Breads (Sourdough) - Open Crumb

Charcoal Sourdough Bread

October 19, 2021 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Charcoal Sourdough Bread

Charcoal Sourdough Bread

Charcoal Sourdough Bread

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I just built a new Sourdough starter with grape yeast water.  Testing this 8 day old starter for the very first time on this Charcoal Sourdough Bread and I am very pleased with the result.  Halloween is coming so I thought I'd bake something black for fun. To be honest, charcoal didn't give any flavour to the bread but only added colour.  

Disclaimer:  If you are under medication, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or healthcare professional before consumption as charcoal may interact with certain medications. Please do your own research.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.  Do tag me on Instagram @Bakewithpaws if you attempt on this recipe.

How To Make Charcoal Open Crumb Sourdough Bread 


270g bread flour (I used Japanese high gluten flour - around 12% protein) - 90%
30 whole wheat flour - 20%
5g activated charcoal powder
230g water - 78.78% final hydration *
6g salt - 2%
60g active sourdough starter/levain (100% hydration) – 20%
100g raw white sesame seeds for coating
  • Please refresh  your starter several times before baking day in order to get a better result if you do not feed your starter daily or regularly.
  • Please reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go as each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 
Banneton (proofing basket)'s size - 6.5" oval shape
Ambient temperature after adding in levain:  26C 
Total bulk fermentation:  5 hours & 25 minutes

  1. Feed starter - Feed ratio of 1:1:1, keep at room temperature (28C – 30C) and wait until tripled, around 3 – 4 hours.  Please feed your starter at the ratio that fit your schedule as long as the starter is at its peak when use.  
  2. Autolyse - Mix flours,  charcoal powder and water, stir until there is no more dry flour with a spatula.  The dough will tear easily when you pull on it. The dough is no extensibility after immediately water is added, gluten is not formed yet. Cover and leave for 1 - 2 hours at room temperature (28C - 30C).  After 1 hour I checked the window pane stage.  The dough was very extensible when I pulled on it.
  3. Levain & Salt- Wet your hand, add 60g sourdough to the dough and sprinkle all the salt on top. hand mixing until incorporated, about 5 minutes. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Bench Fold - Lightly mist the counter top with water.  Wet your hand and scrapper.  Transfer dough to the counter top.  Pull and fold the four sides, flip over and round the dough.  Return to the same bowl.  Cover and rest for about 30 minutes or until dough spreads.
  5. Lamination -  Lightly mist the counter top with water and wet your hand.  Pull from centre out to form a rectangle shape.  Pick up one edge and fold into the center.  Pick up other edge and fold into the center over first section.  Fold the top down half way.  Fold the bottom up.  Put dough in a new dish (square pyrex dish).  The reason to use a square dish is because it is easier to judge how much  the dough has spread.  Cover and rest for about 35 - 45 minutes or until dough spreads.  
  6. Coil Fold 1 -  At this stage, the dough is weak and extensible.  Fold the dough in the dish. Cover and rest for about 40 - 50 minutes or until dough spreads.
  7. Coil Fold 2 -  At this stage the dough still extensible but stronger compare with the dough  before the 1st coil fold.  Fold the dough in the dish.  Cover and rest for about 45 - 60 minutes or until dough spreads.
  8. Coil Fold 3 -  At this stage, the dough is quite strong and not so extensible and will be the last coil fold.  I did only half coil fold as I found my dough quite stiff.  However, if the dough is still quite extensible and spread a lot, then you will need one or two more coil folds.   Fold the dough in the dish.  Cover and rest for 60 - 90 minutes or until dough rise 50% in size since you added the levain.  
  9. Shaping - 
    1. 60 - 90 minutes later, the dough had risen 60% in size since adding the levain.  The dough should look puffy.  It should jiggling when you slightly shake it.  This is the end of bulk fermentation.  The total fermentation time for this bread is 5 hours and 25 minutes.  
    2. Flour the counter top.  Shape the dough.  Brush the top of the dough with plain water and roll the dough (top) into a dish filled with sesame seeds then transfer to a  slightly flour banneton with the seam side up.
  10. Proofing - Proof at room temperature for 10 - 15 minutes.  I skipped this as my dough had risen about 60% by the time I shaped.
  11. Retard - Then retard overnight in the fridge (4C) for 12 - 16 hours.  This bread is about 14 hours.
  12. Baking -  
    1. Preheat oven with the dutch oven (cast iron) at 250C (top & bottom heat) for at least 30 minutes before baking.
    2. Take bread dough out from the fridge, invert onto a parchment paper and scoring.(Slash the dough approximately 0.5 inches deep at 45-degree angle).  Immediately transfer the dough with the parchment paper to your preheated dutch oven.
    3. Bake at 250C (top and bottom heat) with cover on for 25 minutes.  Remove the cover and lower the temperature to 220C (top & bottom heat), continue bake for another 10 - 12 minutes.
    4. Remove bread from oven and dutch oven. Let it cool on rack completely before slicing.


