Walnut Cranberry Sourdough

Last week I finally found a bottle of walnut oil at a local market (I later found this oil can even be purchased online) and I wanted to use it as soon as I could. When I brought it home I just had to open the bottle and take a smell — divine. Walnuts and walnut oil are so decadent to me, they just add such a deep flavor to any food it’s no wonder I eat them almost every morning with my oat porridge, pancakes, or even waffles.

I didn’t want to do just walnuts this time even though last time it was absurdly good on its own. I had some dried fruit leftover from a recent granola batch (for which a recipe entry is sorely overdue) and I decided to match the walnuts with dried cranberries. I’m sure I’ve seen this done somewhere else but intuitively the two just mesh well together so I decided to give it a go.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

This weekend was relatively light with work around the house as the last was the heavy yard work push. Outside has all the indications of a rapidly approaching Spring: blooming trees, New Mexico winds, green grass pushing up through the dirt and even dreaded pollen on the air. Despite the beckon of warm weather outside, an indoor Sunday carved out for baking bread is such a relaxing and wonderful complement to the weekend. I just can’t resist the call to work with my hands and get a couple loaves into the fridge for a long, cold proof.

A german shepherd

While the dog was resting in our comfy leather chair, I was preparing the ingredients. Toasted & shelled walnuts, dried cranberries, walnut oil… But before we get there, let’s go back to Saturday night just before bed to get started.

Prepare the levain – 11:00pm

  1. 30g ripe starter
  2. 60g Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour
  3. 60g Sangre de Cristo white flour 
  4. 120g H2O @ 73ºF

After mixing the above in a glass container, cover and set in a slightly warm area in your kitchen overnight. The night time here in New Mexico isn’t quite as cold now as it has been in the past weeks. Pay attention to your conditions and adjust your levain to suit! This might mean starting the levain later at night (11:00pm is an hour later for me), or plan to use it earlier the next morning. Alternatively, you could cool the added water a few degrees to slow down the fermentation process.

Mix the flour & water, autolyse – 9:00am

The walnuts, dried cranberries, and walnut oil will be added after the second set of turns during the bulk phase. You want to develop and strengthen the dough a little before adding in these extra ingredients.

Morning espresso

After your morning espresso or cappuccino, gather the following:


Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
250g Levain 25%
800g Sangre de Cristo white flour (high protein, close to bread flour) 80%
175g Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour 17.5%
25g Rye flour 2.5%
20g Salt 2%
880g H2O @ 86ºF 88%
200g Toasted & shelled walnuts 20%
100g Dried cranberries 10%
2 Tbsp Walnut oil (optional)


This bake I decided to go back to using a bit of my trusty rye flour and experiment with adding a small amount to try and stimulate additional fermentation. This really is just a small test and can be omitted with no ill effect. The whole wheat flour was reduced by the same amount as rye flour added to keep a total of 1000g, or 100% in baker’s percentages.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

Prepare Walnuts:

The walnuts were toasted right before starting the autolyse on a baking sheet at 425ºF for 10 minutes, stirred occasionally to prevent burning. If you are using walnuts in their shells, you could extend this to about 20 minutes to compensate. Once toasted, cool for at least 20 minutes before incorporating into your dough.


  1. Add 250g levain to mixing bowl
  2. Add 830g H2O @ 86ºF and mix to incorporate
  3. Add 800g white bread flour, 175g whole wheat and 25g rye flour mix until all dry bits are incorporated
  4. Cover the bowl and let autolyse for 40 minutes
  5. After 40 minutes, add the salt on top and slowly pour the remaining 50g water to dissolve
  6. Mix by hand until the salt is incorporated and slightly sticky
  7. Transfer to your bulk fermentation container

Final dough temperature: 79º F

Ambient temperature: 74º F

The temperature in the house was a few degrees higher than my last bake, Spring sure is on its way. Keep an eye on your dough during bulk fermentation if temperatures are rising in your area.

Bulk Fermentation – 10:00am

  1. 10:30am – Turn Set 1
  2. 11:00am – Turn Set 2 – After this set of turns add your walnuts, cranberries, and walnut oil and gently fold into the dough
  3. 11:30am – Turn Set 3
  4. 12:00pm – Turn Set 4
  5. 12:00am – 1:15pm – Rest on counter untouched

Walnut cranberry sourdough

After gently folding in the walnuts, cranberries, and walnut oil through your dough don’t worry if they are not completely dispersed throughout the dough at this time. During subsequent sets of turns the ingredients will more fully incorporate and spread around uniformly.

You want to avoid tearing the dough too much when adding these ingredients, be gentle.

