Local cheese & ale sourdough

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A sourdough boule made from ingredients that are fairly local to me in Surrey, UK. The cheese (Spenwood) is strong and nutty; the ale (Hogs Back Brewery) is so easy to drink! They do not take over from the deep tang of the bread but they are most certainly there as complementary bedfellows!

Toasted and buttered, this bread is seriously heavenly; there is certainly no chance of having left-overs!

More on sourdoughs

Full details on sourdough, including how to make a starter, along with tips for handling, shaping and scoring a dough, is on my post here.


The bread works excellently with cheeses such as Parmesan, Cheddar or white crumbly cheeses such as Cheshire or Lancashire. And of course different ales work well.

Cheese & ale sourdough: makes 1 large boule

  • 400g strong white plain flour
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 90g sourdough starter, fed the day before (see above)
  • 245ml ale of choice (or a mixture of ale and water for a milder loaf)
  • 100g cheese of choice, grated or roughly cubed

(1) Mix the ingredients together in the bowl of a food mixer and knead on a medium setting for about 5 minutes.

(2) Perform a series 4 or 5 “stretch and folds” about 20-30 minutes apart, covering with a damp cloth in between the stretch and fold sessions. Once these have taken place, leave the dough to rest for about an hour.
NB: see my post here for notes on “stretch and fold”.

(3) Invert the dough onto a lightly floured surface and give it a few more stretch and folds to help the dough regain its structure. Shape into a boule and place into a banneton that has been dusted well with rice flour or fine semolina: this is for extra insurance so the the dough will turn out easily without sticking after its second proving.

(4) Dust the dough’s surface with flour and pop inside a large plastic bag or cover with a damp cloth. Leave to prove overnight at room temperature until the dough has well risen. Don’t over-prove: the dough should still feel fairly firm with a bit of bounce when you gently prod it; it shouldn’t feel too delicate as if it is about to collapse! If it seems to be increasing in volume too quickly, pop it in the fridge where it will keep happily for a day if you wish!

(5) Preheat the oven to its highest setting and place a solid roasting tin on the bottom (for steam) and a solid baking sheet near the top shelf (for the dough to bake on).

(6) Turn the dough onto the hot baking sheet and score with a razor: just a few determined slashes, not going too deep. Place in the oven and pour some cold water or scatter a couple of handfuls of ice into the roasting tin to create a good amount of steam and close the door.

(7) Bake for 10 minutes at this setting before turning the oven down to 200C(fan). Continue to bake for a further 30-40 minutes or so: the bread should have a deep golden brown colour and sound very hollow underneath.

(8) Transfer to a wire rack and cool fully before slicing and eating.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

13 thoughts on “Local cheese & ale sourdough”

  1. Looks wonderful. I’m looking forward to trying it with our Canadian ales/sharp cheddars. I’m curious as to what extent the still living yeasts in the ale influence and interact with the bread yeasts. I’m also wondering what the final hydration works out to be.


    1. Thank you. Yes it would taste great with other ales and cheeses. The final hydration is between 68% and 78%. In my first one, I went for a slightly lower hydration but I have made it even higher hydration: mind you, I prefer a less open crumb for such full-flavoured loaves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to be late to the sourdough game…four years later I came across your recipe. I’m a total newbie–this would be my fourth sourdough loaf and first that wasn’t just a classic/traditional sourdough. How long do you proof in the plastic bag–just looking for an estimate here as I know there are varying factors. Thank you for sharing your knowledge–I can’t wait to pop this baby in the oven!


    1. Hi, yes it varies so much but the last few I made, I proved (before shaping) for just over a day in the fridge. Once shapes, I proved for just over 6 hours. Although I have swapped those times around before and gone for a shorter prove in the fridge. I hope you enjoy the sourdough


      1. Philip, it turned out amazing! I am going to attempt my second one tomorrow. First one I used a Belgian triple ale, coastal cheddar, Gruyere and parmesan with a whole wheat starter and white flour. I’m not sure I left it in the plastic bag long enough but the dough seemed ready–passed the finger poke test. Thank you for the inspiration!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good thing I took photos–actually i used a quadruple ale. white bread flour and himalayan pink salt along with the whole wheat starter, Gruyere and Coastal British Cheddar. It was like a flavor explosion!


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