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Sourdough bread w/wild mushrooms and herbs

May 24, 2014


When I made my “Wild Mushroom Bread” almost a year ago to the day,  I was determined to adapt it to a sourdough version. It just seemed like a natural fit,  the earthy flavor of the mushrooms mingling with the fuller flavor and texture of a natural yeast leavened bread.  The experience of struggling with the mushrooms  last time was helpful in baking this sourdough.   It was  trial and error trying to get a good mushroom flavor and managing a dough that didn’t want to stop getting wetter from the mushrooms that were releasing their liquid.   It worked out in the end though and made for a smoother process this time around.  The value of taking notes can’t be underestimated.  I’m adding the herbs so I can qualify for the Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 of making something using yeast and herbs.  Her idea of using herbs really enhances this bread.  It’s been interesting to see all the different breads some of my blogger friends have been making.  I’m amazed at some who have only been working with yeast a very short time, cranking out great looking breads like if they have been doing it for years!

The liquid from rehydrating the dried mushrooms adds great flavor and color to the crumb.  Porcinis seem to have the most flavor but I went with a blend.   Dried mushrooms can be expensive,  but you don’t need to buy much.  Some of the ones I used this time kept well preserved from last year. I add the Portabellos to give the crumb some pockets of meaty mushroom bite. The herbs are in the background so next time I may add a couple more teaspoons of each.  One other note is that the crumb is a bit moister than usual,  most likely due to the mushrooms in the dough.  I am very satisfied with how it all came out.

Special equipment I used are bannetons, a peel, a baking stone,  and water sprayer.   I’ve found these very helpful,  almost indispensable in making bread,  especially sourdoughs.

I’m a self-taught bread maker,  learning through mistakes,  trial and error, and reading books by the masters.  My sourdough baking is continually being developed based on methods from Chad Robertson’s “Tartine Bread” and from Maggie Glezer’s “Artisan Baking Across America”.  As I’ve mentioned before,  get these books if you want more elaborate explanation of the process.


For 3 medium size loaves

The levain

3/4 tablespoon sourdough starter(refreshed about 8 hours before)

100 grams water (78 degrees)

100 grams bread flour

The dried mushrooms:

3 cups blend of dried mushrooms

6 cups water

The fresh mushrooms:

2  pounds Portabellos (after removing the stems)

Several tablespoons olive oil to sauté with

The final dough:

All the levain

650 grams of mushroom liquid

650 grams bread flour

350 grams whole wheat flour

20 grams salt w/50 grams mushroom liquid

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage

All the rehydrated dried mushrooms

All the sautéed Portabello mushrooms

For the levain:

The night before you make the bread dissolve the sourdough starter in the 100 grams water in a small bowl.  Add the 100 grams bread flour and mix until all the flour is moistened.  Cover with plastic and let it sit overnight at room temperature.  It should take about 7 to 8 hours to ferment properly.  To determine if it’s ready,  put a spoonful in a small amount of water.  If it floats it is ready to be used.

It’s also recommended that the dried and fresh mushrooms are prepared the day before.

For the dried mushrooms:

Heat the 6 cups of water in a pot until very hot.  Put the dry mushrooms in,  remove from heat and let them soak at least 1 hour.  When they have softened,  drain them, saving the liquid.  Try squeezing out some of the juices from rehydrated mushrooms,  again saving the juice.  Store the mushrooms and liquid overnight covered in the refrigerator.

For the Portabello mushrooms:

Remove the stems and lightly rinse the mushrooms.  Scrape off the underside if you desire, especially if it seems gritty.  Slice the mushrooms thin and into about 1 inch pieces.  Put a little olive oil in a medium hot sauté pan and cook until the pieces have softened.  Try to use as little oil as possible.  Lay them on a dish or paper towel to soak excess oil.  Put in a covered container in a refrigerator overnight.


On the day of baking:

Remove the mushrooms and liquid from the refrigerator to get to room temperature.

In a large bowl,  dissolve the levain in the 650 grams of mushroom liquid.  There should be enough from the night before.  If not,  add water to compensate.  In a separate bowl,  stir together the bread flour and whole wheat flour.  Add it to levain-mushroom liquid mixture and incorporate well until it is all moistened.  Cover with a moist towel and let it autolyse for about 30 to 40 minutes.  This period allows the gluten to begin to develop.  You’ll notice a radical change in the dough.  Dissolve the salt in the 50 grams mushroom liquid and add to the dough by squeezing it in.

