The Fresh Loaf

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South Greek Traditional Bread

AndVal's picture

South Greek Traditional Bread

Hello all!

I'm writing this after some request I got from a couple of fellow members.

It is a typical recipe and procedure that old women of south Greece make their bread with.

I hope you are comfortable with percentages.

I dont give a high detailed description because my English are not that good and most members already have a lot of experience and will understand what to do about the details.


The sourdough:

It is made from basil and nothing else that is soaked into very warm water over night (about 55o celsius).

At morning time we take only the water and start mixing with white wheat flour as usually done for a typical starter with 100% hydro until we have a strong sourdough. Of course this takes a number of days.

The bread recipe:

50% white wheat flour not enriched with gluten, it is better with a natural level of gluten.

50% durum flour, again not enriched with gluten.

65% water maybe a little more depending of the flour(durum flour absorbs more water). The dough must be moderately soft but not as soft as a high hydro artisan bread.

2% salt.

30% sourdough.


No sugar since durum flour has more simple carbohydrates than starch.

Also puting 2% olive oil is not that common but many like it, your choice.


(There are no autolysis,extreme long fermentation times,huge crumb size or low dough temperatures like many artisan recipes that are common on this site.)

We mix the two flours by hand.

We use water with a temperature that will give as a final dough of at least 30o. celsius.

We dissolve the sourdough into the water and after that the salt as well.

Then we add the flour and knead by hand until we have a dough that don't stick to the walls of the (preferably) wooden basin.

Then we store the dough into the wooden basin with a flour covered cotton sheet like in the below picture but we cover the top as well and let it raise until it is ready for the oven.


The traditional way is to bake it (after we cut it with a razor blade or knife on top) into a brick oven that is not as hot as an artisan bread need to be baked since the hydration is not that high, no black crust anywhere :).

Higher temperature at first and lower before it is baked as usual.


A sample (not mine) of this kind of bread.

* The weight of the loaf before baking is usually 1.5 to 2 Kgr.


That's it. I hope you can follow my description.

If I confused you at any part ask me for a better explanation :).

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

Well explained. Just one question. 

Do I soak the basil leaves in enough water for all the feeds when creating the starter or is it only necessary for the first feed? 

Sounds like the basil leaves are used very much like grape skins in some starter recipes. For the wild yeast that grows on them. 

Thank you for the lovely post. My next project. 

AndVal's picture

Only for the first time and just  flour and water for the rest feeds.

Sourdough only from basil gives bread a unique flavor it's worth a try for anyone who hasn't tried it yet.

Of course you can make any other bread recipe with this sourdough.

dabrownman's picture

small batches, without the use of machines, using the best natural ingredients, made by a craftsman and baked in a wood fired masonry oven.  This is the perfect example of real Artisan Bread!  Those that make make bread any other way, like almost all the bread bakers on TFL, are just making really good bread, but nit Artisan bread like you do.  Your bread has to taste as good as it looks.  Love your dough tough too.  It has to have had many real Artisan bakers using it over the years. Lucy and I  have wanted to make a sourdough starter using basil and water for a long time now after seeing it being done in Greece for a Puratos video we published here some tome ago.  We have tons of basil growing in the yard and now have another reason to actually make some!  Well done all the way around!

Welcome and happy baking AndVal

AndVal's picture

The biggest problem by far is the flour.

My father was telling me that old times you could find a bakery by smell in a 500 meter radius around it and now you go inside a bakery and you can't smell the bread even if it is made with traditional procedures.

The wheat and the lands have been devastated for production.

Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

My aim is to start tomorrow night. The usual way of making a starter but the first feed is with the basil water. Should I just go for 100% hydration bread flour? Or is that not important as long as the first feed is with the soaker I can basically follow my nose and do whichever flour and whatever hydration?

Don't think I'll be baking this weekend. It'll be pushing it. I'll try my best but most probably next weekend.