Three Rustic Levain Batards

September 13, 2012

Author Notes:

I like saying "batards" in my best french accent. My kids hate it when I do that. Anyway this recipe comes out of my recent obsession with wild yeast levain, a stiff sourdough starter. I will be tweaking this recipe until my obsession subsides.
This recipe is based on a levain made from unbleached wheat AP or bread flour plus water. I have a feeling any levain that is mostly wheat and is thriving will work.
This recipe requires kneading but can be made in a relatively short time (for sourdough that is). For really really good bread that is crusty and chewy and happens to be "no-knead", look for a recipe that requires long rests in the refrigerator.


Makes: 3 torpedo loaves


  • 3/4 cup stiff levain, 70% hydration, at room temp, refreshed and ready to go
  • 2-1/4 cups tepid filtered water
  • 4-3/4 cups (plus more) unbleached AP or bread flour
  • OPTIONAL - replace 3/4 cup of above flour with whole wheat pastry flour, make sure remaining 4 cups is bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons salt
In This Recipe


  1. Add 1/2 cup of water to the levain; mash up to soften.
  2. In a mixing bowl or bowl of stand mixer combine remaining water with flour and salt. Add softened starter. Dough will be very stiff and difficult to incorporate last of flour. If it is impossible to get last of flour mixed in add water in tiny increments.
  3. After one hour "turn" the dough by doing the following: turn out onto floured surface and lightly pat into a rectangle. Fold top third down then bottom third up over that. Fold ends under and place back in the bowl.
  4. Allow to rise for another 2-3 hours until doubled in size. Dump onto floured surface and divide into three parts.
  5. Shape into batards and form a couche using parchment paper- I will post an illustration.
  6. Proof loaves for 1 hour or more, until expanded 1-1/2 times. During this time place a cast iron skillet and a baking stone (or upside-down baking sheet) into the oven and heat to 450 degrees Farenheit. Heat up some water in a kettle.
  7. Slide proofed loaves onto baking stone/sheet. Pour 1/3 cup boiling water into skillet. Close oven door and reduce heat to 400. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool for hour before cutting.

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