Bread making (Sourdough) Basics for home bakers

I keep getting many questions from home-bakers, about measurements, dough consistency, mixing and proofing mostly with regard to sourdough recipes. So I decided that it will be helpful to create a post that address all the basics in one place about “baking sourdough at home”.

This is for anyone who is new to sourdough baking or is thinking of starting fresh. Also these information would be helpful specially if you are attempting my recipes on this blog, but is not limited to.

I presume, that you have some sort of previous baking experience and now you have decided to take up sourdough baking. If this is not true, then may be it is a good time to take a step back and familiarize yourself with some simple bakes before attempting sourdough recipes. But, it is totally up to you. If you think, you are capable of jumping straight in the deep end, by all means, do so. Everyone is different, so challenge yourself if you like 🙂

Lets get to it then;

So as all of you know, we need a sourdough starter to make sourdough products. I have a whole blog post dedicated to this topic.
Find it through this link. I am stating this again, it is best to start by baking with commercial yeast before you attempt sourdough.

Flour types:
I will start by saying you can make any bread/pastry product using normal all purpose flour. All purpose flour was the only thing I knew/had in the beginning of my baking journey. I made rolls, bread (yeasted/sourdough), enriched products, croissants, puff, pizza, cakes, tart bases, pies and everything using just all purpose flour. But later as my knowledge and experience expanded, I went into using different flour types, because I felt the need. Bread flour has a higher percentage of gluten and ideal for bread and baguettes. Cake flour has much less gluten and more starch and hence ideal for cakes, short bread etc. For everything else, I use all-purpose flour. But still, when I ran out of a certain flour, I have interchanged these and was still able to get good results. When making bread/ bread rolls, you can mix other low gluten ( even gluten free) flour varieties to create different flavor profiles or to simply up the nutrition. Whole meal, Rye, Buckwheat, Teff are some examples.
Most recipes use these flours in 5 – 20% of the total bread flour weight. There are recipes that use 80% – 100% Rye or wholemeal. Well, once you master the basics, you can dive deep into the world of bread and try as many recipes as you like or create your own.
Apart from these, we use semolina, rice flour to dust bannetons and couches to stop dough from sticking.

Always keep in mind that, ingredient measurements stated in a recipe are only a guide line. This is specially true when it comes to water. In bread making, you may need to adjust water percentage that you actually use and it may be slightly less or more than that stated in the recipe. This is mainly because;
Flours have different moisture content and absorbency
Eggs you use might be smaller or bigger
Humidity of the air
Room temperature
Starter hydration

Mixing can be done by hand. But for enriched doughs like brioche, it is easier to start in the mixer and them finish off by hand. I recommend using hands as much as possible, so we can get a good feel of the dough consistency. We should not relay solely on time when mixing, but the dough consistency. This is why I always mention the look and feel of the dough and provide you with a picture. So that you know what to look for rather than mixing blindly.

Not mandatory, but is a good technique to add strength do dough at home, when you don’t have industrial mixers. This is useful when you have higher hydration percentage in your dough. Not necessary for rolls or other enriched doughs. You can of course use mixing to build and strengthen gluten. But I use autolysis as it requires less intervention. Just mix the flour and water and let this sit for some time (range from 30 minutes to a few hours) During this time flour absorb water, enzymes start to get activated and gluten is formed. This gluten can be further strengthened by folding the dough, which we will talk about next.

Gluten mesh

Gluten help keep the shape and also allowed the dough to expand (rise during fermentation/ oven spring). For crusty bread, baguettes it is very important to have a good strong gluten development, to get the expected chewy texture. Always do a “window test” meaning you should be able to stretch a dough without tearing so thin that you can see through. Check the following image.
But for soft bread rolls and enriched products like brioche, cinnamon scrolls, babka etc, this is not the case. In these cases, we only need moderate strength in the dough to achieve the softer crumb. This is why those recipes call for more fat, sugar in the dough and use flours with less gluten %. Also notice, most enriched recipes don’t require autolysing or folding. You can get away with minimal kneading.

stretchy dough
Gluten strength (window test)

Folding techniques:
You can use any technique you like. Stretch and fold is what we widely use. You simply stretch the dough and fold it right back. This is ideal with less sticky doughs like crusty bread. Coil fold is another technique. This is done by lifting the dough with two hand at opposite sides and letting dough coil underneath. Useful with slightly wet/ enriched doughs. Slap and fold is the third most popular, which I love, by the way. Great with sticky and slightly wet doughs. Gives you great control. Folding is how I add strength to the dough apart from autolysis.

Bulk Proof:
Bulk proofing is where you let the yeast do their job, which is fermenting. Moisture will activate the enzymes that break down carbohydrates into simple sugars. Yeast from your starter will consume these sugars and reproduce rapidly, releasing CO2 as one of the by products. As a result the dough will expand and will be airy. Again do not rely on the time here. It is only a guide. Always look for the volume of the dough. If it has nearly doubled in size, then you are done with bulk proofing. With natural yeast, bulk proofing takes longer than with commercial fast acting yeast. We don’t want to over proof at this stage, as there will be a long retardation usually.

Retarding is nothing but long and slow fermentation. Usually achieved by placing the dough in a refrigerator. Some recipes retard the dough as a bulk and then shape them and do a final proof before baking. There are other recipes, that shape the product and then retard the final product before baking. Either way, the final product that we bake should be fully proofed. Let talk about final proof later.

Shaping the dough is very crucial. Shaping dough correctly, results in a much nicer and a high quality end product. Correct shaping adds strength to the surface, which would help keep dough from spreading during oven spring. If it spread sideways, too much, the final product will be flat and the crumb won’t be as open as we like it to be.
After the bulk, we either divide the dough or go straight to pre-shape. Pre-shaping helps gather the dough and make it easier to handle. We should let the pre-shaped dough rest/relax for at least 10 minutes (not too long) before shaping. This way the dough will be flexible, so we can shape it easily. It is a good idea to degas the dough before shaping. This doesn’t have to be too rough. We just lightly press, so that excess air is released and the dough is nice and even. Shaping is fun, watch videos and practice as much as you can and stick with your preferred method. Check following videos.
Shaping a loaf
Shaping baguettes
Shaping bread rolls
Shaping a babka

Bread pans, baskets:
You can proof your dough is anything. For rustic bread you can use bannetons. If you don’t have bannetons, use any bowl or loaf tin, lined with a thick tea towel. Make sure to dust the tea towel generously with flour or semolina. For brioche or sandwich loafs, you require a loaf tin to get the shape right. So you proof in the same tin that you bake it. For baguettes, you can use a thick tea towel or a couche to proof. If baking in a baguette tray, you can proof directly on the tray. Check following videos.
How I use a tea towel to proof baguettes
I have used a loaf pan instead of a banneton

place in basket
Using a banneton to proof

Final proof:
When product is proofed, just right, it gives a better oven spring. So it is mandatory that you check this with a “poke test“. When you gently put an indent on the surface with a finger, it should slowly bounce back. If it bounces back too quickly, then you need to proof a little longer. If it doesn’t bounce back, then the product is over proofed. But don’t worry, slightly over-proofed doesn’t mean we can’t bake it! Just that it won’t have the same oven spring. But it will still be a great bake! There is a learning curve. With time everything will be easier and become second nature.

Fully proofed rolls

Stem is important in baking crusty bread and rolls. It gives a nice crust and also a lovely color to the finished product and also helps over spring (expansion). There are several ways to produce steam in a home oven. A few I use are;
Placing a pan with boiling water on the bottom rack
Spray water (mist) directly using a spray bottle
Pour boiling water on to a preheated tray placed on the lower (bottom) rack

Oven temperature:
This is the most crucial thing to get right and the most overlooked. I can not stress this enough. You have to get to know to your oven. Never rely on the oven display. Be it electric or gas, always use your own store bought oven thermometer to get the oven temperature on point. Adjust the temperature according to your oven type. Convection ovens are efficient and heats up evenly and are usually hotter than convention. If you have a bottom heated oven (only the bottom element heats up in “bake” mode), remember the top half of the oven is the hottest as hot air travel upwards. Take time to read the manual and experiment with your oven before settling in.

