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Potato, Cheddar and Chive Sourdough Bâtard

Accomplished with mixed-leavening method for dough, and simulated hearth baking. Artisan, savoury. Goes well with cream cheese or soups.

I took this recipe from the back sections of Peter Reinhart’s ever-popular Bread Baker’s Apprentice where there are some good suggestions of enriched breads that use the mixed-leavening method.

If you are a bread enthusiast and maker, I would have just enough time now to explain the techniques of mixed-leavening and simulated hearth baking, and their reasons and effects. On another note, I would be glad to do a more complete post another day on the basics of making bread at home, and why you would probably never return to commercial mass-produced “industrialised” bread after that!


Mixed-leavening method uses both wild yeast from sourdough/levain (cultivated naturally much earlier) and commercial fast-action yeast (you can buy them anywhere in stores). The most attractive thing about sourdough breads are their rich, slightly soured fermented taste, with very chewy and holey (basically meaning, lots of holes) texture. The holey effect is usually due to natural leavening action from the sourdough. And by mixing it with commercial yeast, it gives the dough the extra spike, with the total making time of 5-6 hours pretty much faster than the time needed to make a 100% sourdough bread with starters.

I keep a sourdough culture which I made many months earlier , which is at least functioning as it should be.

Hearth baking

These days, nobody bakes bread at home in a stone hearth or fireplace. But, hearth baking radiates heat effectively and directly into the bread in order to create oven spring and a crispy, shiny crust. If you had baked bread in moderate temperatures (170-200°C), which is decent for most home baking, you probably get very little crust or a crust that does not keep the moisture inside intact. And, even if you don’t have large professional ovens like those found in bakeries, you still have one more option. Simulate it.

To accomplish hearth baking (280-300°C) with a conventional home oven (max probably about 250°C, and even that might freak you out as to whether your oven will explode anytime…), crank your oven up to about 240°C or 220°C fan-assisted. Place an empty cast-iron/heavy duty tray or pan either on the top shelf or on oven floor to be heated up. At the moment when bread is placed into oven, add hot boiling water to the preheated pan to create burst of steam, and immediately close oven door. That steam is going to escalate the temperatures to the level required. In addition to that, some bakers also constantly spray the walls of the oven in the next few minutes to create more steam for better effect. (This is also known as “double-steaming method”.) After 90-120 seconds, reduce the temperature back to moderate high levels (about 200-220°C) to bake until end. This will get you the wonderful rustic, stone-baked shiny crust that you have always wondered how.

Makes two 1-pound loaves

  • 5.25oz unpeeled potatoes, chopped, boiled in 3 cups water until soft and cooled
  • 2.5-5.25 fl.oz. potato water, lukewarm
  • 7 oz sourdough levain/barm
  • 12 oz strong bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 0.75 oz chopped fresh chives
  • 3 oz Cheddar cheese (sharp or matured)
  • Extra semolina flour and cornmeal for dusting

2 comment(s) to this post

I like your description…it’s so comprehensive ;)

#1meisin  ::  10 January 2012, 23:57  ::  #

i am impressed!

#2Angelene  ::  12 January 2012, 03:32  ::  #

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to be posted on 18 January 2021, 12:57

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