The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sourdough bread

holds99's picture

The following is taken from Michel Suas' description of mountain bread (page 223, Advanced Bread and Pastry): "Combining rye levain and white flour this bread began as a staple in the mountainous regions of Switzerland.  The long shelf life created by the sourdough process was an adantage in a time and place when bread was baked only once a week.  The hole in the middle of the crown [I didn't make a hole in the middle of the crown because I don't have a clue as to how to do that--will research the issue later] was used to hang the mountain bread to a pole fixed high on the wall to store the bread safely."  Hmmm.  Maybe hanging it from the pole is to keep it away from the kids until breakfast is ready.

Anyway, I doubled Mr. Suas' "test" formula and made 4 lbs of dough (2 X two pound boules).  As can be seen in the photo below I used linen lined bannetons, generously dusted with a mixture of 50% AP flour and 50% rice flour.  This bread tastes great, with a hint of sourness and terrific flavor.


Michel Suas Mountain Bread (Switzerland) - Advanced Bread and Pastry

Michel Suas Mountain Bread (Switzerland) - Advanced Bread and Pastry

dmsnyder's picture

San Joaquin Sourdough & Friends

San Joaquin Sourdough & Friends

San Joaquin Sourdough

San Joaquin Sourdough

San Joaquin Sourdough Crumb

San Joaquin Sourdough Crumb

This boule is made with my Pain de Campagne formula. ( I used KAF French Style Flour with 5% KAF Organic Whole Wheat and 5% Giusto's whole rye flour. I formed one boule which weighed 860 gms baked. I baked at 480F for 18 minutes under a stainless steel bowl, then another 22 minutes at 460F uncovered. The shine on the boule is real. I assume this is gelatinized starch from the covered baking. I thought it was a nice effect.

 The "friends" are baguettes made with the Gosselin pain a l'ancienne formula.(à-l039ancienne-according-peter-reinhart-interpretted-dmsnyder-m) There were 4 of them, but I devoured one with dinner. It did not have as open a crumb as my last batch, but the taste was wonderful - very sweet, classic baguette flavor.


dmsnyder's picture

Sourdough Italian Bread

Sourdough Italian Bread

Sourdough Italian Bread crumb

Sourdough Italian Bread crumb

This bread is based on the Italian Bread formula in Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice." The only change I made was to substitute a biga naturale (sourdough starter) for the biga made with instant yeast in Reinhart's formula. I still added the instant yeast to the final dough.

I also employed the "stretch and knead in the bowl" technique during bulk fermentation, even though I used a KitchenAid mixer for mixing beforehand.

Intermediate starter (Biga naturale)

3 oz. Active starter

9 oz. Water

12 oz. KAF Bread flour

Final Dough

18 oz. Biga naturale (Note: save the remaining 6 oz. for another bread.)

11.25 oz. KAF Bread flour

o.41 oz. (1-2/3 tsp) Salt

0.5 oz. (1 T) Sugar

0.11 oz (1 tsp) Instant yeast

0.17 oz. (1 tsp) Diastatic barley malt powder

0.5 oz (1 T) olive oil

7 oz (¾ cup) Water at 80F

Sesame seeds for coating.

Semolina to dust the parchment paper.

Mix and ferment the biga.

Mix the biga naturale the evening before baking. Dissolve the starter in the water in a medium sized bowl, then add the flour and mix thoroughly to hydrate the flour and distribute the starter. Cover the bowl tightly and allow to ferment for 3-6 hours, until it doubles in volume. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the biga from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up for an hour or so.

Mix the dough

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and malt powder in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer. Add the biga in pieces, olive oil and ¾ cups of tepid water and mix thoroughly. Adjust the dough consistency by adding small amounts of water or flour as necessary. The dough should be very slack at this point.

I mixed the dough with the dough hook in the KA mixer for 10 minutes then transferred it to an 8 cup/2 liter glass pitcher that had been lightly oiled.


