The Fresh Loaf

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Overnight Sourdough Pizza Crust (with 60% whole wheat)


This recipe makes four doughballs, each of which will make a pizza that's about 12" in diameter. They freeze well, and will keep for at least a month. To use a frozen doughball, just transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to bake. Then follow the baking instructions as written.

If you wish to make this as a 100% white flour pizza, reduce the water to 510 grams.


* Whole wheat flour: 60%
* All-purpose white flour: 40%
* Water: 80%
* Olive oil: 5%
* Starter accounts for 2% of the flour at 60% hydration


* Whole wheat flour: 420 grams
* AP flour: 290 grams
* Water: 570 grams
* Salt: 15 grams
* Olive oil: 36 grams
* Whole wheat starter: 25 grams

The night before, dissolve the starter into the water, and then add the salt and the oil. Finally, mix in the flours, until everything is nicely mixed. Then, let it rest for about an hour, and then do three stretch and folds with about 20-30 minutes between each. Cover the dough, and let it rise all night.

The next morning, see whether the dough has risen enough (8 - 10 hours is usually enough) and then divide it into 4 doughballs of about 340 grams a piece. Two dough balls go into the plastic baggies in the fridge, while the others go in plastic baggies in the freezer.

Remove the fridge doughballs two hours before baking, and shape them into tight balls. Then cover each with a cereal bowl. While they warm up, prepare the toppings.

Tomato sauce (for two pies -- makes more than you'll probably need)

  • 1 14 to 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Oregano: 1/2 tsp
  • Basil: 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, diced
  • Lemon juice or red wine vinegar: 1 Tbs

Mix this up, and set it aside, adding salt if it needs it. Some canned tomatoes are already well salted. With the brand I use, though, I usually have to add 1/2 tsp or so.

Cheese blend (for two pies)

  • Whole fat mozzarella, grated: 4 oz.
  • Parmesan, grated: 2 ounces
  • Feta, crumbled: 2 oz

Other toppings are, of course, up to you. I like chicken sausage, black olives and mushrooms, myself. Roasted red bell peppers are awesome. Fresh tomatoes are great (under the cheese), when available, as are fresh basil leaves, added just after the pie comes out of the oven.

Shaping the pie
First, an hour before I'm ready to bake, insert a stone and set the oven as high as it will go. When you're finally ready to shape, generously dust a peel with semolina flour or cornmeal. Then, make a small pile of AP flour next to where you'll shape. Coat your hands in flour, take a dough ball, coat it in flour on both sides, and then place it on your knuckles. Bounce the dough on your knuckles in a circle, gently stretching the dough with each bounce. When it's halfway there, place it on the peel, and stretch it all the way out. Mmake sure you stretch the edges apart -- don't stretch across the dough, because the center will be fairly thin and will tear.

Before adding the toppings, make sure that the pie will move on the peel. Then add sauce, cheese and toppings, and bake on the stone for 9-11 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes on a rack before cutting into slices.


pretzel shapingThe other day I was reading Jeffrey Hamelman's recent book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes when I came across his pretzel recipe. His recipe requires a pate fermente overnight, a long fermentation, and a bath in a solution of water and lye, which means rubber gloves and goggles are required.

"Rubber gloves and goggles and caustic fluids to make a batch of pretzels?!? You've got to be kidding me," I thought.

The next day I found myself flipping through another baking book when I stumbled across another pretzel recipe. No caustic bath. No preferment. Not even an initial fermentation: simply mix everything together, shape the pretzels, and bake them; beginning to end, under an hour.

So which is it? Is it necessary to make the preferment and use lye to make decent pretzels at home? Do you even need to ferment the dough to make passable pretzels, or can you just jam them into the oven?

Find out below.

By the way, the other baking book I was looking at was Breaking Bread with Father Dominic 2. Not a bad little book. I gather that it is out of print, but if you see a cheap used copy at the local bookstore it might be worth picking up.

I didn't follow his recipe exactly, but it provided a nice balance to Hamelman's recipe.

The Experiment

There was no way I was going to try the lye bath at home. Maybe to make world class, authentic German pretzels that is necessary, but for a half dozen pretzels at home? Forget about it.

I decided to try make pretzels with an initial fermentation and without. I also tried boiling them briefly in water, egg washing them, and just baking them dry. If any of those methods could produce something reasonably like the soft pretzels I've had before I'd be happy.