By the end of your bulk fermentation the dough should look a bit puffy and jiggly with an increase of about 20-30%. If you use a clear container you can mark on the sides to keep track of your rise. Little bubbles around the sides and top all show signs of good fermentation. The image below shows my dough after the entire bulk fermentation step. You can see how the dough has risen and holds its shape along the edges — it’s ready to go.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

Pre-shape – 1:20pm

Take the dough out of the bulk fermentation container onto your work surface and sprinkle some flour on top before dividing. Divide the mass into two halves and lightly spin each half with your dough knife in one hand and your other hand. Let this pre-shape rest for 20 minutes.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

Lightly dust your two linen-lined bannetons (or bowls) with white rice flour and set aside until you are done with the next step, shaping.

Shape – 1:40pm

I wanted to do a batard this week as it’s been a while. One of my loaves was done as a boule and one as a batard. The dough was relatively easy to handle here even though we are pushing 88% hydration (not including levain hydration). However, things are a bit sticky with this dough so be ready for it: use few touches, moderate flour, and a decisive yet gentle hand.

Proof – 1:50pm

After shaping, place your two loaves to-be into the fridge for an overnight proof.

Score + Bake – 7:30am (the next day)

Place your baking stone in your oven at the bottom 1/3 position and turn it on to 510ºF for a 1 hour pre-heat. After one hour, take one of your loaves out of the fridge and cut a piece of parchment paper to place on top of the basket containing the dough. Take your peel and then put it on top of those two and quickly invert it so the dough is now resting on the parchment paper and the peel.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

Score the loaf with your preferred pattern and place into the combo cooker and cook covered for 20 minutes at 500ºF. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 450ºF, leave the dough covered, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Next, take the lid off and reduce the heat to 435º and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until done.

Keep an eye on your loaf during the last 15 minutes of baking as it’s easy to burn with all the nuts and berries along the outside. You might need to toggle the heat a little lower than 430ºF during the end to ensure the loaf fully cooks without scorching the outside.

Walnut cranberry sourdough


This walnut cranberry sourdough has taken the top spot for me as my favorite homemade bread. Those are some really big shoes to fill, but the combination of rich walnuts, slightly sour dough, and tangy cranberries is just the perfect balance. After I cut this open to inspect the crumb my mouth was watering… I promptly ate almost 1/3 of the loaf during “taste tests”. Shame on me.


The crust was SUPER brittle on this loaf. Both the boule and the batard had some of the thinnest and crispiest crust I’ve ever baked. I’m wondering now if the higher hydration played a part, the walnut oil, or just my shaping technique (I did shape these very tight, forming a nice membrane along the outside).

Walnut cranberry sourdoughRegardless, this crust is some of the best I’ve been able to produce in my home oven on my baking stones. That full one hour preheat of the pizza stone and dutch oven really gets things super heated in the oven, while not even close to a professional oven, it’s as close as I can get for now. I’ve been emailed comments about “upgrading” my pizza stone to baking bricks and this is something I’m going to do here in the near future. With increased mass they should be able to hold onto heat and regulate temperature much better during multiple loaf bakes.

Walnut cranberry sourdough


Nice and tender, open, and wonderfully purple and red from the tannins in the walnuts and juice from the cranberries. I like the large scattered holes with random bits of walnut and cranberries tucked inside. Each slice brings a new pattern of fruit and nuts. This bread is going to be sublime in the morning with simply butter or even as a decadent French toast.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

I think the added rye flour helped fermentation get a good start but I’m not 100% sure it was necessary. If I were to do an even longer proof I would certainly omit the flour. Perhaps 25g is too little an amount to create any effect in the dough, future flour combination experiments should probably have at least 50g or so.


A very complex, rich and yet sweet bread. If I was a professional baker and owned my own joint, this bread would be my prima donna, my stage stealer, my jefe… front and center stealing attention and business from all my other loaves. This bread would be hard to keep stocked.

Walnut cranberry sourdough

This week’s result has me pining to try other ingredient combinations. My cupboard is brimming with dried fruit, nuts and other spices that have me wondering what other pairings might play an integral role in my future baking. I just so happen to have a package of goji berries staring me right in the face, next loaf somehow?

Buon appetito & happy baking!


Recipe and method submitted to YeastSpotting.

  • Ana

    What a beauty!
    Love the great photos, and informative and detailed instructions.

  • ml

    Ohhh! I could look at that all day 🙂 Have you tried the walnut oil in the porridge bread from Tartine 3?
    I think I will just mimick your bakes. That way I will get a nice mix of types, & have someone to trouble shoot with. I sometimes get stuck, & discouraged trying to make mostly whole grain breads. MM, walnut cranberry here I come!

