Sourdough Country Wheat

Adapted by
April 2016
“I think simplicity in life, in general, is really a virtue. For me, the purest bread is the simplest bread—where you’re tasting the fermentation of the wheat itself. The way that we extract the most flavor is by doing slow, cold, long fermentation, similar to cheese. We make anywhere from 800 to 1,200 loaves a day, every one of them hand shaped, 100 percent natural leaven. We can control temperature, time, and humidity, but there is an element of natural leaven baking that we can’t control. This is where the artisanship comes in. You need someone who is trained to come in, make decisions, and run the store every day. There is a literal artisan trained in the craft to lead the team and make real decisions. This is the difference between artisanship and industrial productions. Our [Sourdough Country Wheat] is cool because you can hold it from the grin. By scoring the bread, we manipulate where the gas will be released. When the bread smiles like this, it tells us that there are holes inside, and it will be perfect. You can change the flour, the amount of water you add. You can use natural leaven, or you can use yeast. You can make all different kinds of breads. But it’s hard to get this grin. The outside is what the people are excited about, but the inside is what the baker is excited about. It’s kind of like the truth. The bread should be creamy; the crust should be crunchy and mildly acidic. It’s good, old-fashioned, naturally leavened bread. We do other varieties, but this is the foundation of the bakery. This is what it’s all about.” – Zak Stern


Bread flour | 90%
High-extraction T85 whole wheat flour | 7%
Whole rye | 3%
water | 73%
Mother | 20%
Salt | 2%


Autolyse | 1 hour
Dough temperature | 73°F to 75°F
Bulk ferment | 2 to 3 hours
Folds | 3 to 5
Divide weight | 0.85 kilograms
Pre-shape | Tight boule
Bench | 25 to 30 minutes
Final shape | Batard
Proof | In couche, overnight
Bake time | 43 to 45 minutes