The Recipe

I buy my yeast in a jar so that I can measure out as much or as little as I want (well, that and it is cheaper when you bake as often as I do). If you are using yeast from a packet, you can either use half a packet or double the recipe and use an entire packet (at least the packets they sell in the grocery stores in the US... international bakers will have to do their own conversion).

If you are using instant (AKA Rapid Rise or Bread Machine) yeast, you can just mix the yeast in with the rest of the dry ingredients before adding the warm milk and it'll activate fine. If you are using active dry yeast, mix it into the warm milk along with the malt powder (or brown sugar) and give it 5 to 10 minutes to activate before incorporating it into the dry ingredients.


Makes 6 large pretzels
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon malt powder or brown sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees, which is 1 minute in my microwave)

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. I start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter, then add more flour a handful at a time until it'll form a nice ball that I can knead by hand.

Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.

If you are going to ferment the dough (more information on whether this set is necessary below), return the ball of dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately an hour.

If you fermented it, degas the dough gently before moving on to the next step.

Before shaping, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. After it has relaxed you should be able to roll it out and stretch again fairly easily.

pretzel logs

After taking this photo, I let them relax again and then gave each a third roll and stretch session before they were as long and thin as I wanted (about 15 inches long and about as big around as my index finger). They'll nearly double in width while baking, so it is ok to roll them out quite thin.

pretzel shaping

Shaping pretzels is simple, once you get a hang of it. Place a rope of dough on the work surface in front of you. Take each end in a hand, loop the dough away from you, and bring the ends back toward your stomach, crossing them about an inch above the rope. Apply a little bit of pressure to make the loops stick together, but not too much because you don't want then to flatten out.

Pretzels don't appear to need to rise again before baking, so you just need to figure out how you want to prep them for the oven. Here are the options I tried:

To boil them: If you want to boil them, bring a pot of water to a boil. Dunk each of the pretzels into the boiling water for 5 seconds, then place them onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt (I use the kosher stuff that is easy to find at the grocery store) or other toppings.

pretzel shaping

I used a pair of spatulas to hold the pretzel in place while holding it under water.

To eggwash them: Simply place them on a baking sheet, brush them gently with an egg that has been whisked, then sprinkle with coarse salt or other toppings.

To bake them (mostly) dry: Sprinkle or spritz them with a little bit of water so that the toppings will stick, then sprinkle with coarse salt or other toppings.

Place the baking sheets into the oven. It took around 15 minutes for my pretzels to get golden and brown. Remove from the oven and eat immediately.


pretzels done

We definitely thought the boiled pretzels (on the left) were better than the pretzels that had just been spritzed with water (on the right). The spritzed ones were dry and had a slightly french bread like crust. Crust like that is good on french bread but not so good on soft pretzels.

I liked the boiled pretzels more than the eggwashed pretzels, my wife preferred the eggwashed pretzels better. The eggwashed ones rose considerably more in the oven than the boiled ones, so they were quite soft and fluffy. The boiled ones were still soft, but they were a little denser and chewier.

Truthfully, I couldn't tell the difference between the batch that I let ferment for an hour and the batch I baked immediately. If I were tasting them side by side with no toppings I probably could detect a slight difference. But at least when I eat soft pretzels they are a medium for other flavors (salt and mustard), either method produces an adequate pretzel.

pretzel alone

And the lye bath? At least for the home baker I can say with confidence that you can skip it.

Defender of the lye bath? Or have any other insight into proper pretzel making? Please comment!


DanAyo's picture

123 Sourdough No Knead - Do Nothing Bread

123 Sourdough, No Knead - Do Nothing Bread   Originated by Flo Makanai and submitted by dabrownman 

 A simple recipe with simple procedures. Did you know that you don’t have to knead dough to get great bread. And you don’t need a mixer or really any other tools. But an inexpensive digital scale that weighs grams would be a worthwhile investment. HERE is an example.

 The bread is called 123 Sourdough because the ratios are 1 part Levain, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour, and 2% salt. Let’s choose 100 grams of Levain for this example. So if the Levain is 100g then 2 parts water would be 2 X 100 or 200g water. The flour is 3 parts (remember 123) so 3 X 100 is 300g of flour. Now a tiny bit of math to calculate the required salt. Since the formula calls for 2% salt, you would multiply 0.02 X 350 and you get 7. So 2% times the total weight of the flour, which is 350g equals 7g of salt. Now, if you are paying close attention you should be questioning the 350g of flour. 3 parts of flour is 100 X 3. Where did the extra 50g come from? The Levain is 100% hydration, meaning equal parts of flour and water. Therefore 100g of Levain contains 50g of flour. Salt is calculated as 2% of the total flour in the formula, which is 350g. 

