Joanna from Zeb Bakes is a constant source of inspiration. She always comes up with the most amazing breads, just because she got up one day in the mood to play with an idea, or try to mimic something from a fancy bakery.  Not too long ago she shared with her readers a gorgeous bread with a crown, looking like a Roman Emperor, perhaps Julius Caesar on his golden days.  According to Joanna, the Emperor had indulged a tad too much on vino the evening before, so his crown was tilted to one side.  Granted, we’ve all had our days of overindulging, so let’s not be too critical.  Here is my attempt at crowning a sourdough:
(adapted from Joanna, at Zeb Bakes)

Mix together:
25 g of active sourdough starter
100 g  bread flour
125 g water

Leave for 12-16 hours in a cold kitchen;  6-10 hours in a warm one.

The following day, make the dough:
225 g of the above mixture
200 g water
175 g bread flour
150 g regular bread flour
75 g dark rye flour
1/2 tablespoon of dark malt dissolved in water
3 g dry yeast
10 g sea salt

Mix all ingredients together, except the salt.  Leave the mass of dough to rest for 20 minutes, sprinkle salt on top and knead it in for a couple of minutes until smooth. You can use a KitchenAid in low-speed if you like.

Ferment the dough for 3 hours, with two folds (at 60 and 120 minutes). Leave the dough rise undisturbed for the last hour.   Weigh the dough and separate a small amount roughly 10% of its weight for the braid.  Divide that portion in three, make long strands with it, and form a braid.   Place the braid at the bottom of a well floured banetton, form the remaining of the dough as a ball, and place it, seam side down over the braid.

Ferment the shaped dough for 2 hours, invert it on a piece of parchment paper, and bake in a 450 F oven with initial steam for 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 420 F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.  Cool completely on a rack.


to print the recipe, click  here


I loved making this bread!  When Joanna posted her article, she got a comment from the baker who originally designed this recipe, and he advised her to use less dough (5 to 8% from the total weight) to make the braids.  I used 10% because it already seemed like a very small amount, but I ran into some difficulties. I should have rolled my strands a little longer, and glued them better to the rest of the dough.  Still, it is a nice touch to embellish a sourdough boule. I will not lie to you, though.  My  Emperor was also vino-happy the previous night, as these (more revealing) shots will demonstrate. 😉


This was a nice loaf of bread, with the delicious flavor of rye, and a golden brown crust, boosted by the inclusion of malt. I baked it inside a large roasting pan with a lid, after a nice comment left by Donna on my sourdough mini-rolls post. It worked extremely well, thanks for the great tip, Donna!  I did not add any extra water inside the pan. I just poured some inside the lid, emptied it leaving a little water clinging to the surface, and inverted it quickly to close the roaster.  At the end of 20 minutes I opened the roasting pan and continued baking uncovered.


Joanna, thanks for another great recipe!  This one goes straight to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2011

TWO YEARS AGO: Festivus Dinner Rolls

THREE YEARS AGO: 100% Sourdough Rye