    • It sure was tasty! I did put walnut oil in this bread, and have tried the oat porridge bread with almond oil from Tartine No. 3. I’m really struggling with the porridge breads and have not had a decent outcome yet to share. I’ll keep practicing and hopefully I’ll gather some tips in hopes of helping others out.

      The addition of walnut and almond oils is very very nice!

  • ml

    Just a little more. I know you use more levain because of altitude, but, I have read that bakers use a smaller seed in their levain when the temperatures rise, to control speedy fermentation, and Tartine 3 has gone from 200g to 150g with the whole grains.

    • I was recently told by a professional baker here that actually uses less levain due to our elevation. Their premise is that the air density is lower and therefore bread rises easier. Was pretty shocked when I was told that and you know, it does make sense. I’ve lately come to realize my added levain helps when the temperatures are lower, but when things heat up (as they are starting too now) I’m probably going to have to reduce.

      When using whole grains you will either need to reduce levain or reduce your bulk/proof times. Your starter will be on overdrive when giving it all the nutrients in whole grains — this is probably the primary reason in Tartine No. 3 they have reduced levain quantities. I’ve also read in several places reducing your levain actually results in a more open crumb… But that is a test for a future entry 🙂

      Great questions!

  • I just stumbled upon your blog (and subscribed!) and I couldn’t be happier! Your loaves are fantastic. I just did a similar loaf as well: http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2014/03/country-sourdough-with-walnuts-raisins/ I’m looking forward to reading more or your recipes. Cheers, Emilie 🙂

    • Emilie,

      Thanks so much! Your bread came out superb as well, looks very tasty. Raisins would be another good walnut pair and I must say it’s on my horizon. I’m looking forward to trying out some of your recipes!
      Happy baking!

  • Janina

    Hi Maurizio, I am making this loaf as I type, just wanted to let you know I am trying hazelnut oil, as I dont have walnut oil, and also using hazelnuts and raisins. So I am hopeful it will work? Yours looks amazing! Well done and thanks so much for sharing. Janina

    • Janina,
      Those substitutions sound really great! I think hazelnuts and raisins will taste great together (does anything ever taste bad with hazelnuts??).

      Thanks for the feedback, really happy to hear you’re enjoying the posts. I’d love to hear how your loaves turned out!

      Happy baking,

  • Gingi

    Well done. Unique combination, amazing pics, keep up the hard work my friend !

    • foodtravelthought

      Thank you!

  • TR


    You likely touch on this question elsewhere…but why do you line bannetons with linen for the final proof? Bannetons leave such a nice design as is, I wonder if there’s some other reason why linen is used. My bannetons release nicely and create a nice shape and spiral look.


    • The majority of the time it’s purely for ease of cleanup. Taking out the flour sack towels and tossing them into the washer is a time saver (not that much, I know). You’re right though, I love the look of the spiral flour designs on the loaves when they are finished. I’ll have to make a point next time to go straight into the banneton.

      Sometimes, however, I use the linen and a rubber band to keep the dough in a nice tight boule, whereas letting it expand out into the banneton might be too much. This happens when the dough looks very slack and I don’t want it to spread out too much.

  • ml

    Hi Maurizio,
    I finally made this loaf. My husband says I could sell this one & compared it to a Tartine loaf. That is for flavor, really wonderful.
    I got decent spring & crumb, but not as good as yours. I think I might have been an hour late getting from fridge to oven. I also didn’t get nearly as dark a bake with your temperatures. I think I may keep the temp @ 450 next time. My crusts usually get soft pretty quickly, even when baked darker & left in oven after bake. I haven’t figured this out yet.
    This dough was really sticky @ time of shaping. I tried to get a pretty tight final shape, but was wondering if this is where I lost some openness. I like your idea of banding the dough to keep it tight. I will try that next time. Any discoveries on how to handle such sticky doughs?
    On to 95% Whole Wheat!

    • Compared it to a Tartine loaf — huge compliment! I’m really glad my entry has guided you down the right path. Yes, you will definitely need to vary your oven temperatures to your liking. Each oven, and each environment, is different. Out here the opposite is true, the crust will get super hard very quickly due to our very dry air.

      Higher hydration like this can be tricky to work with, and that taut skin is key to a nice rise when baking. Practice a few times at this loaf and it will come easier to you. I like to work on a wood surface that is sprinkled with a tiny amount of flour to keep sticking to a minimum — not too much but just a tad. I also only have my hands in contact with the dough when necessary, and they are always lightly floured. Use your bench knife as much as you an and in a quick but decisive fashion.

