feed twice every day

To feed tip half away then add 50g Rye Flour and 50g water (100% hydration)

Stir, cover and keep warm

After a few days it will start to ferment and bubbles appear on the surface. Once the starter is active continue to feed for a couple of days then keep it in the fridge. If not in use feed once a week. Always feed before using, clean the container once a week.

Starter Dough

To get a starter dough you need to make a dummy run, say 10% of the recipe below, or hold some dough back from another batch of bread, don’t use it but just refrigerate for 24 hours.

To start the dough:

500g Organic Strong Flour (Wessex Mills or similar)

100g Rye Flour ( Dove Farm is best)

200g Allinsons Seeds and Grain Flour

325 ml Cold water

100ml Olive oil

250g Starter culture

200g Starter dough

10g salt

To make your final dough

Place all the above in a mixer, using a dough hook mix on a slow speed for about 10 minutes to develop the gluten in the flours. The dough will be very elastic and springy.

Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight

After that complete 2 wet folds each day as follows;

Wet the work surface, turn out the dough and pat down with wet hands. Complete 1 French fold and return to the proving bowl, cover and put back in the fridge. This strengthens the dough without knocking out any air.

This video might help!


On the 3rd day take out of the fridge and return to ambient (4-6 hours) complete a wet fold, scale, shape and place in a well floured bannetone (cane basket).Bannetone

Cling film and Leave to prove till doubled in size. Turn out carefully on to silicone paper or a non-stick baking mat.

Bake at 220.C, with steam if available till cooked, time will depend on the size of your loaf. For best results place on a baking stone, cast iron skillet or heavy metal tray in the oven. This will produce bottom heat and gives a better crust & finish.Sourdough Loaf

Always hold back some dough to use as your next starter dough and always feed the starter culture before putting back in the fridge.

The more you use your culture the stronger it gets.

The balance of culture and old dough (sour content and yeasts) and new flour (structure) provide the balance for the bread.

Useful Links & Further reading:




Avocado Emulsion ( Aggie Sverrisson)

Aggie Sverrisson (Texture Restaurant) is without doubt one of the most creative chefs in London. His cooking is light, flavours intense, plating up just stunning and he flies the flag for Icelandic cuisine like no other.  His tasting menu is one of the best in town and you can have a Michelin Star meal at lunchtime for £25. Texture also has an utterly fabulous wine list and a stunning Champagne bar……and sommelier!

Aggie SverrissonTexture canapes

Although he uses all the latest culinary techniques they do not overload his food and his recipes are magnificent in their simplicity.

His magic ingredient is often water….yes water

This emulsion can be used in a squeezy bottle, spoon and smear or drizzle depending on the consistancy, if its too thick just add a little more water. It goes really well with fish, chorizo, salads, dips, blackened chicken and on and on.


  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 150ml of water
  • 20ml of house dressing
  • pinch of salt
  • A few sprigs of coriander
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Place the avocado flesh, seasoning, coriander and lime juice in a food processor.
  2. Blend till smooth adding the water and oil as you go.
  3. Check the consistency and add more water if too thick
  4. Pass through a fine sieve, cling film and chill




House Dressing

House dressing is one of the base ingredients for food for the soul. It sums up both the philosophy and practice….simple….. delicious…. healthy. I always have it in the cupboard and use it for salads, cooking, baking, sauces, emulsions and much much more. It has so much flavour that I never use vinegars with salads anymore. It can be made in any quantities and keeps for ages. You can also adapt the ingredients to suit your own taste.



  • 5Lt Olive Oil
  • 5 Lt Groundnut oil
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 bunch Chives
  • 1 bunch Coriander
  • 1 bunch Tarragon
  • 1 bunch Flat Parsley
  • A handful of fresh Thyme
  • A hanful of fresh Rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 heads Garlic
  • 6 Banana Shallots
  • 4 Red Chilli
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 head Fennel
  • 1 dessert spoon Fennel Seeds
  • 1 dessert spoon Carraway seeds
  • 1 dessert spoon Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 6 pods Green Cardamom
  • 6 Star Aniseed
  • 1 small stick Root Ginger


  1. place all the herbs and spices in a large saucepan as they are
  2. roughly chop the vegetables
  3. cover with the oils
  4. heat until the herbs start to wilt then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 24 hours
  5. strain and bottle