The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rustic Sourdough & Sourdough English Muffins

bryoria's picture

Rustic Sourdough & Sourdough English Muffins

Today's bread was a rustic sourdough using my wild yeast starter:

I was out of aged whole wheat, so used all white flour instead (the recipe usually calls for 13% whole wheat).

  • 300 grams starter (100% hydration)
  • 725 grams white flour
  • 495 grams water
  • 1 tsp malt powder
  • 17 grams salt

Mixed all together with a 30 minute autolyse before adding the salt, then let it sit for 4 hours with one stretch and fold halfway.  Made fairly freeform loaves, being careful not to de-gas the dough, and let them proof at room temperature (on parchment on the back of a cookie sheet) for 45 minutes while the oven preheated.  I cover them with a smooth kitchen towel tucked around the well-floured loaves and put a paper towel roll between the loaves to keep them from spreading into each other.  Very high tech!

After proofing I slashed them and baked them at 425F for 45 minutes, putting a cup of hot water into a hot cookie sheet in the oven at the same time to make steam.  I think the slashes should have maybe been deeper.  When the loaves sprung (?) up the oven they just sort of flattened.   But other than that, I have no complaints. 

I've made the rustic sourdough a few times since I developed the starter last fall and I am always amazed and thrilled when the loaves rise so beautifully in the oven, with no added commercial yeast.  It's very magical.  Also extremely chewy, sour and delicious!

It was dark by the time we sliced it for supper, but I managed to get an okay photo of the crumb:

And as a bonus, while the bread dough was sitting for most of the day in between stretch and folds, I used the rest of my starter to make sourdough english muffins using the recipe from Wild Yeast blog.  This was my first time making english muffins, and I was really pleased. 

My only modification was to use all white flour due the aforementioned whole wheat flour shortage in the house.  The dough was very, very sticky and stayed that way, so I did add a little more flour as I mixed.  I cut them out with a 3" crumpet ring, and proofed them on the back of a baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap.  I baked them on my Oster griddle set to 275F, 8 minutes per side. The griddle is known to stay pretty cool, so I can't guarantee that the 275 setting is really 275, but whatever it was, it worked well.

They ended up looking pretty close to the storebought Costco ones my kids devour when they go to their grandparents, but taste so much better!  And I recognize all the ingredients!  I'll be doing this recipe again, with the whole wheat flour next time.



Syd's picture

Those are beauties!  Excellent crust and crumb and I can see that the malt has contributed to the colour of the crust.  Those muffins look great, too.

Nice baking,


varda's picture

I was just about to start refreshing my starter but I hadn't decided what to do with it.   Now I know.   Those loaves just look fantastic.   I see you did a 4 hour bulk ferment.   Was your kitchen pretty cold?   How were you gauging the condition of the dough before deciding it was time to shape?    Maybe the flatter profile in the oven is because these were very proofed.   Note I'm not saying overproofed - just on the far side.   -Varda

Janetcook's picture

Just when I am about to give up on trying to make English Muffins someone posts another formula and I have to reconsider....

Yours look wonderful and the recipe looks very easy and straight maybe it is time to revisit my EM baking attempts.

Thanks for the post and the nudge :-)

Take Care,


dabrownman's picture

bread.  I love the crumb and the dark brown crust - just the way I like it.  So what makes this bread rustic? I really have a hard time trying to figure out what rustic means in terms of bread.  It seems to mean different things to different folks.

bryoria's picture

I confess I called it rustic sourdough just because the recipe for the bread is called "rustic sourdough"!  It was one of the recipes I was given at the bread course I took last fall.  I always assumed it was named that either because it uses no commercial yeast, or because it has no fat or other ingredients beyond the flour, water, malt & salt.  But really, your guess is as good as mine.  Probably better, in fact! 

bryoria's picture

My house is usually about 19C (66F).  Would that be considered cool?  I know my baking instructor was horrified that my house goes down to 16C (60F) at night and he had me move my starters and soakers into the cupboard above the fridge where they have a chance of staying warmer.   I chose the ferment time of 4 hours because that's what the recipe said to do, and it seemed to work well in my previous attempts.  I don't have much experience with judging over-proofing, especially in wild yeast doughs which seem very inactive compared to commercial yeast doughs that I make.   Once the loaves are formed the recipe says to proof them for 1.5 hours, and because my oven is warming they have to stay on the counter at the 19C.  I usually get impatient at about 45 minutes and put them in the oven, because I'm worried they might overproof.  Is that oven spring a sign of well-proofed bread?  If I left the loaves for the full 1.5 hours might they collapse or at the very least, not spring up?

varda's picture

Hi Bryoria,   I did go ahead and make this today.    What I hadn't realized since I didn't study your formula very carefully in advance is how high hydration this is.   I followed your instructions but ended the ferment after 3 hours 15 minutes because that just seemed like enough.    I think the sort of flattish profile is not because of being close to overproofing - but probably just because it is such wet dough.    Oh and the other thing is the type of scoring which is across rather than down the loaf.   So I do not think yours was overproofed - you just have to look at the great crumb you got to see that.   I just think that is how this dough with that scoring works.   Mine didn't look nearly as nice as yours -  I sprinkled dark rye over the top too thickly and it messed up the crust (remind me not to do that again) but the taste was certainly good.   Actually somewhat but not too sour.   I did do the 13% whole wheat.    The 66F really is pretty cold, usually people are trying to get dough temp in the mid 70s.   To do that in your environment, you'd have to use warmer water to bring up the temperature of the dough and then some strategy to keep it up - but not to worry about that.   It just takes longer if it's cold and you have to learn to read the dough, not the clock.    But since you took the class you probably know this already.   And yes, the fact that you got good ovenspring (but not too good ovenspring) is a sign that your proofing was good.   Anyhow, thanks for sharing this.   -Varda