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  • Writer's pictureJenya

Italian Sourdough Bread

White Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread with Pine Nuts, Fresh Basil, and Asiago Cheese

Italian Sourdough Bread with Fresh Basil, Asiago Cheese and Pine Nuts
Italian Sourdough Bread
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This summer is the first time I experimented with planting and growing herbs inspired by my Curcuma plant that suddenly came back from the dead (literally - from an empty pot where it tragically died six months before) and gave me hope that other plants might survive my gardening skills. So, I ventured out to grow a few herbs that I can use for salads. I planted dill, parsley, and basil, and, out of the three, basil is definitely my favorite. First, it is so satisfying to watch it grow - it looks like a mini tree. Second, it grows fast, and you can harvest the leaves and use them every day. And third, it smells incredible and makes any dish so flavorful!!! Naturally, I am adding it to every dish, and sourdough bread is no exception.

Homegrown Basil Plant

Here is a photo of the basil I grew from seeds in my tiny patio garden. So pretty! :) I love checking the progress and smelling it every morning!

With the basil as the main character in this recipe, I decided to fill the supporting roles with asiago cheese and pinoli (pine nuts) to create an authentic Italian story.

I wanted the bread to look light in color, similar to traditional Italian bread, but also to be nutritious, so I thought it was the perfect time to try the new White Whole Wheat flour from King Arthur.

And, of course, due to my curiosity and love for experiments, I had to test two kinds of cheese Parmesan and Asiago, to see which one will be the winner. In this experiment, all of the other ingredients and their amounts were the same; the only variable was the cheese. And, while Parmesan bread was delicious, Asiago was the winner for me - it created a more cheesy smell and taste, which I loved.

Pinoli or pine nuts added sweetness to the bread and created a nice texture, besides being super nutritious.

Sourdough Bread Scoring Italian Style Pattern

The bread scoring and photo design were inspired by an Italian summer garden image in my head. I used a DIY stencil to draw the design on the floured bread surface before cutting it with a razor.

I really enjoyed this fun and delicious project! Please share your thoughts if you tried this recipe and maybe created your own version.

Check out another Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread recipe that I made this year.

Useful Tips:

  • No need to soak the pine nuts for this bread, just mix them in together with other ingredients.

  • Use a small food processor to chop the basil leaves faster.

  • Try not to cut too deep while tracing the scoring design, the only deep slashes should be around the design.

As usual, I simplify my recipes so they are easy to follow for beginners. I avoid using complex numbers and ingredients, so the recipe is more clear and less intimidating for new bakers. I list ingredients for 2 loaves so you can bake 2 and share 1 as a gift. To make a single loaf, simply divide each ingredient by 2.

Italian Sourdough Bread with Fresh Basil, Asiago Cheese and Pine Nuts



Ingredients for 2 loaves:

Levain 1:2:2 Ratio

  • 70 g Dark Rye Sourdough Starter

  • 70 g Bread flour

  • 70 g White Whole Wheat Flour

  • 140 g Water (bottled or filtered)


  • 300 g Levain

  • 700 g Water (bottled or filtered)

  • 700 g Bread flour

  • 300 g White Whole Wheat Flour (King Arthur)

  • 20 g Salt

  • 10 g Fresh Basil (chopped) or 2 cups of whole leaves

  • 50 g Asiago Cheese (or Parmesan)

  • 50 g Pine Nuts (roasted)


  • Rice Flour for dusting


Prepare the Levain (morning 10 am)

  1. Feed 70 g of starter with 70 g bread flour, 70 g dark rye flour, and 140 g water at 85-90°F, cover, and leave it on the counter to ferment for 6 hours. It should at least double in size by then.

Make the Dough (afternoon 4 pm)

  1. Combine 300 g of starter with 700 g of water at 85-90°F in a large mixing bowl and mix until the starter is dissolved.

  2. Mix in 10 g of fresh chopped basil, 50 g of parmesan cheese, and 50 g of pine nuts.

  3. Then add 700 g of bread flour, 300 g of white whole wheat flour, and 20 g of salt to the mixture and mix the dough with fingers until all of the ingredients are well incorporated with no dry bits left.

  4. Cover and leave it on the counter for 1 hour.

Stretch and Fold

  1. For the next hour and a half, perform stretching and folding technique every 30 min: take one side of the dough, stretch it as far as you can, and fold it on top of the dough. Turn the bowl counter-clockwise and do it 7 more times, stretching and folding each side.

  2. Cover and leave the dough on the counter for 2-3 hours to rise at about 76°F room temperature.

Shape and Proof (evening 8 pm)

  1. Mist the bannetons with water and sprinkle with Rice flour.

  2. Gently take the dough out of the bowl, place it onto an unfloured surface, and divide it into 2 equal parts.

  3. Shape the dough into the final round shape using the same stretch and fold technique as above, stretching and folding 4 sides until you see a smooth side of the dough (about 8 times).

  4. Gently turn the dough with your hands round and round to create the surface tension and make it into a tight ball. Do not over-shape.

  5. Flour the top with bread flour and put each piece in the banneton seam side up and dust the top of the dough with rice flour.

  6. Place the bannetons in plastic bags and let the dough rest overnight in the fridge.

Bake (next day)

  1. Test the dough if it's ready to bake by gently pressing it with your finger. If it springs back up slowly - it's ready.

  2. Preheat the oven to maximum temperature (550°F in our case).

  3. Carefully flip the dough out of the banneton into the dutch oven or a cast iron combo cooker (no need to preheat it.)

  4. Dust off the rice flour with a brush, mist the top of the dough with a little bit of water and cover it in all-purpose flour, spreading it evenly.

  5. Score the dough with a razor blade and put the lid on.

  6. Reduce the temperature to 475°F and bake for 30 min.

  7. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 425°F and bake for another 25 min uncovered.

  8. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy Baking!


Tools I used:

Endless Loaf Banneton Bread Proofing Basket Set of 2 with 2 Linen Liners and 3 Linen Bags


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