This simple sourdough batard recipe makes the baguette’s lesser known cousin, the bâtard. This oval-shaped loaf is not as long or as narrow as a baguette but it’s longer than a round sourdough boule and is therefore infinitely more practical for making toast and sandwiches meaning less bread goes to waste. And who doesn’t love a sourdough challenge?
My simple sourdough batard recipe makes the French baguette’s lesser known cousin, the batard – or more correctly, the bâtard. The batard is still made from sourdough starter, but it’s a longer oval-shaped loaf, although not as long or as narrow as the baguette. As much as I love a sourdough boule, this is far more practical for making sandwiches and toast, which means less bread goes to waste.
After a few years making sourdough bread (where on earth has the year gone), I was also ready for a sourdough baking challenge. As regular readers will know, I’ve been baking sourdough every few days since the start of the pandemic and encouraging you all to start your sourdough journey as I really think baking sourdough is one of the best cooking projects for these stressful times as it engages and involves you over a period of time.
Baking sourdough is not only incredibly satisfying it’s also easy to make and cheaper than buying sourdough from a bakery. You will need to have had some experience at sourdough baking before attempting this simple sourdough batard recipe, so if you haven’t baked sourdough bread before, do take a look at my simple sourdough starter recipe and my beginner’s guide to easy sourdough baking before you begin baking batards.
If you have mastered sourdough, you might also like to check out our sourdough starter discard recipes, which include recipes for sourdough discard scallion pancakes, sourdough crumpets, and sourdough crackers, which should be used to scoop up this classic hummus. Or just jump right into this simple sourdough batard recipe and do let us know what you think.
Simple Sourdough Batard Recipe for Making the Baguette’s Lesser Known Cousin
This simple sourdough batard recipe like so many Grantourismo recipes came about because once I began experimenting with the batard, I couldn’t find a batard recipe that I loved. Having been making sourdough boules for nearly three years, I thought it was time for me to explore different shaped sourdough loaves.
The most practical sourdough alternative to the boule appeared to be the batard, an oval-shaped loaf that can just have one single deep score that produces a dramatic ‘ear’, the flap of crust at the top of the scoring slash. And what sourdough baker doesn’t love a dramatic ear and some nice scoring slashes?
Why is the shape of the sourdough batard more practical than a boule? It’s because it’s a more classic bread loaf shape, meaning that it’s better for making sandwiches and toast as each piece is pretty much equal in size. But this is no boring loaf of bread. For lovers of sourdough baking, you can still achieve an amazing ear with a batard if you get good oven spring. Here’s my advice to making a simple sourdough batard recipe.
Tips to Making this Sourdough Batard Recipe
Just a few tips to making my simple sourdough batard recipe…
The Sourdough Batard ‘Proofing Basket’
For this simple sourdough batard recipe I’ve been using disposable aluminum foil bread loaf pans with the dimensions 10 cm wide 6 1/2 cm deep 21 cm long. In this I place what we called in Australia a ‘tea towel’ or cotton dish towel. The reason being because I can’t find any batard-shaped proofing baskets in Cambodia.
Batard Dough Ingredients
As we can currently only get bread flour and no wholewheat flour, I’m using 100% bread flour for this simple sourdough batard recipe. I use a mix of an Asian bread flour brand called White Swan and an American brand Gold Medal. Incidentally, I find my sourdough starter prefers the White Swan flour for feeding.
If I could get wholewheat flour, I’d use a mix of 3-1 bread flour to wholewheat flour. The hydration level is around 70%. We like a relatively tighter texture in our bread, partially because it’s more practical for spreading butter and jam on bread without huge holes, and partly because Lara, whose mother and grandparents are Russian, likes a denser texture that she remembers from her childhood.
Whenever I’m calculating hydration percentages of my dough, I use a website called BreadCalc which is a bread hydration and conversion calculator. It’s very convenient as you can keep track of your last bake stored in a URL. This is the details of this bread formula.
Bulk Fermenting Your Batard Dough
If you’ve been baking sourdough for a while, you’ll note that this simple sourdough batard recipe requires no pre-ferment for this method. That means that the flour and water are not mixed and left for around one hour before introducing the starter and salt, often called an autolyse. However, the mix is left for an hour before the stretch and folds begin, which are then done one half an hour apart.
Generally I do three sets of stretch and folds, then check the structure and strength using the ‘windowpane effect’. This is where you take a small portion of your dough and stretch it in four directions until it’s a thin translucent membrane where you can see light through it.
If you can achieve that and the dough does not break during the stretch, it’s ready for shaping. If it breaks, this means the gluten is not well-developed enough. In this case we do another set of stretch and folds before testing the windowpane effect again. Once you have achieved a good, strong windowpane effect, there is an extra step that professional bakers will do. They place the dough evenly stretched out in a plastic container, marking the level of the dough, then let it rest in a warm place until it rises another 25% of its bulk. This is generally because with a large amount of dough this brings extra strength to the gluten structure before dividing the dough into the final sizes.