 These instructions assume that you already have an established starter that is active and ready to go. If you don’t have a starter and would like to make one HERE is link that might interest you. Teresa Greenway takes you through the day by day experience of making a starter.

 Make the 1 part levain (for this example of 100g) by taking 10g of starter and mixing equal weights of 45g flour (either All Purpose or Bread Flour) and 45g water in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for 12 hours or until it doubles .

 Put 2 parts water (200g) in a large mixing bowl.  Add the prepared 100g of levain and mix with a spoon until levain dissolves in the water - about 15 to 20 seconds.   Add in 3 parts flour (300g) and 7g of salt.  Mix everything together for about a minute or two in large bowl with a spoon or hands making sure there is no dry flour and everything looks Kosher even if you are not Jewish :) There is no need to knead this dough, thus the name “No Knead - Do Nothing”

 Place bowl in plastic grocery bag.  Make bag air tight by closing with a simple knot.  Let dough double in volume - an estimate of 4 to 6 hours.  Watch the dough not the clock.

 Turn the dough out on counter, gently pat out big bubbles, round into ball with hands and cover with the over turned mixing bowl. 15 minutes later, round into tight ball again and put ball into a proofing basket (a bowl will work) lined with a smooth floured cloth with seam side of the dough facing down.  Place container back into the plastic grocery bag again and tie as before.

 Let it proof 1-2 hours till it reaches 90% increase in volume.  Watch the dough not the clock again.  Click HERE for a video showing how to perform a finger polk test. Preheat your oven to 450F with the Combo Cooker inside 45 minutes after you place your dough in basket to proof.

 Gently dump the dough into the preheated cast iron combo cooker, (optional - Spritz dough with water from spray bottle),  cover with the deep lid and put in the 450F oven for 15 minutes of baking with the lid on.

 After 15 minutes remove lid and bake about 12-15 more minutes until bread is nicely browned, cracked open and blistered.  NOTE - since the seam was placed up in the cooker, you should have beautiful, natural looking cracks. Remove bread from Cooker and move it to a wire cooling rack. Let it cool for 2 hours before slicing on a cutting board with a serrated bread knife or just tear off hunks to eat.

 Optional - You can check temperature if you want with instant read thermometer.  When it reads 208 F- 210 F on the inside it is done. If you don’t have a thermometer you can tap the bottom of the loaf and it should make a hollow sound.

 Exercise caution when placing the dough in the hot cast iron pot.  Most of all, enjoy a nice loaf of bread that you made and was easy as pie.

 It you don't have a combo cooker preheat a baking sheet or jelly roll pan.  Dump dough out on parchment paper on a peel and transfer to the pan.  Cover with the stainless steel bowl or some other oven proof large pot.  If you have a baking stone use that in place of the baking sheet. If you choose to bake your bread without a cover (Dutch Oven, Combo Cooker, etc) you can get outstanding results using a technique called Mega Steam. Click HERE to to learn more.


Fully documented 123 SD bake with images can be seen HERE.


 Happy baking


Nice tools to have, but none are necessary. 

Digital Scale

Dough Knife

These links are examples, and not an endorsement for a particular item.



Floydm's picture

Peter Reinhart's Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread


Peter Reinhart's new book, Bread Revolution, is focused on breads made with sprouted grains and sprouted grain flours.  Below is one recipe from the book reprinted here with permission.

Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread
Makes 1 large loaf, 2 smaller loaves, or up to 15 rolls

This master dough can be used to make bread in any shape or size. It showcases the natural sweetness and tenderness of sprouted whole wheat flour without any added oil, fat, or other enrichments, such as milk, eggs, or sweeteners. Sprouting the wheat changes it so much that many of the "rules" for artisan breads, such as using pre-ferments and long, slow rising times, are unnecessary. The aims of those techniques can be achieved in less time with sprouted flour because the sprouting phase has already accomplished what pre-ferments and long fermentation typically do.

I suggest that you make this bread before attempting any of the more elaborate recipes that follow. This will familiarize you with the flavors and performance of sprouted whole wheat flour. In fact, it may be the only recipe you need for everyday breads, as it works equally well as a loaf pan bread and a crusty hearth bread.

sprouted whole wheat flour3¾ cups16454100
salt1 teaspoon0.2571.6
instant yeast 1½ teaspoons0.164.51
water, at room temperature1 ¾ cups plus one tablespoon14.541190

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast (on low speed if using a stand mixer). Add the water and mix or stir until the flour is hydrated and a coarse, wet dough forms, about 1 minute. Don’t add more flour, as the dough will thicken while it rests.

2. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Then switch to the dough hook or use a wet spoon or wet hands and mix for 1 minute, on medium-low speed if using a stand mixer. The dough should be smooth but still very soft and sticky (similar to ciabatta dough). Add flour or water only if necessary to achieve that texture; the dough will firm up as you continue to work it.

3. Spread about 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil or olive oil on a work surface. Using a wet or oiled bowl scraper or rubber spatula, transfer the dough to the oiled area. Lightly oil your hands, then stretch and fold the dough as shown on page 20, folding it over itself four times: once each from the top, bottom, and sides. The dough will firm up slightly but still be very soft and somewhat sticky. Cover the dough with the mixing bowl and then, at intervals of 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes, perform three additional sequences of stretching and folding. For each stretch and fold sequence, lightly oil your hands to prevent sticking. The dough will firm up a bit more with each stretch and fold. After the final fold it should be soft, supple, and tacky and have a springy or bouncy quality when patted.

4. Oil a large bowl and put the dough in the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with vegetable spray oil and cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap; if using plastic wrap, stretch it tightly over the bowl rather than laying it directly on the dough. Ferment the dough at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, until double in size. (This time can be shortened by using a warm proof box set at about 90°F / 32°C.)

5. Oil the work surface again and use an oiled bowl scraper or rubber spatula to transfer the dough to the oiled area. For hearth loaves, prepare two bannetons or a couche as described on page 26. Divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a boule or bâtard as shown on page 21, then put the shaped loaves in the prepared proofing vessels. For pan loaves, mist two 4½ by 8-inch loaf pans with vegetable spray oil. Divide the dough in half and shape the pieces into sandwich loaves as shown on pages 23 and 24, then put the shaped loaves in the prepared pans. For rolls, line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats. Divide the dough into the desired number of pieces and shape as desired (see page 24). Put half of the rolls on each lined pan.

6. Mist the top of the dough with vegetable spray oil, then cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for 1 to 1½ hours at room temperature, until the dough increases in size by 1½ times. When poked with a finger, it should spring back within a few seconds; if it holds the dimple, it’s risen for too long. (Because the dough is so hydrated, it’s fragile and will fall if you proof it until double in size. It’s better to bake it while it’s still on the rise.)

7. To bake a hearth loaf, about 45 minutes before you plan to bake, prepare the oven for hearth baking with a baking stone and steam pan as shown on page 29, then preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C). Transfer the shaped loaf to a floured peel (or keep it on the sheet pan for baking). Score the top as desired (see page 29). Transfer the loaf onto the baking stone (or put the sheet pan on the baking stone). Pour about 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the loaf is golden brown on all sides and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature should be about 200°F (93°C).Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

8. To bake pan loaves, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C); steam is optional. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate and bake for 25 to 40 minutes longer, until the bread is golden brown all around, the side walls are firm and not squishy, and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature should be at least 190°F (88°C). Let cool in the pans for at least 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 to 30 minutes longer before slicing and serving.

9. To bake rolls, preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C); steam is optional. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the rolls are golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom (they will soften as they cool). The internal temperature should be about 190°F (88°C). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

NOTE: If it is more convenient for you to use an overnight method, put the covered bowl of dough in the refrigerator immediately after the final stretch and fold. The next day, remove it from the refrigerator 2½ hours before you plan to bake. Shape the cold dough and proof it at room tempera¬ture until it increases in size by 1½ times, then bake as directed.

Reprinted with permission from Bread Revolution by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed Press, © 2014). Photo Credit: Paige Green. Bread Revolution is available now from Amazon, Powell's Books,, or your local bookseller.