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Sourdough Burger Buns

sourdough burger buns

If there is anything that you should learn to make, apart from bread of course, that would be the bread rolls. Be it simple dinner rolls, fancy hot cross buns or versatile burger buns, it is a skill any baking enthusiast would love to have.

sourdough burger buns
20% whole meal and bacon fat in this one

I have tried many recipes and tutorials, prior to my culinary education and bakery experience. To be honest, I struggled to get it right mainly because I didn’t know what I was looking for. I wasn’t even trying sourdough versions.

sourdough burger buns
only 60 g milk in this one

That was 7 years ago and a lot have changed since then. You can actually find good, quality resources on the internet. But, I may have slightly different approach/method, so here is my journal. I will try to mentions every little detail along the way, but feel free to reach me for questions/clarifications either through comment here or IG.

sourdough burger buns
200 g milk and 60 g bacon fat 2 tbsp honey in this one

Ingredients and alternatives:

You can of course use any glutenous flour or a combination. All purpose, strong bread flour should be the base. You can mix other flour verities to change texture, flavor at 5 – 20% ;
whole meal
Teff etc.


Fat is what makes rolls softer and help keep soft for longer.
Fat is usually introduced as fat itself, but eggs and milk has fat too. Keep that in mind when you mix and match. You can use any of the fats below;
Oil (Vegetable, canola, olive oil, grape seed, avocado)
Bacon fat ( Inna @flourfloozy should get credit for this idea)

Adding eggs is optional. You can totally skip this process or opt to add just egg yolk for a richer texture. You can also use tofu instead of eggs and get all the effects of adding eggs. 1/4 cup tofu is equal to an egg, but make sure to drain well to remove excess water out.

Optional again. Milk, just like eggs adds extra richness. Increases softness, and sweetness. Keep in mind different milks have different sweetness and flavors. So use a in less % if you are not sure. Use following alternatives;
Cows milk (any fat %)
Nut milk (check if it is sweetened)
Coconut milk (beware of flavor and fat content)
Soy milk
Oats milk

Need only very little. Interchange with any of the following;
White sugar
Brown sugar
Coconut sugar
Maple syrup
Rice malt syrup etc.

Water is the most basic and easy solution here. Feel free to use alternatives as replacement or mixed with water to get extra flavor;
Beer varieties
Coconut water etc.

Use either eggs or milk to brush the top. This gives a nice color and shine. Use any of the following to decorate or keep it plain;
Poppy seeds
Line seeds etc.


Mix everything except the water and start to mix. Add water gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Use a stand mixer with dough hook or use a spatula. Once everything comes together kneed a further minute until dough is smooth. Take the dough out on to a floured surface. Finish kneading by hands. Its okay if the dough is bit sticky. Fold the dough to create a smooth dough ball. check next picture.


Use flour to stop the dough from sticking to your hands. Once it looks smooth like in the picture, place it in a lightly greased bowl.


Cover the bowl loosely with a lid or a tea towel and place in a warm place for the bulk fermentation. (3-4 hours)

I use my oven for this, with a cup of boiling water placed on the bottom rack. Replace with new boiling water once every 1.5 hours.


This is how the dough would look after the bulk. We are looking for a softer puffed up dough which has almost doubled the original volume.


Punch down the dough and fold it back to a tight ball and place back in the same bowl. Cover tightly and place in the fridge until next day.

You can continue to make rolls without retarding. In that case let it ferment a little further and continue the rest of the steps.


Next day, take the dough out and let it thaw for about an hour. When the dough is soft enough to handle, you can move to the next step.

divide the dough

Divide the dough in to 8 equal pieces. The total dough weight might be different each time so weight the whole dough and divide that by 8 to get how much a piece should weigh.

Let the dough pieces rest for about 10 minutes once divided

shaped sough

Shape them into tight rolls. Check this video to get an idea on how to shape rolls. Make sure to get most of the air out from the dough as you roll.

shaped dough

Place the rolls on a tray and once everything is shaped, press each roll to squash it to flatten a bit. (press down on the roll with your palm or fist) check the picture. Notice they are a bit flatter than the roll in the picture above.

Now loosely cover these and place in a warm place until doubled. ( 3 – 4 hours again or might be longer)


Once proofed, place a pizza stone/cast iron tray and preheat the oven to 425 F 0R 220 C. It’s okay if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can still get good results.


Once the oven is ready, egg wash the rolls and decorate the top with sesame. And place the rolls in the oven.

Spay a little water using a spay bottle to create a bit of steam. This is optional.

bake for about 10 minutes, rotate the tray, reduce temperature to 400 F and bake for a further 5 minutes.

baked burger buns

Once fully baked, remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.

Sourdough Burger Buns


Servings: 8 rolls


  • 400 g bread flour
  • 6 g salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 80 g fed starter
  • 40 g butter (softened)
  • 130 ml milk
  • +/-100 ml water
  • egg yolk and 1 tbsp water to egg wash
  • some sesame seeds to decorate


  1. Weigh everything except for the water in to a bowl ( or bowl of a stand mixer)
  2. Start mixing and add water gradually
  3. When the everything start to come together, continue to mix until a dough is developed
  4. This dough might be a little sticky
  5. If too sticky add some flour or let it rest for 10 minutes
  6. Then mix/knead for another minute or two
  7. Dump the dough in to a floured surface and finish off kneading by hand
  8. Use slap and fold motion
  9. Use a little flour to help if necessary
  10. make into a smooth dough ball and place in a bowl
  11. Cover and place in a warm place for bulk fermentation
  12. This may take about 4 hours or longer in a cooler place
  13. Once dough is almost double in size, punch it down
  14. Round up the dough to a tight ball place in the same bowl, cover tightly and place in the fridge until next day
  15. Next morning, take the bowl out and let it thaw for about an hour until the dough is soft
  16. Then divide in to 8 equal pieces
  17. Let these rest for 10 minutes and shape in to rolls
  18. Once shaped, place on a tray and press rolls lightly to flatten a bit
  19. Cover and leave in a warm place again until they are doubled in size
  20. This may take about 4 – 5 hours
  21. Then preheat the oven to 425 F or 220 C
  22. Place a baking stone if you have one, this is optional, but would give better oven spring
  23. Once oven is ready, egg wash the rolls and sprinkle with sesame and place in the oven
  24. Pray a little water using a spay bottle (use whatever method you usually do to get steam)It’s okay to note have steam
  25. Bake for 10 minutes and check
  26. Reduce temp. to 400 F and bake for a further 5 minutes if they are not done extend for a further 5 minutes
  27. Once baked, let the buns cool down on a rack

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Sourdough Pull-Apart Monkey Bread

monkey bread
sourdough monkey bread

This is a type of bread that is equally fun to make as it it to eat. I remember looking up one day to find out why it called a monkey bread. It is because you have to use your fingers to break/pull small pieces away to eat. Yes! now I can’t stop but imagine a monkey pulling apart bread.

Most of the monkey bread I have seen and eaten are so sweet, with the massive amount of caramel sauce and sometimes with a glaze drizzled on top. So here I am trying to make a less sweet version as usual. If you are thinking why, well honestly I think it doesn’t have to be soaked in sugar to be tasty. Sweet enriched bread is already very tasty and all you need is a little glaze or a thin coating of caramel to round it off. The caramel sauce is another dimension of flavor and texture of course.

sourdough monkey bread

Saying that, I don’t mean to say it is bad to have plenty of sauce. By all means, you are free to do as you wish… ha ha I will state alternatives where necessary.

sourdough monkey bread
pull apart

I’m using white sugar and a moderate amount of cinnamon, but you can of course use dark/light brown sugar and double the amount of cinnamon used. This will result in a much darker and a thicker sauce.

And if you think you need a little something else, you can use following to make a quick drizzle to pour over the top;

  • cream cheese and lemon
  • powdered sugar and water
  • powdered sugar and lemon juice
sourdough monkey bread
best served warm

You can make this on the same day or retard the dough over night. It is up to you. I have retarded overnight as usual, because that best fits my schedule and I had planned to server these for morning tea/brunch on Sunday.


Make the starter the night before. I’m using a 70 % hydrated

anywhere from 70 – 80 % hydration is okay. You can always reduce the amount of water content in the dough later, if your starter is watery.


Mix everything in a mixer/ use a spatula and then your hands. Make sure to add water gradually and stop as soon as you achieved the soft dough state. Dough might be a little sticky. Bring on to a floured surface and knead by hand (or do folds if its sticky) then get it to a almost smooth dough like shown in the picture.


Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm (75F-100F) place to rise. May take about 4 1/2 hours

I use my oven for this. I place a cup of boiling water in it to get the temperature and the humidity up. Replace the water with boiling water when it has turned completely cold.

proofed dough

This is how the dough looks after 4 – 41/2 hours proofing. It has almost doubled. At this stage you can choose if you are retarding or continue to make the bread on the same day.

If continuing, leave for another 30 – 40 minutes to proof. Punch down the dough, and continue to make the monkey bread, skip the next 2 steps


Punch down the dough and bring it to a smooth ball. Place back in the container, close tightly and refrigerate until next day. This will now retard the dough. In other words, it will continue to ferment but very slowly.

thawed dough

Next day, morning (5 a.m or 6 a.m) pull the dough out and let it thaw. I place this in a warm place to speed it up. Check if it is soft by poking the dough. (you can see the indents of my fingers on the dough) If it is soft, it ready for the next stage.

flatten the dough

Take the dough out on to a floured surface, roll it out to a square roughly about 1/2 an inch thickness. This doesn’t have to be exact.

cut the dough

Cut the dough into tiny squares. roughly about 1 ” by 1″. they can be of different sizes and shape, don’t worry

bundt pan

Prepare a 10 cup pan of your choice by applying a coating of non stick spray or butter on the inside.

I’m using a bundt can pan

cinnamon sugar

Make the cinnamon sugar by combining 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp of ground cinnamon.

Use dark or light brown sugar if you prefer a deeper caramel flavor.

If using brown sugar, you might need about a cup of sugar as they stick more

melted butter

Melt 4 tbsp of butter and cool it down

dough pieces

Dip the dough pieces in butter and then in cinnamon sugar mixture and place in the prepared pan. Do not press down.

keep the leftover butter and sugar

dough pieces

Pack the dough pieces loosely. Try to evenly spread around the tin. Now this is ready for the final proofing. Loosely cover the top with a plastic or a tea towel and place in a warm, draft free area

I use the oven again, with a cup of boiling water placed in.

Final proof may take another 3-4 hours

proofed dough

You will know it’s proofed, when the dough pieces have puffed up to fill 3/4 of the tin.

preheat the oven to 350 F

Melt the left over butter, if there is any and dissolve any remaining sugar. Pour this mixture around the pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes

baked bread

Once baked, remove from the oven and let cool off on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

Turn out on to a plate and let this cool down until you can touch with your fingers.

You can store this in a air-tight container for up to two days in room temperature

Decorate with a preferred choice of drizzle or a dusting of icing sugar

sourdough monkey bread
Sourdough Pull-Apart Monkey Bread


Servings: 4-6 servings


    For the starter
  • 2 tsp fed active starter culture
  • 60 g all purpose flour
  • 45 g water
    For the dough
  • Above starter ( 100 g roughly)
  • 350 g all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 tbsp extra water ( you may not need all of this water)
    For the coating
  • 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown) if using brown sugar you might need more about 1 cup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon ( or more if you like cinnamon)
  • 4 tbsp butter melted and cooled


  1. Make the starter the night before ( or at least 6 hours before making the dough)
  2. Mix everything for the dough except water, add water gradually if needed
  3. Once the dough comes together, bring out on to a floured surface and knead by hand until fairly smooth
  4. It’s okay for the dough to be a little sticky
  5. Place the dough in a bowl and place in a warm place for the bulk fermentation
  6. Once almost double in size, punch down and place in the same bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate until next day morning
  7. In the morning, pull the dough out and place in a warm place to thaw the dough ( about an hour)
  8. Once dough is soft and malleable, bring on to a floured surface and roll out to a square
  9. Cut into roughly inch by inch pieces
  10. Prepare a pan by oiling the inside ( use butter or non stick spray)
  11. Dip dough pieces in butter and then roll on the sugar mix and place in the prepared tin
  12. Spread pieces evenly across the pan
  13. Cover and place in a warm, draft free place for the final proofing
  14. Once the dough has risen to fill 3/4 of the tin, preheat the oven
  15. Melt (and cool) any remaining butter and dissolve any remaining cinnamon sugar
  16. Pour this mixture around the sides of the pan and place in the preheated oven
  17. Bake for about 35 minutes ( check for done-ness, switch off the oven and leave for another 5 minutes if necessary)
  18. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before tipping it out on to a platter
  19. Serve warm
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Sourdough Hot Cross buns

sourdough hot cross buns

Come Easter, this is something I look forward to. There is so much bliss in biting into a buttered warm hot cross bun. It goes so well with black coffee (specially the long black I miss so much) and for me it’s a completely satisfying breakfast.

I can’t stomach the ordinary store bought stuff ever since I started baking my own bread, rolls and buns. If I am buying these, I make sure to go to the best local bakery available. I am so glad that there are still some small scale bakeries that make good, wholesome bread products without the chemicals.

sourdough hot cross bun
A good slathering of butter

Making hot cross buns were one of the favorite things I adored during my time as a baker. I used to make these by the hundreds at the small local bakery cafe, I worked last. I still remember how the whole place was filled with the aroma of warm sticky hot cross buns as they came out of hot ovens every morning. I think I liked making them as much as I love eating them.

sourdough hot cross buns

So this is my sourdough version of the much loved bun. I love the yeasted version too, specially when you don’t have the patience to wait two days for the bun to come out. As many of you have noticed by now, I am a little obsessed with the natural yeast, so it’s only natural that I’m making them to be sourdough.

hot cross buns

I love to load my hotX with currents and raisins and mildly spice with cinnamon, nutmeg and tinge of cloves. But feel free to add whatever you like. I know some like to add dried peel, lemon/orange zest. Or you can use dried blueberries, sour cherries instead. Last but not least, these can be made into chocolate buns, by adding a bit of cocoa to the dough and I have had great success in replacing fruit with chocolate chips. Mmmm…that said, I might whip up a chocolate batch later this month.

sourdough hot cross buns
best served warm with butter

Find the step by step guide below as usual and like all other sourdough recipes, this one’s success depends on the starter! So get your starter, refreshed and all bubbly and active before attempting the recipe.


Make the starter ready at least 6 hours before you start mixing. The time depends on how much you feed and the activity of your starter. Read more here

For this I’m using a 80% hydrated starter.


Weigh everything, except for the dried fruit and water, into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Make sure butter is softened and egg and milk is at room temperature.


Mix on low speed adding water gradually. I had about a two table spoon water left after mixing. When the dough comes together, increase the speed by a notch and mix for a bout two minutes. Scrape the sides and clear the hook as you do. When the dough looks like in the picture, you can add the dried fruit.

Mix on low speed only until the fruit are incorporated. Do not over-mix!

dough with fruit

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Give a few stretch and folds or slap and folds (which ever is more comfortable) until the dough becomes smooth. Check the next picture.


Once the dough a smooth dough ball like in the picture, place in in a plastic tub, cover with a lid and leave in a warm place for the fermentation to take place. This may take about 3-4 hours. You will see the dough grown considerably. Check next picture.

rinses dough

The dough will be risen and feel much softer and elastic. Punch down the dough and round it up again. A stretch and fold would do. Check the next picture.

rounded up dough

Then place back in the same bowl, cover tightly and place in the refrigerator for the retardation or the long slow fermentation. This is when all the flavor is begin created.

This could be anywhere from 12 – 18 hours. The more you leave it to retard, the sour the flavor will be.

retarded dough

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature ( take about 3 hours) Now it’s time to divide the dough. So get the dough on to a lightly dusted surface. check next picture.

divide the dough

Divide the dough in to 12 equal pieces. In my case, it was about 95 g each. Once divided, let these rest for about 30 minutes. Make sure to cover them to prevent from drying out. Then you can round up them into smooth dough balls. Check the next picture.

dough balls

Shape them just like normal rolls. Check this video to get an idea. Then place them on a tray lined with a baking paper. Cover the whole tray and place it in a warm place for the final rise or until they are doubled in size. It took 3 and half hours in warm place (I use the oven with a boiling bowl of water placed in and then change water once or twice)

risen buns

Once the buns are risen, pre-heat the oven to 375 F and prepare the flour mixture for the cross. Check next picture.

flour mixture

Mix 1/3 cups flour with 1/4 + 2 tbsp water, 1 tsp sugar and pinch of salt. It should have no lumps and be in dripping consistency.