      That said, it’s still difficult to handle such sticky dough! Sometimes I hear myself cursing under my breath… 🙂

      Let me know how the 95% WW goes! Happy baking.

  • SourDoughDave

    This is an amazing loaf that I am looking forward to baking. I have a few questions. Why use a baking stone when you use a combo cooker? Also, what do you mean by “Divide the mass into two halves and lightly spin each half with your dough knife in one hand and your other hand.”. What is lightly spinning? I’ve never seen that before.

  • SourDoughDave

    I just did a little more reading here and saw that the stone and dutch oven add a lot of mass to the oven thereby helping regulate the temperature. That makes a lot of sense.

    Regarding the protein content of the Sangre de Cristo white flour, there doesn’t seem to be anything out there on the net, hard to believe, but would you happen to know what that would be?

    The initial oven preheat is 510 degrees. But you say to bake the first loaf for 20 minutes at 500 degrees. I don’t know that 10 degrees would cause a problem, but after the preheat, should I lower the temp to 500 and wait till the oven reaches that temp before baking?

    • Right, the dutch oven and stone absorb heat during the preheat and help to keep the oven temperature regulated. Opening the oven door in regular home ovens causes quite a bit of heat loss.

      I also did significant searching online to determine the protein percentage of Sangre de Cristo, unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single ounce of information on its makeup. Through baking I have determined the protein percentage has to surely be over 10%, probably around 11 or 12%, but I don’t have any hard facts to prove this.

      Occasionally I’ll preheat the oven above 500º to test. It’s not significant, but it does have an impact on the total bake duration (obviously when I go up to 510 bake time reduces). Yes, lower the temp to 500ºF for that first part of the bake.

      There are many methods for performing the pre shape, my preferred method is to simply divide the entire mass in two and with each half “spin” the dough around until it lightly forms a resting boule. You essentially have your bench knife in one hand and use it to very slightly pickup your dough and spin around in one motion (imagine turning a car’s steering wheel except rotated down to your countertop). I use the other hand to help twist the dough around and follow the lead hand (the one with the knife). By only slightly lifting the dough it will catch a little bit of your countertop pulling it inwards, causing tension to form on the top and outside. Hopefully that makes sense!

      • SourDoughDave

        Thanks very much for the reply.

        My bottle of walnut oil is due to arrive today, so I am getting everything ready for the big bake.

        As you well know, these breads take a lot of time, so I want to make sure I understand everything. I have several questions.

        It looks like you are preparing far more levain that you need. Is this just so you have some left for your next batch?

        Your final dough temp is stated as 79 degrees with an 86 degree h20 temp. Isn’t the water temp derived by using the desired dough temp formula?

        What constitutes a turn set?

        Finally, I’ve never had any luck with overnight refrigerated proofs. The dough never rises because I’ve always felt is was just too cold. Indeed, according to what I read online, home refrigerators are far too cold. Extended rises should be at 45 – 48 degrees. However I have seen videos of successful rises in home fridges, just not in mine. I know that to get that great sourdough sourness, you need that slow proof. What are your feelings on this?

        And yes, the biggest problem with these bakes is that nearly the entire loaf disappears during the very critical taste testing phase.

        • I totally understand, you definitely want to have everything planned out before starting your bake — it’s a large time investment but well worth it!

          I do prepare a little more levain than is actually needed. You can reduce this levain with no problem, just ensure you have enough for the recipe plus a little to keep your starter going. I’ve been reducing my levain build by 1/2 lately and I just keep my starter going on its own.

          Yes, my water temperature of 86º was derived by calculating my desired final dough temperature of 78-79º. Since it’s now warmer here, I’d definitely have to reduce that 86º to something much lower so the dough is not overly hot after mixing. I’ve found that 78º is the ideal dough temperature for my bakes.

          A “turn set” is simply 4 stretch & folds of the dough. You reach down into the container holding your dough, grab the underside of the dough, unroll up and fold over to the other side. Do this 4 times (one for each side of the dough) when the dough is in its bulk fermentation step.

          I’ve actually been experimenting lately with the final proof time & temperature as well. I’ve placed a thermometer in my fridge and I’ve found the temperature to be around 37ºF, which is pretty cold. Up until this point I haven’t had much problem keeping the dough in there overnight and have had great results. Lately, however, I’ve been playing with keeping the dough out on the counter for 1 to 1.5 hours to proof before popping it into the fridge. I’ve noticed some good results by allowing the dough to proof a little bit longer at room temperature before cooling off. All in all I do think the standard home fridge is a bit too cool and results in lower fermentation rates but this can be offset by leaving it in there longer (16-18 hours), turning the temp up on your fridge (not really recommended!), or leaving out a little while after final shaping.

