The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Confused Over Gordon Ramsay Sourdough Recipe

kah22's picture

Confused Over Gordon Ramsay Sourdough Recipe

Hi guys I'd appreciate some advice.

I'm pretty new to sourdough baking and my first few attempts at making a starter were less than successful. I came across a sourdough recipe by the

Michelin star chief, Gordon Ramsay, but it has left me somewhat confused.

His starter consists of various ingredients: strong flour, rye flour, apple juice, low fat live bio yogurt and currants. Now I have a pretty good idea of what the various ingredients do. It's the actual loaf ingredients that have me confused.

In addition to what you would expect to find for the actual bread ingredients, Ramsay also includes 10 grams of fresh yeast or two teaspoons of dried active yeast. Here's a summary of the instructions he give re the yeast.

Crumble the active yeast, if using into a bowl, add the tepid water, and stir briskly until dissolved. If using dried yeast mix with the water and two pinches of caster sugar and leave for about 10 minutes until it begins to sponge.

Mix the yeast liquid with the rye starter and half the white flour cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place until the mixture bubbles, about 1 hour.

Combine the wholemeal, rye and the remaining white flour in a warm mixing bowl. Add the bubbling yeast dough and apple juice.

He then progress to the mixing and kneading of the ingredients, all pretty straight forward. Except, perhaps, that he kneads the dough three times resting for about an hour in between each kneading.

What confuses me is the addition of either live or dried yeast into the mix. From what little I've read about sourdough bread I get the impression that the idea is to let the starter do all of the work.

I made the bread this weekend and it turned out great, I really enjoyed the taste. However, is the addition of the dried yeast not really nullifying the reason for using the sourdough in the first place.

I haven't included the full recipe because I'm not to sure as to policy on the board about posting full recipes from books or the copyright implications. The recipe is taken from Gordon Ramsay Chef's Secrets page 184. If it is OK to post the full recipe and anyone wants it just shout.



mrfrost's picture

That seems to be more of a "fake sourdough" bread recipe. It really is not true sourdough at all.

Sourdough = wild yeast(along with associated lactic acid bacteria).

I guess recipes like Ramsey's here attempt to grab some of the essence, the sour, with the lactic acid provided by/in the yougurt and the acetic acid from the apple juice. But surely one can understand the difference. In real sourdough, the essence is provided by organisms cultured along with the wild yeast.

One has to culture(grow) and maintain sourdough.

That is not to say that the recipe may still be very good and tasty. It should be. It's got enough tasty stuff in there.

jcking's picture

Assuming your sourdough build took at least a week to develop, and there are directions to maintain it; you can go either or. P Reinhart's Artisan Breads gives the option of going full sour or a mix. By using an addition of commercial yeast it allows for shorter rising times and a push for new starters at the expense of a lesser sour flavor. Some don,t care for a strong sour and go with the addition. Try it both ways to see the difference for yourself.


GaryJ's picture

Hi kah22,

Good bread is good bread, but I would say that it is not really sourdough if you have to add yeast. The starter seems unnecessarily complicated too. I would recommend having a look at these links. They are a very good starting point for making sourdough.



CJtheDeuce's picture

The recipe is mostly going for sour flavor in a day. The grocery stores do it in a day with additives to simulate different breads.

Read up on Dan Wings sourdough stater process in Bread Builders. Organic grains, spring water & clean utensils yields a great starter.


kah22's picture

The consensus seems to be that it is a fake starter, nevertheless, it tastes nice and I suppose at the end of the day the bread is all that matters.

Here's what Ramsay says about the dough:

For this classic soughdough, you need to make a yeast starter, a good 4-5 days ahead. Organic apple juice, yougurt and currants introduce natural yeasts that feed on the flours and bubble into lively, tasty ferments. A warm dry place, like an airing cupboard or draught-free spot in a warm kitchen, helps the fermentation process.

So he's quite plainly putting it down as a soughdough starter and I would imagine that a chef of his standing would want to have his info correct if going into print, but at the end of the day it's not that important

What I will do is try the starter tomorrow without the addition of any extra yeast, and do two rises, and just bake as I would a standard sourdough loaf and see what the results will be





ananda's picture

Hi kah22,

No need to publish Ramsey's formula, I think we get the idea.

His starter is what I would describe as a "natural leaven".   I am guessing he has chosen the fancy added ingredients to try and create a relatively active leaven in a short space of time.   For those of us that want a leaven for the longer term, we know that it will be maintained by feeding with just flour.   Hence, I make my starters solely by combining flour and water and building over a more generous time period.   Much respect to Debra Wink, however.   Her Pineapple Juice method is second to none [ see here: and here: ]

Ramsey seems to be adding yeast at the final dough stage.   Personally, I don't really have a problem with this, and expect the dough will perform soundly.   Afterall Hamelman uses yeast in his rye formulae.   Two things to note:

1. The yeast is not necessary, IF the starter is sound and active.

2. If yeast is added then I agree with the other posters that this isn't really authentic Sourdough, or Naturally-Leavened Bread.   I'm sure it has many great characteristics, but it is not true sourdough.

Always remember when reading these books, especially from really popular authors such as Ramsey, or Oliver: they want to sell a lot of books to a lot of people.   That's the name of the game.   "How can I offer up a great recipe which many peole can make so I can sell lots of books?"

Best wishes


GaryJ's picture

Hi kah22,

I tend to agree with Andy that the yeast has probably been added in to the recipe as a fail-safe. To ensure good results first time, as straight sourdough can take a few attempts to get the hang of. Well, in my case, MANY attempts ; - ). It is quite possible that it was done at the insistence of the publisher rather than Ramsey himself.




davetherave's picture

Hi i am new to this site so hello everyone first of all the whole sourdough maze is getting out of control and confusing a lot of people  lets start from day 1 when sourdough was first created or "found out" a simple method that was done so long ago without the modern technology of today yet so many posts and so many recipes from so many  chefs you tube tv chefs etc no wonder people are getting confused as a chef /baker i have worked in so many different places where recipes can be so different but the truth is a lot of todays recipes from tv celebrities rely on them enhancing them so it looks more interesting so going back to sourdough forget all the bits of  extras  of this and that just start with a good strong canadian bread flour and equal amounts of water mixe it well in a tough glass bowl just cover loose with a bit clingfilm so some air can get into it for your starter and leave in the kitchen depending on the enviroment of your kitchen ie humidity it will thrive as i do a lot of baking i do have a proving cabinet which i made out of some metal frame and put some insulating around it with some tape i bought some insulating from diy the type you put down the back of radiators the keep the heat there you have a proving cabinet for all your bread making needs it is important in making good bread just put a pan of hot water at the bottom and there you have your proving cabinet forget about covering with oiled clingfilm etc  so when you are not baking you can just put your sourdough starter in there cover and it will thrive in there plus all the natural yeast spores  in the cabinet will get on so well !. all the recipes for bread in books and tv etc never tell you how to make real bread i wonder why? for all normal bread white wholemeal granary sweet dough etc is only real bakers yeast srong canadian bread flour with a protein content of 15g  salt, water, and some bread fat if you want soft bread all you can buy from the supermarkets so dont get fobbed off with all the instant dried yeast etc trust me i have been making bread for over 30 years