There’s nothing quite like the taste of sourdough artisan bread. The crispy crust and soft, hole-filled interior make it a favorite in my family. Sometimes, however, I like to enhance the flavor even more by adding inclusions to sourdough artisan bread. Whether sweet or savory, inclusions can take a loaf of sourdough artisan bread to the next level. Some of my favorites include pecans and cranberries, herbs and lemon zest, or jalapeno and cheddar. In this article, you’ll learn how to add inclusions to your sourdough artisan bread to create a delicious and unique loaf.
When to Add Inclusions to Artisan Bread
Adding inclusions to sourdough artisan bread is a great way to enhance the flavor, but it’s important to know when and how to add them. Inclusions that can inhibit gluten formation, such as salt, should be added later in the mixing process, once the gluten strands have started bonding. Large inclusions, like nuts and dried fruits, can also cut the gluten strands due to their size, so it’s best to add them towards the end of the bulk fermentation. By strategically adding inclusions, you can create a delicious and unique loaf of sourdough artisan bread that your family and friends will love.
Adding Inclusions During Stretch and Folds
I like to add fresh or dried herbs, zest and other very fine flavorings during one set of my stretch and folds. To ensure even distribution of your inclusions, try adding them during an early set of stretch and folds. Simply sprinkle the herbs on top of the dough and gently stretch and fold the dough a few times until the herbs are incorporated. If you do this early enough in the stretch and fold process, the inclusions will be easily spread throughout the dough. Alternatively, you can try the lamination method for a more even distribution of your inclusions.
Adding Inclusions During Lamination
Adding inclusions to sourdough artisan bread using the lamination method is my favorite way to add inclusions to sourdough artisan bread. You can either replace a stretch and fold with this lamination process OR you can laminate the dough at the end of the bulk fermentation. To laminate, stretch the dough very thinly on your countertop. Spread your inclusions over the dough and fold up, adding a few more inclusions as you go. Continue with the artisan bread recipe, bench resting, shaping and cold fermenting. This method ensures even distribution of the inclusions and also creates beautiful layers in the bread. However, be mindful not to add too many inclusions as it may affect the rise and structure of the bread. Start with small amounts and experiment until you find the perfect balance. With this method, you can add a variety of inclusions such as cheeses, seeds, nuts, and even caramelized onions or roasted garlic.
Cranberry and Pecan are my favorite sourdough bread inclusions. Find the recipe here:
Baking Sourdough Artisan Bread with Inclusions
After you shape your artisan bread, make sure none of the inclusions are popping out of the dough. If they do, just remove the inclusion or stick it back into the dough or on the underside of the dough. This keeps the inclusion from burning when you bake at a high temperature. Bake at the temperature directed by the recipe you are using. My favorite recipe here:
What about chocolate or cinnamon chips? When can you add them to your dough?
Is there anything you shouldn’t add to your dough?
Most fruit, nuts, cheese, herbs and vegetables work in sourdough artisan bread. Try whatever flavor combinations you’d like! I do recommend that you are careful about adding more moisture to the dough through your inclusions. For example, use dried fruits instead of juicy or frozen fruits–they can adversely affect the water content in the dough.