Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

Sephardic Spice Girls

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Bread


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Classic Sourdough 

Inspired by Tartine’s Country Bread

For leaven:

1 heaping tablespoon sourdough starter
200 milliliters lukewarm water
100 grams bread flour
100 grams whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour


For bread:

200 milliliters leaven
700 milliliters warm water
900 grams bread flour, plus more for dusting
100 grams whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon fine sea salt or kosher salt


  1. For leaven: The night before baking, discard all but 1 tablespoon of mature starter.

  2. In one-quart glass bowl or Mason jar, mix remaining starter with 200 milliliters warm water and stir with your hand to disperse.

  3. Add 100 grams bread flour and 100 grams wheat flour and combine well. Cover with a towel and let rest at room temperature for 12-14 hours or until aerated and puffed in appearance.

  4. To test for readiness, drop tablespoon of leaven into bowl of room-temperature water. If it floats, it’s ready to use; If it doesn’t, allow more time to ferment.

  5. For dough: In a large bowl, combine 200 milliliters of leaven with 700 milliliters warm water and stir to disperse. (Reserve remaining leaven for future loaves; it’s the new starter. Refrigerate in airtight container for future use up to 2 or 3 weeks. Or give a heaping tablespoon of leaven to people who want to make sourdough bread.)  

  6. Add 900 grams bread flour, 100 grams whole-wheat flour and generous tablespoon of salt to bowl and, using your hands, mix until no traces of dry flour remain. Dough will be sticky and ragged. Cover bowl with tea towel and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

  7. Dip hands in water, grasp handful of dough from bottom and stretch it over top of dough. Rotate bowl in quarter turns, doing this as you go all around dough.

  8. Cover dough again and let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat wait-and-stretch routine every 30 minutes five more times, for a total of 3 hours.

  9. Finally, cover dough and let rest 30 minutes more. Dough should be billowy and 30% larger in volume. If not, repeat 30-minute, wait-and-stretch routine twice more. 

  10. Transfer dough to well-floured work surface, and dust top of dough with flour. Cut dough in half and shape into two loaves.

  11. Spray two 8-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.  Place loaves in pans and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

  12. Allow dough to almost double in size, about 2 hours. (Or let dough rise for up to 3 days in refrigerator. Allow it to return to room temperature before continuing.) 

  13. Preheat oven to 475 F.

  14. Place rack in bottom third of oven and preheat at least 20 minutes.

  15. Bake loaves up to 25 minutes or more, until well browned, with a little char around edges. Remove loaves from pans and cool on rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

  16. Serve warm. Sourdough loaves can be double-wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in freezer bag and frozen up to one month.

Makes 2 loaves.