As you might imagine, I should stop buying cookbooks because I’d need to live to be 173 years old to go through the ones I already own. However, I am thrilled that I got the latest one from Emilie, pre-ordered the moment I saw it available: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.

I’ve been following Emilie’s blog for a long time, and even reviewed her first cookbook a while ago (click here for a flashback).  The salad I chose to feature in that post is one of those rare recipes that ended up in our regular rotation. You know how it goes in the kitchen of a food blogger. We are always trying new recipes, it’s a bit compulsive sometimes, but when a truly spectacular thing lands on our table, we go back to it. With this new book, Emilie does exactly what the title states: simplifies the making of artisan sourdough bread. She offers a very detailed explanation on how to make your first sourdough starter (that method that collects microorganisms from the environment), how to keep it healthy and use it to make all sorts of wonderful concoctions, going beyond bread baking.  Formulas are simple, the timing is flexible, as exemplified in the recipe I share with you today. I was so fond of it that I made it four times in 5 weeks! Yes, talk about re-visiting something spectacular. I am not the only one smitten with Emilie’s book. Celia, the one and only blogger who lives in beautiful Australia, composed a wonderful review of Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, and I urge you to stop by and take a look… It might just be the push you need to take the book home with you (at least virtually, as I did with my Kindle version…). So, without further ado, my first sourdough bread from Emilie’s book…

(printed with permission from Emilie Raffa)

Tips from Emilie: The first step toward bigger holes is to add more water, or to increase the dough’s hydration. The second step is to expand your sourdough technique: Gently dimple the dough after the bulk rise and then shape it twice. Both techniques will help to open up the crumb and can be applied toward other doughs to achieve the same effect.

Suggested baker’s schedule: Thursday and Friday: Feed your starter until bubbly and active. Saturday Evening: Make the dough and let rise overnight. Sunday Morning: Shape the dough, let rise again, score and bake.

Bread formula
50 g (¼ cup) bubbly, active starter (mine was at 100% hydration)
375 g (1 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp) warm water
500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
9 g (1 ½ tsp) fine sea salt

Making the dough
In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand to form a rough dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour.  After the dough has rested, work it into a ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.

Bulk fermentation
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70 ° F (21 ° C). The dough is ready when it has doubled in size, has a few bubbles on the surface, and jiggles when you move the bowl from side to side.

Shaping the dough
In the morning, coax the dough onto a floured surface. Dimple the dough all over with floured fingertips. Gently shape it into a round and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or proofing basket with a towel and dust with flour. Using a bench scraper, scoop up the dough and flip it over so that the smooth side is facing down. Shape it again, and then flip it back over. Cup the dough and gently pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Place into your lined bowl, seam side up.

Final fermentation
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour to set its structure. Note: You can chill this dough for up to 6 hours or more. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.

Baking the bread
Heat your oven to 500 ° F (260 ° C). Cut a piece of 
parchment to fit the size of your baking pot. Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Dust the surface with flour and rub with your hands to coat. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the dough with the pattern of your choice. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.  Place the pot on the center rack, and reduce the heat to 450 ° F (230 ° C). Bake the dough for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the advantages of a simple bread recipe is that you can concentrate on aspects other than the making of the dough, or its shaping, since it’s all so straightforward. This recipe was my gateway to practice different slashing patterns. My conclusion was that bread has a mind of its own. Almost every single time the final product was not exactly what I had in mind. But, isn’t that what life is all about? The more we try to control things, the more frustrated we might get. Until… until we learn to dance to the music and enjoy the unexpected, the stuff that does not go exactly as planned. No, I am not that wise yet, but working on it.

Indeed, for some members of our home, the way the bread looks is totally irrelevant…

Let me now show you my quartet of breads, all made with the same basic Emilie’s recipe, except that for the third loaf I increased the hydration even further (385 g water instead of 370g), and included one series of folds before the dough fermented at room temperature overnight.  I did that after the dough had rested for one hour, then waited 45 minutes more to shape it into a ball and leave it alone at room temperature until next day. The more you push the hydration up, the more you’ll need some type of folding or kneading to make sure you have some structure in it.  All things considered, I think Emilie’s formula as written is spot on,  considerably simplifying the process.

Slashing #1

That is the exact slashing that produced my featured bread.  You probably did not see anything wrong with it, but that’s because I picked the best angle of the bread to take the picture. Full disclosure? Here we go:

The slash at the base of the circle was probably a bit too deep, and the thing lift off like a lid! Looked pretty funny, almost like a Trilobite fossil in search of food. And the crust got a tad too dark in that spot.  Lesson to learn: be more gentle with the slashes at the base of the dough.

Slash #2

I was aiming for a yin-yang kind of thing.  Here’s the result after baking…

Nice, open ears, but definitely not what I expected. Not sure if I had to be more delicate with the depth of the central slashing… but I liked the way the bread looked.

Slash #3

I went with a star-type pattern, and diagonal small slashes all around….  This time I had no particular expectations, just decided to accept whatever the Gods of the Yeasty Things rewarded me with…

Slash #4

and the final, resulting loaf….

Probably my favorite… all plump and was singing out loud as it cooled…

All breads made with the high-hydration sourdough tend to have open crumb,
very creamy texture, with a hard crust.
The kind of bread we really love!

So there you have it, four loaves of bread made with a basic sourdough formula, according to Emilie’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.  The same formula produces amazing – let me state that again – produces AMAZING focaccia…

It is really a lovely book, Celia did a great job reviewing it, so let me just tempt you with a very simple list of breads included in one of her chapters. I want to bake every single one of them. Period.