          I guarantee this walnut-cran loaf is not going to last you very long! Would love to hear how your bake goes, good luck!

  • SourDoughDave


    Thanks for clarifying my questions. It still amazes me how a simple stretch and fold affects the dough.

    As far as proofing in the fridge, I’ve started doing that same thing you’re doing. I give the dough a head start on the counter before it goes in the fridge.

    It’s all about experimenting. The more experience you get, the more comfortable you get in adjusting certain aspects of a recipe. As an example, I’ve been making bagels now for about six months. This last batch I decided to let the dough autolyse for 20 minutes before adding the salt and doing the kneading, which has to be done by hand because of the low hydration. The autolyse made the dough softer and easier to knead and resulted in some amazing crumb.

    So tomorrow I start on your recipe. My starter is firing on all eight cylinders. I’ll keep you posted.


    • Dave,
      You’re right a single S & F can do wonders. Sometimes if I notice my bread is still a bit slack after pre-shape I’ll do one more pre-shape and it helps tremendously.

      Autolyse times have a significant impact on the extensibility of your dough and I’ve noticed the longer I let the autolyse go the better result (to an extent) — more extensibility, better caramelization, and an nice open crumb.

      That’s the fun part about experimenting, right? Sometimes these little things give great results!

      How did the bake go? Hopefully things went well and this morning your snacking on some incredible walnut-cran toast for breakfast!

  • Liuruyu

    So I made the exact loaf following your recipe. Overall, it got great crumb, and crust. Pretty open inside as well (big holes throughout). However, both my husband and kids complained about the walnut being a bit rubbery. I think the nut is a bit soft (not as crisp as I would have hoped). I did toast the walnut before adding to the dough. Any tricks as to how to keep the walnut less moist? I use Diamond Brand Shelled walnut ( pretty standard grocery store stuff). Could it be the brand of the nut? Thank YOU

    • Excellent! Glad to hear the loaf went successfully. So far as the walnuts, I’m not too sure what more could be done to firm them up… One thing I haven’t tried is using walnuts with shells on, toasting those, then cracking them to get the inside out and use that in the dough. It’s not always easy to find fresh walnuts, though. I’ve used the brand of walnuts found at Costco one or two times and those were pretty good, do you have a Costco nearby?

      Hope that helps!

      • Liuruyu

        I try not to go Costco 🙂 you know, I go in for Walnut and comes out with $500 worth of STUFF I think I may need (and never use!). So I pretty much ban myself from going. I will try to order another brand of walnut online and see if that makes a difference. Thx!

        I also wanted to make your oatmeal loaf too. But don’t have enough courage yet. Will let you know once I try it. Thank you again for making the posts. Wonderful recipe and stunning pictures.

        • Thanks!

          You’re right about Costco… I hardly ever go there and when I do I regret it. 🙂

          Ok let me know how it goes!

  • Cessnabmw

    I hope to try this over the weekend – we have along weekend here in Canada.

    When you refer to turn set 1, 2, etc. What are you referring to? S&F? How many? Would really appreciate your help! Thanks!

    • Perfect time to squeeze in some baking! Yes, each “set” is 4 stretch and folds, one stretch and fold from each of the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west). You want to start out stretching fairly vigorously and then east off as bulk progresses.

      Let me know if you have any more questions, happy baking!

  • Cessnabmw

    Thanks for the prompt response.Ended up starting early and have a few more questions.

    The levain – recipe calls for 250g. What do I do with the leftover? Can it be reused or scrapped?

    Timing – Can the dough proof for longer in the fridge (say a couple of days)? Asking if that is ok or it will end up[ being over proofed?

    • You’re very welcome.

      You can adjust the amount of levain you create for the next bake so you don’t have any leftover, or you can use the excess in pancakes, banana bread, waffles and many other things. I have a post here at the site that’s in the works with several of my favorite recipes — I hope to have it up soon. Otherwise, just pitch the excess (make sure you do save enough to keep your starter going, though!).

      I’ve left dough to proof in my 37ºF fridge for up to 36 hours with no ill effect, but there are many considerations here. If you have a high amount of levain (20% or more) or you let your bulk fermentation go very long at a warm temperature there will be little “food” left for the yeast/bacteria in your dough. Think of it this way, the minute you add your levain to the rest of the flour and water, fermentation begins. As it progresses yeast and bacteria (your levain) are consuming the starches in the flour until there is nothing left, at that point your dough won’t rise when baking. It takes quite a long time for this to happen, though, in your cold home fridge.