Put the dough in your stand mixer and mix for 5-6 minutes or until it has become smooth and elastic.  It should stick to bottom of the bowl. During the last minute add the herbs.  Remove from the bowl and put it on a work surface.  Add the rehydrated and Portabello mushrooms by gently folding in.  It will take some patience to get them all in!  If the dough is getting too wet,  add more bread or whole wheat flour and knead.  The dough should still be sticky at the end of the process.  I ended up adding almost 200 grams of flour,  so I might cut back on mushroom liquid next time.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled container,  oil the top,  and cover.  I like to put it in a transparent container to see the development. After 30 minutes,  grab the lower portion of the dough and stretch it over the top.  Repeat this motion a couple more times.  This is called a “turn”.  Wait another 30 minutes and give it another turn.  Repeat this one more time for a total of 3 turns.  Let the dough continue fermenting for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.  The dough should rise about 20 to 30 percent in volume.  If you put it in a transparent container, you’ll notice little air pockets.  The timing depends much on the temperature of your kitchen.  You must make the call as to when the dough fermented properly.

When it is ready,  carefully take it out of the container.  Try not to disturb it too much so that the air pockets are maintained.  Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Using a pastry scraper,  shape each into a ball.  Try to create surface tension by tucking in around the underside.  Very lightly flour the tops and cover with plastic.  Let them rest for 30 minutes.  Take one of the balls and turn it upside down.  Imagine an east, west, south and north side of the dough.  Take 1/3 of the east side,  stretch it, and put it over the middle.  Repeat with the west,  south ,  and north.  Flip the dough over back so that the folded side is on the bottom.  Repeat with the other portions.

Line your bannetons with a clean light kitchen cloth and dust with flour.  Place the portions of dough in them upside down,  lightly spray with oil,  and then cover with plastic.   Cover with the overhanging cloth.  Let them ferment 3 to 4 hours.  It depends on the ambient temperature.  The warmer it is,  the faster it will ferment.  They will rise somewhat,  maybe 30 per cent.

You should have your oven preheating to 500 degrees with a stone in place a good 30 minutes in advance of baking time.

Cut out 3 pieces of parchment paper large enough to hold each of the risen dough.   Uncover them, removing the plastic and place the parchment paper on them.  Put your peel on top and turn upside down.  Remove the banneton and cloth to expose the dough.   Slash  as desired and with the help of the peel, put it in the oven.  Place however many will comfortably fit on your stone,  lower the oven temp to 425 and bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reads 200 degrees.  During the first 10 minutes I spritz the oven with water to mimic a professional steam injected oven.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack before slicing.  If you have to bake in two rounds because of oven space, remember to readjust the temperature.


My sourdough breads have a bit of “tang” but it is always a very mild pleasant sourness,  never assertive.  Once I fermented a dough overnight and then longer at room temperature.  It came out too tangy for my taste.  The kitchen temperature this time around was about 5 to 6 degrees warmer than usual.  I noticed the dough rose faster and higher than normal for the same amount of time.  I also noticed that the bread had slightly more tang to it.  That slight amount of temperature difference made a significant change in the behavior of the dough.







46 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2014 6:19 pm

    WOW! Gerard, this is crazy beautiful bread. All those mushrooms and herbs must make for a very flavor-packed bread. I’ve never used a sourdough starter before, but your bread’s got me thinking maybe I should try (someday). I especially love how you scored the tops of each loaf in a different design. They look amazing!

    • May 24, 2014 6:32 pm

      Hi Ngan, thank your for liking it! It does have lots of flavor. I am still trying to learn about sourdough making, I’m relieved it came out alright! I tried making sourdough bread a couple of years ago and never looked back. There is always something to learn or fix.
      Nice to meet you Ngan!

      • May 24, 2014 9:14 pm

        So nice to meet you too, Gerard! I’m looking forward to learning a lot from your blog. Have a great weekend!

    • May 24, 2014 9:24 pm

      Besides reading and learning from your blog, I’ll be admiring the photos! Have a super weekend too!

  2. May 25, 2014 1:10 am

    Wow Gerard! Wow and more wow!
    What a rustic looking bread. I love mushrooms and could have never imagined them baked with the bread. You are super talented and I look upto you for breads and much more.

    • May 25, 2014 1:30 am

      I appreciate very much the kind words Sonal! I don’t know about the talented part. I practice a lot. I try to learn something every time I make bread which is I why I bake as often as time allows. 🙂 There is so much to learn about it. I’ve seen very beautiful breads on your blog, I know you have many more waiting to come out! Thank you again for visiting Sonal!

