The Fresh Loaf

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Kuta Sourdough (A Whole Wheat Tweak Susan's Norwich SD)

IndoLee's picture

Kuta Sourdough (A Whole Wheat Tweak Susan's Norwich SD)

“Kuta” Sourdough  (A Whole Wheat Tweak of Susan’s “Norwich” SD)

February 28, 2012

I love Susan from SD’s Norwich sourdough (see original recipe here: which she adapted from the Vermont Sourdough in Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes) and I used her Norwich recipe exclusively while I worked out the kinks in my Indonesian kitchen (see previous TFL posts).

As much as I relish the Norwich recipe, I like my SD with a bit of whole wheat flour for taste and texture so I made some modifications in order to incorporate WW in addition to the Rye. 

After numerous trials, I finally found a recipe I really like:  still quick and easy, with the same build and maintaining the character of the Norwich bread, but with the addition of a bit of WW zing.

"Kuta SD" Loaf made with both Retarded Bulk Ferment (Method #2) and Retarded Proof Ferment (Method #3)  Nice & Sour!


Crumb (From Above Loaf)

I’ve made this final recipe numerous times now and can say with confidence that it’s got all the things we love about SD: a nice crust, a crumb that’s still soft, but slightly more chewy and robust than the Norwich original, and just enough hint of whole wheat for our liking.  It’s now our “house standard” with all hankering for the Kuta loaves above any others turned out here to date.

Susan’s recipe calls for 100% hydration starter which is kept the same here.  In addition to the Rye flour in the Norwich recipe, I ended up with 135 g of Whole Wheat flour while reducing the White flour. Bread hydration is only a tad higher at 66.74% vs 65% due to the increase in both starter and water (relative to both total flour and total ingredients).  The slightly higher hydration is to keep the dough equally gaseous (i.e. crumb open) while compensating for the addition of the WW flour.

Aside from the whole wheat and some small tweaks, preparation of this recipe is the same as the Norwich recipe so if you’re used to making Susan’s fabulous bread, you should already be familiar with prep here.

To easily compare the two recipes, I added a chart below showing Susan’s Norwich recipe and the Kuta recipe side-by-side – keeping the total ingredients the same (2003 gr)


(After the primitive little village of Kuta, Island of Lombok - Indonesia where we are for the next 2 years.)  Adapted from Susan from SD’s “Norwich” Sourdough Bread – with lineage from Hammelman.)

Yield: About 2 Kg  - 4 medium (500 gr), or two large (1,000 g)r batards or boules;


Mix & Autolyse: 30 minutes (about 5 or 6 minutes mixing –total time, plus about 25 minutes autolyse)

Bulk (First) Fermentation:
Method 1:  Proof for about 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) at room temp (in range of 740 to 780 F) and doubled in size.
Method 2:  Proof for about 75 minutes (1¼ hours) at room temp (in range of 740 to 780 F) then refrigerate (retard) for 6 to 8 hours) – I usually do this overnight for a mid-morning bake the following day.  When retarding during the bulk ferment, the goal is to achieve the same doubling of size - partly during the 1¼ hours at room temp, but mostly as the fermentation continues more slowly while refrigerated.  I find that after 1¼ hrs at room temp, the dough is perhaps 25% to 30% larger in volume (at the time I refrigerate it), but fully doubled after a night in the refrigerator.

Divide, (Weigh) Pre-shape, Rest & Final Shape: About 15 minutes total.  Preshape dough, then rest for 10 minutes or so preparatory to final shaping into boules or batards.  Final shape after resting.

Proof (Second) Fermentation:
Method 1:  Proof for about 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) after final shaping (or after removing from refrigerator and shaping if you retarded during the bulk ferment), then bake,
Method 2:  Refrigerate (retard) your loaves, immediately after final shaping by putting them into loosely fitting, sealed plastic bags for 6 to 12 hours, then proof them for about 60 minutes after removing from the refrigerator;
Method 3:  Proof the final shaped loaves for 75 minutes (1¼ hours) at room temperature then retard (refrigerate – in bags as above) for 6 to 12 hours, placing the loaves directly into the oven from the refrigerator.