      So it’s a hard question to answer definitively, but I’d say you can usually do 36 hours with no problem, after that you might still be ok just know that your bread will probably rise a bit less, and be a little more sour than usual.

      I hope that helps — let me know if you have any other questions!

  • ledu1000 .

    I am on the process of fermentation and folding, the dough looks so beautiful, with bubbles, it is my first attempt, I have read your post tousands of times along chad’s, I really thank you, as your blog has helped me a lot to understand Tartine Bread, thank you, thank you we will see how it turns out once is baked.

    If I had your LOAF in front of me, I would probably would eat it all!!!!!!!!, I am sure many of us think the same, your bread is always so beautiful!!!!!

    • Glad my instruction has helped out, that’s why I started this site 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about my bakes!

  • ledu1000 .

    I am sorry, I meant thousand of times!!!!!

  • ledu1000 .

    I do not know what could have gone wrong, my bread did not raise that much, even though I did the test floating of the levain, the bread is good, it has the holes, but not raised as it should be, I did all the fermentation process, but I will try again, though it is very good!!!!

    • Glad to hear the taste came out great! There are many, many things that could cause a sluggish rise, unfortunately. I’d say try to keep things as consistent as possible from bake-to-bake and pay attention to the dough at each step along the way. Try to “watch the dough” as it is progressing and make sure it’s moving along as expected, sometimes things take a little bit longer sometimes a little bit less time.

      Feel free to post here or send me an email if you need more help!

      • ledu1000 .

        Thank you so much, the bread had holes, but it was not a bit like yours, I know it will take time , but we have been eating, it is good in spite of not rising. I will do as you mention, on my next try I will observe more the developing of the dough, I noticed it did not raise that much at the bulk fermentation, so, I knew something was wrong, just one more question, do you put the bread in the oven right after you take it out from the fridge??? please forgive my English, as I am writing from Mexico, by the way I love Italian food!!!! today I had italian food!!! sooooo goooood!!!!
        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. Take care

        • Not a problem — yes straight from fridge into your oven!

          • ledu1000 .

            Maurizio, I apologize for not answering before, thank you so much for your reply, you are an Angel to all of us. God bless you!!!!

  • Gage Allen

    Hi Maurizio! I had a question regarding the preheat of the dutch oven/combo cooker. Have you ever tried baking with it unheated? Just curious what you think would be different as far as times, temperature etc. Thank you again for everything you do!

    • No I’ve actually never tried baking with it unheated. You really want to do the preheat, in my opinion. Once the dough hits the baking surface you want that jolt of very high heat to rapidly get you yeast/bacteria moving so your bread rises. I would guess with a cold surface you wouldn’t get the same level of rise.

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you’re enjoying my site! Happy baking 🙂

  • Runnerfemme

    This recipe inspired me to make the best bread I have made yet. The flavor was incredible. Here’s what I did. You’ll see your recipe shining through with variations to suit my schedule and taste.

    Seeded Spelt Sourdough with Walnuts & Raisins

    400g KAF Bread Flour (12.7% protein) 40%
    400g KAF APF Flour (11.7% protein) 40%
    200g BRM Spelt flour (13.3% protein) 20%
    880g H2O @ 85-90ºF 88%
    22g Fine sea salt
    250g Spelt Starter (any starter will work – mine is about 85% hydration – like thick cake batter)
    2 TBL Boiled cider (or honey or agave – if using agave, reduce to 1 TBL)
    2 TBL Walnut oil (optional)
    200g or to taste Toasted walnuts
    ½ c KAF Harvest Seed Blend (1 c. hot water soaker)
    200g or to taste Raisins (soaked in hot water for 1-2 hours; drained)

    Do soaker of seeds and raisins separately; draining if needed before use.
    Toast walnuts – 325 for 10-12 minutes and cool completely. Set aside.
    Mix 830g of water (reserving 50g water) with boiled cider and starter.
    Add all flour.
    Cover bowl and autolyse somewhere warm (around 78ºF) for 40 minutes.

    After autolyse, add salt, reserved 50g water & seeds (can add ¼ tsp instant yeast at this point if starter needs oomph). Mix by hand to incorporate ingredients – don’t over mix. Complete 4 stretch & folds spaced out by 20-30 minutes (1st S&F after 30 min; store dough someplace warm during rests). Gently add raisins/nuts and walnut oil at second stretch & fold. After completing the 4 S&Fs, cover & complete bulk ferment in refrigerator over night (about 7 hours; alternatively let bulk ferment at rest for additional 2-3 hours on counter/warm room). After bulk ferment, divide dough into 2 masses. Pre-shape into boules, let rest seam down for 20 minutes uncovered. After 20 min rest, shape each into batard or boule. Proof in bannetons (lined with linen dusted with rice flour, covered) for 1.5 hours on countertop or in warm room. (If you have chosen the shorter countertop bulk fermentation, do final proof in refrigerator over night/about 7 hours).

