SourdoughBaker's Elemental Breads

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in The Breads

After twenty five years of making sourdough bread, I have refined my practice to be as honest and simple as possible. In effect, this has involved using less and less - flour, water, salt and fire. The four breadmaking elements, as simple as can be.

Thus, Elemental Breads. 

Oat and Rye Sourdough

These breads are all sole baked, and are pure sourdough breads. They are baked in Luna, my specially designed woodfired oven. I use three different 'dough starters'. If you have read bits of this website, you would be aware this means that the starter used to raise them has a dough consistency, rather than a liquid. I find the bread made from a dough starter has better texture and flavour than that made from a liquid starter.

The 'Papa'

'Papa' is the name my kids gave my original starter, which for years lived in the home fridge as a backup to those which lived in the bakery. From Papa, I have grown many different starters.

My sourdough starters are over twenty five years old, and I have personally created and nourished them for the whole quarter of a century. I use two starters fed on wheat - a white and a wholemeal, and one fed on rye.

I do not use any type of refined yeast at all.  Concentrated commercial yeast loves to live in your guts, and is commonly the culprit behind what is referred to as 'bread belly'. Sourdough yeasts are quite different, and actually die off at body temperature, so create no tummy issues. In addition, they come with a host of helpful bacteria, which actually promote healthy gut flora.

Good bread takes time 

Dough in its final proof

I use a very slow method to leaven my breads, with a pre fermentation and three proofs. The entire process takes about three or four days, depending on the volume I am intending to bake. I fire up my woodfired oven every Friday, and bake a few loaves - then roll the whole bakery out to wherever the market will be the next morning, and bake some more right there at the market.

I don't supply restaurants or cafes - if you want bulk, you have to order and pick up from the market I'm attending, or from my Gypsy trailer bakery in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. If you want my bread for your cafe, I can teach you how to make it yourself. Making more bread is not in my business plan. It's all about making enough to keep my customers happy, and enough to help pay the bills. And teaching others how to make it. 

I like to call it 'decentralised baking'. If we want to fix the world, we have to decentralise almost everything.

 The Civilised Baker 

Sole baking

Unlike other bakers, I try to live a civilised life, while making the best and freshest sourdough bread I can possibly make for you. This is a tricky balancing act. That's why I take my bakery to you, but only one day a week.

Bread that's baked in front of your eyes is about as fresh as it's possible to be! I have found that continuous super early starts is not good for the body or the soul, or the family. So on Saturdays, I'm up and cranking the oven well before dawn. That way, you get the love I put into it, rather than any other emotion I might be experiencing through continued lack of sleep.





Waste not, want not

I try to bake just enough for each market I attend - some are large markets, and some are small, in different regions. If there are leftovers, I either give them away, or turn them into 'organic coal', using waste heat from the oven. This becomes fuel to power the oven for the next bake. 


Currently, the sourdough bread varieties on offer are as follows:

Sourdough Breads based on a white starter include: 

Fruit sourdough

Sourdough Breads based around a wholewheat starter include:

Sourdough Breads based around a rye starter include:

I don't bake all of these breads every week - just a core of about seven to nine of these, with an extra one or two rotating types to keep everyone happy on an intermittent basis. 

If you find yourself in Newcastle or the Hunter Valley on a Saturday, check out SourdoughBaker's Facebook Page page for details of where I'll be in the morning with fresh bread!



Fruit Sourdough

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in White starter Breads

Fruit Sourdough


Fruit Sourdough is what I like to call 'grown up fruit bread'. It exhibits all the complexity of flavour and texture you would expect from either a fine wine or a fancy meal at a restaurant - in a humble loaf of sourdough bread!

It's based around a white sourdough, with apricots, figs, dates and sultanas added in generous amounts - indeed, the fruit makes up about a fifth of the finished weight of bread. So you have a very chunky fruit bread, full of flavour.

I've steered clear of adding any fat or oil, but have succumbed to adding a smidgin of raw sugar to the dough, to give the crust softness. The interplay between sweet and sour is there, especially when I ferment the dough for more than 72 hours. It's baked on a low heat  in the woodfired oven, allowing this dense bread to cook gently. 

I particularly enjoy this bread with soft, ripe cheese, or prosciutto, or both. Of course, fruit sourdough bread with a lovely unsalted butter and nothing else at all goes down a treat. 

Turkish Sourdough Bread

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in White starter Breads

Turkish Sourdough Bread


Turkish Sourdough Bread is a bit of a rarity. It's talen me quite a while to get it right. I've seen versions of this leavened with yeast as well as sourdough starter around in some artisan bakeries, but this one is pure sourdough. It's soft and delicious. 

I've broken my three ingredient rule for this one, adding yogurt, olive oil and a smidgin of raw sugar to the classic flour, water and salt recipe. There are also nigella and sesame seeds sprinkled on for flavour. Not only do these things go together to create a really authentic and deliciously complex flatbread, they also contribute to the softness of the crust.

I remember years ago being impressed by a little turkish restaurant on Clevelend Street, Surry Hills - they made amazing lentil soup, very affordable for struggling musicians, and accompanied it with this beautiful freshly baked turkish bread. I asked the secret of the flavour, and was told in a rich, turkish accent, 'yogurt'. At the time I wasn't a baker, but years later a compatriot baker reminded me of this ingredient while I was trying to figure out how to make this bread. 

Turkish sourdough makes an excellent shell for anything you want to put between its golden crusts - meats, salads, cheeses, hommous, tapenade, pesto or any combination of the above. It's made with a soft dough in a ferociously hot woodfired oven.  It's as enjoyable to eat as it is to make!


Sourdough Bread Rolls

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in White starter Breads

Sourdough bread rolls


Sourdough Bread Rolls are such a lovely thing to bake - and to eat! When the woodfired oven is at its hottest - usually right at the beginning of the bake - the ripening rolls are peeled in as quickly as possible, so as to utilise the blistering heat. I use a large square baker's peel which can hold nine rolls at a time - though an even bigger peel would be very useful for this task. 

Almost as quickly, the rolls are rotated in the oven, and peeled out, to  ensure the crust is golden brown, while the base is not too thick. This is easier said than done when Luna the woodfired oven is sitting at around 300 degrees! More often than not the rolls come out beautifully, but even when the crust is a bit thick, they are still an amazing flavour and texture.

They weigh about 180 grams, so they are quite a large roll. Filled with salad, cheese and meat, they are a meal held in the hand. One roll satisfies a big appetite. 

The crust is thin, and the flavour is tangy. They are best consumed on the day you get them, but can be sliced and toasted to make delicious dip shovels for days afterwards as well. 

Large White Sourdough

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in White starter Breads

Large white Sourdough


The Large White Sourdough is a whopping 1.5kg of pure sourdough bliss. It's meant for large families, or just simply keen sourdough lovers who have to wait a week or more between their doses of SourdoughBaker breads.

In aesthetic terms, a large loaf like this is proportionately more dough to crust, so you get big slices. A secondary feature of this bread is that it keeps moist for longer periods - and so is good for sandwiches for a week. After that, it toasts very well.

Toasties using this bread are superior too - something about the larger slice works perfectly with anything you can think of to put in a toasted sandwich. 

The flavour is mild yet deep, and lends itself to salads and crispy greens.


The large white has a slightly thicker crust than some of the other breads, because they must be baked more slowly in the woodfired oven, due to their greater girth. The crumb is loose, and can have quite large holes - though I do try to keep the texture reasonably consistent so fillings don't fall through them!