Mill Loaf


The Mill Loaf is in effect Dan Lepard’s take on a Pain au Levain, adapted from his book, The Handmade Loaf.

Compared with other similar sourdough mixed flour loaves, this recipe uses a relatively high proportion of the sourdough starter.  However, this doesn’t actually result in an overly acidic bread, but probably a more consistent (and possibly faster) rise.  This recipe makes 2 loaves – the one shown on the right was proofed in a  banneton, and kept it’s shape really well until I was a little over ambitious with my scoring, which has changed a smart boule into a relatively freeform loaf.  The second loaf was shaped as a baton and held together really well.

Possibly the best sourdough bread I’ve baked to date, the relatively low hydration (about 64% all in) made the dough easy to work, the crumb structure was great – even throughout and not too dense from the rye.  The sourness is evident, but the overwhelming experience is the contrast between the soft crumb and the crisp, nutty crust.

The method is definitely low impact & minimal effort, yet produces a loaf as good as any you’ll find.  It does, however, tie you down to the kitchen for most of the day – small windows of opportunity to do other things, but little chance to leave the house until you get to the proofing stage. As a general method, it is well worth a try.

Modifications to Dan’s recipe include – the use of my existing starter (I didn’t modify the flour/water percentages to compensate for any differences in Dan’s starter hydration); the use of malt extract, instead of ground malt grains, and the slight increase in the amount of salt (post baking change to the recipe – this was lacking just a little, probably due to the relative ‘unsaltiness’ of my sea salt)

Makes 2 loaves


  • 500g Sourdough Started (100% hydration)
  • 550ml tepid Water
  • 1 tsp Malt Extract
  • 3 tsp Sea Salt, ground
  • 600g Strong White Flour
  • 300g Strong Wholemeal Flour
  • 100g Rye Flour


  • In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water and malt extract before adding all of the remaining ingredients
  • Mix well, initially with a knife then with your hands to ensure all of the flour is captured in the dough.  Set aside, covered for 10 minutes to autolyse
  • Tip the dough onto an oiled surface and knead the dough briefly – Dan recommends 10-15 SECONDS only, I prefer his supplement of 12 kneads, making a quarter turn of the dough after each.  Return the dough to a cleaned, oiled bowl for 10 minutes & cover
  • Repeat.  Leave for another 10 minutes
  • Repeat.  Leave for another 30 minutes
  • Repeat.  Leave for another 60 minutes
  • Repeat.  Leave for another 60 minutes
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 2.  Knead for a few seconds and leave for 10 minutes to relax
  • Shape the dough as required and place on a floured tray or in a banneton, covered to prove until doubled in size.  For me, this took 6 hours on a relatively cool December day
  • Tip the proofed dough carefully onto a semolina dusted baking sheet if necessary and tweak the shaping.  Score with a sharp knife and bake the loaves one at a time (ideally on a baking stone) in a oven preheated 220oC fan for about 45 minutes, until nut brown.
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving



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