bread & quickbread

Bread is one of life’s great pleasures. Who doesn’t love a hunk of fluffy, crusty dough baked to sensory glutinous (and gluttonous!) perfection? Alternatively, quickbreads offer a chance to incorporate fresh fruit, seeds, and nuts, and to experiment with different flours. Bread & quickbread are one of my favorite delights to bake.

When baking bread, I mostly prefer working with sourdough which is harnessed from wild yeast microbes in the air. Sourdough involves a much longer, drawn-out process than working with commercial yeast. It is entirely worth the wait, though, as the deep flavor and texture which develops over time is truly unique.

Give these bread & quickbread recipes a try to get your fill of pleasurable and heartening gluten!

Experimenting with different flavor and texture mix-ins with sourdough bread is totally gratifying and can really take sourdough to new dimensions. Nuts and seeds add crunch and dried fruit, cheese, or meat add layers of chewiness. These cheddar flax and black pepper sourdough loaves incorporate savory cheddar, chewy flax, and the spice of black pepper. Enjoy a slice on its own or bundled into a delicious sandwich. Cheddar flax and black pepper sourdough can be dressed savory or made sweet but regardless, will satisfy any glutenous craving.


for the levain

  • 30g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 60g whole wheat flour
  • 60g all-purpose four
  • 120g water

for the loaves

  • 250g levain
  • 750g + 50g water, divided
  • 1000g all-purpose flour
  • 20g salt
  • 100g flax seed
  • 100g sharp cheddar cheese
  • 12g freshly cracked black pepper
  • Rice flour (for dusting)


  • Day 1 (overnight) make levain in the evening and let rest ~10 hours
  • Day 2 (morning-afternoon) mix, stretch, fold dough ~4 hours
  • Day 2 (overnight) bulk fermentation ~12 hours
  • Day 3 (morning) bake for 55 minutes. 

levain steps

The night before you are going to bake your bread, mix together the starter, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and water until evenly combined. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit for 10-12 hours until the surface is bubbly and a small bit (about ¼ teaspoon) of the starter floats in a glass of water.

loaves steps

In a large bowl, mix together the activated levain and 750g of the water until the levain completely dissolves. Add the flour and mix with your hands or a rubber spatula until it forms a shaggy dough. Let this mixture sit for 1-4 hours as the ingredients absorb into each other, this is the autolyse stage.

After the dough has rested for an hour, evenly sprinkle the salt over the top then add the remaining 50g of water. Pinch and squeeze the dough with your fingers to make sure that the salt and water evenly incorporate.

Starting at the top of the bowl, stretch the dough up and fold it in half over itself. Turn the bowl clockwise 90° and stretch and fold it once again. Turn the bowl twice more, each time 90° and stretch and fold each time, for a total of four stretches and folds. Then let the dough sit for 30 minutes. 

At this point, sprinkle half of the cheddar, flax, and freshly cracked black pepper over the top of the dough. Using your fingertips, press them into the dough and begin the first stretch and fold of the series. Turn the bowl and stretch and fold once more, then add in the remaining cheddar, flax, and freshly cracked black pepper, once again pressing them into the dough with your fingertips. Stretch and fold the dough twice more then let rest for 30 minutes. 

Repeat the stretch and fold process every 30 minutes followed by a 30 minute rest over the next hour and a half for a total of six stretch and fold sequences, including the one adding in the mix-ins. 

Following the final stretch and fold, let the dough rest for 30 minutes then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Work with one piece at a time and fold the dough from four corners, essentially making four flaps which join in the center of the dough like a package.

Dust two bannetons or large bowls lined with dish towels with rice flour or all-purpose flour and place the loaves seam-side up inside. Place in the refrigerator to ferment overnight.

One the loaves are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 550°F and place a 5 qt. Dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker in the oven to heat. Test that the dough is ready to bake by lightly pressing it with your finger. If the indent moves back quickly, the dough is not ready to bake. If it keeps the indentation, then the dough is ready!

Wrap a piece of parchment paper over the top of the banneton and flip it over onto the paper. Slice the top in a pattern of your choosing to ensure that the steam can release and the dough can rise to its full potential. Remove the heated dutch oven, lower the oven temperature to 500°F place the dough inside, cover, and bake for 20 minutes without removing the lid. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 35 minutes until crisp. Repeat with the second loaf if you are baking the loaves back to back. 

This recipe for raisin caraway sourdough comes at the request of my boyfriend who loves both caraway seeds and raisins. I grew up eating seeded rye bread from the local German bakery, so for me, caraway seeds are always fragrant and nostalgic.

The flavors in these loaves are like that of Irish soda bread but with the chewy and crusty texture and tang of sourdough. I find this raisin caraway sourdough to be quite satisfying, and it may just inspire a whole new world of flavor possibilities for you, too!

I recommend using a dough scraper to help you work with and transfer your dough. It also helps scrape the sides of the bowl in its initial stages when it is still quite wet.

When adding mix-ins to sourdough bread, the key steps are to:

  • Soak the fruit and the seeds in water and add them along with most of their water to the dough
  • Add the mix-ins at the beginning of the first fold and gently massage them into the dough

makes 2 loaves of bread


for the levain

  • 1 tablespoon mature sourdough starter
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup water

for the dough

  • 2 + ¼ cups water
  • 5 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup raisins, soaked in ½ cup of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons caraway seeds, soaked

levain steps

The night before you plan to bake your bread, mix the levain by adding sourdough starter, ¼ cup whole-wheat flour, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, and ⅓ cup water in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit for 12 hours.

Your levain is ready when it is dotted with many small bubbles on top. To test that it is ready, drop it in water and see if it floats.

bread steps

Pour two cups of water into the levain and mix until it evenly dissolves. Add the flour and mix into a shaggy dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This is the autolyse stage when the flour absorbs the levain. It is during this process that the dough becomes more elastic and begins to develop its depth of flavor.

Meanwhile, fill a small bowl or measuring cup with ¼ cup of water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Mix until the salt dissolves.

Once the dough has sat for at least 30 minutes, pour the salt water over the dough and begin to squeeze and pinch it into the parts of the dough. It will feel slimy and sticky and wet. It is at this point when you add in the raisins and caraway seeds and continue pinching and squeezing into the dough.

Begin to stretch the dough by pulling one end upwards and folding it in half over itself (see below photos). Turn the bowl 90° and fold the dough up and over itself once again. Do this 4 times so that in total, you have turned the bowl a full 360°! This is the first fold (of 6 total!)

Let the dough sit for 30 minutes then repeat the folding process 5 more times, every 30 minutes, for 2 and a half hours, each time turning the bowl four times and folding it up and over itself. As the dough rests it will absorb some of the moisture and become more ecstatic. You will notice that it becomes less sticky and easier to work with.

After you have completed all of the turns, remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Cut it in half and shape each half by pushing the sides underneath it to form a ball. Let sit.

Line two large bowls with a dish towel and generously coat with flour. (This is where a proofing basket comes in if you have one). Starting with the right side of one loaf, fold four corners to the center and place, fold-side up, into one of the bowls. Repeat with the other loaf. Let sit for ~3 hours at room temperature.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 500°F. Place two dutch ovens or heavy-bottomed pots 4 quarts or larger, with the lids on, inside for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn one loaf of dough into the pot with the side that was touching the towel or basket facing up. Repeat with the second loaf. If you only have one pot, you can bake the two loaves in a row.

Lower the oven to 450°F and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.