If you prefer easy method which I have been using lately,  please skip step 2, 3 and 4 above. Just mix all ingredients together using electric stand mixer with paddle attachment for about 3 - 5 minutes at speed 2 (KA mixer) and slowly turn to speed 4 or until the dough turns smooth, comes together and away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough into a greased square pyrex dish. Cover and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature around 26C - 27C.  Then continue with step 5 above.  You may need only 2 Coil Folds instead.



A healthy starter is very crucial as advised by Baking with Gina.   It is advisable to feed your starter regularly if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  A starter that is fed regularly will be more active in general.  If the mother starter is not strong, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.  


The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 


Bulk fermentation starts when you add in levain to the dough and ends when the dough is ready for shaping.  


Ambient temperature plays a very important part in sourdough baking.  It will affect the dough temperature and eventually affect your fermentation time.  The cooler ambient temperature will extend the fermentation time.  The greater degree of proof, the stronger the dough will be as explained by Trevor J. Wilson. 

The ambient temperature that worked for me is between 25C - 26C and bulk fermentation time is between 4.5 hours to 5.5 hours.  At the end of bulk fermentation, my dough would have increased 50% in volume.   The dough should look puffy.  It should jiggling when you slightly shake it.  This is the end of bulk fermentation.  

But, my kitchen ambient temperature (without air-conditioner) was 29C - 30C.  So, I have to bring down the temperature. 

How to bring down ambient temperature?
  1. Air-conditioner room - Rest the dough in air-conditioner room during bulk fermentation.  I used this option sometimes.  I turned on my air-conditioner when I added in levain and try to maintain temperature between 25C - 26C.
  2. Home oven (that's turned off) -  Place ice cooler packs inside along with an ambient temperature thermometer.  Then place your dough during bulk fermentation in the oven. Keep an eye on that thermometer and try to keep between 25C - 26C.


Too strong (tension or elastic) dough will take a longer time to increase (proof) in volume.  So too strong dough may not have good oven spring and open crumb.  While too weak dough (extensibility) dough may not hold it shape and rise with good oven spring too.  

So over-working the dough (too strong dough) or under-working (weak dough) may affect the crumb structure and oven spring.  

The number of coil folds is not fixed and very much depends on the strength and extensibility of the dough.  

As demonstrated in an experiment by Kristen (Full Proof Baking) the over-worked dough rose super tall but was smaller in overall size and had a more dense crumb while the control dough rose tall during the oven spring and had a better overall result.

How do we know when it is enough and no more coil folds are needed? 
We usually do 3 coil folds for this method.  However, if by the second coil fold the dough is strong with less extensibility as you lift up a part of the dough then it should be the last coil fold, or just do a half coil folds instead of full. The resistance of the dough to being folded should be an indication to refrain from folding further.

How do we know when to do the next coil fold or stretch & fold?
When the dough spreads. Please do not rely on the time given in the recipe as it is just a guideline.  Please watch your dough and not the clock.