Fill a piping bag ( any plastic bag/zip-lock bag would do) Cut a small hole at the tip. Keep this ready but do not pipe until the oven is ready. You wouldn’t be using all of it, so make less if you can or keep this in the fridge for a day or two for a next batch.

pipe the cross

Once the oven is ready, pipe the cross over the buns as shown in the picture and place the rolls in the oven (on a rack placed at the top 3/2 of the oven/slightly above center) Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until top is nicely turned brown. I usually rotate the tray at 20 minute mark as my oven doesn’t distribute heat evenly.

baked buns

While the buns are begin baked, make a sugar syrup. Mix 1/4 sugar and 1/4 cup water, bring to a boil and let simmer for about a minute. As soon as the buns come out, brush them lightly with sugar syrup. check next picture.

brush with sugar syrup

Brush the buns while they are still very hot, this way, some of the syrup get absorbed. This will make the rolls softer and will keep them from drying out. Also they’ll look all shiny and attractive.

let them cool off

Once done, place the buns on a wire rack to cool off.

serve with butter

Serve with some butter. You can warm up the buns in the microwave. These can be stored in an air tight container for about two days at room temperature (19 C – 22 C) Or place in the fridge to keep for longer. They freeze well too.

Sourdough Hot Cross buns


Servings: 12 rolls

sourdough hot cross buns


    For the buns
  • 400 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g bread flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 40 g sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 50 ml milk (1/4 cups)
  • 40 g butter !softened
  • 150 g active starter (80% hydration)
  • 190 – 200 ml water
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (loosely packed)
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins (loosely packed)
    For the cross
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 + 1 tbsp water
    For the sugar syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 water


  1. Make the starter(80% hydrated) prior to making the recipe ( 6-8 hour depending on how you feed)
  2. Mix everything except fruit and water in a bowl of a stand mixer and start mixing on low speed adding water gradually. the dough should be a bit sticky
  3. Once everything is hydrated, Increase speed to medium and mix for about a minute or two
  4. Scrape the sides
  5. Once the dough comes together, add the dried fruit and mix on low only until they are incorporated
  6. Do not over mix
  7. Take the dough onto a floured surface and give a few stretch and folds to make the dough smooth
  8. Then place this in a bowl, cover and keep in a warm place for about 3-4 hours
  9. Punch down the dough again to a smooth ball, place back in the same bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (up to 18)
  10. Let the dough come to room temperature (3 hours) and divide into 12 equal pieces
  11. Let these rest, covered, for about 30 minutes
  12. Then shape into buns, place on a prepared tray, cover and leave in a warm place until risen/or doubled in size
  13. Once they are ready preheat the oven to 375 F and make the paste for the cross
  14. To make the paste, mix everything until smooth and fill a piping bag and set aside
  15. Once the oven is ready, pipe the cross over the buns and place in the oven (slightly above the center)
  16. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes
  17. Rotate the tray for an even bake towards the end of the bake
  18. While they are baking, make the sugar syrup
  19. Mixing sugar and water in saucepan, bring to boil and simmer for a minute
  20. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them with a light coating of sugar syrup
  21. Transfer them onto a wire rack to cool off
  22. Server warm with butter
A close up
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High-hydration sourdough

sourdough bread
Thin crispy crust

High hydration bread has received a lot of attention lately, specially among the sourdough bread enthusiasts. And to be honest, this is my favorite way to go, even though it did require a lot of time, practicing and perfecting the method.

baked bread

What is not to love about a high-hydration bread, be it a baguette or a loaf. The thin crispy crust and the gelatinous open crumb is the ultimate bread goals. Am I rite? It is such a pleasure to slice through these crusty bread and they are the best when toasted.

My baguette recipe is a high-hydration one. Naturally, baguettes are higher in hydration than other breads as we need that moisture to obtain the signature irregular, open crumb.

Open crumb

The high water content makes the crumb gelatinous as it bakes, and hence the chewy bite that we all adore. So the crumb doesn’t go mushy, when you dunk it in a broth, curry, or a stew.

Baked bread in dutch oven

Enough talking and lets get bakin’. So here are the step by step process that I follow and found to be most aligned with my daily schedule. I mostly make the bread in the evening/night and bake it the next day evening. But feel free to attempt this anytime of the day and it is okay to tweak the process here and there to fit to your personal liking.


First step is getting the starter ready. Feed the starter with 1:1 water and flour mixture several hours before making the bread. (the time depends on your starter, room temperature and the amount of culture that you feed. Read more on this here.


Starter should be at it’s peak. I usually feed my starter with bread flour and before feeding mix the flour and water thoroughly and make sure to mix well with the culture. The mature starter will be spongy and full of bubbles.

starter and water

Measure 220 water into a bowl and add the starter into the water directly. Look how they float on top of the water. Dissolve the starter in water before adding to the flour.

In the mean time, measure 20 g of water and 6 g of salt into a separate container and set aside.

Mix flour

Mix flour and starter+water in a large container. Just mix until incorporated, do not knead. I’m using a locally sourced, freshly milled strong organic bread flour. This flour is great, it is a thirsty flour and of 13% gluten.


This is how it should look, it is just combined, make sure all the flour is wet. Now close the lid and leave this for an hour.

This is autolyse. Meaning the flour will absorb as much water as it can and gluten will start to form and enzymes are activated.

add salt

Bring the dough onto a non sticky surface, and add the salt+water. Make sure all the salt is in. Start to rub the water into the wet dough, gently. No not try to mix vigorously as I have found that it will break/dissolve the gluten and become a sloppy mess.

hafl way

The dough might start to look like this and it is perfectly normal. At this stage, I find the “slap and fold” method works best. Use water to lubricate your hands and slap and fold until a smooth dough is developed. Check the next picture


After a few fold, the dough will come together. This whole process of adding salt should not take more than a minute or two.

Now cover and let this rest for 45 minutes. Use the same container. Do not over knead.


After the first 45 minutes, the dough will be spread like this. Give a coil fold / stretch and fold, whichever you prefer. Simply make this back into a tight dough ball. Like the next picture.


Dough is tight again. Every stretch and fold will strengthen the gluten structure. Now cover and let rest for another 45 minutes.

rested dough

After the second 45 minutes, the dough will look spread again. Do another coil fold and bring the dough together to a tight ball. Like in the next picture.

dough ball

This time the dough will feel much more elastic and you will see air bubbles here and there. These are signs of gluten being strengthened and fermentation. Check my folding video here. Now, cover and let this rest for another 45 minutes.


This will be the final fold. This time around, the dough is much stronger. Be careful when you fold. Do not do more than 2 coil folds. Notice the bigger air pockets and the dough has grown slightly too.

dough ball

After the final fold, the dough is much stronger and now we are ready for the final hours of bulk. At this stage we are done strengthening the gluten, now we need to give undisturbed time for the yeast to do their job. Close the lid and let this ferment for two hours. My room temperature was around 19C. If yours is warmer reduce this to a 1 1/2 hours. If its colder you can give it up to 3 hours. Decide that looking at the dough.

At the end of bulking, the dough will look plump and a bit wobbly. Dump the dough on to a lightly dusted surface and pre-shape.


Pre-shaped dough. This will feel super strong and stretchy and elastic like a balloon.


Cover this and let it rest for 30 minutes. This will help the gluten relax, so we can shape the into a loaf easily. Otherwise, the dough will be too elastic and would try to unfold when you shape.

rested dough

This is the rested dough. This is now ready to be shaped. Check shaping video here. This is only one way of shaping, you can find many more methods on the internet.

place in basket

Once shaped, place in the banneton basket. You don’t need a special basket to proof a dough. Check this video where I have a loaf pan with a tea towel.

This is a 10″x 5″x 3″ size banneton. Alternatively, you can also use a loaf pan of similar size. Cover the loaf pan with a thick tea towel and dust it generously with flour/semolina.


Cover the whole thing with a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. This slow fermentation is called retardation( we are actually slowing down the fermentation) This could be anywhere from 18 – 24 hours. I left it for 24 hours.


When you are ready to bake, first preheat the oven, with the dutch oven in (if you are using one) or your baking stone in. I use a dutch oven. Thermometer placed inside should read 500 F / 260 C. Let the oven heat for another 30 minutes or an hour even after the temperature reaches this.

