French Country Sour Dough Bread

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Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

Sourdough is made without adding any yeast or leavening to the bread. You let the natural yeasts in flour develop over several days. I’d never made sour dough before, so it was fun feeding the starter a little every morning and watching it slowly come to life.


The dough is very wet and doesn’t produce a tall loaf like you buy at the market, but what it lacked in looks it made up for in taste. It has a fabulous flavor with a crisp, chewy crust and moist tender crumb. It smelled irresistible while it was baking. We couldn’t resist cutting it and eating half of it while it was still hot.


We also had to make a recipe that showcases the bread, and I chose to make HoneyB’s Cheesy Garlic Bread. My sweet blogging friend Shelby, The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch, is celebrating her 4 year blogiversary with a small bites party and a giveaway and I’m helping her celebrate. Shelby and I meet through Daring Bakers and have been blogging buddies almost from the beginning. She is a kind, caring person, with loads of great recipes, like her wonderful Cheesy Garlic Bread.

Information on how you can help Shelby celebrate and enter her giveaway are listed below. You’ll also want to be sure and visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the fabulous bread the Daring Bakers baked up this month. Thanks Jessica for hosting this month’s challenge. (I also want to thank Kelley, Mountain Mama Cooks, for giving me the cute frog bowl and the fabulous Trader Joe’s Garlic Olive Oil. I drizzled it on the bread instead of butter and garlic and it’s amazing!)

Yield: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter

French Country Sour Dough Bread

Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


Wheat Starter - Day 1:

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  • Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)

Wheat Starter - Day 2:

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  • scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
  • Total scant cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)

Wheat Starter - Day 3:

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) water
  • scant 1 cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
  • Total 1? cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8-1/10 oz)

Wheat Starter - Day 4:

  • 3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (205 ml) (120 gm/4 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water
  • 1? cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8 oz) starter from Day 3
  • Total scant 2? cup (625 ml) (440 gm/15½ oz)

French Country Bread

  • 1 cup less 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (160 gm/5 ? oz) wheat Leaven Starter
  • 6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (85 ml) (50 gm/1¾ oz) stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ? oz) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • Production Leaven Total 2¾ cups plus 4 teaspoons (680 ml) (480 gm /1 lb 1 oz)
  • French Country Bread
  • 3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (175 ml) (100 gm/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (510 ml) (300gm/10 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons (7½ ml) (7 gm/¼ oz) sea salt or ? teaspoon (3? ml) (3 gm/? oz) table salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
  • 1 ¾ cups (425 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) production leaven–this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
  • Total 6 cups less 2 tablespoons 1415 ml (1007 gm/35 ½ oz/2 lb 3½ oz)

HoneyB's Cheesy Garlic Bread

  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 Tablespoon refrigerated minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use a micro plane zester. If you don't use this, you may want to adjust the amount of cheese.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • oregano


Wheat Starter - Day 1:

  1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected! 3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you'll still get a starter going–it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter - Day 2:

  1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 3:

  1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.

Wheat Starter - Day 4

  1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!

French Country Bread Stage 1:

  1. Refreshing the leavenMix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.

French Country Bread Stage 2: Making the final dough

  1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough. See demonstration here:
  2. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough. See demonstration here:
  3. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more "vertical" dough, ready for proofing. See demonstration here:
  4. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.
  5. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

HoneyB's Cheesy Garlic Bread

  1. Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Mix garlic into softened butter. Spread evenly on both sides of bread slices. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle with mozzarella and oregano. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Turn to broil and broil until cheese just begins to brown. Cool slightly, slice & enjoy!

Giveaway details:

  • The giveaway is for a $50 gift card to ONE of the following choices: Sears, Kohls, Amazon, Target, Wal-mart, Chili’s, Uno’s, Marshalls/TJMax, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macaroni Grill, Olive Garden, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble
  • To enter leave a comment on this blog post telling me who inspires you.
  • For more entries, visit the links in the bloghop below and leave a comment on their posts.
  • Giveaway will end on January 7th at 5 PM EST and is open to residents of the US & Canada only.
  • Winner will be announced on January 8th via blog post on The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch.
  • Winner will be chosen via random drawing by Grumpy.

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originally published December 27, 2011 — last updated May 27, 2019
Categories: Breads