    Preheat oven & cookers for 1 hr. at 500º. Score. 20 minutes at 500º. Reduce oven to 450º. Bake for 30 min at 450º. Remove cooker lids & bake for an additional 10 minutes. Watch for scorching raisins if any are sitting on the surface of the breads. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks for 90 minutes before slicing.

    • Wow this bread sounds delicious! Very interesting with the addition of the cider, I’ve never thought of adding that to sourdough bread. I definitely see my recipe lurking in there but I think you’ve really taken this and made your own signature bread — excellent!

      I’m marking this down to try in a future bake, I’m inspired 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and all the details!

  • Runnerfemme

    Maurizio – I was so enamored with the walnut raisin variation of your lovely recipe that I made it again this weekend — with some additional changes/tweaks to suit my taste. This time, I turned it into walnut/fig, used sprouted spelt flour, added some diastatic malt, and baked to a truly burnished mahogany… The crust was other-worldly. Maurizio, your beautiful website, bakes, and supportive voice have been such a welcome inspiration in my kitchen. Thank you!

    Seeded Sprouted Spelt Sourdough with Walnuts & Figs (AKA Alliteration Sourdough)

    400g KAF bread flour

    400g KAF Artisan Bread Flour

    200g One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour

    250g 50/50 rye/spelt fed and bubbly starter (about 85% hyd)

    880g water 85-90 degrees

    22g fine sea salt

    2 TBL honey

    2 TBL walnut oil

    scant 2 TBL diastatic malt powder

    200g or more toasted walnut halves

    200g or more dried Black mission figs (soaked; rough chop)

    1/2c KAF Harvest Seed blend – soaked for a few hours in hot water; drained if needed

    Do soaker of seeds and figs separately; draining if needed before use. Reserve 50g water from fig soaker.

    Toast walnuts – 325 for 10-12 minutes and cool completely. Set aside. Mix 830g of water with honey, all flour, diastatic malt powder. Cover bowl and autolyse somewhere warm (around 78ºF) for 1.5-2 hours. After autolyse, add starter, salt, reserved 50g fig soaker water, walnut oil, & seeds (can add ¼ tsp instant yeast at this point if starter needs oomph). Mix by hand to incorporate ingredients – don’t over mix. Complete 4 stretch & folds spaced out by 30+ minutes (1st S&F after 30 min; store dough someplace warm during rests). Gently add figs/nuts at second stretch & fold – don’t worry if they are not well dispersed at this point – they will be by the end. After completing the 4 S&Fs, cover & complete bulk ferment in refrigerator over night (about 7 hours; alternatively let bulk ferment at rest for additional 2-3 hours on counter/warm room). After bulk ferment, divide dough into 2 masses. Pre-shape into boules, let rest seam down for 20 minutes UNcovered. After 20 min rest, shape each into batard or boule. Proof in bannetons (lined with linen dusted with rice flour, covered) for 3 hours in fridge and 1 hour on warm countertop while oven preheats. (Or approx. 1.5 hours on countertop or in warm room. If you have chosen the shorter countertop bulk fermentation, consider doing final proof in refrigerator over night/about 7 hours for flavor development). (Choose whichever fermentation/proofing method meets your schedule needs.)

    Preheat oven & cookers for 1 hr. at 500º. Turn out loaves onto parchment rounds. Score. Spritz with water. 45 min. at 500º. After 45 min, reduce oven to 450º, remove cooker lids & bake for an additional 10 min. Watch for scorching figs if any are sitting on the surface of the breads – can loosely cover with foil to prevent scorching, although this may interfere with deep browning of crust. Remove from the oven & cool on wire racks. LET COOL 100% – BEFORE SLICING (difficult, but I swear it’s worth it particularly b/c the walnut oil and soaked seeds/fruit have added to the moist crumb — slicing early will result in gumminess). https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208911352794519&set=a.1597603653434.84947.1036288044&type=3&theater

    • Wow. That sounds incredibly delicious! You’ve paired up two of my favorite things in this world: walnuts and figs. I have, have to try this one soon 😀

      I like the use of sprouted spelt flour also, I’ve used this a few times in baking cakes and such but never bread (although I do love milled spelt), I can imagine the flavor is even more intensified.

