Ale and potato sourdough bread

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This is a variation of a classic bread that I learnt to make at the bakery school. I still remember the smell of potato being boiled, beer balm being cooked and finally when those bread hit the ovens! It is such a sensational culinary experience. We had to wash and boil potatoes in bulks using huge stock pots. For the beer, the instructor ( over beloved teacher) had bought a few bottles of his own homebrewed ale which were bottle conditioned and perfect for this kind of bread. It was such a great memory!!

ale bread with potato

The original recipe calls for kipfler potatoes. Kipfler potatoes are less starchy and hold its shape when boiled and has a nutty buttery taste. But you can substitute this with a similar verity like Yukon gold or spud lite. I have used other starchy potatoes(that you use for mashing, roasting) too and the bread turns out okay.

ale bread
Chewy flavorful crumb

Original recipe calls for bottle conditioned pale ale. Bottle-conditioned beer tend to have a small amount of live yeast plus has a depth of flavor that was being developed or matured over time. But again, I have used all sorts of beers and they all deliver great results. We use the beer to make the barm or a preferment and this will have the concentration of flavor that goes into your bread.

I have written a separate post on how to make a beer barm or a preferment using beer. Have a read on that to get a good idea about what this is and why it is called a barm even though we didn’t get it from a actual brewery. You will see this preferment is very versatile. You can use this to levain your bread, bread rolls or even the pizza base. I use this method to make my pizza bases all the time. You can even add this as a flavor booster to any yeasted bread products too.

ale bread with potatoes

Following are the steps;


First step, feed your starer or refresh it. Most of us keep the starters in the fridge. So this step is the first unless you are a regular feeder and you already have a mature fed starer.


Make the beer barm. Check the steps in this post to see details.

In short, mix the flour and beer in a pot and cook at 70C (medium-low heat) string until you get a thick paste. Do not boil the mixture

Leave this to cool and add the fed starter, mix thoroughly and leave overnight for the fermentation to occur.

Check the before and after pictures.

boil potatoes

In the mean time wash the potatoes until clean, par-boil these. Leave it to cool. Save the potato water too

We will use this potato water to mix the bread. It is very flavorful.

Keep them refrigerated if using on the next day.


The rest of the process is similar to making any other bread.

Mix all the ingredients except for the potatoes and mix using a spatula until hydrated. If the mixture is stiff use a few tablespoons of water. Leave for an hour to autolyse.

squash potato

Bring the potato and potato water to room temperature if they were in the fridge.

Squash them lightly with skin on. Leave big chunks.

add to bread

Add to the dough along with salt and mix gently.

mixed dough

Mixed dough is now ready for the bulk. We will bulk it for a total of 2.5 hours

45 minutes – first fold
90 minutes – second fold
135 minutes – third fold

20 minute rest after the final fold

bulked dough

This is the dough after the bulk. the three folds have given the dough much strength.

Let it rest for 20 minutes before dividing


Once rested, tip the dough over to a lightly floured bench. You will see the air pockets. Bring the dough together into a bowl and weigh. Now divide the dough into two.


Pre-shape the two dough pieces. Cover with a tea towel and leave for about 15 minutes.


Fold into your favorite shape and place in the proofing basket. I”m shaping mine into cobbs.

Use alternatives if you don’t have bannetons. In this post I talk about a few options.


Once done, cover these using either a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave for about 30 minutes at room temperature. And then place them in the fridge for retardation. For 18 hours minimum. I usually give 24 hours

Same day baking:
If you wan to make them on the same day, cover and leave them in a warm spot for about 3-4 hours until they are fully proofed. Then preheat the oven, score the bread and bake them.


The bread will be nice and proofed. If they are not fully proofed, that is okay, let them sit in a warm spot for about an hour or until the proofing is complete. Do the poke test to see where the bread is at.

Pre-heat the oven in the meantime. If your bread is fully proofed, leave it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

proofed bread

Tip the proofed bread on to the parchment cover with a light dusting of flour and score.

scored bread

Place the scored bread int he oven ( in the dutch oven or on the baking stone, whichever way you are used to) and bake for 20 minutes at 500F with lid closed.
Then reduce temperature to 450F and bake for a further 20 minutes with lid off.

Repeat with the next loaf if you have any.

cool the bread

Cool the bread before cutting into them.

ale potato bread

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  1. Recipe looks great. When you say fed starter, assume adding flour to mature starter. What ratios are you using?
    Thanks for the site!

    1. Fed starter is mature starter that you have fed earlier and has reached its peak. The ratio depends on how fast you want your starter to be ready. Read my post on starter (How to make your own starter) also Bread making basics where I explain in detail about this topic.
      eg: 1:5:5 ratio ( starter: water : flour) will be ready in 4-5 hours where as 1:10:10 ratio will take 8-10 hours
      Also this time depends on the temperature. If the room temperature is warmer ( above 25 C) the starter will be ready sooner than in a colder environment.
      Hope this helps

    1. It’s because the recipe is for two medium sized loaves that fit average proofing baskets and also a 5 Qrt Dutch Oven 🙂
      You can bake it as one big loaf (free formed) if you wish. But its easier to handle/shape when dough is smaller.

  2. I love this bread. Thank you for this recipe. I had to try one with just a little bit of rye, though it made the bread a little harder-think sawing action to cut, but tasted just right. I’m also thinking I might try adding some sausage or a cheese (one or the other, not both). Any thoughts/suggestions?

    I also want to note that the longer I make sourdough bread the longer it takes .

    My sourdough bread doughs used to sit in the fridge overnight, now it’s in the fridge 2-3 days-the longest has been 4 days and they really pop in the oven!Am I pushing it too far? What’s the limit? I’ve even been keeping my sourdough discard cracker dough in the fridge 4-5 days before baking, too. Nice and tangy.

    Love the natural yeast! Thanks for continuing to inspire with the variety of recipes.

    1. Glad to hear you are enjoying the process and the bread. There are no rules in baking honestly. If it works, you don’t have to worry about the process, just have fun! (I’m sure you are haha)
      Yes, sausage/cheese both sounds good. I add cheese with Jalapeno. If you are adding sausages, chop it up (chunky would be better) and add about a half a cup.

      If your dough gives a nice oven spring, it’s alright to retard it longer. You can stretch it as much as you like. there is no right way to do it just personal preference and I think you are doing it right.

      Here’s to natural yeast!

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