Breads (Sourdough) - Open Crumb

Peppercorn Open Crumb Sourdough Bread

January 18, 2024 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Peppercorn Open Crumb Sourdough Bread

Peppercorn Open Crumb Sourdough Bread

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This recipe is inspired by the Pink Peppercorn Sourdough Bread by Adelina from @breadstalker_.  I replaced the egg yolks with butter as I was afraid the egg yolk may result an eggy taste.  I used Szechuan Peppercorn since I had them in my kitchen.  You may use any peppercorn that is available for you.

I love using the lazy and easy method, I just need to mix all of ingredients together a with stand mixer, lamination to spread the peppercorn and few coil folds.  

The outcome is satisfactory with an even crumb and aromatic bread. The presence of Szechuan peppercorn is quite unique and its fragrance is very inviting.   Adding butter to dough makes the bread even softer, and it gives it a wonderful mild buttery aroma.

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 Peppercorn Open Crumb Sourdough Bread 

Yields:  1 loaf


315g bread flour (I used Japan high gluten flour - About 12% protein)
35g whole wheat flour
70g active sourdough starter or levain (100% hydration)
265g water
7g salt - 2%
20g butter, room temperature
1 1/2 or a small handful Tbsp peppercorns (I used Szechuan Peppercorn)
  • 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 - 8.5" oval shape
Ambient temperature after adding in levain - 26C - 27C
Total Bulk Fermentation - around 5 hours and 50 minutes

  1. Feed starter 
    1. Feed ratio of 1:1:1, keep at room temperature (28C – 30C) and wait until tripled, around 4 – 5 hours.  
    2. Please feed your starter at the ratio that fit your schedule as long as the starter is at its peak when use.  Please click here for here "Sourdough Starter Recipe"
  2. Toasting The Peppercorn:
    1. Toast the peppercorn in the dry pan over medium fire until aromatic.
    2. Lightly pound the peppercorns using a mortal and pestle.  Set aside.
  3. Mix the dough :-
    1. Dissolve levain and water in a bowl of stand mixer.  Add in flours and salt.   
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the paddle attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  
    3. Turn on the machine and mix for a minute.  Add in butter and mix until well incorporated, maybe around 1 - 2 minutes.
    4. Cover and rest for  about 60 minutes at room temperature around 26C - 27C.
  4. Lamination & Peppercorns -  
    1. Lightly mist the counter top with water and wet your hand.  
    2. Pull from centre out to form a rectangle shape.  
    3. Sprinkle the toasted peppercorns evenly. 
    4. 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.  
    5. Put dough in a new dish (square pyrex dish).  Cover and rest for about 45 - 60 minutes or until dough spreads.  
  5. Coil Folds
    1. Coil Fold 1 -  At this stage, the dough is weak and extensible.  Fold the dough in the dish. Cover and rest for about 60 minutes or until dough spreads.
    2. 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 60 minutes or until dough spreads.
    3. Coil Fold 3 - The dough did not spread as much as before and not so extensible if compare with previous fold. So, I decided it will be the last coil fold.   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 about 90 minutes or more until dough rise 50 - 60% in size since you added the levain.  
  6. Shaping 
    1. About 90 minutes later, the dough had risen about 50% 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 was 5 hours and 50 minutes for this bread.
    2. Flour the counter top.  Shape and transfer to a  flour banneton. 
  7. Proof On The Counter
    1. Let it proof in the banneton room temperature for 15 minutes (27C - 28C ambient temperature)
  8. Cold Retard
    1. Then retard overnight in the fridge (4C) for 12 - 16 hours.  This bread was about 15 hours.
  9. Baking -  
    1. Preheat oven with the dutch oven (cast iron) at 250C (top & bottom heat) fo 30 - 60 minutes before baking.  
    2. Take one of the bread dough out from the fridge, invert onto a parchment paper.  Using a razor blade attached to a lame 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 with cover on for 25 minutes.  Remove the cover and lower the temperature to 220C (top & bottom heat), continue bake for another 10 - 15 minutes.
    4. Remove bread from oven and dutch oven. Let it cool on rack completely before slicing.
    5. Repeat the same for another bread.



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.  


You may wonder why most of the recipes asked to add salt after autolyze and adding levain.  Salt will tighten the gluten and make it harder to stretch.