      Thanks again for sharing your recipe with us, it really means a lot! It gives me some new ideas to work with and heck, I just want to bake your version as soon as I can 🙂

      I’m glad my website is proving such an inspiration to you, really makes me happy to hear! Thanks again and happy baking!

  • Shelley

    I made this for a special Christmas bake. I found the ideas of others on this comment thread really helpful, and decided to add 2 tbs maple syrup to my water to make it just a bit sweet. It turned out very well, beautiful soft, open crumb, and delicious! I don’t often bake such a high hydration bread and so I had my doubts when it went into the oven, since it looked like it was going to spread out into a flat pancake, but it had great oven spring and I was not disappointed. My only issue was that the baking heat was too high. I use cast iron, and it burnt the bottom of my loaf at these temps. So back down to 475F preheat and lowered to 440F works better for me. But all in all a wonderful recipe! Thanks for sharing and for the great instructions. Merry Christmas 2016. 🙂

    • Your modifications sound great! I’ve been meaning to do another loaf like this one here very soon, it’s just so tasty. I did bake these pretty fast and hot but also my altitude might require a bit higher temp than others! Glad you dialed that part in.

      You’re welcome and thank you so much for the tips and kind words! Hope you are having a great holiday 🙂

  • Michelle T McLeod

    What Is white flour? Can I buy it in another brand name??

    • For the “white flour” component, which is flour that has been sifted down so most of the bran/germ are removed, you could use regular all purpose flour, or even better for this recipe, bread flour (as they call it in the USA). I’d look for flour that has around 12-13% protein. Any good quality brand will work well!

  • SC

    Hello Maurizio!
    i tried your 50-50 wholewheat recipe at 78% hydration and it turned out to be one of the best loaves i have done. Then i tried this one, i had alot of difficulty shaping this 88% hydration dough and it just spreaded the moment i put it in the oven. I knew that was coming when my bulk fermentation dough looked nothing like your 5th fold picture- still very wet and shaggy after my 5th fold.
    Any tips for managing or shaping super hydrated dough like this? I tried to do the slap and fold before the bulk fermentation and it created a major mess at my counter as the wet dough bits was flying all over!
    The next qn i have was a problem i have with all my breads, the base of the my loaf is never crispy. i dont use a hot stone, just a normal baking oven with a tray of hot water at the bottom to create the steam.

    PS i live in a tropical country, it’s hot and humid here. Not sure if it affects my bread.

    • Awesome, really glad to hear that about the 50/50 recipe! I would say you should try reducing water first to see if that helps with kneading and shaping. Since you live in a tropical environment your flour, and your definitely your environment, are more humid than mine here and that’s contributing to the problem.

      Regarding the slap and fold, hold back some water from the dough until after you do slap and fold, that way the dough isn’t quite so wet when it’s on the counter — it can quickly get out of control! Add it in after you finish slap and fold and it’s back in the bowl (perhaps with a small rest to soften the dough up a bit).

      You could try preheating your oven for a little bit longer to make sure your baking stone is super hot, or you could even look into buying a Baking Steel which I find gets incredibly hot (almost too hot).

      Hope this helps!

  • Lucia Wilkinson

    Hello Maurizio, first of all thank you very much for sharing this great information about sourdough! So helpful and inspirational. I learnt most of the starter maintenance here and it basically saved my starter and baking. So big thank you..! So, I made yesterday this cranberries & walnuts amazing bread and unfortunately it turned out very flat after baking. The bulk fermentation and everything looked really well and I was over the moon… just after baking it was very flat compared to my other classic country breads bakes on the same day. I bake in a french Emile Henry ceramic cookware, closed for 35mins at 250C then opened and reduced temperature to 230C.. So I really dont know what could affect this… Thanks in advance and happy baking! 🙂 Lucia

    • Lucia — you’re very welcome! I’m glad my site has helped in your kitchen. A flat loaf could be due to quite a large number of issues and I’d really only be guessing as to what the issue was. Is it possible the dough over proofed? There are a few key things that could indicate your dough went over: sluggish rise in the oven (as you said), the score on top of the dough might not open with a nice “ear” and instead just kind of fuse together, the interior will have lots of small holes and perhaps one or two large ones near the top (but no dense areas of unfermented flour), and finally the loaf could be a little on the sour side.

      If you don’t see any “holes” at all on the inside and it’s very dense, then there’s a good chance the opposite was true: you didn’t have enough fermentation in the dough and it needed more time in bulk and/or proof. You said your bulk progressed well, though, so I’m leaning towards over proofing!

      I hope this helps!