Antilope's picture

My Tangzhong Roux FAQ

I put together this FAQ about using a Tangzhong Roux in yeast breads based on my experiences using the technique.
A Tangzhong Roux (also called a Tangzhong Water Roux or Water Roux) is a flour and water roux that is added to yeast bread recipes. This is done in order to make a loaf of bread that is lighter, that has a more tender crumb and a longer shelf life.
Bread flour or all-purpose flour is usually used to make the roux. Water is the liquid usually used to make the roux, but milk or a mixture of milk and water can also be used, if desired.
The flour and water are mixed and heated to 149-F (65C). This gelatinizes the flour and forms an unflavored translucent pudding-like roux. The roux ingredients come from the original recipe amounts. This roux is added to remaining liquids in the yeast bread recipe. The water roux traps and retains moisture during baking. Using this technique is similar to adding pudding to a pudding cake. The final result is a moister, lighter loaf of bread with a more tender crumb and a longer shelf life. These beneficial effects are all the result of the moisture retained by the water roux during baking.
The Tangzhong roux technique was developed in Asia around 2000. The technique was first mentioned by Yvonne Chen in her book, “Bread Doctor”, published in Taiwan in about 2003. Tangzhong means "soup" in Chinese.
The Tangzhong roux technique will work with pretty much any yeast bread recipe, making a lighter, more tender and longer lasting loaf of bread. I've only used the technique for straight dough breads. I haven't used it for sponge breads, etc. But there is no reason it shouldn't work on those, also.
I've used the Tangzhong roux technique on white bread, sourdough bread, hawaiian bread, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon swirl bread, light wheat bread (part bread flour and part whole wheat flour), rye bread, vienna bread, French bread, hamburger buns, lean breads, rich breads and sweet bread doughs, etc.
The Tangzhong roux technique will work for most hand kneaded, mixer kneaded and bread machine recipes. I've even used it on 65% hydration, stretch and fold, yeast bread recipes.
The only type of yeast bread recipe where it didn't seem to have much effect was one that used whole wheat flour to make the water roux for a 100% whole wheat bread. It didn't seem to lighten the loaf very much. However, using 3 Tablespoons (20g) of white flour in the roux of the 100% whole wheat loaf did seem to lighten it. In this case, we are adding 3 Tbsp (20g) of white flour to the recipe, so remove 3 Tbsp (20g) of the whole wheat flour to keep the recipe in balance.
When I make a light wheat bread (part bread flour and part whole wheat) I take 3 Tbsp (20g) of the roux flour from the white flour. This will lighten the light wheat loaf, don't use whole wheat flour in the roux.
Use 3 level tablespoons (20g) of white flour in 1/2 cup (120g) of water, for either 1-1/2 lb (750g) or 2 lb (1kg) yeast bread loaves. I use bread flour or all-purpose flour in the roux.
The Tangzhong roux ingredients come from the original recipe amounts. Don't add extra amounts. Measure out the original recipe ingredients and take the Tangzhong roux ingredients from that. If the recipe uses only milk, make the roux using milk.
I make the roux in a microwave. Mix 3 Tbsp (20g) of flour and 1/2 cup (120g) of water (or milk) in a microwaveable cup. Microwave on High for 25 seconds. Stir well. Microwave 15 seconds more. Stir. The roux temperature should be at about 149 F (65C) and a white translucent pudding should have formed. If not, microwave another 5 seconds and stir well. If necessary, continue microwaving 5 seconds at a time and then stir well, until the white translucent pudding forms. I use a 1000-watt microwave.
The roux can also be made on the stovetop in a saucepan.
Be careful to only heat the roux to around 149-F (65C). Five or ten degrees more doesn't hurt. I haven't explored heating the roux higher than that. I'm not sure what higher temperatures would do to its effectiveness. References I have reviewed don't address overheating the roux.
I mix the hot roux into the remaining recipe liquid ingredients immediately. Mixing well. The recipe liquid will then end up lukewarm. The roux can also be cooled to room temperature first or stored in the fridge, if desired.
Once you confirm that the recipe liquid is lukewarm, it's then safe to mix in instant yeast or proofed active dry yeast, if desired. Otherwise, follow the original recipe instructions for adding yeast. Just be careful to keep the hot roux away from the yeast.
After mixing the Tangzhong roux into the remaining recipe liquid ingredients, continue with your original yeast bread recipe just as you always do.
I use 3 level tablespoons (20g) of white flour (bread or all-purpose) in 1/2 cup (120g) of water, for either a 1-1/2 lb (750g) or a 2 lb (1kg) loaf.
Here is how these quantities are arrived at: (You really don't have to be this exact, unless you want to, this info is just for background info):
Most Tangzhong roux references say to use 5% of the total recipe flour weight as roux flour. The roux flour is mixed with five times its weight in water. So a loaf using 500 grams of flour would use 25 grams as roux flour (5% the total flour weight) and 125 grams of roux water (5 times 25 grams ). Both of these ingredient amounts are taken from the original recipe ingredients. Extra amounts are not added to the recipe.
Once again, this is roughly equal to about 3 level Tablespoons (20g) of flour mixed in 1/2 cup (120g) of water. I use this same amount in 1-1/2 lb (750g) and 2 lb (1kg) loaves. It's close enough for the recipes I have tested.

