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# 5 Olive Sourdough Bread

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Nothing beats making your own sourdough at home and once you start learning to make your own bread, there is no going back! This is my #5 Olive Sourdough Bread with 10% Whole Wheat and a step by step video guide!

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough bread is made from the use of naturally occurring bacteria (Lactobacilli) and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that are cultivated over a period of time. The end product of this cultivation used in sourdough bread is a "culture" or "mother" that is packed with life and flavour.

Lactobacilli bacteria is a natural occurring bacteria that grows and builds up from the fermentation of carbohydrates. Although the idea of cultivating a bacteria and consuming them may seem a little off putting when we talk about food, this Lactobacilli bacteria is actually a friendly bacteria that is proven to help the human body to break down food, absorb nutrients and prevent any gut diseases by fighting off the unfriendly bacteria. Through the fermentation process, lactobacilli bacteria produces a type of acid that lowers the pH level of the culture, and this not only adds flavour to the bread, it also makes it difficult for the other bad bacteria that can be harmful to the body to thrive.

What is the difference between yeast bacteria and Lactobacillus?
Although both bacteria consume the food source, typically sugar in the bread dough, yeast converts and breaks down the sugar to alcohol, whereas Lactobacilli converts the sugar after consuming them into lactic or acetic acid.

What is the difference between sourdough bread and other yeast based bread?

The difference between a sourdough bread in comparison to bread made with commercial yeast is that sourdough has a depth of flavour that are usually lactic or acetic that commercial bread made with only instant, compressed or dry yeast are not able to give.

Flavour profile of sourdough bread from different bakers rely heavily on many factors. For example, the sourdough can have a more yoghurt like flavour (lactic) if the culture contains more liquid to dry flour; or if the culture has a higher percentage of flour to water, it can yield a more tangy (acetic) loaf. The different type of liquid and flour used or the time taken to ferment before adding into the bread dough can also play a factor to the taste profile as well.

Unlike commercial yeasted bread, sourdough breads are fermented over a long period that can take up to 2 days to prepare before you get to enjoy them, while yeasted dough can be ready as quick as the day you make them. If you are in to good quality delicious loaf, making sourdough bread is worth the wait.

How do I know if my sourdough culture has gone bad?

The best indication of a sourdough culture gone bad is if it starts to smell "off". A sourdough culture should have a slight sour and milky note to it, not pungent and rotten smelling. If you detect any signs of water streak on top of your sourdough culture that is pinkish in colour, the best thing to do is to discard the starter and start all over again.


Sourdough bread is known to be friendlier to the gut by providing the necessary bacteria you need for a healthier bowel, very similar to what yoghurt does to your body. A lot of times I have come across people who are celiac and find it difficult to ingest gluten have better reaction to sourdough bread. Although much facts need to be put in place for this claim, it is also known that the long fermentation process helps break down the gluten that may make it easier to digest in the body.


Making your own sourdough culture or sometimes called "Starter" is as simple as 1, 2 ,3. All you need is an equal amount of flour and water, mix the two together and place them in a loosely lid jar. Place the flour mix at room temperature over a couple of days. You will usually start to see a sign of life towards the third or sometimes the 5th day depending on the ambient of your kitchen. You will know that the culture is starting to cultivate the natural lactobacilli bacteria and yeast when it starts to bubble and increase in volume (it usually isn't by much on the first week, but activity will happen). Once activity is detected, this is where your persistent diligence will need to kick in as you will have to discard half of the culture and add in equal amount of fresh unchlorinated water and flour to it. The process of adding fresh water and flour to a newly active culture is call "feeding" because you are now actually providing new source of food for the culture.

Like any living organism, if you stop eating, you can starve to death. The same will go to the sourdough culture where you are required to feed them daily at room temperature. The cultivation can take up a time period ranging from one to two and a half week and after the culture has fully developed and is lively, the feeding needs to be keep going lifelong. It is like when you bring a puppy home, you have to keep nurturing and taking care of it.


To know that your culture are at its prime, it will double, if not triple in volume in a space of between 4 to 16 hours after feeding at room temperature (4-6 hours if you are using the 1:1:1 ratio of Culture:Water:Flour) and (12-16 hours if you are using the 1:2:3 ratio of Culture:Water:Flour). Just remember to leave the jar lid slightly loose. Every organism needs to breath too!

Once your culture reaches its peak, you can start using them, but remember to frequently feed the culture to keep it alive. You need to find the borderline to determine when it needs feeding and when you are feeding it too much. The best guideline is once a day around the same time and that should do the trick.

When the culture are ready to be used for bread baking, they are termed as "Levain". When you are preparing Levain, always prepare a little extra so that you can feed the excess as keep cultivating it as your ongoing culture again for the next bake.

You also have the option to either constantly feed the culture daily or simply feed it once, leave it at room temperature to activate 20% increase in its volume and then place it in the fridge for up to a week before feeding it again. Just remember to bring the cold culture back to room temperature before doing doing the feeding. Note that you will be required to scoop up some of the culture and throw out the rest of the extra culture/ "discard", otherwise you will end up with a pile of them. Alternatively, you can feed the "discard" and pass them on in jars for your friends and family to take care of. There are also heaps of recipes online you can find on how to use discards.