NOTE: If you retard twice (during bulk and proof), keep total retardation time (bulk + proof) under 18 hours and note that bread will be relatively sour after so much retardation.  Be careful not to over-proof if retarding during BOTH bulk and proof!

All of the above methods work fine - your choice.  With either method of retarding (before or after proofing or both) your loaves can stay refrigerated for 6 to 18 hours – more if you have to, but in my experience, dough quality and strength will start to degrade after about 18 hours total retardation (bulk plus proof) – and faster if you allowed a 1 ¼ hour room temperature proof before refrigerating (i.e. Proof Method 3).

Bake:  About 30 to 38 minutes – longer times for the larger loaves and shorter for smaller ones.  Also, in my experience, batards, because of their shape, tend to cook at bit quicker than boules of the same weight.










600 gr


Water - Room Temp about 760 F).  (% shown is % of Total Ingredients)

610 gr


360 gr


100% Hydration Sourdough Starter.   (% shown is % of Total Ingredients - including starter) 

365 gr


900 gr


White Bread or AP Flour (% shown is % of Total Flour)

750 gr


120 gr


Rye Flour  (% shown is % of Total Flour)

120 gr


0 gr


Whole Wheat Flour  (% shown is % of Total Flour)

135 gr


23 gr


Salt (% shown is % of Total Ingredients)

23 gr


2003 gr


Total Ingredients

2003 gr





Total Flour



Total Water (includes starter)



 Water/Flour Ratio (hydration)



Starter/Flour Ratio





1.         MIX - Mix the flours, water, and starter on low/dough speed in your mixer until flour is just incorporated and still quite shaggy, about one minute.  (If your room temperature is 760 F or above, add the salt now (it will slow down the bulk fermentation a tad – good for higher temps).

2.         AUTOLYSE - Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 25 minutes.

3.         ADD SALT & MIX - Add the salt (if not already done in Step 1) and continue mixing on low to medium-low speed until the dough reaches a moderate level of gluten development. This should take about 5 or 6 minutes depending on your mixer.  You can judge gluten development by lack of stringiness and tear of the dough.  When mixed enough, the dough should be noticeably more elastic.  If it’s still stringy and shaggy and tears rather than stretches it needs a bit more mixing - as it does if it’s still sticking to the side of your mixer bowl.  (Remember you will be doing stretch and folds later to more fully develop gluten/dough strength so don’t go overboard and beat the daylights out of your dough now or even try for classic “windowpane” glutenization – no need).

4.         BULK FERMENT - Transfer the dough to an oiled, covered container and ferment at room temperature for roughly 2 1/2 hours (or until no more than doubled.)  (Shoot for a doubling of size.  If it’s still a bit less than doubled don’t worry – it’s probably had enough time to finish the bulk ferment unless your room temp is low, in which case give it a bit longer).  Exact time will depend on room temp, flour used and most importantly, how spunky your starter is at the time of use).  If your starter has not yet “peaked” when it is incorporated (i.e. not fully “ripe” and at the point where it has expanded all it’s going to, and is about to fall), or if it’s been a while since it peaked and it’s started to get a little acidic, (which is how I sometimes like to use my starter in order to develop a bit more tanginess), your bulk ferment may take longer.  Not to worry – just watch the volume – knowing that bulk fermentation is completed when it has just doubled in size (a bit less is fine - more than doubled and you’re playin with fire!)
Note:  After much experimentation, in my very hot and humid Indonesian kitchen (sometimes as high as 880 F - with super high humidity), and my particular combination of starter, flours and water, I’ve found that my bulk fermentation and proof times are radically lower than every one of the numerous other SD recipes I have tried since moving here.  Just proves again that one needs to develop a good “dough sense” and rely on it – not on other’s stated times!

