Sourdough Baguettes

When my husband gave me a baguette pan for Christmas, I knew where to find the perfect baguette recipe right away. Sally of Bewitching Kitchen is an incredible baker. She makes absolutely stunning artisan bread loaves and beautiful cookies- especially French macarons.

Sally posted this detailed “award-winning” recipe on her blog, from Samuel Fromartz, author of the blog ChewsWise, via wildyeastblog.com. I adapted the recipe to use my new baguette pan for the second rise and to bake the loaves. It worked perfectly. 🙂 I was very pleased! The original recipe on ChewsWise.com provided very helpful links regarding the process of both forming the baguettes and scoring them prior to baking.

I baked the first batch for 18 minutes and the second for 20 minutes. I preferred the extra crispiness achieved with the longer baking time. All of the loaves had a fabulous interior texture. The sourdough flavor was subtle. I used my starter directly from the refrigerator. Next time, I plan to feed my starter 7 to 10 hours prior to making the dough, as in the original recipe. (see Note) Pretty and delicious.

Yield: 4 baguettes

  • 90 grams sourdough starter (at 100% hydration- starter is fed with equal amounts of flour & water)(see Note)
  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 420 grams water
  • 590 grams flour (I used King Arthur Organic All Purpose Flour)
  • 10 grams whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
  • 13 grams fine sea salt
  • olive oil to grease bowl
  • cornmeal, for dusting (unless using a baguette pan)

First Day:

  1. Pour starter and yeast into bowl and add water, mixing until the starter breaks up a bit.
  2. Add flours and salt and mix for a couple of minutes. The dough will be heavy and shaggy.
  3. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes, covered with plastic.
  4. Rub the surface where you will knead the dough with a tiny amount of olive oil to prevent the dough from sticking (great tip originally from Dan Lepard). (I oiled a large cutting board.)
  5. Use a scraper to move dough onto the counter and begin to knead by stretching and folding dough, trying to use your finger tips.
  6. After kneading for 5 minutes, scrape mass into a clean bowl or plastic bin. (I lightly greased the bowl with cooking spray.)
  7. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. (I placed the bowl in a proofing oven.)
  8. Oil the counter (cutting board) again if necessary and remove dough to counter.
  9. Stretch it until 1-inch thick then fold top and bottom in thirds like a letter.
  10. Do the same type of folding, stretching until 1-inch thick, but now folding from left to right.
  11. Put dough back in the bowl, cover, let it rest for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from bowl, repeat the folding technique, and put back in a covered bowl for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove from the bowl, fold again for the third and final time.
  14. Clean the bowl, oil lightly (with 2 tsp olive oil), and put dough back inside. (I put it in fold side up to oil the top, and then rotated it seam side down.)
  15. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

Second Day:

