Sourdough Focaccia

We have been making homemade pizza for a few years now and it’s become a staple that I have 2 outdoor pizza ovens at the moment.

I also make our sourdough bread every week and need to switch it up with a few varieties using different flours, inclusions, or liquid to flavor the bread. Marshmallow stout instead of water for a chocolate chip sourdough batard anyone??

Between bread and pizza, there’s also focaccia! And here is a very easy recipe complete with a timeline to guide you!

You can split this bread in half crosswise to use for sandwiches, or just cut into squares, or rectangles to eat as is! Dip in olive oil, Trader Joe’s Garlic dip, hummus, baba ganoush…..It’s crunchy and soft, salty and herby…just delicious specially when still warm from the oven.

I use really good olive oil and salt as I believe it contributes to the overall taste of the focaccia. The olives are dry cured from Trader Joe’s, tomatoes and rosemary are from the backyard.

I doubled the recipe and made 2 13”x9” focaccia to eat and have enough to trade with a dozen home grown eggs. So please don’t be confused by the discrepancy between the instructions and the photos. 😊

I hope you will like this recipe as much as we did!

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423 grams all purpose flour

181 grams bread flour

460 grams water

11 grams salt, plus more for sprinkling

115 grams starter, I used one straight from the fridge

12 grams good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Toppings of choice, chopped herbs, olives, tomatoes, etc.


1. 10 am to 11 am

In a large bowl, mix flours, water, salt and starter. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough comes together.

Set aside for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water.

Then mix the dough thoroughly, drizzling in the olive oil and pulling the dough up until well mixed. Use a plastic bench/dough scraper to help you pull up the dough and mix the oil in.

Cover (I use a clean, unused plastic hair cover!) and set aside for 30 minutes


2. Bulk 11:15-1:15


Perform 4 sets of stretch and fold every 30 minutes, for 2 hours.

Photos 1 – 4 are the stretch and fold in the first 30 minutes, #2 at an hour, #3 at an hour and thirty minutes, and #4 was after 2 hours, the last of 4 folds. See how stretchy and smooth the dough looks after?


3. Proof 1:15- 5:15

Pour some olive oil in a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Transfer dough to the pan and cover.

Every 30 minutes on the first hour, uncover the dough and stretch gently to fill the pan.

Cover and let rest for the remainder of the 4 hours.

4. 5:15 Preheat oven to 450F.

5. Drizzle the dough with about 2 -3 tablespoons of good olive oil.

6. Wet your finger tips and dimple the dough all the way to the bottom of the pan, multiple times.

7. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc.

*I used halved cherry tomatoes, chopped rosemary, olives, and Maldon sea salt. The other focaccia had the same toppings except it did not have tomatoes, as I only got a handful from the garden.*

8. Sprinkle with good quality salt.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.

*After baking, tops should be golden and edges crusty.

*Bottom should be toasted. This looks perfect!

Cut for sandwiches, this is what the crumb look like on my bake. Yummy!

Jalapeno and cheddar sourdough bread

This is a variation of my usual sourdough recipe. Filled with Pickled Jalapeño and cubed Cheddar Cheese, it is delicious on its own and makes awesome grilled cheese or turkey, or ham sandwiches!

Start by feeding your starter in the morning. Then prepare your dough after dinner, stretching and folding an hour later, 30 minutes apart, for about a couple of times.

Then you leave it on the counter till the next morning when you’ll work in the cheese and jalapeños, shape, let proof and then bake.

Just want to mention that you want these to cool completely before slicing, otherwise your bread might get gummy inside. It is hard not to devour a hot, fresh baked bread but it’s worth it, believe me!


1/2 cup starter

3 cups water

4 2/3 cups bread flour

3 1/3 cups all purpose, kamut, or spelt flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon sea salt

2/3 cup sliced pickled jalapeños

2 cups cubed (1/4 inch or so) cheddar cheese


1. Start by mixing your starter into the water until it breaks up. Add your flour and salt and mix just until you have a ball of dough coming together.

2. Cover and set aside for about an hour.

3. After the first rest, stretch and fold for at least 2 times, 30 minutes apart. If you can do 4 stretch and folds, it’s better, otherwise 2 sets will do.