  3. May 25, 2014 2:15 am

    Your loaves look like a real creation, and gorgeous photos as well. I have finally started my starter – so as soon as it is ready, hope to get started.

    • May 25, 2014 2:34 am

      Thank you Hilda! I’m anxious to see more of your baking. Your babas are a great twist on the classic!

  4. May 25, 2014 2:48 am

    You should do a tutorial on bread making, Gerard. Angie told me about and and your breads! 😀

    This looks really gorgeous and full of flavors! Great entry for the challenge! 🙂

    • May 25, 2014 2:54 am

      Thank you Jhuls! Your very kind. I wish we could all try everybody’s breads and talk food all day! That would be a great weekend!

      • May 27, 2014 8:10 am

        You wish. 😀
        Hope you had a great weekend!

        PS: Thank you for contacting me. I will reply to your email when I get to skip my boss’ assigned jobs for me. 😀

  5. May 25, 2014 3:54 am

    I’ve never seen anything like it. Wild mushrooms, herbs… must have been very flavorful. I’ll have to try sourdough one of these days. I think I tried it once, and wasn’t impressed by my effort. I’m going to follow your recipes closely.

    • May 25, 2014 5:00 am

      Angie, thanks again for sending me the tip, it saved me a lot of time. That’s part of what makes you a great host.
      The bread really is hearty and full flavored. I’m very happy with it. In this age of internet, it’s hard to come up with good original stuff. It seems everything has been done before. When I start something I’m really excited about, I intentionally avoid the internet to make that something as mine as possible.
      By the way, I have a feeling you’d be a great sourdough baker!

  6. luckystaranise permalink
    May 25, 2014 7:50 am

    Wow, what a great combination and beautiful pictures! I wish I could try a piece. Fortunately, sourdough bread is common here in Germany but I’ve never seen one with mushrooms and herbs such as yours. Very inspiring!

    • May 25, 2014 11:20 am

      Hi! Thank you! I’m really surprised mushroom bread is not more common. The herb idea was inspired by the Fiesta Food Challenge. I think you know Angie and Catherine, the talented chef/bloggers.

  7. May 25, 2014 4:43 pm

    Wow Gerard – King of Bread!! This is the most amazing bread I have ever laid eyes on!! I could just stare at your photos for hours, dreaming of how your bread must smell just coming out of the oven and how it must taste, warm, slathered in butter (that’s just the way I like it). Oh my, I will be thinking about your bread for a long time!

    • May 25, 2014 5:44 pm

      HI Chef Julianna! Thank you so much for liking it! Thanks for the nice words. (I’m not too sure about the “king of bread”, I doubt that!). I wish I could share my sourdough, but only if I could have some of your “Golden Onion Pie”. 🙂 That looks so mouth watering and delicious. Your pie is so interesting and it was your first food made with yeast??!! Very beautiful! I appreciate you stopping by! I hope you are having a good weekend!

      • May 27, 2014 7:59 pm

        That would be a great swap!! So glad you like the look of the pie! You have a great week! 😀

      • May 27, 2014 9:41 pm

        Yes, that would be a great trade! I hope your week is going smooth!

  8. May 25, 2014 7:05 pm

    These look amazing! I have never had bread with mushrooms in it but I love the sound of it! I will definitely be trying the combination in the future 🙂

    • May 25, 2014 11:21 pm

      Thanks for visiting! I appreciate the nice comments! The herbs also add much to the overall taste.

      • May 26, 2014 10:04 am

        I bet they do, I absolutely love herbs in bread, they really do make a real difference 🙂

  9. May 25, 2014 7:50 pm

    Gorgeous bread Gerard – better than shop worthy! i love sourdough and where I live, there is a local baker called Duncan who cycles over and delivers me a fresh loaf every week. Your instructions are so good that I feel that I could tackle this – thanks for sharing. A very worthy addition to FFC#1

    • May 25, 2014 11:14 pm

      Thank you very much Selma! I sometimes worry if my writing and instructions are easy to understand. Fresh bread every week delivered to you! How nice! I appreciate you dropping by!

  10. May 26, 2014 4:19 pm

    Hello Gerard! I love all your breads and creations, and this one is perfect! I am presently crazy about mushrooms, having finished my mycology class last week 🙂 I have never tried to make sourdough bread… this could be my first recipe! Do you have a post on how to prepare sourdough starter?