Now, take the loaf out from the fridge and tip onto a parchment. Score the bread, and place in the dutch oven. Bake 25 minutes lid on, and then reduce temp to 450 F and bake another 20 – 25 with lid off.

baked bread

Once baked, let the bread cool off on a wire rack.

High-hydration sourdough


sourdough bread


  • 300 g strong bread flour (13% gluten)
  • 70 g active mature starter (100% hydrated)
  • 220 g water
  • 20 g water
  • 6 g salt


  1. Make the starter ahead of time
  2. Mix water (220 ,g) starter and flour until just combined
  3. Cover and set aside for an hour
  4. Add the salt and the rest of the water (20 g) and mix to incorporate. Do not over mix Read and check blog photos and relevant steps
  5. Let this rest for 45 minutes, covered
  6. And give a fold after 45 minute rest. Check photos and video above
  7. Repeat this twice more
  8. After the final fold let the dough rest for two hours (or longer if it is cold)
  9. After the bulk proof, pre-shape the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes
  10. Then shape the loaf and place in the proofing basket
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 – 24 hours
  12. When ready to bake, pre heat the oven ( for1 hour) with dutch oven in, to 500 F
  13. Take the bread from fridge ( if it hasn’t proofed, you can leave it out for about 30 minutes and place back in fridge)
  14. Place the loaf on a parchment, score and transfer to the dutch oven
  15. Bake lid closed for 25 minutes and then reduce temperature to 450 F and bake a further 20 – 25 minutes with kid off
  16. Let the baked bread cool off on a wire rack
  17. Slice and enjoy
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Orange scented fruited sourdough pan loaf

fruit loaf

Of all the things I miss most of Melbourne is the morning stroll we did to get coffee. We lived on the hills of beautiful Emerald and there was this nature trail that connected Belgrave and Gembrook, which followed the famous Puffing Billy Railway line. It was our Saturday ritual to take this trail to a hidden cafe to get the morning coffee. This was our fasted-cardio for the weekend and it was about good 10 – 12 km (round trip) distance, and by the time we reach the cafe, we are usually starving and I look forward to my piece of raisin toast like my life depended on it!

Slice or two toasted and with butter and syrup…is the best!

It was just a slice of plain mass produced sandwich loaf, but boy! it tasted amazing! I missed this so much, that I had to recreate the recipe at home. But, as you know, I’m a hard-core sourdough lover/devotee, so here is the sourdough version of a fruited pan loaf.

I wouldn’t call this a sandwich loaf, as it is not as enriched. This loaf has still got a nice byte to it and got a chewy texture. It is not a fluffy, cake-like bread at all.

fruit loaf
open crumb with a texture and a real byte

The only thing is I have added a little milk, oil and honey to make it a little bit flexible, so I can proof this in a pan. This additions resulted with a softer crumb (than a usual sourdough with just flour, water, salt) and crust. This makes it is easier to slice and hence perfect for toasts.

fruit loaf
Not the prettiest from outside…but wait till you cut into it!

So here are the steps:


Make the starter the previous night (or several hours before you start making the recipe)

Mix everything in a bowl, except the fruit. Transfer to a stand mixer and just mix until everything is hydrated.

Remember to add water gradually as you go, to create a soft dough


This is the dough that’s just been mixed. It is a little bit sticky, but not too much. Now let it rest for a bout 30 minutes.

And then mix on medium-low speed until a smoother dough is developed ( for a bout 3 minutes) You can use your hands if you like.

smooth dough

See how smooth dough is. It is not completely developed yet. Now place the dough in a plastic bowl, cover and let ferment for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, do a stretch and fold and let rest for about 30 minutes.

This is a good time to prepare the fruits.


You can skip figs or replace it with more Sultana or raisins. If the figs are soft, just slice them thinly and set aside. If they are very dry, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes and drain before cutting.

soak fruit

It is a good idea to soak the cranberries and Sultanas/raisins in boiling water for a couple of minutes. This will soften them and hydrate them. This will ensure that they won’t absorb moisture from the dough and also will blend in nicely without tearing the gluten stricture.

stretchy dough

After the stretch and fold and the resting time, the dough is now fully developed. Look how stretchy it is. Now is a good time to add the fruit.

adding fruit

Stretch the dough as much as you can like shown in the picture. Scatter the fruit evenly. And then, roll the dough from one end to the other. Shape in to a ball and place back in the container.

Cover and let ferment/bulk for about 3 hours


Bulked dough will be softer and bigger (not doubled, but noticeably grown). You will feel lots of air bubbles inside it.

Drop the dough on to a floured surface and pre-shape into a ball. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

shape the dough

Shape the dough like shown in the picture. If you don’t know how to shape, a pan loaf, checkout a video on you tube.

dough in pan

Place the shaped dough in a lightly greased loaf pan. Cover this/place in a plastic bag and refrigerate over-night or several hours (minimum 12)

this pan dimensions are
9″ x 5″ x 2 ¾”

proofed loaf

It will be proofed during the long retardation. ( 18 hours) But if you wan to bake earlier than this, take the loaf out and let it sit out-side (at room temp.) until it’s risen well above the brim of the pan.

Fully proofed loaf will be doubled in size. Do a poke test to see it is ready. When you press lightly with a finger, if it bounces back slowly, then it is ready.

baked loaf

Pre-heat the oven to 420 F

Lightly egg wash the top and bake; 15 minutes at 420 F and then a further 20 at 375 F.

Once done cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes and demold the loaf and leave to cool completely


Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

Best served toasted

Orange scented fruited sourdough pan loaf


Servings: 1 loaf

fruit toast


    For the starter
  • 70 g flour
  • 30 – 35 g water
  • 1 tsp starter culture
    For the dough
  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 100 g strong bread flour
  • zest of 2 medium oranges
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil ( or butter)
  • 15 g honey
  • 70 ml full fat milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 100 g starter ( 50% hydrated)
  • 1/4 cup each dried sultana, cranberry, figs ( can use all sultana or all raisins if you prefer)


  1. Make the starter ahead of time
  2. To make the dough, mix everything except fruits and water in a bowl. Add water gradually and mix to incorporate everything
  3. Transfer to a stand mixer(or you can continue to hand knead) and mix until a dough is formed. Add more water if the dough is stiff
  4. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes
  5. Mix again on medium-low speed until a smoother dough is developed ( for about 3 minutes)
  6. Round the dough up and place in a bowl, cover and let rest 45 minutes
  7. After 45 minutes, give one stretch and fold and let rest for another 30 minutes
  8. Prepare the fruit in the mean time (check post for details)
  9. Stretch the dough as wide as you can and scatter the fruit evenly
  10. Roll the dough from one end to the other and then shape into a ball
  11. Place in the same container, cover and let bulk for about 3-4 hours
  12. Once bulked, pre-shape the dough and let rest for about 20 minutes
  13. Shape in to a loaf and place in a greased pan
  14. Cover and refrigerate for several hours (over night)
  15. Check the loaf before baking. If it hasn’t proofed enough, bring it out and let proof further at room temperature until ready
  16. Pre-heat the oven to 420F
  17. Lightly egg wash the top and bake for 15 minutes and a further 20 minutes at 375 F
  18. Once done, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then demold the loaf
  19. Cool completely before slicing
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Sourdough Brioche loaf

I was asked several times if I have a sourdough brioche recipe and unfortunately I had to reply with a very polite NO and it didn’t feel right. So here it is! I am thrilled to finally write this down and so grateful for the encouragement I receive from many of my followers on IG and this blog.

french toast
french toast made with sourdough brioche

So, long story short, I bought a brioche loaf (not a sourdough one) from the whole foods for breakfast last Saturday. I know, I bake all the time and still run out of bread every now and then. But I don’t usually buy super-market bread except when I’m in a hurry or at a loss of ideas, like that Saturday. And that’s not even the worst part. The worst bit is, that it really hurt when you have to buy bread, ever since I started making my own bread. I felt like I’m cheating or betraying something or someone. As funny as it may sound, it is true.

sourdough brioche
sourdough brioche

We made some nice french toast with that brioche and I knew at that moment ” we are so going to eat home-made sourdough brioche next weekend”. So here it is, my homemade sourdough brioche.

sourdough brioche
sourdough brioche

I made it as indulgent and rich as I could, with all the butter and eggs, pushing the limits really.

stiff starter

Make the stiff starter, several hours before (preferably overnight) making the dough. It is as easy as mixing everything together and kneading into a smooth dough ball. This is how its inside is going to look once fermented.

mix the dough

Next step is to make the dough. To start with, weigh everything except butter into a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with dough hook. Mix on low speed until everything comes together. Scrape down with a spatula to encourage.

mixed dough

Once everything is mixed, increase speed a notch and mix until a smooth dough is developed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary. Use the extra 2 tbsp of milk as you go to loosen up the batter if it feels too stiff.

