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White Country Bread Recipe, Easy Sourdough Alternative

bread baking
Country bread recipe

This recipe makes an excellent country loaf with a soft crumb and a super crackly crispy crust. Using an overnight sponge really helps pack this loaf with flavour while minimising the commercial yeast flavour. 

This video was born from the viewers of my sourdough bread video who asked how they can bake a decent loaf of bread without a sourdough starter. The sourdough starter is swapped out for a commercial yeast fermentation and the process is exactly the same (times may vary depending on temperature). 


Overnight sponge

75g room temperature water 

75g strong white bread flour (mine has a protein content of 13%)

3g dried yeast

Main Dough

220g water

12g salt

125g overnight sponge (pre ferment / poolish)

375g Strong white bread flour (mine has a protein content of 13%)  

Times & temperatures

My kitchen temperature: 28c / 82f

Oven temperature: 220c

Oven setting: Bake mode (top & bottom heat with no fan)

Bake time: 20 minutes covered & 20 minutes uncovered 

Watch the tutorial on YouTube


1. Mix the overnight sponge ingredients together, cover and leave out at room temperature to ferment. This should take anywhere between 12-18 hours. If your kitchen is very warm then you may need to slow the process down a little in the fridge.

2. The next day you can mix 125g of the sponge with the water, bread flour, and salt. Mix to bring everything together and make sure the ingredients are well combined. Cover and leave out to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.  

3. Turn the dough out on to your bench and knead for about two minutes to make sure everything is well mixed and there aren’t any dry spots. Shape into a ball and pop it back into your bowl, cover and proof at room temp until doubled in size (mine took 5 hours).

4. Shape into a ball as shown in the video and place into a basket or a bowl that’s been lined with a cloth dusted with flour. Cover and proof again until risen appreciably. Mine took 30 minutes. 

5. If you are using a cloche, or a pot to cover and steam your bread while baking, then now is the time to mist the inside with water. 

6. Once risen, dust the top of the dough with flour and turn out onto a peel or a piece of parchment (you’ll need something to transfer it to the baking stone in the oven.) Using a pair of scissors or a razor blade (or sharp knife) cut or score the dough to allow it to expand while baking. Slide the dough onto the baking stone and cover with the cloche or pan if using. Bake in a pre-heated oven as follows:

7. Bake for the first 20 minutes on a baking stone covered with a cloche in an oven preheated to 220c for 20 minutes. 

8. After 20 minutes uncover and continue to bake at 220c until a golden to dark coloured crust has formed (mine took 30 minutes). 

You can check out my sourdough bread video for other ways to bake if you don’t have a stone or a cloche.

Sourdough bread video showing how to bake without a cloche or a dutch oven.

Oven temps vary! Always keep an eye out while your bread is baking!

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