4. Cover and set aside overnight at room temperature.

5. The next day, prepare the cheese and jalapeños.

6. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Working with 1 part at a time, stretch your dough on the counter and place half of the cheese and jalapeños on top. Fold 1/3 into the center, from both sides, then turn over and fold top part down, bottom part up. Pinch edges to seal and place in a floured banneton.

7. Repeat with the remaining dough, cheese, and jalapeños.

8. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2-4 hours.

9. Preheat oven to 500F. You can place 2 oven safe dutch ovens in to heat up with the oven. Or you could start from cold, like in this article

10. Lower the heat to 450 after you place the breads in. Bake your breads 25 minutes covered, 20 minutes uncovered.

11. Remove from oven when done. Cool breads on a wire rack completely.

12. Enjoy!

Country Sourdough with Dark Rye and Kamut

I recently bought a Mockmill 100 stone grain mill so that I can make flour from black beans, garbanzo, and other grains I’d like to include in my baking and cooking that are not readily available as flour.

I did run a variety of dried beans through it the moment I got it. Black beans, red lentils, rice, garbanzo…(I’m sure the grinder got the shock of it’s life!😊) It was wonderful! The flour is really fine, which is perfect as I want to use the flour for pasta.

Debating to exchange it with the Mockmill 200 but decided I do not need it for now. I’ll do a review of it soon, as I truly love the fact that I can have a flour of any grain I can get my hands on!

Back to sourdough, I had been making our breads for a while now, only supplementing with store bought when needed. And I had been incorporating various grains in my regular Country Sourdough.

This bread has Dark Rye and Kamut. Yummy and very healthy too! I hope you like it!

Note: This recipe makes 2 loaves, around 900-950 grams dough weight each prior to baking, and 750-800 more or less after it’s baked. So feel free to halve the recipe if you only want 1 loaf.


720 grams bread flour

90 grams dark rye flour

90 grams kamut flour

700 grams water

180 grams starter

18 grams sea salt

1. Mix everything together until a rough dough forms. Cover and set aside for about an hour or so.

2. Grab one side of the dough and pull straight up, stretching the dough, then press it on the opposite end of the dough. Turn bowl half way and repeat. Do this 2 more times to finish 4 stretch and folds. This is one set. Try to do 3 more sets, about half an hour apart.

3. After the stretch and folds, cover and let dough rest for 2 – 4 hours at room temperature.

4. Weigh and divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Shape and place in a floured banneton (or bowl, or colander). Cover and let rise for an hour or two. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

5. Next morning, take dough out of the fridge and invert onto a piece of parchment paper. Score and place in a dutch oven or clay baker. Cover dutch oven or clay baker.

6. Place the dutch oven or clay baker in a COLD oven and close oven door. Set temperature of the oven to 500F. When it reaches the temperature, lower to 450F and time for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove cover and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until browned.

7. Remove bread from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

24-hour Soft Sourdough Rolls

Here is another recipe I totally rushed so you can have it for Thanksgiving, if you wish to try it. And I hope you do as it is so easy to make and so good! The 24 hour time frame is just mostly waiting, not actual hands on time so don’t be scared because of it. This bread develops lovely flavors because of the long fermentation times and in moderate amounts, is better for you than regular store bought bread.

This recipe makes a whopping 40 (or 24, or 32, depending on how you divide them) dinner rolls, 20 each in 2 13”x9” baking pans. Feel free to halve the recipe if needed, but I figured since I am going to be waiting 24 hours, I might just as well make enough to share with my mom when my nieces and nephew comes over.

One thing to keep in mind is that your starter has to be active, or just fed 8 hours ago, for this recipe to work. I did try it with discards, since it will be resting for a long while, but it did not work out to be as soft as the ones using an active starter.

For the sweetener, you can use 1/2 cup of honey if you want, but I just wanted some maple syrup mixed in this particular recipe. You do not taste the honey or the maple syrup in the baked roll, but it does contribute to the bread’s softness, texture, and overall taste.

Guideline: 1. I fed my starter Sunday night, around 8 pm, set it on the counter overnight to get ready for tomorrow. The next morning, at 7 am, I prepared the dough and let it rest until 7-8 pm. Then at 8 pm, I shaped them into balls, placed in the pan, covered and let rest until the next morning. Tuesday morning, I preheated the oven at 7:30am. Then baked them until done. It was done before 9 am.