This will take about 4-5 minutes.

silky dough

Once the dough is developed, then add the softened butter, a bit at a time and continue to mix. The dough will end up very sticky but looking silky like shown in the picture. Empty the dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let ferment until almost double in size.

This may take roughly about 4 – 6 hours depending on the room temperature


This is the dough doubled in size. If you put this is a smaller bowl, it will be easier to judge. Next picture is a better one.

Once it has doubled, we need to punch this down before chilling it in the refrigerator.


Easiest way to punch down the dough is to drop it on to a floured bench and use a scraper to fold it. Avoid handling it with your bare hands as it is extremely sticky.

Once the dough it punched down, place it back in the same bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or over night.

shaping dough

We need the dough to be chilled to be able to handle it, but as soon as you take it out of the fridge, it will be too hard.

Let the dough thaw for about 30 minutes or until it is malleable but still cool. Dump the dough on to a lightly dusted bench and roll into a log.

If the dough becomes too sticky, place it back in the fridge

divide the dough

Divide the log into 8 equal pieces

Remember the dough should remain cold and still firm all the while

shape dough

Shape each dough piece in to a nice smooth round ball, as if you are making dinner rolls. Use flour to stop dough from sticking. Use the scrapper to help release the dough.

Use as little flour as possible when dusting. We don’t want a thick flour coating around the outside of the dough.


Grease a loaf pan and place the dough balls like shown in the picture. Pack them snug, so they will rise upwards as they proof.

Now egg wash the tops lightly. You can use a bit of milk too. this is to stop it from drying.

Cover and leave in a warm place to proof

proofed dough

In a cool temperature (19 C), the proofing will take up to 8 hours. In a warm atmosphere, this will be around 5 hours.

But keep an eye, you can clearly tell when it is ready. The loaf will fill the tin and expand into a fluffy wobbly thing

baked brioche

Next step is to egg wash and bake the loaf. Be very gentle while egg washing, no to deflate or damage the fragile skin.

Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes. Then another 20 – 25 minutes at 350F.

If the top is going too brown too quickly, reduce the temperature earlier than mentioned.


Let the loaf cool off in the pan for about 10 minutes and then slide it off on to a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting into pieces or storing away.

By all means, feel free to dig into it while still warm, if you like it that way.

french toast

You can use the brioche for anything. I mainly use this for french toasts.

This brioche is softer on the day it was made and tend to get a bit dry the next day. But it doesn’t really matter if you toast it or made french toast with it like I do. The slices has more body and will hold nicely, so it is perfect for french toasts, which is the main purpose behind me making brioche.

sourdough brioche
soft crumb
Sourdough Brioche loaf


Servings: 1 loaf

sourdough brioche


    For the starter
  • 20 g fed starter culture
  • 70 g flour
  • 30 g water+/-
    For the brioche
  • 100 g of the above stiff starter
  • 250 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar (use 4 if you want the bread sweeter)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 160 g softened butter
  • 2 tbsp milk (to be used if necessary)
    Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp milk


  1. Make the starter the day before (at least 8 hours prior )
  2. Weigh everything except butter and milk into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook
  3. Mix on slow speed until combined. Use milk if the dough is stiff
  4. Increase speed and mix until a smooth dough is developed ( for about 5 minutes). use milk if dough is stiff. Dough should be wet and sticky (check the blog photos)
  5. Then add the softened butter, a bit at a time and mix to incorporate
  6. Scrape down the bowl every now and then
  7. Once all the butter is incorporated mix on medium for another minute or so
  8. The dough is silky, wet and extremely sticky
  9. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and set aside for the fermentation to take place. Dough should be almost doubled in size
  10. This will take about 6-8 hours depending on the room temperature
  11. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down using a spatula or greased palms(check blog description for more detailed)
  12. Place back in the same bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (or overnight)
  13. When ready to make the brioche, take the dough out and let it sit outside for about 15-20 minutes
  14. Then take the dough onto a floured bench and shape into a log
  15. Divide the log into 8 equal pieces and shape each piece in to smooth dough balls
  16. Grease a loaf tin and place the dough balls in, placing them close together in pairs
  17. Apply a light coating of egg wash/milk, cover loosely and leave in a warm draft free place for the final proof ( 5 – 6 hours)
  18. Once the dough has risen(proofed/doubled in size) preheat the oven to 400 F
  19. Egg wash again and bake for about 15 minutes
  20. Reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake for a further 20 minutes
  21. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes to cool down
  22. Slide off the loaf and place on a wire rack to cool down further
  23. Once the loaf is completely cooled, you can either slice it or store in an air-tight container
  24. Best consumed on the same day
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Sourdough baguettes

A complete guide to crusty homemade sourdough baguettes!


I was on a mission to finding the secret or holly grail to making perfect sourdough baguette at home. In a bakery, this would be a no big deal with all the state-of-the-art mixers, proofers and ovens. But it can be quite challenging at home.

open crumb and crispy crust

First of all, a baguette is nothing but a type of bread in the form of a long stick. The main reason for shaping the dough into a long stick is to get more of the crust. Baguettes are usually broken by hand rather than sliced and served with stews. If not they are split lengthwise used to make sandwiches. There are a few characteristics to a baguette:

  • long stick like shape
  • Crusty exterior
  • Very open crumb
Open airy crumb/ sliced length wise

So in-order to achieve the above, we need to make sure to do the following;

  • Shaping/molding to create tension
  • Use steam while baking
  • a higher hydration ( above 70% is recommended)

You can use a basic bread recipe and turn it into a baguette. The only differences are in retarding and shaping. It is best to let the dough retard as a bulk. If you shape the baguettes and try to retard, they tend to lose their shape and sometimes, become too wet or soft to handle. This makes it harder to score and transfer to the oven. So the best practice is to bulk retard the dough and shape prior to baking.

open crumb/ sliced

I have figured out, with time, the less you knead the dough, the better. Gluten is developed over time. And we will only use stretch and folds at intervals to create the strength. This will require no mixer at all.

With all the basic sorted, lets get to the steps


A first step is to get the starter ready. Feed the starter 6-7 hours before making the bread. Use a 100 % starter, meaning 1 part water to 1 part flour to feed the culture.

e.g: 50 g flour, 50 g water to feed 1 tsp starter

This is how my ripe start looked like at it’s peak

More about starter


Mix the flour, water (leave 3 tbsp of water for later) and starter in a large plastic bowl. Mix only to combine everything just like shown in the picture. Now close the lid and leave for about an hour to autolyze.

Gluten will be developed during this time, without our intervention

Adding salt

After about an hour, add the salt. Dissolve the salt in the left out water and add to the dough. Mix until a smooth dough is formed. Place in the plastic bowl, cover and leave to rest for 45 minutes until the first stretch and fold (s&f).

we will do 3 s&f during bulk

Stretch & fold

Give a stretch and folds (s&f) at 45 minutes and repeat two more at 45 minute intervals. At every fold, you should see the air bubbles on the outside. With every s&f, the dough will start to feel more elastic and stronger. At the end of 3 rd s&f, rest the dough for about 2 hours .


Then, cover with a well-fitted lid and refrigerate for several hours/ overnight

Final bulk

On the following day, take out the dough and leave at room temperature for 4-5 hours, until you start to see air bubbles and the dough is risen considerably

Pre-shape 1

Tip the dough slowly on to a floured surface and form a dough ball, without knocking out too much air. The dough should be wobbly and full of air pockets. let this rest for about 5-10 minutes.

This step will make it easier to handle the dough when you try to divide and pre-shape

Pre-shape 2

This is important to create the necessary stretch of the outer skin. Divide the dough in to two pieces, and shape each into a log shape.

Cover with a light dusting of flour and leave uncovered for about 30 minutes to rest.