RonRay's picture

Sourdough Crackers

Sourdough Crackers

Previous blog:

I know that most of us, that culture wild yeast, seldom actually "discard" the discards of our sourdough. Of course, it is not unusual to hear someone new to keeping a sourdough culture remarking that they hate to have to through out the discards. And again, of course, a dozen replies of "No! Make pancakes..." or "Oh, no! Make waffles... ". Well, from now on, I will be crying "No! Make sourdough crackers.. The older the discards, the better the crackers!"

Naturally, that does assume you like sour sourdough, but the crackers are great even with "un-sour" sourdough discards, Rye Sour, etc. or even non-discarded levain as the leavening ingredient.

I came across a year old post by Sarah Wood on using your discard for whole wheat crackers. The link is:
It certainly looked simple enough, so I tried it. I am certainly glad I did, although, a batch never last very long and another few hundred calories have been ingested.

So, here is a step by step, complete with photos, Baker's percentages, some suggestions, and pointers on the ingredients and process. Even if you are not of an experimental curiosity by nature, I suspect you will have some ideas for variations you would like to try.

A small amount Sesame Oil, or Olive Oil to brush the top of the crackers and Kosher salt to sprinkle over the oiled surface will also be needed.

Substitutions of butter or lard can be made for the coconut oil, but I prefer the coconut oil, either the Extra Virgin, or the Expeller types.

Notice that I chose the ingredient amounts to exactly match the Baker's percentages. This batch size works very well for one sheet of crackers per Silpat baking sheet and a 100 grams of discards is an equally reasonable size. If you wish, make multiples of this amount and store in the fridge until you want more crackers.

I do want to mention some considerations to keep in mind when using coconut oil. Using the Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is my first choice, Expeller Coconut Oil is my second and neither one requires special consideration in a warmer kitchen, but if the kitchen temperature, or the dough temperature, is below about 78ºF ( 25.5º C) then you should either use methods to maintain the temperature of all ingredients about 78ºF ( 25.5º C) during the mixing phase, or use softened butter. Coconut oil is liquid from about the 75ºF ( 23.9º C) and above. Adding it in a mix of cold, fresh out of the fridge, levain may very well cause lumpy, difficult dough conditions. Once the full mixing is complete, this is no longer of any potential problem.

Let your finished crackers cool before placing (if any are uneaten) in an airtight container to preserve their crispness.

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Shiao-Ping's picture

My imitation of Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough

Have you ever seen a photo of very stiff starter wrapped up tightly in cloth then tied up in string (as if making absolutely sure that the little beasties have no way of escaping)?  I never understood the purpose of the tight string until the other day when I was writing about Chad Robertson.   A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery in The Bread Builders says Chad "uses a brief two-hour final stage of leaven expansion before he mixes up his dough" (page 221).  In both of these two cases maximum natural yeast population is achieved without them further fermenting (because there will be plenty of fermentation once final dough is mixed).

Chad Robertson's rustic sourdoughs from Tartine Bakery were my most favourite during my recent stay in San Francisco.  I wanted to see if it was possible to reproduce his style of sourdough at home.  I was told that a bread cookbook is coming out soon (in addition to their existing pastry cookbook), but no date is given.  Alain Ducasse's Harvesting Excellence quotes Elizabeth Prueitt as saying that Chad's breads were hand-made from the very beginning to the very end, and that "it is one person's expression" (page 19).

By the time The Bread Builders wrote about him, Chad Robertson had acquired a mixer from Europe which helped him in meeting the growing demands for his breads.  A brief description of timeline for a typical load of breads that he baked at his (then) one-man bakery at Point Reyes, Califorina (before he and Elizabeth moved to San Francisco and opened Tartine) is as follows (according to The Bread Builders): 

  1. At 8 am, he mixes his final intermediate levain and let it sit in room temperature for two hours (note: I assume the levain is fully mature before the two-hour final expansion);
  2. At 10 am, he mixes the final dough by first putting all the ingredients or all except the levain into the mixer and running it for 2 - 3 minutes at 45 - 50 revolutions a minute;
  3. Autolyse 15 - 30 minutes
  4. Adds the levain if necessary, then mixes it for 4 - 5 minutes
  5. Bulk fermentation 4 hours (counting from 10 am to 2 pm), during which time several stretch and folds in the tub are done;
  6. At 2 pm, divide the dough and pre-shape them, then rest for 15 minutes
  7. Shape the dough and place them on the bannetons or couche dusted with a mixture of bread and rice flours;
  8. Proof in room temperature for 2 hours before going into proofing boxes (at 55F) to retard for 8 - 10 hours (Harvesting Excellence says up to 12 hours); and
  9. The next day, start baking between 4:30 - 5 am.