Decadent Chocolate Chip (O.M.G)

Dill and White Cheddar

Olive, Thyme, and Parmesan

Seeded Pumpkin Cranberry (O.M.G. #2)

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Pickled Jalapeno, Cheddar and Chive (O.M.G. #3)

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Sticky Date, Walnut and Orange (I rest my case)

Emilie, thanks for giving me permission to share one recipe from your lovely book…  I am looking forward to baking more and more goodies from your tasty collection!

ONE YEAR AGO: Short-Ribs with Chickpeas and Chard & London Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

THREE YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

FOUR YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FIVE YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

SIX YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo



















  1. Guess what? I already have the book even though I don’t need another cookbook either. It’s gorgeous, and I can’t wait to bake from it. I guess it’s cheaper than collecting designer purses, right? Your crumb is perfection, and I love the loaf with the blown out side! Bogey doesn’t care!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I’m struggling with extreme fatigue but I will fight through to give Emilie’s recipe a try. It looks gorgeous. Celia has taught me so much and now Emilie? We’re in for good bread.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A wonderful post! Emilia, her blog and her book are all fab, but most of all I love your loaves and all of your slashing!! I love the anticipation of not knowing exactly what the slashing will end up looking like…that moment of hope when you lift the lid on the baked loaf and just pray that it’s risen, and HOPEFULLY also looks good!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another here who needs a new cookbook like a hole in the head – and the postman has just brought me Solo by Signe Johansen. It looks full of really great ideas to make interesting food for one. I am also a great fan of Celia’s blog and having read about Emilia’s book there I have got it on my kindle too. It may seem odd to bake my own bread when I live alone but I slice and freeze my loaves and that works well.
    A home made loaf always makes a welcome gift too.
    Might have known Bogey would be paying attention – but I don’t think it was the slashing he was interested in!

    Liked by 1 person

    • that Bogey is something, isn’t he? He is totally tuned into the noises around the kitchen – if we grab a knife from the storage place, even if we try to be as silent as possible, he might be deep asleep, his ears go up, and in one nanosecond he is right by our side!


  5. I agree, your slashing is fantastic! I’m still scared of it ;P I bought Emilie’s book too thanks to the lovely Celia’s mention of it on her blog. I was lucky enough to have had sent some of the lovely starter “Priscilla” from her which I’ve had for some years now. She’s the perfectly behaved sourdough starter that I called “Eve” since I expected problems 🙂 I’ve even dehydrated her while in Europe the way Celia explained and she came back better than ever!!! I’ve made Emilie’s first recipe in the book, the everyday sourdough and wow it was probably the best loaf and easiest I’ve made so far. On to this one you are showing us today maybe next week. I have a black olive batard to attempt first in my new banneton but it’s not a sourdough. Please wish me luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is some incredible bread you got there! I loved the slashing comparison (and the comparison to trilobites, lol). But by far, my favorite is the focaccia. That may the thing that nudges me into finally trying this monstrocity of a loaf. But first…can I borrow a scale, a thermometer, a hydrometer, a hygrometer, and some starter? Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL … I had to pipe in. When I first started baking SD loaves, all I had was a DO. Since then I HAVE bought a really inexpensive digital scale ($12.99 at Canadian Tire) but that didn’t make all my problems go away. And I’m not going to throw money at the problems that I still have. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry, I’m so used to commenting in FB sourdough/bread baking groups that I forget the rest of the world isn’t as obsessive in their bread baking. 🙂

          DO = dutch oven

          I bought myself a cherry red Le Creuset enameled dutch oven in more affluent days. It’s used to help create a very hot steamy environment in the oven during baking so as to produce maximum oven spring … not that I’ve been overly successful in the pursuit of that so far.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lol. Ah, you kids with your wacky internet abbreviations! (I *am* rather obsessive about my baking, but I’m not on Facebook or any other social media site. I’m an outcast. At least until I shower.)

            I have a whole collection of Le Creuset pieces ( https://dangerdangerwordpresscom.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/porn/ ) and have made bread in several of them over the years, including the famous “no knead” bread that was all the rage a few years ago. Frankly, much as I love my enameled babies, I don’t see much advantage to baking yeast breads in them. I will say, though, that soda risen breads work fantastic in them (I have a pic in another post of a terrific Irish soda bread). 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

        • oh, man… Lula… I have to tell you that my mind is so upset with what we have in the US of A that I do not have the space or the intestinal fortitude to focus on what is going on back home. I can tell you hell is breaking lose, Rio de Janeiro’s violence is hitting unprecedented levels, everyone is upset, frustrated, and no light is seen at the end of the tunnel. We will be there next month…. I might be able to tell you more later..

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve actually been having to keep up with news out of Brazil as part of my job, and you’re right: very upsetting on many fronts. Such a beautiful place, such a rich culture. Such a shame. I hope things smooth out for everyone’s sake, and soon.

            Glad to hear you’re going! Come back with wonderful pictures 🙂


  7. No new cookbooks for me either but I DO appreciate having people cherry pick outstanding recipes like you have and sharing them. I haven’t had much luck with high hydration doughs in the past so I have pretty much stuck to one particular no knead and a tartine recipe for my SD baking but I’m going to save this one and give it a try. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it is true that the higher the hydration the more you need a bit of practice to get used to handling the dough – some youtube videos show bakers pushing the envelope way way high, reaching 90% hydration, which is insane… they end up slapping the “dough” on the surface to promote gluten formation and structure… very cool to watch, I haven’t tried taking the hydration that far

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I sure as heck don’t need another cookbook, but since I was just thinking about getting into baking bread again using a short and simple recipe that I downloaded, I took a look at this book and bought it instead. Thanks for the heads up Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

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