The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spiced Light Whole Wheat Sourdough Batard

  • Pin It
bakingbadly's picture

Spiced Light Whole Wheat Sourdough Batard

Pound, pound, pound 'til the wheat berries were ground. Bounded by a creed to heed to the flavours of the grain, I pained and maimed my fingers, arms, and shoulders.

After nearly an hour of mortar-ing and pestle-ing, the seeds bled a fine sand of flour, blotched with bits and grits of bran and germ. And what did my efforts amount to? Just twenty-eight grams (or one ounce) of freshly ground flour.

And that's why grain mills exist.


Based on Peter Reinhart's "Transitional Country Hearth Bread" recipe from his book Whole Grain Breads, the above loaf contained a set of firsts

  • My first time shaping a dough into a batard
  • My first time incorporating freshly ground flour into dough (albeit only 3% of total flour weight)
  • My first time converting my former rye starter to a white starter
  • My first time boldly baking a loaf until lightly charred

Look at those blisters, like bubbles in boiling water. Some of you may find this mesmerising. Others may think my loaf had succumbed to an illness---bread pox maybe?


Hoping that two parallel ears would form, I scored two cuts along the length of the dough. As you can see, it didn't turn out as expected. Perhaps my incisions weren't deep enough. Or perhaps my slashes weren't properly angled. Or perhaps both. 


Well, that ain't right...

I was aiming for a slightly open crumb but what I got, it seems, was a tunneling effect. Was this the result of poor shaping or gluten degradation? I don't know, really. Moreover, the bottom crust was thin and pale brown. Evidentally, my baking stones (i.e., unglazed clay tiles) weren't hot enough.

The flavour profile:

After being cooled for more than twelve hours, the loaf had permeated my room with a deep, complex, and wheaty aroma. After sinking my teeth into the flesh of the bread---pleasantly chewy and slightly moist---I became grossly bewildered; my taste buds registered subtle sweetness and mild nuttiness. How was this possible, I pondered. This bread wasn't contaminated with sugar or nuts. Was it the freshly ground flour? Yes, it had to be!

As I chewed, savoury toastiness and a tinge of bitterness progressively unveiled itself, likely caused by the scorched crust. But wait, where was the tang? Reflecting on my past actions, I faulted my overfed starter and one hour bulk fermentation for the lack of piquancy.

All in all, it was a good loaf. Just a lil' more practice and I can perk up the flavours a notch or two.

:) Thanks for reading my post. Have a happy baking and wish you all the best,


P.S. Please feel free to input your tips and suggestions. It'd be much appreciated. Thank you in advance! 



dabrownman's picture

If it tastes and smells good it is a success.  I think I like blistered bread pox :-)  David Snyder's new video on scoring batards is excellent and you should look at it.  I think that too shallow and not enough angle and too long a scores for 2 is the reason the ears didn't form as you liked.  I think one score will work better for you.   Your  stone must have not been up to temperature as you said.  What temperature are you baking at Zita.

King Arthur Flour  has some very nice shaping videos on YouTube if you haven't seen them.   Shaping comes with practice  and practice comes with baking so

Bake Boldly On Zita!

bakingbadly's picture

:) Thanks for the encouragment, DA. I needed it.

David's new video on scoring is far from excellent---it's sensational! If only I had seen and heeded to it earlier. Nonetheless, I'm sure I'll have plenty of practice and eventually get those elusive ears.

As for the baking temperature, I believe I preheated the oven to 250C / 482F for an hour or so, containing a rack lined with clay tiles and a soaked towel on a baking tray. But I think I know the source of the problem. Ever since I started experimenting with "Sylvia's steaming method", the bottom of my loaves have been paler. So, for my next bake, I'll introduce the towel-filled baking tray to the oven after preheating.


breadsong's picture

Hi Zita,
For your first batard, you achieved very even, symmetrical shaping - well done!
Your hard-earned, freshly-ground flour must have added some beautiful flavor.
You've called this a 'Spiced' bread - what did you spice it with? I love bread spices and am curious what you used in your wheat bread :^)
Re: crumb, I wonder if the loaf may have been overproofed? I've had large air holes under the crust and I don't think I ever figured out what caused it. I just searched for tunnelling and found some information posted by rossnroller.
His comment on the signs of overproofing is near the end of his post; just before his sign off, and the last two pictures:

I hope this is helpful and best wishes to you for your whole-wheat baking,
:^) breadsong

bakingbadly's picture

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

The discussions in that post were mighty helpful, and I now suspect that the tunnels were caused by overproofing. One of the comments mentioned that fermentation rates can be affected by dough temperature. And because of that comment, I just recalled that my soaker was rested at above room temperature for approx. twelve hours. Normally, I chill my soakers for over twenty-four hours then later combine it with the final ingredients. However, I treated my dough as if it had incorporated a cooler soaker despite using a much warmer one.

Oh, yes, about the spices... I used a tiny amount of ground fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and coriander. However, the wheatiness and nuttiness of the loaf completely overwhelmed the flavours of the spices. Sadly, I couldn't detect it at all.

Thanks again for your help, Breadsong. Much, much appreciated. :)

breadsong's picture

Hi Zita,
You are so welcome and glad you found that post helpful :^)
Your spice combination sounds lovely. I love using bread spices (in recent bakes I've used .3 to .5% spice (whole spices, toasted then ground) and have been happy with the flavor after baking).
:^) breadsong