The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourer and Sweeter: 70/20/10 Sourdough and Pecan Bars

GSnyde's picture

Sourer and Sweeter: 70/20/10 Sourdough and Pecan Bars


As mentioned in my blog last week introducing the 70/20/10 Sourdough with a two-stage retarded levain, my next tweak would be to increase the proportion of whole grains in the levain.  That’s what I did this week.  Instead of using the same blend (70% AP, 20% Whole Wheat and 10% Whole Rye) for each of the two levain builds and the final dough, I put 50 grams more whole grain (and 50 grams less AP) in each of the levain builds, and made up the difference with more AP and less whole grain flour in the final dough.  This was to test the frequent assertion that more whole grain in the levain makes the thingamajigs interact with the deeliebobs, resulting in a sourer, more flavorful and altogether more fabulous sourdough (and some people say I don’t try hard enough to understand the science ….hmphh!!).

The revised formula appears below.

The resulting bread was noticeably sourer, though not the sourest tasting sourdough I’ve had. It was an excellent vehicle for Dungeness crab (the truest test of sourdough in my homeland).  I would rate it a bit superior to last week’s try.  That is, the Saturday bake.  The loaf that retarded Saturday night for baking this morning overproofed before the oven was hot and looks like a worthy doorstop.



Crab Feed


In spare moments yesterday, I used up several cups of pecans in some nut bars.  Kind of like Pecan Pie, but the topping is less gelatinous and more sticky, and the base is cakier than a pie crust. These are sinfully good.  They come from a recipe found on the interwebs (

SF Country Sourdough With Retarded Whole Grain Levain (Sourer) 4-14-12

Formula (in grams) Yields  approximately 1600 grams of dough


1st Levain Build

2nd Levain Build

Final Dough


Bakers %


40 (50% hydr)











AP Flour






WW Flour






Rye Flour






Sea Salt







Step 1: One evening (two days before baking, so this should be a Thursday or Friday evening if you need a weekend day for the main labor), take 40 grams of your seed starter and dissolve it in 145 grams of cold water (mine was 44 F).  Then mix in the flours. (My seed starter is at 50% hydration, but if yours is different, you can adjust the water to approximate the same hydration in the first build).  Cover and leave at room temperature over night.

Step 2: Next morning (12 hours for me), dissolve the nice bubbly levain in 217 grams of cool water (mine was 78 F).  Then mix in the flours.  Cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 10 hours until nice and bubbly.  Refrigerate the levain over night.

Step 3:  Next morning, pull the levain out of the fridge and let it warm up for 30 to 60 minutes.  Dissolve the levain in 278 grams of warm water (mine was 85 F) .  Then mix in the flours to a shaggy mass.  Let it autolyse for 45 to 60 minutes.  Mix in 17 grams of sea salt.  I massaged the salt in by hand for about 3 or 4 minutes.  I’d call it moderately short of moderate development.

Step 4:  Primary ferment for 3 or so hours.  Stretch and fold the dough, just 4 or 5 turns each time, at approximately one hour intervals.  I did the two S&Fs in the bowl.   After 3 hours, my dough had increased in size maybe 25 % or so and looked and felt pretty airy. 

Step 5: Divide the dough into two and pre-shape as boules.  Let the dough balls rest 30 to 45 minutes.

Step 6: Shape the loaves as boules or batards and place in floured bannetons.  Cover the bannetons with a damp towel or place them in sealed plastic bags. Proof at room temperature for 1 to 1 ½  hours.  [ALTERNATIVE: After proofing, place covered bannetons in fridge over night.]  I baked one without overnight retardation and one with.  The “same-day” loaf proofed for about 75 minutes.  It passed the poke test.  The second (retarded) loaf was put in the fridge after 60 minutes of proofing, then the next morning warmed at room temperature for about 1 ¾ hours hours before going in the oven.  It was overproofed and ended up being a dark brown hockey puck.

Step 7:  Preheat oven with baking stone and steaming apparatus to 500 F enough in advance so your stone is very well heated.  I use a combination of a 10 inch cast iron pan with lava rocks and Sylvia’s magic steam towels.

Step 8:  When loaves are fully proofed, slash and put in oven.  As soon as the oven returns to 500 F, turn it down to 450 F.  Bake 15 minutes with steam, then an additional 20-25 minutes without steam.  Rotate the loaves if necessary for even browning.  For the retarded loaf, I also sprayed the oven walls with water after about 8 minutes.  I baked the retarded loaf a little hotter, leaving the oven at 475 F for the steamy 15 minutes.

Step 9:  When the loaves are fully baked (205+ F internal temperature and dark crust), turn off the oven and leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.

Step 10:  Cool the loaves on a rack for at least an hour.




Syd's picture

Lovely crust, crumb, crackles and crab feed Glenn.  How do you manage to read the newspaper with all that wonderful food on the table?


GSnyde's picture

Take 20 pages of previously read newspaper and spread to cover table fully.

If we get crab juice on the table, the cat will spend the next several days on it.

Thanks for the comment, Syd.


dmsnyder's picture


GSnyde's picture

The crab and artichoke gratin we had for dinner tonight was a great meal for a sourdough mop.  A bit too decadently rich, but really tasty!


dabrownman's picture

of starter flour build for sour is spot on.  I keep my stater at 33% each AP,  Rye and WW all the time and build to what I am baking which is usually rye and WW or a mix.  These flours do make for a more sour starter fromm my experience too especially oi it is retarded after 10-12 of levain build. 

I don't know why your 1 3/4 hour proof after retard of the boule overnight failed.  Very discincerting.  I just baked a 22 hr retard and 3 hr final proof today with a similar starter build for baggies and it was fine and nicely sour.

Your other bread looks so very nice and near perfection to have such a failure with the retarded one.  Very strange.

Nice bake otherwise Glenn - Bale on!

GSnyde's picture

Sometimes bread acts weird.


isand66's picture

Nice baking Glenn...I am saving this one to try as soon as I get a chance.  My 5 cats would have a field day with the crabs as would I!

Pecan anything is my favorite dessert too.  I was at an afair last night and ate a few similar treats along with a stolen bar for this morning!

GSnyde's picture

Thanks for the comment.  If we had 5 cats, we'd have to eat the crab behind a locked door.

As for the Pecan Bars, I love the topping, but the bottom is boring.  I'll use a shortbread base next time.


isand66's picture

I know what you mean about locked doors!  I have enough trouble trying to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning without  my Cosmo cat trying to sample the milk for himself.

I agree....a shortbread base would be ideal.  I wish I had a few to take on my trip with me.