5.         STRETCH & FOLD - Do two stretch and folds (“letter folds”) - one at 30 minutes and another at 60 minutes - returning the dough to your oiled/covered contained after each fold.  (Gently stretch the dough until its about 1/3rd of its original height, then, like a business letter, fold the top 3rd of the dough down over the rest of the dough, fold the bottom 3rd up - over where the top 3rd is now; fold the left 3rd to the right and the right 3rd to the left).  If the dough feels weak you can double the number of letter folds at 30 minutes.

6.         DIVIDE & PRESHAPE - Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into four 500 gr (or five smaller loaves if you like them more petite) or two 1,000 gr pieces for larger loaves, and pre-shapeinto balls (for boules) or torpedos (for batards).  I usually make two larger (2 pound) batards.  If you want your loaves to be the same size, use a scale to weigh the pieces and adjust to equal weight by taking away or adding a piece of dough, chopped off with your board knife.  If adding weight, slap the extra piece onto what will be the “seam” side of the dough so it will get incorporated at the bottom of the loaf (while proofing) – i.e. the side that will be the bottom of the baked loaf – usually the one that faces up when you tension/stretch the dough during pre-shape. 

7.         REST PRESHAPED LOAVES – Sprinkle the pre-shaped loaves lightly with semolina if they feel wet or simply cover loosely with plastic or a towel otherwise and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the dough to relax.

8.         FINAL SHAPE LOAVES - Final shape into batards or boules and place them “seam-side” up (i.e. turn the pre-shaped loaves upside down) into a linen-lined couche, or metal proofing tray or a well-floured banneton or parchment paper - flour with a mix of 50/50 white and rice flours or semolina flour. For good spring and shape, remember to develop a good “gluten sheath” on your loaves (see Hammelamn’s great shaping videos at: and Remember that if you want larger holes in your finished loaves don’t “degass” the loaves as Hammelman does in his commercial bakery and handle the dough tenderly during your stretch and folds and shapings!

Note:  Doing a greater number of S & Fs at 60 minutes and/or handling the dough roughly or de-gassing it (especially during pre & final shaping) is a sure way to get a tighter, less open crumb (which you actually may want if using the loaves for sandwiches as we often due.)

9.         PROOF – Put the couche, banneton or metal proofing tray into a large plastic food grade bag, after dusting the tops with semolina to keep the tops from sticking to the bags, and proof at room temperature for about 2 ¼ (+) hours (Proofing Method 1).  If you are in a very high humidity area you can simply cover with a towel.  Allow to increase in size by about 75% maximum (not double!).

Or, alternatively, you can use Proofing Method 2 or 3 above.

Don’t rely on the clock to tell you when the loaves are fully proofed.  Learn to use a “finger poke” to test proof!  (Poke the top of the dough with a finger  about 3/8ths  to 1/2  an inch deep – if the indention remains a crater in the dough, without any spring-back, it’s over-proofed, so… prepare for disappointing oven spring and difficulty scoring!)

Note:  If your loaves stick to the bags when you try to remove them, use your board knife to gently free the dough from the plastic.  Don’t simply pull the plastic off as you may cause the loaves to deflate.  If you are not using bannetons and have trouble scoring your loaves,, let them sit uncovered for the last 30 minutes or so (at room temp or in the refrigerator if retarding).  This helps develop a bit of “skin” that is easier to slash (with less tearing) than if the surface is wet.

Proofing for an hour before retarding (Proofing Method #3, above), may work fine for you.  Or, you may find, as I did, that you need to adjust this time up or down for future batches.  I do find it a bit harder to test for proper proofing when retarding this way (as opposed to Method #2) - because after an hour of proofing at room temperature, the loaves continue to proof more actively in the frig (i.e. for a longer time before retardation sets in), and the cooler/refrigerated, but almost fully proofed dough, is a bit harder for me to assess for correct proofing when I take it out of the frig to bake.