I stretched and folded the dough in the pitcher with a rubber spatula then covered it tightly. I repeated the stretch and fold again 20 and 40 minutes later. I then left the dough to ferment until it was double the original volume. This took about 60 minutes. (Approximately 2 hours total bulk fermentation.)

Divide and form

Divide into 2 pieces and pre-form as logs. Allow the dough to rest 5 minutes or more, then form into bâtards. If desired, spray or brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Prepare a couche – either a floured piece of baker's linen or parchment paper sprinkled with semolina.

Pre-heat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the middle shelf. Make preparations for steaming the oven.

Place the loaves in the couche, cover with plastic or a towel and allow to proof until 1-1/2 times their original size.


Score the loaves and transfer them to the baking stone. Bake with steam, using your favorite method. After loading the loaves and steaming, turn the over down to 450F and bake until done (about 20 minutes). If you want a thicker crust, use a lower temperature and bake for longer.


Allow to cool before slicing, if you can.



dmsnyder's picture

Susan from San Diego Sourdough

Susan from San Diego Sourdough

Susan's Sourdough Crumb

Susan's Sourdough Crumb

It was time to get back to basics. My wife and I love sourdough bread. I have been having lots of fun exploring other breads, especially rye breads and baguettes of late, but I was missing "plain old" sourdough bread.

 The formula that Susan from San Diego developed has been made by many on TFL, and, if there is anyone who has not loved it, they have kept it to themselves. So, Susan's sourdough has been on my "to bake" list for quite some time. Here is how I made it:

450 gms Giusto's Ultimate Performer (High Gluten Flour)

50 gms Giusto's (Whole) Rye Flour

340 gms Water

50 gms Active Starter

10 gms Sea Salt


Mix the water and flour in a large bowl until they form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and allow to rest (autolyse) for 15-60 minutes.

Add the starter to the autolyse and mix it in. Then add the salt and mix it in.

On a lightly floured bench, do 4 or 5 French folds. Cover the dough for 30 minutes. Repeat the folds and resting for 30 minutes. Then, do the folds a third time. (At this point, I had moderate gluten development.)

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly. Allow to rise until doubled. (I used my favorite Anchor Glass 8 cup/2 liter glass pitcher with a tight-fitting plastic cover. My dough doubled in 6 hours.)

Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds. Cover and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.

Shape as boules and place in floured bannetons. (I used French linen-lined wicker ones.) Spray lightly with oil and place in food-grade plastic bags or cover with plastic wrap.

Proof for 1 hour, then place in the refrigerator over night (8-12 hours).

Take the loaves out of the refrigerator at least 4 hours before you plan to bake them. Allow them to warm up and rise to 1-1/2 times their original size.

45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 450F with a baking stone on the middle shelf and a cast iron skillet and metal loaf pan on the bottom shelf.

When the loaves are ready to bake, bring a cup of water to a boil and place a handful (4-6) ice cubes in the loaf pan. Shut the oven door.

Sprinkle semolina on a wooden peel. Transfer a loaf to the peel. Score it, and load it on the baking stone. Do the same with the second loaf. Then pour the boiling water into the skillet, being careful not to scald youself, and shut the oven door.

After 10 minutes, remove the two water recepticles from the oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until the loaves are nicely colored, the bottoms have a hollow sound when thumped and the internal temperature of the loaves is at least 205F. When they are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the baking stone with the oven door held open 1-2 inches for another 5-10 minutes to dry the crust.

Remove the loaves from the oven and cool them thoroughly on a rack before slicing. (2 hours, if you can stand it.) You are allowed to smell the loaves and listen to them sing while they are cooling.