Based on this timeline, my formula for Chad's sourdough follows:

My formula for Chad's Sourdough

Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up

  • 82 g starter @ 75% hydration
  • 164 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me)
  • 124 g water

Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need more than 2 times bread flour, or shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)

The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion

  • 370 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)
  • 370 g bread flour (I figure one time starter amount in flour is enough)
  • 277 g water

Mix and ferment for two hours only

Formula for final dough

  • 1,017 g starter (all from above)
  • 1,017 g bread flour (Australian Laucke's Wallaby bakers flour, protein 11.9%)
  • 651 g water
  • 30 g salt

Total dough weight 2.7 kg (divided into three pieces) and total dough hydration 68%

  1. I followed the timeline above but I did everything by hand.  I fully intended to fold as many times as necessary to build up dough strength but as my dough was not very wet the gluten developed very fast and by the end of first set of stretch & folds, the dough already felt silky and smooth.  I did only two sets of stretch & folds in the bowl.
  2. After the dough was divided into three pieces, I pre-shaped them to tight balls, rested them 20 minutes, then shaped them into batards and placed them on bread & rice flours dusted couche.
  3. The shaped loaves proofed for 2 hours in room temperature then went into my refrigerator to retard overnight (for 12 hours).

Bake day

  1. I baked the loaves cold (straight from the refrigerator).  I pre-heated the oven to 250C / 480F.  Once the loaves were loaded, I poured 2/3 cups of boiling hot water onto lava rocks (enormous steam was generated), and turned the oven temperature down to 230C / 450F.  They were baked for 20 minutes, then another 15 minutes at 210C / 410F, and rested for 5 minutes in turnoff-off oven.  (You can bake them for 10 minutes more if you like darker crust.)
  2. There was an impressive oven spring with this bake.




I am quite pleased with the result, although without rye and whole meal flours, I probably cannot call this country sourdough.  Also, Chad's country sourdough has a very rustic look (quite dark) as if from a wood fired oven. 

As I was drafting this post and looking at the black and white picture of Chad's bread in Harvesting Excellence, my daughter came by, I said to her he is the reason why I bought this book; she asked, is he "hot"?  I never understand teenagers' lingo - why "hot" and "cool" mean the same thing.




The crumb is really tender and moist.  It has a very supple texture and open crumb that I did not believe I would have been able to achieve with low hydration dough.  I really don't know what hydration level is Chad Robertson's sourdoughs; I did 68% here because I wanted to have good volume and, possibly, good grigne.  Well, it worked. 

I like the flavor very much, more so than my Sourdough 50/50.


Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread


This is another of my favorite breads. Slightly sweet, but also tangy, it’s perfect for sandwiches, but also stands well alone, with just a bit of butter.

Whole wheat flour: 100%
Salt: 2%
Water or milk: 75%
Honey: 4.2%
Unsalted butter: 2.8%

30% of the flour is in the whole-wheat starter. (I’ll give two options, one for starter at 100% hydration and another at 60% hydration)


Whole wheat flour: 500 grams or about 4 cups
Salt: 10 grams or 1.25 tsp
•    Using a wet starter: 225 grams or 1 cup
•    Using a stiff starter: 285 grams or 1.25 cups
Whole wheat Starter: Two options
•    Wet starter (100% hydration) 300 grams or 1 ¼ cup
•    Stiff starter (60% hydration) 240 grams or 1 cup
Honey: 21 grams or 1 Tbs
Unsalted butter: 14 grams or 1 Tbs

Dissolve the starter into the water, and then add the salt. Melt the butter and stir in the honey – add both to the water. Finally add the flour and mix until all is hydrated.

Dough development and the first rise

However you develop the dough, from the time you mix until the time you shape the dough, it’ll take about 3 to 4 hours for the first rise at room temperature.

Shape into a sandwich loaf and place it in a greased 8.5”x 4.5” pan.

Second rise and retarding

Sourdoughs benefit quite a bit from retarding – they often taste better. You can simply cover the shaped dough and place it in the fridge or, if you’re lucky and the overnight temperature will be between 45 and 55, you can simply place it outside, in which case the bread will probably be ready to bake when you wake up.

If you put it in the fridge, it’ll need to warm up for 3-4 hours to complete its rise.