    • May 26, 2014 7:42 pm

      Hello Catherine! Thank you very much! It’s always very very nice to me when someone shows an interest in one of my recipes! Mycology, how interesting. Again you have taught me an English word. I’m not a bit surprised though. 🙂 I have in fact been thinking about posting a recipe for a sourdough starter. The recipe for the starter I have been using comes from Maggie Glezer’s “Artisan Baking”, one of my top favorite books about bread. A previous edition is titled “Artisan Baking Across America”. The starter is called “French-style Sourdough Starter”. I began it in March of 2012 and it has served me very well. The book I have, though loaded with beautiful photographs, does not have a single one to show the process of making the sourdough. It would be fun for me to take on that project for my blog. What I could do is post her recipe quickly with a couple of photos of my starter and update it with more pictures as I make a new one. I can always use the new starter to see how it can be revived after it has been stored in the refrigerator for a length of time or after it has been frozen. I have always kept mine active by feeding it every day. Hopefully the new starter will activate without problems and make the updating smooth with no glitches. There is always a fair amount of anticipation involved when making bread! Thank you again Catherine!

      • May 26, 2014 9:45 pm

        To show us how to prepare and start the sourdough would be wonderful! But I know this kind of post is long to write and time requiring 🙂 i did not know that the starter could be frozen…

        As for the word mycology, I just translated “mycologie” (in French) to mycology… I did not think of this word as “English” but rather a scientific word 😉 probably mycologia in Spanish ;0

    • May 26, 2014 10:13 pm

      I’m sure you can find a recipe! I still intend to begin a post on one. The process doesn’t take much effort at all, maybe 2 minutes of work each day for perhaps up to 2 weeks. It’s mostly about waiting for the yeast to get going! I’ve always felt my blog needed one anyway since I have a few breads that require it.

    • May 26, 2014 10:28 pm

      I really don’t think “bread master” is correct! Maybe “bread devotee” is more like it! 🙂

  11. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    May 27, 2014 7:54 pm

    I love the way you keep experimenting! Sounds like a great bread to have with butter and a nice steak!

    I made a lime pound cake this morning. My recipe was partly from a cookbook and partly from what I remembered from the PBS show, “Pattie’s Mexican Table”. I haven’t tasted it yet but as soon as I get home, (I’m at the library as I type this), I will cut a slice. I hope I made it sweet enough!

    • May 27, 2014 9:45 pm

      Thank you! The lime cake sounds pretty good. A different flavor using lime instead of say lemon. Might be good with a good cup of tea.

      • Marcella Rousseau permalink
        May 28, 2014 7:25 pm

        It was delicious! The almonds on top were over the top! I wish I smothered the top with more almonds! I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out! Patti served it with a fruit relish. I can’t remember the name of the fruit: green skin, pink inside with black seeds. I’m drawing a blank. It would be good with tea. Maybe I’ll try it with tea today. Good suggestion.

    • May 28, 2014 9:33 pm

      I bet it was delicious! I notice you like to bake a lot!

      • Marcella Rousseau permalink
        May 29, 2014 5:58 pm

        I do love to bake. It’s what I do when I have spare time or when I want to reward myself for something and then I’ll MAKE spare time. I wish I could find a good bread recipe that is quick, good for breakfast, and a little sweet. I think I would prefer it to be a yeast bread recipe so it’s not likely that it would be something I could make in the morning and eat it for breakfast the same day (I’m not an early riser). Do you have anything like that up your sleeve? Yes, the pound cake is delicious! I had it with tea last night but believe it or not, it didn’t go as well with the tea as I thought it would. I did use a substitute sugar: Truvia. I don’t think I like it. I also put it in lemonade but it changed the taste of lemonade too much. It’s pleasant, but just a different taste and I prefer plain old sugar. Maybe I’ll try the cake with tea and honey tonight and see if that goes better. Wish I could give you a slice ; – )

  12. May 27, 2014 10:50 pm

    Gerard, Catherine and I are pleased to inform you that your entry has been selected as one of the Third Place winners (tie) in the Fiesta Friday Challenge #1. Congratulations! Please send me your postal address so our sponsor can send your prize.

  13. May 28, 2014 12:36 am

    Well done gerard!!


  1. Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 | The Novice Gardener
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  3. Filipino Coconut Macaroons for FF#18 | thenotsocreativecook

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