2. If you want these to be baked in the afternoon, just do the same thing but feed the starter 1 day prior, in the morning, then prepare the dough that evening. Let it rise overnight, shape it the following morning, let rest until late in the afternoon, then bake.


1 1/2 cups whole milk or evaporated milk

2 cups active sourdough starter

7 cups bread flour

1/2 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/4 cup melted butter, for brushing on baked rolls


1. Place all ingredients, except the 1/4 cup melted butter for brushing the rolls later, in the bowl of a stand mixer.

After the dough is mixed for a few minutes…

2. Mix with a dough hook for 15 minutes. If you are using a Kitchenaid, stop after 8 minutes, rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then continue for 7 more minutes.

After 15 minutes, it’s smooth and stretchy.

3. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover and let rise on the counter for 12 hours, or until doubled and airy.

4. Punch down dough, weigh it, and divide it into even pieces. You can make 12, 16, or 20 pieces fit per 13”x9”pan. I like to make 20 pieces, so there is more to share…and eat!

After 12 hour rise…

5. Shape into little balls by pulling edges into center, pinching it and rolling the dough, pinched side down on the counter to tighten the surface of the ball.

6. Place in one of two generously greased 13”x9” pan. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping others covered to prevent them from drying out. Fill both pans, cover and let sit for another 12 hours on the counter. You want them to fill the baking pans, and look really light and airy. I left them in the microwave with the convection rack in place to accommodate 2 baking pans.

Light golden after 20 minutes of baking.

7. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake rolls for 25 minutes, or until browned and internal temperature registers 200F in an instant read thermometer. I baked this for 20 minutes, buttered them all and baked for 5 minutes more.


8. Remove from oven and brush with butter. I just grab a stick of butter and gently run it through the buns long enough to coat them in melted butter.

9. Serve warm with plenty of additional butter, jam, or stuff with turkey, cranberry sauce and enjoy!

Sourdough Soft Loaf bread

I love sourdough boules but I admit it is hard to fit it in a regular sandwich tupperware for my husband’s breakfast that he takes to work. I recently purchased 3 pullman loaf tins and was playing with recipes to make a regular soft sandwich bread using sourdough. My starter does not make a sour bread so it’s just perfect for a turkey, cheese and/or egg breakfast sandwich!

I know that most soft bread recipes will have milk, butter/oil, and sugar, sometimes egg but I like to keep it egg free so that it keeps longer at room temperature. I added multigrain cereal as I have some on hand and I usually buy multigrain bread anyway. Sounds healthier! You can definitely replace this with the same amount of flour, up to a cup if needed, to make a plain white loaf.

This recipe make 3 small loaf breads, 4”x7.5”.

1 cup starter

1 cup water

1 cup milk

4 1/2 – 5 cups flour

2/3 cup multigrain cereal mix (I just used Trader Joe’s brand that I always have on hand)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter


1. In a large bowl, mix starter and water until starter is mostly dissolved. Add milk and stir. Mix in 4 1/2 cups flour, multigrain mix, sugar, honey, salt, and oil. Mix until a rough dough forms. Make sure the flour is moistened. The dough won’t form a ball, just a shaggy dough. Cover and let rise overnight.

*If pressed for time, just wait until doubled, about 5 hours, lifting and folding about every 30 minutes, at least twice. Stretch into a rectangle and roll up on the short end and place in the loaf tin. Let rise 4 to 5 hours, until almost doubled. Then bake.*

2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal parts, about 500 grams each. Stretch one portion into a rectangle, with the short end being the size of your loaf tin. Roll up from short end and place into your loaf tin. Repeat with the other portions. Cover and let rest until almost doubled, about 4 to 5 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake the bread covered, for about 40 minutes, uncover and bake around 5 – 10 minutes more until golden.

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Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are one my favorite breakfasts! I’m pretty sure that I am not alone as every time I go to a bakery in the morning, there is always less cinnamon rolls than muffins and other breakfast goodies. I mean, who can say no to cinnamon rolls?