If you don’t want to bother with retarding, you can let it rise for another 3 hours at room temperature. You can also speed things up (and increase sourness) by placing the dough on an upturned bowl in the bottom of a picnic cooler, throwing a cup of boiling water in the bottom and covering it quickly. After an hour, throw another cup of hot water in. The rise should only take a couple of hours this way.

There’s no need to score the bread, but I often do anyway. Bake for about 55 minutes at 350 degrees F. No steam or pre-heating required.

kjknits's picture

Sourdough sandwich bread

It's been a while since I've had the luxury of daily check-ins with TFL. Lots going on this summer, and actually I really don't have the time even now! But I made some sourdough sandwich bread today for the first time (so far I have only made rustic loaves with my starter), and I wanted to get the recipe written down and share it with anyone else who might like it.

I already have a favorite sandwich bread, but wanted to try using my homegrown 100% hydration starter in a sandwich loaf. Specifically, I wanted to use my starter in my favorite sandwich bread. I started with a google search and came up with a method for using starter in your favorite recipe. The website (which I can't find now, typical) stated that this was a method modified from one in Sourdough Jack's Cookery. Take 2/3 of the flour from your recipe and add it to all of the water, plus 1 cup of active starter. Stir, cover, and set on the counter overnight. Then add the rest of the ingredients and proceed as usual. This method as written, however, only allowed for a 10 minute rest after mixing, followed by final shaping. I wanted a bulk fermentation followed by shaping and a final proof. So, here's what I did, using amounts from my recipe:

Night before baking:

Combine 1 C starter (at feeding time, I feed mine every 12 hours at a 1:4:4 ratio) with 4 C KAF bread flour and 2 C Brita-filtered water at room temp (or it might have even been straight from the fridge). Stir, cover with plastic wrap and leave out overnight.

Day of baking:

Pour sponge mixture into mixer bowl and add 1/4 C melted butter, 2 TBSP sugar, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 1 C flour. Mix until combined, then add remaining cup of flour until dough is fairly stiff (my usual yeast-raised dough uses about 6 C flour and 2 C water, plus 1/4 C melted butter, for around a 35% hydration level). The dough will clear both the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead at speed 2 for about 4 minutes or until dough passes the windowpane test. Transfer to oiled bowl and let rise in warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.

Shape into loaves and place into greased pans. Let rise for about an hour, or until light and risen nicely, then bake at 375.

This bread is tangy but not terribly sour. It tastes a little like Panera's sodo, actually, but is less chewy and has a very thin and soft crust. Moist, tender and fine crumb. Can't wait to try it in a ham sandwich!


Valentinaa's picture

San Francisco sourdough with a Bucharest feel

Ever since I started baking sourdough bread, I knew that San Francisco sourdough would be my favorite recipe, especially after reading the glowing reviews Dsnyder and Codruta (codrudepaine) have given it. Having tried it a few times now, I reckon it's presentable enough for the tough judges on the Internet, so there goes my first post on TFL. :)

Everyone who has tried it loves this bread. The complexity of the flavours is just amazing, especially given that it's basically just a white loaf: the crust is nutty, whilst the crumb tastes sourly sweet. It's definitely an all around favorite.

The crust starts cracking as the loaf leaves the oven and it's a delight to just sit there and listen to it. That's if you can resist the urge to eat it, of course. 

Getting down to business, I used Dsnyder's recipe to start off with and then adjusted it just a bit by replacing some of the flour with spelt:


Stiff levain

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

for 1 kg

Bread flour



Medium rye flour






Stiff starter






1. The starter is dissolved into the water and then the flours are added and mixed thoroughly. I used my hands to make sure all the flour is incorporated properly.

2. Leave to rest for 12 hours.


Final dough

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

for 1 kg

Strong white wheat flour



Spelt Flour









Stiff levain






3. Mix the flours with the water and leave to autolyse for 30 minutes. Add in the stiff levain and salt and mix thoroughly until all the flour is incorporated and the gluten is moderately developed (window pane test). 

4. Bulk fermentation: 2:30 hrs (my kitchen was quite hot) with SF after each 45 minutes

5. Pre-shape the loaves and leave to rest for 15 minutes

6. Shape them and place them in well floyred bannetons and keep them refrigerated for 10-12 hours

7. Remove from fridge and bake at 240 C for 40 minutes (15 minutes with steam, last 25 dry)

8. Open the oven door and leave the loaves to rest in the cooling oven for 5 minutes more

9. Remove the loaves from oven and adore them. :)