After making this bread so many times, I now usually do both bulk and proof retarding, using Proofing Method #3 and refrigerating my shaped loaves 1¼ hrs after the bulk fermentation.  Seems to work well and give me the most flexibility with regard to my schedule.

10.  PREHEAT OVEN - Preheat the oven to 4750 F, for at least 1 hour, with a baking stone in your oven.  I use two stones (one on the top shelf and another on the bottom as my little Indo oven here has to huff and puff to get to4750 F and cools rapidly due to poor insulation and low BTUs).  I’ve found the 2nd stone tends to keep temp drops down when the door is opened (and also allows me to use the broiler for extra heat if I need to get the little oven above about 4250 F).

11.  TURN OUT & SCORE LOAVES - Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment and slash the loaves.  If batards, see Susan’s Norwich SD photo for her (“two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard” at the first (Norwich SD) link above, and place loaves in the oven.   Remember to overlap your cuts so they don’t cause bulges in the finished loaves.  (See a great two good videos on loaf slashing at: and  David Snyder (2nd video) also has a superb tutorial in his TFL blog with more info about scoring bread, at:

Note: For better spring and crust, use a steaming method to develop oven humidity during the first 15 minutes of baking
: cover loaves with a metal or Pyrex bowl (ala Susan’s “magic bowl”) when they go into the oven; or place a tray of steaming water in the bottom of your oven (filled with lava rocks works great; or 2 or 3 coffee cups full of boiling water, etc.    See a good video on steaming with lava rocks at:!)

  Mortar and pestle sets made from local pumice rock here cost about $1.50 so I simply preheat my 8 inch mortar in the oven along with my baking stones then, about 5 minutes before I bake, place 6 ice cubes into a metal wire (Asian type) strainer laying it on top of the mortar in the oven – gives me nice oven steam and water for about 15 minutes so I don’t have to remove a pan (or cups) of boiling water from the oven, or open it again and lose any precious heat!

Note:  If you like your bread crazed (crackled) on the outside (and like to hear it “sing” when it comes out of the oven) use a plastic bottle of water with a pump and spray the tops of the loaves with 3 or 4 good squirts/mists of water after scoring and just before placing in the oven, then again 2 or 3 more times during the first 6 to 8 minutes of baking.

12.  REDUCE OVEN HEAT & BAKE- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. Bake for 15 minutes with steam, and another 15 to 20 minutes or so without steam. (Again, if you use a mortar and ice as I do for my batards, the water from the ice cubes will have steamed away at about this time). Loaves (in my oven) are done in 30 to 38 minutes depending on size & shape.  In any event, they’re done when internal temp in range of 2020 to 2040 F and/or they sound hollow when thumped/tapped.

13.  COOL - Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour.


"Kuta SD" Loaf made without Bulk or Proof Retardation


If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes for you (photos would be great too.)

Happy baking…!


sweetbird's picture

I'm a longtime fan of Susan's Norwich surdough (and also of her fine blog), so your title got my attention. I appreciate all the details and links you supplied with this fantastic post, and I will be trying your version of this bread one of these days. Thank you, Lee!


AnnaInMD's picture

and I love the rye and wheat added, great taste !




dabrownman's picture

one fine loaf of bread and I bet it tastes great too.  Like you, I feel a need to add some WW and rye to most recipes and then retard them for 12 hours to get the taste I want in SD without sacrificing the holes in the crumb.  It is a fine line to find but you have done so.  Nice job. 

golfermd's picture

May we stop by and share some with you?


IndoLee's picture

Hi Dan,

If you're in Bali or Lombok - by all means!

sonia101's picture

Hi Lee,

Your Kuta sourdough looks amazing and thanks for the detailed post, as soon as my starter is up and running I will certainly give it a try. Big thanks also for sharing the link on steaming with lava rocks.......I just ran out to our sauna and stole the rocks from the heater to use for when I bake my Ciabatta loaves later in the afternoon, I would never have thought to use lava rocks!

Cheers Sonia