Cranberry Walnut Sourdough

This adventure started from a recipe on The Perfect Loaf, so you should definitely check that out! I made some small changes based on humidity in NJ and my own preferences and skills (or lack thereof). I have added many pictures here, because I find that helpful to check in as I’m making mine!

Ingredients Levain

  1. 30g ripe starter
  2. 60g whole wheat flour
  3. 60g bread flour 
  4. 120g cool H2O 

Ingredients Dough

  1. 250g levain
  2. 800g bread flour
  3. 200g whole wheat flour
  4. 20g salt
  5. 800g water (around 85*f)
  6. 200g shelled and toasted walnuts
  7. 100g dried cranberries


Day 1

11:00 p.m. – Prepare the levain and leave on the counter (unless your house is quite chilly). You want to leave it where it will be at its peak of rise about 11 hours later.

Day 2

10:00 a.m. – Mix the levain & 750g water, then add flour, mix in well but not aggressively and set aside to autolyse for about 30 minutes. It’s going to look kind of lumpy and wet and not like dough. It’s ok!

10:10 a.m. – Toast walnuts and then set aside to cool.

10:40 a.m. – Add salt and the additional 50g water, using the water to help melt the salt. It might be a bit hard to get it mixed in. Don’t worry too much about it, as it will happen more during bulk fermentation and you don’t want to over mix.

11:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. – Bulk fermentation/proofing.

At 11:30, do a stretch and fold.

At 12:00, do another stretch and fold to mix in the cranberries and walnuts.

At 12:30, and 1:00 you will do the last two stretch and folds. By this time, you’ll see that the dough has been rising and that after you stretch and fold, it will keep some of its shape.

After the last stretch and fold, allow the dough to just continue to rise for another hour or so. By this time, it should have risen 20-30%.

2:20 p.m. – Divide the dough into two even pieces and preshape as a boule or batard. There are many videos online that will tell you about how to do shaping, both initial and final.

2:30 p.m. – Set aside on the counter, either uncovered or covered lightly with a tea towel to rest (even bread dough needs a nap).

2:45 p.m. – Do your final shaping and place in a well floured banneton or floured-towel-lined bowl. There are plenty of opinions about whether to flour the banneton or use a towel. The towel is easier and keeps the banneton looking pretty. But the floured banneton will give the bread that lovely spiral shape in the flour. It is really personal preference. I do suggest that you use rice flour, as it doesn’t leave any real taste on the bread.

3:00 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. (or later) – Place your proofing vessels in the fridge. I proofed in a plastic bag with little air inside. I’ve heard others proof with just a towel over the top. I watched a video today that made a compelling argument for proofing with only the towel. My jury is still out on this!

Day 3

8:30 a.m. (or later) – Preheat oven to 500* for 1 hour with your open dutch oven inside. You can add a baking stone on a shelf under your dutch oven shelf to help retain heat.

9:20 – Remove one loaf from fridge and tip it over onto a peel or a parchment covered flat surface. Score the bread. You may find this a bit harder due to the nuts and cranberries – I did! Then place in your dutch oven or other cooker with the lid on for 20 minutes. 

9:45 – Lower temp to 450* and leave lid on 10 more minutes. 

9:55 – Take lid off and reduce to 430* and continue to bake for ~35 minutes. Watch for your desired level of doneness. The internal temperature should be around 210*.

10:30 – Remove the first loaf, and put it on a cooling rack. Begin the preheating process for loaf two.

Allow the bread to cool at least 2 hours before cutting.

Basic Sourdough Boules

My technique is improving bit by bit! This is a fairly low hydration bread at just under 70%, so it’s moderately easy to work with the dough.

Morning – Make Levain

40g bread flour
40g whole wheat flour
81g water
8g flour

Leave the levain at room temp for about 10 hours OR just use 169g of active starter near top of cycle

Early Evening – Start Dough

Mix to autolyse:
766g bread flour
161g whole wheat flour
635g water 
169g levain (see above)

Then cover and set aside.

20-30 minutes later mix in:
19g salt
< 50g water

Don’t add more water than it can take. You aren’t looking for a tight dough at this point, but you don’t want soup.  Do a few folds but don’t knead vigorously.

Evening – Bulk Fermentation

Cover and allow to rest in a warm location for 3.5 hours. Do a stretch and fold at 30 minutes and at 1 hour. Then allow to rest for the remaining 2.5 hours.

Before Bed – Divide and Shape

Dump dough onto counter. Divide bread in half and loosely shape 2 rounds. A bench knife and wet hand will help. Try not to add flour since the bread is already at a lower hydration.

Allow to rest uncovered on the counter for 30 minutes.

Gently flour the top of the round – preferably with rice flour – and then flip over. Do an envelope fold. Flip it over and drag and seal the dough, working to create tension.

Place top-down in a well-floured (preferably with rice flour, but all purpose is ok) banneton or bowl lined with a floured cloth. You can see below that there are seams on the bottom. It doesn’t matter! There are also some bubbles from the sourdough fermentation. Some bakers pop those so it’s smoother. I didn’t.

Overnight – Proof

Cover the baskets well with room to rise and put them in the fridge until some time the next day. It can be anywhere from 12 hours to 36!

Morning – Bake

Put rack near the bottom of oven and place your Dutch oven inside, open (both lid and pan). Preheat to 450*

Take 1 basket out. Using parchment paper and a cutting board or pizza peel, flip a dough out of the basket. Score the bread and load it into the Dutch oven (or load and score if you prefer). 

Bake for 20 minutes covered. Then remove lid and bake another 30-35 (it should be nicely browned and the internal temp around ~207*.

Remove to a cooking rack and reheat the dutch oven to start the next loaf.

Ideally, allow loaves to cool for a couple of hours before slicing. It’s not easy to do, but you will be rewarded!

Sourdough Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bread

I’m running short on ideas and had 2 cups of discard to use today. So, this is what came out of that! It’s a dense bread, more like banana bread than a savory bread.

2 cups sourdough starter (or discard)
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups non-dairy milk 
1 cup peanut butter 
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
Brown or natural sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Mix and spoon into 2 loaf pans. This isn’t a very sweet bread, so if you like more sweet, you can add additional sugar or sprinkle some on top.
Bake at 325* for 1 hour (start testing at about 50 minutes).