Shaping a Sourdough Batard
Once the batard dough is ready, I like to first do a pre-shape of the dough using the method for making a boule. After a 20-30 minute rest, I then flip the dough over and stretch it out in all directions. I fold the right side over to just past halfway across the dough and do the same for the left side.
Then starting at the edge closest to me I roll the batard dough gently over, pressing down slightly with each full roll. The ends of the dough will have a ‘scroll’ effect and I stretch the ends of the dough over these to create a tight oval.
Using a bench scraper, flip the shaped oval over into your proofing basket so that the seam is facing up. You can gently make adjustments to how the dough is sitting in the banneton. Some sourdough bread makers ‘stitch’ the seam, grabbing the dough alternatively from the left side and the right and stretching to get more tension in the dough.
Proofing the Batard Dough
I’m a keen advocate of proofing the final shaped bread in the fridge. For a less sour loaf, you can proof just for eight hours in a cold fridge at 2-3°C. For a more complex and sour flavour you can proof up to 36-48 hours, although over 36 hours you run the fish of the dough over proofing.
Baking a Sourdough Batard
As you’ll see from my simple sourdough batard recipe below, baking a sourdough batard uses the same method as baking our sourdough boule. Preheat the oven to 260°C with your Dutch Oven in it then remove the dough from the fridge, and flip it over on to a cutting board with a sheet of baking paper on it. Some bakers like to put the dough out on the bench for an hour before baking, but I personally have had better results going straight from fridge to oven. Note that we live in a very warm climate (around 30°C on average).
Score the batard dough and quickly place it in the Dutch Oven. Cook for 25 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes with the lid off to assess. At this stage you can keep baking it to your liking. But please remember, as tempting as it is, do not cut into your sourdough batard until it has completely cooled down and you’ve pleased the Instagram gods with a classic sourdough bread photo.
Simple Sourdough Batard Recipe
- Dutch Oven
- 370 g bread flour or a mix of 3 parts bread flour and 1 par wholewheat flour
- 250 ml water bottled
- 80 g starter full strength
- 8 g salt
- Make sure your starter has at least doubled in size.
- When your starter has peaked it should have a slightly domed appearance and have bubbles of different sizes.
- Mix your flours and add your salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix your water with the starter using a whisk.
- Add the water and starter to the other bowl and mix thoroughly. I like to use a flexible bowl scraper and finally mix the dough by hand. Cover the dough and leave it to rest for one hour.
- Stretch and fold the dough 3 times with a 30 minute rest between folds.
- After the third fold, wait 30 minutes before testing the dough strength with the windowpane effect. If the dough does not break you are ready to pre-shape the dough.
- Using a bench scraper form the dough into a tight ball by placing the scraper under the dough and scraping it 180° several times. If the dough keeps sticking to the scraper, use a little flour.
- Once the dough is in a tight ball, sprinkle with a little rice flour and cover with a dish towel.
- After 20-30 minutes, flip the dough over and spread out into a rectangle.
- Fold the right side over the left to halfway across the dough.
- Then fold the left side over the right. You might see little bubbles on the surface of the dough. This is a good sign. If the bubbles are big, pinch them closed.
- From the edge closest to you, roll the dough gently over and press down enough to seal the dough. Do this until you now have a slightly oval shape.
- Turn the dough 90° and seal the end of the dough. Rotate 180° and seal the other end. At this stage you can push the dough around the long sides to create more tension.
- Line your ‘banneton’ with rice flour and flipping the dough over with a bench scraper, drop the dough into you banneton – this means the seam that was on the bottom is now on the top. If you need to, you can ‘stitch’ the dough along the centre to create more tension (in this case it wasn’t necessary).
- Sprinkle the dough with a little more rice flour before covering it over. So stop it forming a skin, I then put it a plastic bag before refrigerating for at least 8 hours and up to 36 hours.
- When ready to bake, place your Dutch Oven in your oven and preheat your oven to 260°C or as hot as it will go. Flip the dough out (seam side down) onto a cutting board with some oven paper and a little semolina flour. This helps stop the bottom of the loaf from burning. Score the dough with a slash on one side of the dough at an angle of about 30°. You can decorate the other side bu scoring it lightly. Carefully remove the Dutch Oven from the oven and transfer the dough over to the Dutch Oven. Spray with a little water and put the lid on and put the Dutch Oven back in the oven. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, remove the Dutch Oven, take off the lid and put the bread back in the oven. If your oven goes to 260°C, turn it down to 230°C and set a timer for 20 minutes.
- If your bread did get great oven spring like this loaf, you can place some foil over the ‘ear’ to stop it from burning.
- After 20 minutes, assess the loaf and decide just how dark you want your loaf to be. This one shown is on the lighter side.
- When you are happy with your loaf place it on a wire rack to let the loaf cool fully before testing.
Do let us know if you make this simple sourdough batard recipe for making the baguette’s lesser-known cousin as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.