  1. Place baking stone or quarry tiles in middle of oven.
  2. Place a thick rimmed cookie sheet or cast iron pan on oven floor or lower shelf. (I placed it on the rack just below the baking stone, shifted to one side to allow the steam to reach the loaves.)
  3. Heat oven to 470F (245 C). (I set a large oven to “Bake”- not on a convection setting.)
  4. Put a little olive oil in your palm and oil a 20-by-20 inch (50 x 50 cm) section of the counter.
  5. Remove dough from container. Cut dough in half. Put half back in container and into refrigerator.
  6. Cut dough into two rectangular pieces (about 250 grams each) and gently stretch into rectangles 5-by-7 inches (13-by-18 cm) with the long edge facing you.  Cover with plastic wrap or a light towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. While dough is resting, cut parchment paper large enough to fit your baking stone. Dust paper with flour. Dust  a couche (or kitchen towels) lightly with flour. (I used an unfloured non-stick baguette pan instead.)
  8. Shape dough into a log by folding top and bottom of rectangle toward middle and gently sealing the seam with thumb. Then fold top to meet the bottom and seal seam. You should have a log about 1.5 to 2 inches thick (4 to 5 cm). (I used this video) The goal is to create tension over the top surface of the dough.
  9. Gently roll and stretch into a 14-inch loaf (36 cm) or just under the size of your baking stone. Crimp the ends to seal.
  10. Place each loaf on parchment paper (or in baguette pan) about six inches apart, seam side down. Place one rolled up towel underneath the paper between the loaves and one under each other edge, supporting their shape.
  11. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap or a light kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I used a proofing oven.)
  12. Put 2/3 cup water in measuring cup and bring to a boil in the microwave.
  13. Carefully move the paper with the loaves onto a flour-dusted overturned cookie sheet or cutting board. Dust top of loaves very lightly with flour. Use a bench scraper to gently adjust the loaves and straighten them out. (I did this in the baguette pan without transferring the loaves.)
  14. Make four or five cuts on the top of the loaf with a razor blade, 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep, running lengthwise on the dough. A swift slash at a sharp 20-degree angle works best. (see video link in step 8)
  15. Take cutting board and slide parchment paper with baguettes onto hot baking stone (or put the baguette pan on the baking stone). Shut oven door.
  16. Open door, and carefully pour 2/3 cup water onto cookie sheet or cast iron pan. (I put the cookie sheet on a gliding oven rack.) Be very careful if using boiling water. Shut door. Do not open the oven again while baking.
  17. Check baguettes after 18 to 20 minutes. They should be dark brown and crusty. If pale, continue baking for 1 to 2 minutes. (I found 20 minutes to be perfect in my oven.)
  18. Let cool for 20 minutes on rack before eating. They are best eaten within 6 hours.
  19. While baguettes are baking, form the remaining dough into loaves or leave for up to 24 hours and make fresh loaves the following day.

Note: To Make 90 grams Sourdough Starter at 100-percent hydration: Use equal parts of water and flour by weight, and ferment for 7 to 10 hours. Use 25 grams ripe and active sourdough, 50 grams flour and 50 grams water. After it ferments, use 90 grams of it in the bread and refresh the rest for future doughs.

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

I have made these wonderful rolls on numerous occasions. I love that they can be prepared from start to finish in an hour or two. We have eaten them as dinner rolls and as sandwich rolls.

This recipe was adapted from HeartsContentFarmhouse.com. I weighed the ingredients, and used a stand mixer and warming drawer. Similar to Portuguese rolls, these have also become a family favorite.

Yield: 8 rolls

  • 7 oz of thick liquid pourable starter (1 1/4 cups)
  • 13 oz white bread flour (2 1/2 cups to 3 cups)
  • 6.5 oz of water (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
  1. Combine the starter, flour, water, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture should be a slightly sticky dough.
  2. Cover and allow to rest for about 20-40 minutes. (I put the covered bowl in a warming drawer for 20 minutes.)
  3. Add the salt and yeast on top of the dough, and transfer it to whatever you are using to knead. For a stand mixer, use the dough hook and set it on low for about 5 to 7 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes (with a 5 minute rest halfway) without adding any additional flour. ( If using a bread machine, set it on the dough cycle.)
  4. Check the consistency of the dough after a few minutes of kneading.  It may seem sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl.  If it seems very wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.
  5. When the dough is kneaded, cover it and put in in a warm place to rise between 40-90 minutes. (If using the bread machine, let it complete the cycle and leave it in the machine a bit longer.)
  6. When the dough has completed its first rise, dump it onto the counter or a cutting board. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I use a scale and aim for a tad over 3 ounces for each.
  8. Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms. Place on the cornmeal dusted parchment.
  9. Cover with heavily greased plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. (I placed the baking sheet in a warming drawer for 45 minutes.)
  10. Fifteen minutes prior to the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place one rack in the center, and one in the lower middle area. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack to get hot while the over heats.
  11. Rub the top of each roll with flour. Slash, if desired, using kitchen shears, a lame, or sharp knife. Cover while the oven is preheating.
  12. When the oven has heated and the rolls have risen, pour 1 cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam. (It may buckle.)
  13. Place the rolls inside the oven and bake for 15-21 minutes, until browned outside and until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees on an instant thermometer. Cool on wire rack.