Traditionally a couche is used for this purpose. But you can substitute this with a thick clean tea towel. Dust it with flour and semolina generously.

This is where we are going to proof the baguettes


Shape the dough into baguettes and place on the prepared tea towel. Let these rest and proof for about an hour or 1 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven in the meantime.

Check the video attached below for shaping



Transfer the proofed baguettes on to a peel or on to a tray lined with parchment as shown in the picture.

Dust the baguettes with a little flour and score the top using sharp blade.

Once the oven is ready place in the oven, on the pizza stone/skillet along with the parchment and bake according to instructions below.


This is what I use to generate steam. A bread loaf pan with a tea towel tucked in. Pour boiling water until tea towel is covered and place this during the last few minutes of preheating

  • Preheating and baking instructions
  • Get a oven thermometer, this is your best friend. Place it in the oven.
  • Place a pizza stone or a large enough cast iron skillet on a rack placed at the top half of the oven
  • Preheat oven. I had to set digital display to 520 F and heat for 45 minutes to get to 500F on the oven thermometer inside
  • Get a bread pan, lay a tea towel and fill it with boiling water(check image above)
  • Place this pan in the oven on a lower rack during the last few minutes of the preheating
  • Let temperature reset, if it dropped when you opened the door
  • Be careful when you open the door next, the oven will be full of hot steam, waiting to be released
  • Transfer the baguettes on to a peel
  • If you don’t have a peel, place a parchment paper on the back of a cookie sheet or a large tray and use this to transfer baguettes to oven, along with the parchment
  • Score the baguettes while on the peel/parchment
  • Place the baguettes in the oven on the pizza stone and close the door
  • Temp will plummet right down (450F on thermometer) but that’s okay, it will come back up to 475 F. Maintain at 475 F.
  • Keep an eye and bake at 475 F for 15 minutes
  • Then reduce the internal oven temperature to 450 F(thermometer will read something around 450 – 430)
  • Remove steam and bake for another 12 minutes
  • When you remove the stream, the temperature will drop, so keep an eye and adjust accordingly
  • Then, switch the oven off and bake for a further 10 minutes, with the residual heat

Cool baguettes on a wire rack.

Baked baguettes

There you have it. This is everything I have learnt and I hope you will find answers to you questions/problems in this post. When it comes to baguettes, the recipe is only 20 % of the whole process. It is the timing, dough consistency, bulk proofing, shaping and most importantly baking is what matters most.

even crust on the outside

Following is a simple recipe for two baguettes which I used for experiments. Once you have mastered the technique, feel free change the recipe and try something different!

Sourdough baguettes


Servings: 2 baguettes



  • 250 g strong bread flour
  • 200 g water
  • 60 g fed starter
  • 5 g salt


  1. Mix flour, starter and 190 g of the water and autolyse for an hour
  2. Dissolve salt in 10 g of water, add to the dough and mix to form a smooth ball
  3. Let rest for 45 minutes
  4. Give a stretch and fold and let rest for 45 minutes
  5. Give 2 more s&f at 45 minutes apart
  6. After the final (3rd) s&f, leave the dough to rest for about 2-3 hours
  7. Place the dough in the fridge for a slow/cold proofing (retardation) for minimum 8 hours or overnight
  8. After cold bulk, let the dough rest in the room temperature for 4-5 hours or until you see a considerable rise in the dough and air bubbles. Dough would be wobbly
  9. Tip the dough on to a floured surface and round it up gently. Do not let too much air out. Rest for 10- 15 minutes
  10. Divide the dough to two equal parts and pre-shape in to logs. Again be careful not to knock out air. Rest the dough pieces for 30 minutes. Leave them open so the exterior will be dry and would be easier to handle
  11. Shape the baguettes(check video below) and place on the couche or the prepared tea towel
  12. Let the baguettes rise for a final time ( 45 to 90 minutes)
  13. Preheat oven in the meantime (check instructions above in the post)
  14. Bake the baguettes @ 475 F with steam for 15 minutes
  15. Reduce heat to 450 F and bake for a further 12 minutes without steam
  16. Switch off the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes under the residual heat
  17. Check for dark brown color and when tapped, should sound hollow

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Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls

dinner rolls

I think I invented the most perfect dinner rolls recipe ever! That sounds a bit too dramatic, but trust me, that’s how I felt when they came out of the oven. They smelled so good and tasted even better with a slathering of butter, still warm and fresh.

These are NOT super enriched, brioche style buns. But they are soft, aromatic, nutty and wholesome. I think these are the perfect side to serve with your main or the bread and butter course it self. They don’t taste overly sweet, jut a touch of honey, so the thyme flavor is the real hero here. Just 10% each of wholemeal and rye makes a world of difference, by adding that nutty texture and the tiny brown color speckle to the crumb.

Thyme infused dinner rolls

Lastly, this is a recipe that can be stretched well over three days and the dough is very forgiving. So you don’t have to be precise about fermenting duration and retardation. I will mention this at each step.

Baked long rolls

To start with, as usual, with any sourdough recipe, you need the fed starter. I’m using a 100% hydrated fed, ripe starter for this recipe. If you want more details about starter head over to this link.

infused butter

Infuse butter by heating the butter with a bunch id thyme over medium heat. Let the mixture come to room temperature before removing the thyme stems.


Mix everything as described in the recipe until a dough is formed, Knead it by hand until smooth. Place in a closed container and let ferment until almost doubled in size.

doubled dough

Once the dough is almost doubled, punch down lightly and refrigerate over night ( or at least 10 hours) You can extend this time up to 24 hours

divided dough

Divide the dough in to pieces and let them rest, covered for 15 minutes before shaping

shaped dough

Shape the dough pieces in to rounds or cylinders and place them in the baking dish/tray leave space around

shaped dough

Shaped into cylindrical shape and stacked in a deep loaf tin works too

proofed dough

proofed dough (after 6-8 hours depending on the temperature) The slower the proof, the better the flavour

proofed dough

proofed long buns. once the buns are proofed, preheat the oven, brush the buns with a whisked egg, and bake for 20 minutes

baked rolles

Once baked let the rolls cool on a wire rack

baked rolls

Baked rolls (long)

These rolls are perfect served warm with butter.

These rolls can be kept in a air-tight container at room temperature for up to two days. You can freshen them up in the microwave (20 sec), then will be soft and lovely as good as new.

Thyme infused dinner rolls
Thyme infused rolls

If you wan to freeze them, seal them tightly in a freezer bag before freezing. To serve the frozen rolls, first let them come to room temperature and warm them in microwave (20 sec) or in a moderate oven (10 minutes).

Soft rolls

I guess these can be infused with other herbs you like, so go ahead and try with your favorite herb like rosemary, sage etc. I have used a mild honey because I wanted to hero the thyme flavor. You can substitute honey with sugar, or maple syrup.

Soft rolls
Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls

Bread, buns

Thyme infused sourdough dinner rolls


  • 140 g ripe sourdough starter
  • 200 g bread flour
  • 200 g all purpose flour
  • 50 g rye flour
  • 50 g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 stick butter (110 g)
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 1 egg to egg wash


    For the infused butter
  1. Place the stick of butter and a hand full of thyme(with stems) in a pot and melt over medium heat
  2. Stir until butter melts
  3. Once the butter is melted, let it simmer for two minutes and take off the heat
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature
  5. Once cooled, remove the thyme stems, leaving some of the leaves
    For the dough
  1. In to a bowl of a stand mixer, add all the flours and salt
  2. Lightly mix to combine
  3. Add the eggs, honey, starter, butter mixture and 1/2 cup of the milk and start to mix
  4. Add the rest of the milk as you go, to make a soft dough
  5. Once the dough comes together, bring it over to an oiled surface and knead by hand until smooth (for about a minute or two)
  6. Place the dough in a plastic tub (non reactive container) close the lid and set in a warm draft free area to ferment
  7. The dough need to be roughly doubled in size (should take about 5-6 hours or more)
  8. Once the dough is bigger, punch it down slightly, place in the same container and refrigerate overnight (minimum of 10 hours)
  9. When you are ready, take the dough out and let it come to room temperature and soften up (should take about 4 hours)
  10. Place in a warm oven (27 C – 30 C) to speed up
  11. Once the dough is soft, divide into pieces ( 14 pieces of 70 g or 12 pieces of 80 g)
  12. Cover and let these rest for 10 – 15 minutes
  13. Then shape them in to rounds or cylinders (shape of hot dog buns)
  14. Once shaped, place them in on a lined tray or a greased deep baking dish
  15. Leave about 1/2 inch gap all around for the will grow bigger as they prove
  16. Now cover them with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft free place for the final rise(may take several hours ~6 or more)
  17. To speed up place in a warm oven (27 to 30 C)
  18. When they are proofed, preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C)
  19. Lightly egg wash the buns on top, and bake for about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown
  20. Once baked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack
  21. Serve warm

Microwave for 20 seconds to warm these buns before serving

Store then in an air-tight container for up to two days at room temperature or freeze in a freezer bag

Thaw frozen buns ans microwave to freshen them up
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Cranberry marzipan sourdough couronne

cranberry couronne

I watch baking videos on my way to work and that is why I love to take the bus. This is the time I use to visualize, sketch and brain storm about my bakes and plan in my head about what I am going to tackles next. I thought of revisiting some of the older seasons of GBBO last week, and this couronne of Paul Hollywood took me in complete awe.

