tivoli road bakery sourdough fruit loaf

It had to happen - I've succumbed to the lure of sourdough baking. It wasn't lockdown that drove me to it though, it was a long Christmas break at home in Brisbane with my Dad. To wile away the time I decided to make a sourdough starter and hoped the starter would develop sufficiently so I could bake with it before I had to return to Sydney. I have made a sourdough starter before and 'Audrey' is languishing somewhere in the freezer. Using Audrey I managed to successfully make some fruit buns then had a disaster with a sourdough loaf, which went straight into the bin. I've been too scared to make sourdough since then.

I didn't want to get too overloaded with discard so I used this recipe but halved the quantities. The starter was lively by day 7 so on day 8 when it passed the float test, I made some dough and the following day I had a beautiful sourdough boule.


I couldn't believe it and I wondered why it had worked out on my first attempt. I spent a week watching videos about sourdough baking on YouTube while the starter was developing.

I've made a lot of yeasted dough the past few years and I know I can manage a 70% hydration dough (the total water/total flour used in the recipe) but no more and many sourdough recipes have much higher hydration rates. Knowing this I got out my handy calculator and did a few sums to reduce the water content in the recipe to 65-70% hydration. I also refrigerated the dough overnight before shaping as suggested by Charlie aka The Chain Baker, who has many helpful videos on his site. I baked the dough in a preheated cast iron pot and voila, I had a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.

Emboldened I kept baking and produced a few more loaves including this delicious sourdough fruit loaf. I brought a small jar of starter back home with me on the plane and I liked the fruit loaf so much I've already made it twice albeit with a few tweaks.

The fruit loaf recipe is adapted from the Tivoli Road Bakery recipe, however I found 2 recipes online so the recipe is a mash-up of those two recipes plus things that worked for me.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20°C. 

Fruit sourdough – adapted from a Michael James and Pippa James recipe from The Tivoli Road Baker. According to Michael 'This bread is great eaten fresh, and will keep for days. It’s also great toasted, with a nice spread of butter, as the spices really come through when it is warmed".

Fruit Sourdough Recipe
Fruit Soak
40g raisins 
40g currants 
40g sultanas 
50g dried figs, quartered 
50g pitted dates, halved 
100g dried apricots, halved
10g grated fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick 
3 cloves
50mls orange juice
50mls water
Put all the fruit, except for the dried apricots, in a large container or bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine the grated ginger with the whole spices and the liquids and bring to the boil over medium heat. Once boiled, take the saucepan off the heat and let the mixture infuse for 10 minutes, then strain the liquid over the fruit. Discard the whole spices. 
Mix with a spoon until the fruit is evenly distributed and coated with liquid. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight, stirring occasionally to thoroughly distribute the liquid – you want it soaked through the fruit, not settled at the bottom. If leaving the fruit to soak longer than overnight, store it in the fridge.
Starter Build
40g starter
20g bakers flour
20g whole-wheat flour
40g water
Around 4–6 hours before you plan to mix your dough, combine the starter, flours and water for the starter build, mixing well to combine. After a few hours ( I like to do this overnight) the starter should be bubbly and doubled in size. To test if the starter is ready to use, drop a small amount into a glass of water. If the starter floats, it’s ready to use. You will use 80g of this for the dough; retain the rest for maintaining your starter. 
250g bakers flour
50g whole-wheat flour
50g rye flour
25g white spelt flour
233g water
80g starter
The grated rind of 2 oranges
7g salt 

At least 30 minutes before you plan to mix the dough, combine the flours and water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined, then cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside. This process will hydrate the flour.

When the starter is ripe and bubbly, add it to the flour and water mixture, sprinkle over the orange zest and salt, then using the dough hook mix on low-medium speed for 5 minutes to form a slightly sticky dough. Remove the dough hook then cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, before your do your first set of folds.

Thoroughly drain the fruit and pat dry with paper towels. Add the fruit soak and the apricots as you do the first turn and fold in the bowl, ensuring they are evenly distributed. If the fruit seems a bit wet, you can throw a little extra flour in. You want a slightly sticky dough, but not a wet dough. Complete four sets of folds (
this video shows you a technique you can use) resting the dough in between each one for 30–45 minutes. After your last set of folds, cover the dough with plastic and leave to prove at room temperature for 2–3 hours. After the 2 hour prove I like to place the covered dough in the fridge for a few hours to firm before shaping the dough.


Lightly oil an 18 × 11 cm (7 × 4¼ in), 10 cm (4 in) high loaf tin then line with a sheet of baking paper. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat to redistribute the air pockets. Form into a rectangular shape and then fold the top 2 corners over to create a triangle. Roll the dough down towards yourself from the top down, using your thumbs to guide the dough in a spiral motion. You want to do this roll as tightly as possible to achieve oven spring during baking.


Place the dough into the tin, seam side down, then cover with plastic and leave at room temperature overnight. If it’s going to be a hot night and the dough is already feeling active, place it in the fridge, to be baked when needed. You want the dough to reach the height of the tin and to retain the imprint of your finger when gently pressed. If you’ve had the loaf in the fridge and it still looks small and feels dense, sit it in a warm place for 1–2 hours, until ready to bake.

Place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, and at least an hour before you start baking; preheat the oven to the maximum temperature. When the oven is hot, boil the kettle and pour around 150–200 ml of boiling water into the baking tray. Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the loaf is starting to colour, then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 20–25 minutes, until the top is a lovely dark brown.

Holding the tin carefully with a cloth, tip the loaf out and check that the sides are a nice golden colour and the loaf is firm to the touch. If it needs a bit longer, put it back in the tin and return to the oven for another 5 minutes before testing again. Tip the bread out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool. 


The proving time will vary depending on the temperature and humidity on the day so the time is just a guide.

I like the fruit loaf toasted then topped with butter and home made blackberry jam. Delicious!

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,




  1. Hello,
    I have been looking at fruit loaf recipes for a while now but never really thought any of them were actually a "fruit" loaf.
    I am not really wanting to make a sour dough starter, so can I just use dried yeast instead? If so, how much yeast is needed?
    Many thanks,

  2. Hi Angela, I haven't tried making this bread with yeast but 2 tsp of yeast should work as the rising agent.

    You'll also need to add an extra 40g of water and 40g of flour to the dough to make up for the sourdough starter. You won't need to bake the bread at such a high temperature either. 190-200°C should be fine.

    Let me know how it goes if you try it out using yeast.

    All the best, Jillian

  3. That is very helpful. I plan to make it in a couple of weeks, so will let you know.
    I love how adventurous you are with your recipes, and the ability to change ingredients on the basis of preference or what is available. Certainly impressive!

  4. Thanks. COVID shortages have taught all of us to be a bit more resourceful I think.


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