These rich sweet bread swirled with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon makes any breakfast special. My son and I just love it with a thick slathering of cream cheese frosting. My husband though, he just wants it plain, or with a tiny, tiny dab of frosting, if we insist.

I first made cinnamon rolls when I was about 13 years old and followed a recipe I wrote down from a TV program. I never really baked then so I used a coffee cup for a “cup” measure, a small dessert spoon as a “teaspoon”, and a spoon we used to eat for a “tablespoon”. I was hooked after that and have tried dozens of recipes and a lot of buns sold by famous bakeries wherever I went.

The perfect cinnamon rolls for me has a good bread structure, buttery, just a little sweet. The filling should be generous, and I like it to have raisins in the swirls. The brown sugar/cinnamon/butter mixture should be oozing down the bottom of the bun where it meets perfectly roasted pecan/walnuts. Perfection! Rarely do I find one that checks all the boxes so I usually bake it at home and my son’s eyes always light up when he realizes we are having cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow morning! My little clone!

Years ago, I would even add chopped apples with the raisins before rolling up the dough and it would taste lovely. You can omit the raisins, or the pecans if you wish but I hope you try it this way once and with a generous coating of the frosting, if I may suggest!


95 grams whole milk

2 large eggs

95 grams sugar

190 grams active starter

355 grams all purpose or bread flour

7 grams salt

100 grams softened butter


1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

20 grams all purpose flour

135 grams dark brown sugar

30 grams butter

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans


50 grams butter

100 grams cream cheese

100 grams powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

30 grams milk

Procedure for the dough:

1. Place the milk, eggs, and sugar in the Thermomix bowl, cover and set to 30 seconds/speed 3.

2. Add starter, flour, and salt and set to Knead/2 minutes.

3. Add butter and Knead 2 minutes more.

4. Transfer dough into a large bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm place until double, about 3-4 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare filling:

5. In a medium bowl, mix cinnamon, flour, and sugar. Cut in butter until it resembles crumbs.

6. Grease a 13”x9” pan and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Set aside.

7. Roll out dough to about a 12×15 rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture and evenly spread raisins over it. Roll up from the long end so you’ll have a 15 inch log. Cut the log into 12 1.25 inch rolls. Place on top of the pecans in the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Or you can leave on the counter until doubled in size, about 2-3 hours and bake).

8. Next day, leave cinnamon rolls on the counter to come to room temperature for about an hour or 2.

9. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake rolls for about 25 minutes, tenting with foil if it browns too fast.

10. Prepare the frosting: In a bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar and beat well. Mix in vanilla and milk to thin out the frosting a little. Beat until fluffy. This has a frosting consistency as I prefer that over a thin drizzle. If you would like a drizzling consistency, add more milk.

11. Cool buns on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan one at a time, invert onto a serving plate and generously frost with cream cheese frosting.


Sourdough Baking Basics

Sourdough – the ancestor of all modern day bread.

So you are thinking about learning how to make sourdough breads, but what is the first step? What do you actually NEED to make sourdough bread? Also, what are the NICE THINGS to have to make baking breads easier and more convenient? Read on as this post is intended to help you get started on this new hobby and make you understand as much as you can to ensure success in sourdough baking!

Sourdough has a reputation of being unpredictable, difficult, and needy. Most of us use commercial yeast because it can easily reproduce the results we want over and over. It can be ready to bake in less than 2 hours. And in our busy daily life, that is totally understandable. However, sourdough is not at all that difficult, you just need to give it time. Harvesting wild yeasts and bacteria to make your dough rise has been done since ancient times. Once your starter is mature enough and you have done a few bakes, you will learn how to feel the dough and know when it’s ready. Remember, practice makes perfect!



You cannot have a sourdough bread without first having a starter. You can acquire this several ways:

1. prepare your own starter,

2. buy some online or from someone you know,

3. ask some from a friend or relative that you know bakes with a starter, most of the time they will be happy to give you some and even share tips and recipes with you.