Sourdough Soft Pretzels

Last spring, when the “New York Pause” of self-isolation began, our family enjoyed many special Happy Hours. My son tried every flavor of San Pellegrino soda and my daughter’s beverage alternated between lemonade and Arnold Palmer. We have limited these indulgences to once a week (if at all) at this point. 😉

The kids and I made these soft pretzels on a couple of these occasions. I loved that we all shaped them differently! We ate them with a variety of mustards and with warm queso (from Trader Joe’s) on another occasion. The melted butter was essential.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur flour. I used active dry yeast and omitted the malt. Great.

For the Dough:

  1. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Mix and knead the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a cohesive, fairly smooth dough. It should be slightly sticky; if it seems dry, knead in an additional tablespoon or two of water.
  3. Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes. It will rise minimally. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, fold it over a few times to gently deflate it, then divide it into 12 pieces, each weighing about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 ounces.
  5. Roll each piece of dough into an 18″ rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel.
  6. Brush the pretzels with water and sprinkle lightly with coarse pretzel salt.
  7. Bake the pretzels for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Note: This is correct; there’s no need to let the shaped pretzels rise before baking.
  8. Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush with melted butter, if desired. (We thought it was essential!)
  9. Serve with a variety of mustards and/or queso, as desired.

Classic Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Compared to my last post, this is a more classic sourdough loaf. Like the other loaves, it has a great crumb and tender texture inside but this loaf has a crispy top crust and a more pronounced sourdough flavor.

This recipe is from Bob’s Red Mill. The original recipe states that it is ideal for all kinds of sandwiches, as well as toast, bread pudding and bread crumbs. We enjoyed it for wonderful sandwiches and toast, but making bread pudding with this beautiful loaf might need to happen in the future. 🙂

Yield: One 2-pound loaf

  • 1 ¼ cups room temperature water, 75°F (10 fl oz)
  • 2/3 cup active sourdough starter (6 1/2 oz)
  • 3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (1 lb)
  • 1 T table salt or 4 tsp Kosher salt
  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve water and starter.
  2. Add flour and mix until a rough and shaggy dough forms, about 4 minutes (low-speed if using an electric mixer).
  3. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Add salt and mix until a slightly soft and elastic dough (which easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl) forms, 6–10 minutes by hand or about 2–4 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer. To ensure proper gluten development, tear off a small piece of dough and stretch it as thin as possible; if a thin, transparent “window” is visible without any tearing, the dough is ready to proof.
  5. Transfer dough to a large lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat all sides in oil. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
  6. Punch down the center of the dough and fold all four sides into the center. Flip dough upside down, cover, and let rise again, another 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat the punch and rise a total of four times (2 hours). The dough has properly proofed when a light push with a finger leaves an indentation that does not spring back.
  8. Remove proofed dough from the bowl and place on a floured work surface. Gently stretch into a 10-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends of the dough to meet in the center. Fold the top of the dough to the center and lightly seal with fingertips. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand, then gently roll into a 6-inch long cylinder. Cover and let rest 15–20 minutes.
  9. Uncover the dough and turn the cylinder seam-side-up on a floured work surface. Press and gently stretch the dough to a 6-inch rectangle. Fold the top of the dough to the center and press with the fingertips to seal and tighten. Fold the top of the dough to the bottom and seal with the heel of the hand. Gently roll the dough into a tight and smooth 8-inch loaf.
  10. Place the dough in a lightly oiled 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic and proof until puffy and an indentation does not spring back, 30–40 minutes. (My final rise time was about 1 hour, just until the dough rose over the rim of the loaf pan.)
  11. Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450°F. Place a baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven and place a baking stone (if using) on the center rack. Make sure the oven (and baking stone) preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  12. When the dough is ready to bake, gently score the top of the loaf with a few slashes using a lame, kitchen shears, razor blade, or very sharp knife.
  13. Place the loaf pan on the preheated baking stone and pour 4 cups of water into the baking pan on the bottom rack. Quickly close the oven door and let bake at 450°F until browned on top, 35–45 minutes. To ensure doneness, gently remove the bread from the pan and tap the bottom of the loaf–a hollow sound should be audible. Using a probe thermometer, test for a final interior temperature of 200–210°F.
  14. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Tender Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I have two sourdough sandwich loaves to share. This recipe makes two tender and delicious loaves, absolutely perfect for sandwiches. The inclusion of dry milk and butter resulted in a prolonged storage time compared to typical sourdough loaf. It sliced very easily as well.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. The levain is prepared the night before making the dough. The dough also incorporates instant yeast to expedite the rising times.