So, I created something in my head, that ticked the following boxes

  • an enriched dough
  • naturally leavened
  • use my cranberry jam
  • tastes and look festive
  • indulging but packs a punch

And as a result, this recipe was born, last weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, up until the time I actually took a bite. Well, I couldn’t believe what I just put in my mouth! It was that good! If I eat this with my eyes closed, I wouldn’t know what to call this. It feels like a bit of mince pie, an orange pond cake, a frangipane tart and brioche all mingling in your mouth harmoniously.

I will mention what each component does in this couronne, so you can substitute these with your favorite things. But I seriously recommend you try this combo.

Homemade Cranberry jam – color, tartness cuts through the sweetness. It is chunky, so adds texture

Orange marzipan – adds fragrance from orange, adds sweetness and texture, keep the bake moist

Crystallized ginger – adds warmth, adds a punch

Sultana – texture, flavor of mince meat (Christmacy in other words)

Orange glaze – adds a shine to the finished product, keeps it moist for longer, enhance flavor

Here is the step by step process:


Get the sweet stiff starter mixed. Form in to a tough dough ball and place in a container, closed. Let this ferment until it is doubled in size. Could take between 8-12 hours depending on the room temp.(overnight works for me) If you wan to delay the process, place this in the fridge for a few hours to slow down.


I forgot to take a picture before opening up the fermented stiff starter ball. Here is an inside shot anyway. This is ready to be mixed with the dough now


Mix everything according to the recipe below to make the dough. Dough will be sticky. Notice there is no sugar in this dough, just in the starter. Once mixed, take it out on to a floured surface, and fold a few times to make it smooth, check the next image.


Once the dough is smooth like this, place it in a greased container, cover and place in a warm draft free area to ferment, until it is nearly doubled in size.

This is a good time to make the marzipan too. Use the same mixing ball, no need to wash it. Mix in all the ingredients in the recipe, and get it shaped nice and smooth like in this picture. Wrap this in cling wrap, and place in the fridge.


The dough is nearly doubled in size. (this took about 6 hours at 20 C) Now place this in the fridge for several hours. Time these to suite your schedule. It is alright to leave it out or in the fridge for couple of extra hours.

At this stage, the dough is too soft to handle. By placing in the fridge, this will firm up.


Final big step is to put all these together. Ready your jam, ginger, sultana and set aside. Take the dough out and let it soften a bit. In the meantime, roll the marzipan as thinly as possible. Use two parchment papers or use a Silpat like i did. The marzipan should be the same size as your dough sheet. Get it roughly to what you plan to get your dough at. If your kitchen is warm, place this in the fridge until you roll the dough.


Roll the dough on a well floured bench. The thickness shouldn’t be less than 3/4 of a centimeter. If you roll it too thin, it will break when you spread filling and also will tear when rolling.


Spread the jam on the dough. I use my fingers. A spatula may tear the dough underneath. Leave space here an there. Check the picture. And then scatter the sultana and ginger pieces.


Now lay the marzipan over the filling. Simply take the marzipan you rolled, take the top parchment paper off, tip it over the dough, so marzipan is facing the filling. Peel off the Silpat/parchment that was underneath.

Trim the marzipan edges if it overhangs. Press gently so it sticks to the filling.


Now roll the dough as you would do with a cinnamon roll. Flour your hands generously.


This step is similar to any babka, if you have made that before. Cut through the rolled dough, length wise, using a sharp knife. Turn the strands upwards. Twist the two strands to form a spiral. Try not to lose too much filling in this process.


Once twisted, form a ring with the dough by joining the two ends. Do this on the tray if you like. Or do it on the bench and carefully transfer it onto the tray. Now this has to rest/proof for a few hours. (3-4 hours I would say) You wouldn’t notice much difference in the size. But the dough will spring back when gently poked. The resting will help relax the dough.

Bake in a hot oven (410 F) for 40 minutes. If top start to burn, cover with a foil during the last 5-10 minutes


While the couronne is baking, get the orange glaze ready. Bring freshly squeezed orange juice and sugar to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until thickens.

You can of course use apricot jam glaze instead.

Once the loaf is out of the oven, glaze while it is still hot. And then let it cool down on a wire rack

That is it! You can then decorate this however you like. You can drizzle this with white lemon icing or even royal icing for a fancier finish. Decorate with red and green cherries for an even better look! I kept is simple with some sugar coated cranberries, few rosemary ends and a light dusting of icing sugar.

You can of course, use mince meat instead of my cranberry filling.

Give this a go and leave a comment

Bon Appétit !!

Cranberry marzipan couronne


cranberry couronne


    For the starter
  • 70 g flour
  • 1 tbsp active starter
  • 2 tbs sugar (brown or white)
  • +/-30 g water
    For the dough
  • 70 g of above sweet starter
  • 250 g flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 50 g butter (soft, cubed)
  • 125 ml milk (+/-)
    For the Marzipan
  • 200 g ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 60 g castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • zest of one orange (very important)
    For the spread
  • about a 3/4 cups of Cranberry jam (preferably homemade)
  • 1/3 cups of sultana
  • 1/4 cups of crystallized ginger cut into small pieces
    For the glaze
  • Equal parts of orange juice and sugar
  • OR
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam


  1. Make the starter ahead and let ferment.
  2. To make the dough, mix everything except milk in a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a hook attachment.
  3. Start mixing on low and slowly add milk, to bring the dough together
  4. If necessary add extra milk or a little water (tablespoon at a time). The dough should be soft and sticky
  5. Take the dough off on to a floured surface, and knead by hand to form a smooth ball
  6. Place in a covered bowl and leave in a warm place for several hours
  7. Make the marzipan, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  8. The dough will be risen considerably (almost double) if not leave for another hour or two
  9. Then refrigerate the dough covered for several hours or overnight
  10. When you are ready to make the couronne, take the dough out and let it soften (not too much, its easier to handle when cold)
  11. Prepare a tray lined with a parchment paper and set aside
  12. Prepare the filling and set them aside
  13. Roll out the marzipan between two parchment papers. Check the post and the pictures.
  14. Now take the dough on to a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle
  15. About 45 cm by 35 cm( the dough thickness should be no more than 3/4 cm)
  16. Once done, spread the pear jam, sprinkle with sultana and ginger (you don’t have to use all of the filling)
  17. Place the marzipan layer on top of the filling. Press gently. check the images above
  18. Starting from one end roll the dough tightly length-wise
  19. Using a sharp knife cut the rolled cylinder in half along the length ( see picture)
  20. Now twist the two strands (look at the photos in the post)
  21. Make sure to have cut sides exposed.
  22. Once twisted, bring the two end together to form a ring
  23. Tuck the end bits underneath
  24. Place on the prepared tray
  25. Leave covered in a warm place for about two – three hours (or more depending on the temp.)
  26. The dough will be softer to tough and will spring back when poked gently
  27. Preheat the oven to 410 F
  28. Bake for 40 minutes, turning the tray half-way through to the bake
  29. In the meantime make the Orange sugar syrup
  30. Once done remove the baked couronne from the oven
  31. Top should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped
  32. Lightly brush with the sugar syrup or melted apricot jam
  33. Once done let this cool completely before cutting in as the filling need setting
  34. Decorate with whatever you like
  35. Slice with a serrated knife
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