If you want to make your own starter, you can follow my easy instructions here:

*Please note – I believe that even if you get Alaskan or San Francisco sourdough, the taste will eventually be altered by the local yeasts and bacteria from where you live and the flour you feed it. Because of that, I recommend making your own sourdough starter. I do want to try this theory out though, so one day I will most likely acquire sourdough starters from faraway and see if the flavor changes after a bit. I will update this post when I do start that experiment.*


Next, you will need flour, of course. I have several different varieties of flour in my pantry but a lot of time I use plain Unbleached All Purpose Flour for making sourdough breads. It works fine for any baked good and is readily available. All purpose flour generally makes bread with a light and fluffy texture.

I also use Bread Flour often, specially if I want a more chewy texture as bread flour has a higher protein content than all purpose flour. If I have enough bread flour on hand, I try to use bread flour for all of my bread making.

00 Flour – I recently bought a big, 55 pound bag of Caputo 00 flour from Italy for pizza making and was using it often to feed my sourdough. I noticed a better structured dough when I use it to make baguettes, and of course, it is the default flour I use for making pizza dough and pasta.

*Note: because of flour unavailability lately due to the COVID19, I purchased some Target brand All Purpose Bleached Flour in 5 pound bags as those were the only ones I found. I was praying my sourdough won’t notice that it was bleached and I believe it did not. 👏 I baked with bleached all purpose after the starter was ready and the resulting bread was good, lighter and softer than I am used to with regular sourdough breads. I added a photo of one of the three loaves below. Before, I would only use bleached all purpose to make mantou buns and siopao doughs, chinese steamed buns, as the white color is desirable in these breads. However, I intend to go back feeding with unbleached flour as soon as I find some.

Made using Target all purpose bleached flour. Winner!

Specialty flours – there is an abundance of specialty flours in the baking aisle of every grocery store. Most of these flours require more water than all purpose or bread flours. They also impart flavor and most of the time, texture to the finished bread. Whole wheat or rye flour is used at the beginning in making your own starter as they contain more of the wild yeasts and bacteria needed than white flour. These are what causes your starter to come alive.

One thing to remember is that flour is perishable. It definitely can go bad, so try to check the longest expiration date when buying flour. And don’t be afraid of mixing or substituting flour. That is part of the fun of making your own breads.


I just use regular filtered tap water. Bottled spring or purified water should be fine too. I have not used distilled or RO water as I have read somewhere that it is not good for sourdough starter, aside from the fact that I do not like the way it tastes.


Bread without salt tastes bland, as I found out when I accidentally forgot to add salt to a big batch of dinner rolls (it was saved by slathering on salted butter, which I specifically purchased to salvage that batch of bland bread!). Salt also help control the proofing of your dough and preserve the bread.

One thing to remember is that salt and yeast do not like each other, that is why when baking with commercial yeast you have to place them in the mixture separately. When making sourdough, salt is usually added with the flour, or after the autolyze stage. I try to keep recipes simple by just mixing it after the flour is added. If you follow a recipe, your bread should turn out fine.

Fine sea salt, available in any grocery or big box stores, is what I use in my recipes. The brand I have at home that I also use in my daily cooking is Sosalt from Italy. Sure sounds fancy but it only costs $1 for a box and is a good all around salt.

I also like to use Hawaiian salt or Celtic sea salt on occasion.


I will say, the most basic things you will need are a dough scraper, a few different sized stainless bowls(those with silicone covers are a plus!), a kitchen towel, a dutch oven/clay baker, parchment paper, and a blade. Not in that order but these are the essentials.

DOUGH SCRAPER – makes working with a high hydration dough easier and gets every last bit off the working surface. A dough scraper also makes quick work of folding the dough by making a scooping motion from one side and pushing it down onto the dough, turning the dough 1/4 turn and repeating the motion 3 more times.

DIFFERENT SIZED STAINLESS BOWLS – very useful for mixing a small or big batch of dough, making different flavored or filled breads at a time, or even using it to cover the dough the first 20 minutes of baking to hold in steam if you only have a baking stone/sheet. I use the set of 3 nesting bowls from Magnolia (Target), it comes with lids so it’s super useful as I do not need to struggle with plastic wrap!

KITCHEN TOWEL – you use this to line a basket, a colander, or a bowl for proofing the shaped dough. Make sure to flour generously to prevent the dough from sticking.

My current assortment of baking pots!

DUTCH OVEN/CLAY BAKER – this is, for me, the easiest way to make up to 4 loaves of bread at a time with minimal supervision. The vessels trap in the steam created by water escaping from the dough and gives the bread a really nice oven spring, all without extra effort on your part.