Yield: Two 8-inch loaves

For the Levain:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) cool water (60° to 70°F)
  • 3 tablespoons (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

For the Dough:

  • 5 1/4 cups (631g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • scant 6 tablespoons (50g) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) water (70° to 80°F)
  • all of the ripe levain

To Make the Levain:

  1. Mix all of the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen (ferment) at room temperature (70°F). When perfectly ripened, there’ll be large bubbles (mostly below the surface) creating a somewhat rippled effect. It’ll appear almost fluffy. If the levain is covered with a froth of tiny bubbles, it’s a bit over-ripened; but don’t worry, you can still use it.

To Make the Dough:

  1. Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. (I used a stand mixer.)
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. (I used a proofing oven.)
  3. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into 8″ logs. (I used a scale to divide the dough evenly, about 710 grams per loaf.)
  4. Place the logs, seam side down, in two lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pans. (9″ x 5″ pans will also work)
  5. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or up to 2 hours). (I used a proofing oven.)
  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the sides of the loaf feel firm.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven, and turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool. Let them cool completely before slicing.

*All-purpose flour will produce a somewhat stickier dough.

Note: To prevent a wrinkled top surface: Slash the top of the loaf several times before baking, much as you would a baguette. This helps release the steam that gathers under the crust, which can produce wrinkles as the baked loaf cools.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

Like many others, when I started panicking about running out of bread yeast, I started the process of making a sourdough starter.

When I lived in South Carolina (in a former lifetime!), I had a sourdough starter that absolutely flourished. This go-round, in Long Island, it has been taking extra-long for my sourdough starter to achieve it’s full potential in my cold house. Because I’ve been feeding it for days, I have a lot of discard readily available. Thankfully, there are many different ways to put it to good use!

This recipe was adapted from Amanda Rettke of iambaker.net. I used a stand mixer, incorporated whole wheat flour, modified the cookie size, and baked the cookies in a convection oven. Very cakey and chocolatey.

Yield: 30 cookies

  • 14 T (1 stick + 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup (227gsourdough starter, unfed
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (125g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. In to bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, combine the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer. (Make sure the butter is soft enough to mix with the sugar by hand.)
  2. Add the egg to the mixture, stirring until incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sourdough starter and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, being careful to not over-mix.
  5. Incorporate the chocolate chips.
  6. Let the dough rest at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or refrigerate or up to overnight (in the refrigerator). (I have made them without refrigeration and they get more cake-like in texture.)
  7. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. (Let the refrigerated cookies come to room temperature.)
  8. Drop spoonfuls (2-3 tablespoons) of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I used a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop.)
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes for a cake-like cookie or 6-8 minutes for a chewier cookie. The cookie may appear a little wet in the center and that is ok. It will continue to bake and be cooked throughout after being out of the oven for a few minutes. (Rettke recommends baking for 6-8 minutes- next time!)

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