If you are not a frequent baker like myself and opted to keep the freshly fed culture in the fridge it is important that that you remove the culture from the fridge and feed it daily at least 3 days prior to baking. This is call "refreshing". Just imagine yourself getting back to work after a week's off, you need to get your body and mind back to it on the first few days after a long week of snoozing on your couch! Little Miss Culture is very much like all of us :)

My own verdict of this loaf

This is an improved version of my number #5 Sourdough with Kalamata Olives that I made a while back. A very high hydration dough that proves to be a challenge when I attempted shaping this loaf but practice has its benefit. During the pre shaping, I thought this loaf is going to be shy of a pass but overall a really soft and chewy crumb and I did not regret making the decision to bake it anyway. Sometimes you might get a bad feeling for your loaf before it hits the baking stage, I would recommend that you go with it anyway because whatever your instinct tells you, at least in the end, you get a loaf of bread! Am I right?! :)

I hope you enjoy making this sourdough as much as I did and I will be posting more on sourdough bread soon! Meanwhile, break a bread!



Duration: 2 Days

Yield: 1 x 950 g sourdough loaf

Patience Level: High


30 g Ripe Starter

60 g Water

75 g Baker's Flour

15 g Rye Flour

Final Dough

405 g White Baker's Flour (14% Protein)

45 g Whole Wheat Baker's Flour

10 g Salt

115 g Ripened Levain

380 g Water - Reserve 60 g for later

*80% Hydration


Time Flow

Let's Begin....

Friday 2 pm Feed Started to refresh

10 g Rye Flour

40 g White Baker's Flour

50 g Ripe Starter

50 g Water at 24°C

Mix all the ingredients above until there are no dry bits of flour. Place into a clean jar and compact it by pressing it down with a spatula. Leave the lid slightly open. Place a rubber band level with the starter and leave at room temperature to double in volume.

Note: If you do not have rye flour, whole wheat or spelt flour is fine too. The mentioned flours has a lot of nutrients compared to all white flour and these nutrients can help the culture activate a little faster, sort of like an energy food.


9 pm - Make Levain

6 hours later

At this point, the starter/culture should be quite active having risen at least half the original volume.

In a clean bowl mix the following ingredients together to make the Levain that will be going in to your final dough the next day.

30 g Ripened Starter (that you prepared at 2 pm)

60 g Water at 24°C

75 g White Baker's Flour (14% Protein)

15 g Rye Flour

Tie a rubber band around the jar level with the Levain and leave at room temperature to ripen (increase in volume) overnight for around 12 to 14 hours depending on the ambient of your kitchen.


Saturday 8 am - Autolyze

11 hours later

2 hours before the Levain is ready, start mixing the flours and water (reserving 60 g for later). Cover the dough with a cloth or a plastic and put in a warm place. At this point, the dough should look shaggy and rough.

Note: The reserved 60 g of water is to be added in intervals when you add in the Levain, salt and doing the stretch and fold. You may or may not need all of the 60 g of water depending on the humidity on the day you are making this loaf.


10 am - Add Levain and 10 g of the reserved water

2 hours later

Test the readiness of the Levain by gently picking up some and dropping into a jug of water. If it floats, then it is ready to use.

Add the Levain and approximately 10 g of the reserved water into the dough and mix until well incorporated. Cover and leave at a warm place for 30 minutes.


10:30 am- Add Salt and "Slap and Fold"

30 minutes later

Sprinkle the fine salt on top of the dough with some water to help dissolve the salt and rub into the dough until it is no longer grainy. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, wet the work bench with the reserve water and transfer the dough on to it. Add in a little of the remaining water at a time, squeeze and incorporate the water into the dough. As the dough starts to become wetter and softer, perform "slap and Fold" whilst adding in some more water until a smooth and stretchy dough is achieved.

Note: You will be able to tell when the dough can no longer take in any more water as it starts to find it hard to become smooth on the surface. At this point, stop adding anymore water and continue to "slap and fold" until you can feel the dough being stretch and has some strength. Depending on the humidity on the day you are making the bread, addition of water can vary. You will need to use your best judgement at this stage,

Transfer the wet dough back into the bowl, cover and rest for 1 hour.

12 pm Add Olives & First " Stretch and Fold"

30 minutes after resting

Sprinkle the cut olives on top of the dough and perform the first stretch and Fold. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.


12:30 pm - Second "Stretch and Fold"

30 minutes later

Perform the second Stretch and Fold. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

1 pm - Third Stretch and Fold

30 minutes later

Perform the Third Stretch and Fold. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

1:30 pm - Fourth and Final Stretch and Fold

30 minutes later

Perform the fourth and final stretch and fold, cover then let it bulk proof in a warm place for 2 hours.


3:30 pm - Pre shaping

2 hours later

Pre shape the dough, cover and rest for 30 minutes


4:15 pm - Final Shaping and Retarding

30 minutes after pre shaping

Final shape the dough. generously dust the proofing basket with equal amount of corn flour and baker's flour. Place the shaped boule into the basket with the seam side facing outwards. Dust the top with more flour mix. Cover then leave at room temperature for 2 hours before placing it into the fridge to retard overnight for baking in the morning.


7:30 am Sunday - Pre heat the oven

Next morning , 13 hours after dough is placed in the fridge to retard

1 hour prior to baking the sourdough bread, place the cast iron pot with its lid in to the oven and ore heat the oven to 210°C. The dough should still be in the fridge at this point


8:30 am - Scoring & Baking

1 hour later

Remove the sourdough from the fridge and tilt the dough gently onto a parchment paper. Dust (optional) the top of your sourdough with the flour mix (equal amount of corn flour and baker's flour) Score then bake in the pre heated oven with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to bake for a further 40 to 45 minutes or until it reaches the desired crust color.

Moment of Truth


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