PARCHMENT PAPER – I never used to own parchment paper even when I baked often. It wasn’t until I got a bread badly stuck in an Emily Henry Bread Pot that I started using it regularly for baking breads. It sure makes easy work of removing the bread from the baking container and nothing ever sticks. You can also reuse it as long as it is still in good condition. *Now that I also have a beautiful Romertopf Clay baker, I never bake sourdough without parchment, as I can only imagine how badly the bread will stick to unglazed clay.*

BLADE/LAME/SERRATED KNIFE – for scoring, a regular double edged razor blade will work fine, just be careful you don’t cut yourself as they are sharp. I am able to reuse the same corner at least a few times. I also own some bread lames, but they are just razor blades with handles. A sharp serrated knife can do the work too. My UFO lame is from Wire Monkey via Etsy.

There are also some good things to have when making bread, or even just baking in general. My list would include a silicone mat or a large wooden board, weighing scale, a baking/pizza stone, a spray bottle, oven thermometer, banneton with cloth liner, lame, loaf tin.

SILICONE MAT OR LARGE WOODEN BOARD – I usually use a lightly floured silicone mat or the Vitamix cutting board (thin, pliable plastic) on the counter when dividing, weighing and shaping the dough. It is easy to scrape the dough away from the surface using a dough scraper.

WEIGHING SCALE – when you want to be accurate with baking, you have to go by weight and not volume. The same “cup” can vary in weight depending on the way the ingredients were place in the cup, if it was packed, or if it was sifted, etc. I usually use my weighing scale to divide the dough into buns, loaves, that are similar in weight so that they finish baking at the same time.

BAKING/PIZZA STONE – if you want to bake multiple loaves, this is the way to go. I can bake 3 loaves on each stone at a time. However, I have to prepare the oven with a baking pan at the bottom and ensure enough steam is produced in the first few minutes.

SPRAY BOTTLE – good for spraying water the first 5-10 minutes of baking if baking on a stone. I do not like that the temperature drops everytime I open the oven and spray water, though.

OVEN THERMOMETER – this is to ensure that your oven temperature is accurate. I have an new oven and it is off by 50F. I found out after baking a batch cookies that took almost 30 minutes. So I now heat to 550F if I need it to be at 500F.

BANNETON WITH A CLOTH LINER – this is simply a basket with a linen liner used for second proofing after shaping. I like the impression it makes on the dough if you use it without the liner. Do not forget to flour generously before placing the dough in. Dust with a lot more flour if you are not using the cloth liner.

LOAF TIN – this is to make a loaf of sourdough bread perfect for sandwiches/toaster. I also have some pullman tins that will produce an almost square loaf, similar to the ones sold at Japanese grocery stores. I love my boules but it’s easier to fit a loaf shaped sandwich bread in kid’s lunchboxes!


There are a few approaches I learned in baking the finished dough. I will explain each method the best I can.

First Method is you preheat the oven with an empty dutch oven/clay baker, covered, in the oven. When temperature is reached, you carefully remove the HOT dutch oven from the oven, make sure you place it on a heatproof surface, open it, ease the dough in, with the parchment paper, score it, cover, return to the oven and start timing. This method works well but I had my share of burns even if I am very careful handling the heavy, hot vessel. Plus my arms are not as good as they were so I am always afraid of dropping the hot container.

Second is place the shaped dough in the dutch oven/clay baker with a parchment paper on the bottom and let it proof the second time. Score, cover and place the room temperature dutch oven into the cold oven, then start preheating the oven. When temperature is reached, start timing and bake for the suggested time. This is how I usually bake nowadays.

Third, Preheat the oven. Place shaped, proofed dough into a dutch oven. Score and place in the preheated oven when temperature is reached and start timing. I learned this from one of the books I acquired. This is the easiest of all method as this is how we normally bake.