1. My sourdough starter is "1:3:4" (starter:water:flour). If your starter is more liquid or more firm, you should adjust the amount of water you use in the dough accordingly.
2. The 2-pan oven humidification and steaming method is from Hamelman's "Bread." Susan bakes her loaves under a stainless steel bowl for the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the time. I would have done this, if I had made a single large boule. But Hamelman's method gives me the second best oven spring and bloom.
3. With overnight cold retardation, this bread was moderately sour when first cool. The crust was thin but crunchy. The bread had a firm chewiness but was in no way "tough." It was, in short, what I regard as a "classic San Francisco-style Sourdough." Since this is precisely what I wanted, I am delighted with this bread. I am moving it from my "to bake" list to my "bake often" list.


dmsnyder's picture

San Joaquin Light Rye 1

San Joaquin Light Rye 1

San Joaquin Light Rye 2

San Joaquin Light Rye 2

San Joaquin Light Rye Crumb

San Joaquin Light Rye Crumb

 This bread evolved from Anis Bouabsa's formula for baguettes which he generously gave to Janedo when she visited his bakery in Paris. I have had fun applying Anis' long cold primary fermentation to variations on his baguette formula.

I have enjoyed the breads made with added sourdough starter and about 10% rye in particular.I have written about my pain de campagne made with these modifications. However, the second time I made it using a flour that absorbed more water, the crumb was less open. I decided to try the same formula but with a somewhat higher hydration. I added an additional 15 gms of water, boosting the hydration from 74% to 77%. This resulted in a dough of almost identical “feel” to the original dough made with the less absorbent flour.


Active starter                        100 gms

KAF French Style Flour           450 gms

Guisto's Rye Flour                    50 gms

Water                                    385 gms

Instant yeast                           1/4 tsp

Salt                                        10 gms

 The method I used was otherwise identical to that described before: ( )

Jane opined that this could no longer be called a “pain de campagne.” I'm not sure why, but I accept her authority in matters of French terminology. So, I am calling it “San Joaquin Light Rye.” I also am not sure what to call the shape of the loaf. Maybe it is “a stretch bâtard.” Or “an obese demi-baguette.” In “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II,” Julia Child pictured a French loaf shape called a “Jaco.” I have not heard of this shape otherwise, but it looks sort of like what I made today.

 If asked to describe the crust and crumb, I would say it is close enough to Nury's Light Rye that I would have difficulty telling which was which in a blind tasting. And that's not bad!



dmsnyder's picture

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdoug

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb 

KAF French Style Flour........500 gms

Water..............................370 gms

Starter.............................100 gms

Salt..................................10 gms

Instant yeast.......................1/4 tsp


I activated my starter and let it ferment for only about 4 hours. It did double but was not at its peak. While the starter was noshing, I mixed the flour and water and let it autolyse for about 40 minutes. Then I added the starter, yeast and salt and mixed well in a bowl.

I used Pat's (proth5) method of mixing: In the bowl, stretch and fold using a plastic dough scraper 20 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Repeat this every 20 minutes for an hour. At the end of that time, I had the best window pane I've every achieved. This is a great technique for somewhat slack doughs!

I then moved the dough to a 2 liter glass measuring pitcher with a tight fitting cover and refrigerated for 20 hours.

 The dough was then emptied onto a large wooden cutting board, well dusted with flour and divided into 3 sort of equal parts. It was less slack than my last batch and easier to shape. I gently preshaped into rounds and rested the pieces, covered with plastic wrap and a towel for 20 minutes. I then shaped into baguettes very, very gently so as to minimize bubble popping. The loaves were proofed for 1 hour on a parchment paper "couche."

 I had preheated the oven to 500F. I scored the baguettes. After loading the loaves onto my pizza stone and pouring hot water in a heated skillet, the oven was turned down to 460F on convection bake. After 10 minutes, I removed the skillet and turned the oven up to 480F, regular bake. I baked the baguettes for 25 minutes total. 


The loaves "sang" louder and longer than any I've baked. The crust was nice and crunchy. The crumb was the most open I've yet achieved in baguettes. I attribute this in large part to my shaping the baguettes more gently then ever before. I credit Janedo for the inspiration (as well as for the recipe).

I still need to work on scoring baguettes. *sigh*




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