Fourth, if you want to bake more loaves at the same time, you can purchase baking stones that are almost the same size as your oven racks, save for at least a 1 inch gap on all sides, for airflow. Make sure they are the thick, hefty ones. If you can only find thin ones, use two. You have to place the stone in your oven before you preheat the oven, so that the stone has enough time to heat up as well. Otherwise, it may crack with the sudden temperature change. With this method, you can create steam by 1. preheating the oven and stone with an empty baking pan with lava rocks in the bottom of the oven, then add hot water and/or ice cubes to the pan after sliding in the dough (on parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Or 2. cover the dough with a stainless steel bowl to hold the steam and allow the dough to rise one last time (oven spring). I would spray the oven with water a few times in the first 10 minutes of the baking time. Or 3. throw a few ice cubes or a little hot water directly on the oven floor.


INITIAL MIXING – Place the starter and water in a bowl and mix to break up the starter. Add the flour and mix until you have a rough, shaggy dough, making sure the flour is all incorporated.

FIRST REST (AUTOLYZE) – this is to allow the flour to absorb the water and makes the dough manageable. It is usually done before the salt is added, but I find my method of adding everything in the first step easier.

STRETCH AND FOLD – pull the dough up on one end, and fold and press it down onto the center of the dough, turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat 3 more times. This is done around 4 times, every half an hour or so.

BULK RISE – takes about 6 – 12 hours. This is when you wait for the dough to double in size. I usually just leave it on the counter overnight. Remove dough from the bowl gently to preserve the bubbles created.

SHAPE – divide dough if necessary, and shape into the boule, batard, loaf, or rolls you would like it to be.

BENCH REST – rest the shaped dough for about 15 minutes, then reshape to it’s final shape. If using a banneton, place the dough in a generously floured banneton and cover with a slightly moist cloth, shower cap (yes this works!), or plastic wrap.

SECOND RISE (RETARDING) – after shaping, the dough needs time to double in size again. If you have to extend the rise time, refrigerate the dough to slow down the rise. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight or while you are at work (around 8 hours). Remove the dough from the refrigerator before you preheat the oven to allow the dough to come to room temperature.

SCORE – this is for more than decorative purposes although I admit that I admire beautiful scoring. This helps steam escape and allows the dough to open up where you scored instead of just bursting where ever it can.

BAKE – Make sure the oven is preheated and at the temperature suggested by the recipe you are following before starting your timer. Check for doneness at the minimum time.

COOLING – make sure you allow the bread to cool down before cutting into it. Otherwise, the texture will turn gummy. I cannot resist warm bread so I often do not follow this myself! 😊


If I bake on weekdays or days that I work, I tend to start the night before. My timing goes like this:

1. I mix the dough before dinner. Cover and let it sit to autolyze while we enjoy our food.

2. Stretch and fold before doing the dishes, and again after the dishes are done. Then I prepare breakfast/lunch next day. Stretch and fold again after. Tidy up the kitchen a little then another stretch and fold. This is not a strict requirement for me as I’ve done as little as 2 stretch and folds and the bread still turned out good. Don’t stress if you only got 2 in.

3. Then I let it sit on the counter all night.

4. The next morning, I would roughly shape the dough and cover, let it rest while I get breakfast ready.

5. Reshape the dough to it’s final shape, and place in a banneton, if using, cover and into the fridge it goes to proof while I’m at work. When I come home form work, I get it out of the fridge and onto the counter.

6. After about 20-30 minutes, preheat the oven, then score and bake! Tada! I tailor it to my schedule instead of the other way around! Sometimes, I put a baking tray with chicken pieces, potatoes, carrots and onions, seasoning and olive oil on the top shelf to roast while the sourdough bakes. Dinner is done at the same time!


  1. Steam in the beginning of baking allows your bread to expand as it softens the crust enough to let the dough grow without bursting. Scoring (cutting the dough right before placing it in the oven) is not only for decorative purposes, it also helps guide the expanding dough. It allows the dough to open up at the scores instead of bursting anywhere the pressure is forming.
  2. The easiest method I have found to help with steaming is simply baking the bread in a covered, oven proof vessel. It can be a dutch oven, a clay pot (Romertopf, Emily Henry), a Pyrex bowl and pie plate combo (make sure it is made of borosilicate glass and heat only to temperature stated), or even enamel roasters. This eliminates the need to create steam by lava rocks, chains, ice cubes, and spray bottles. It uses the steam created by the baking bread to help soften the crust in the first few minutes until it sizzles off.
  3. If you neglected your starter in the fridge for a few weeks, you might notice a layer of dark liquid on top of it. This is called “hooch” and can smell like alcohol. I always remove this layer and the very top layer of my starter, take some starter from the bottom and transfer it to another clean container. Then I start with regular feedings of 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water until my starter is revived. Some advice to stir the hooch back into the starter to add a more sour flavor to the starter but I never did.
  4. If all you have left is about a tablespoon of starter, that is okay too. Just feed it until it doubles and produces a lot of bubbles.
  5. Feeding: my starter is a 100% hydration starter, meaning it is equal parts flour and water. By volume, it is 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. I try to feed the starter at least once a week, removing half the amount before feeding, and leaving the fed mixture at room temperature until doubled, 4-8 hours. It is then ready to use or if not using, refrigerate until needed.
  6. The half removed before feeding is called a “discard”. However, you need not discard it as there are numerous recipes using discards to make waffles, pancakes, cakes, etc.
  7. DRY YOUR STARTER FOR FUTURE USE, BACK UP, OR SHARING: Use a parchment paper to line a baking pan. Spread a thin layer of active starter over the parchment and let it air dry until brittle. When completely dried and brittle, break into small pieces. You can leave it as is or run through a blender to get a more powdery texture. Place 1 tablespoon portions in a ziplock bag and store in a cool, dry place. This is the easiest way to share them with friends too.
  8. TO REACTIVATE YOUR DRIED STARTER: Start in the morning if possible. Add the contents of the ziplock bag to 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 tablespoons water in a jar. Stir, cover loosely and leave in a warm area for about 6-8 hours (top of the refrigerator is perfect). After 6- 8 hours, add another 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 tablespoon waster in the jar and cover loosely. Leave for another 6-8 hours in a warm area. This time, add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the jar and mix well. let sit overnight. Next day, discard half of the starter and repeat feeding until it doubles in size.
  9. Rubber band – very useful if you like marking the starting volume on your sourdough container to help you know when it doubles. Just use a rubber band!

Raisin, Walnut, and Cinnamon Swirl Sourdough Batard

This recipe is a variation of the sourdough boule recipe. The raisins and walnuts give it enough sweetness and flavor to enjoy on its own. Of course, with butter and jam it is even better!


1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup starter

3 cups water

8 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon salt

melted butter or water

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons good quality ground cinnamon


Soak raisins and walnuts in enough water to cover.

Mix starter into the water in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Cover with a dish cloth and let rest for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Drain the raisins and walnuts well and knead into the dough. Cover and let rise overnight.

Divide the dough into two and turn out onto a floured board.

Working with one at a time, stretch out the dough to a rectangle, about 16×8 inches. Brush with melted butter or plain water. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on the dough. Roll up, from the short end, pinching edges to seal as you go along.

Place in a flour dusted banetton. Repeat with the other half.

Cover and let rise for an hour, until puffy.

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut a piece of parchment bigger than your banetton. Place the parchment over the dough and invert onto your hand. Place on the counter and score 3 times, using a razor, or a lame. Place into a dutch oven, cover and place in the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 35 minutes more uncovered.

Place on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing.

Raisin, Walnut and Cinnamon Sourdough Batard

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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A delicious variation for the basic sourdough boule recipe. This yield loaves that are just sweet and flavorful enough to enjoy on its own.


1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup starter

3 cups water

8 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon salt

melted butter or water

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons good quality ground cinnamon


Soak raisins and walnuts in enough water to cover.

Mix starter into the water in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Cover with a dish cloth and let rest for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Drain the raisins and walnuts well and knead into the dough. Cover and let rise overnight.

Divide the dough into two and turn out onto a floured board. Working with one at a time, stretch out the dough to a rectangle, about 16×8 inches. Brush with melted butter or plain water. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly on the dough. Roll up, from the short end, pinching edges to seal as you go along.

Place in a flour dusted banetton. Repeat with the other half.

Cover and let rise for an hour, until puffy.

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut a piece of parchment bigger than your banetton. Place the parchment over the dough and invert onto your hand. Place on the counter and score 3 times, using a razor, or a lame. Place into a dutch oven, cover and place in the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then 35 minutes more uncovered.

Place on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing.