Let's bake a heart shaped sourdough bread for Valentine's Day (or indeed any day you want to share the sourdough love). This recipe uses a round banneton to create the heart shape - so you don't need to buy a heart shaped banneton.
You can personalise this sourdough heart shaped loaf by using different flours to create contrast or even adding stencils to the loaf. You'll find some more ideas further down.
If you love all things heart shaped, make sure you check out this collection of sourdough recipes for Valentine's Day.
Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Easy Even For Beginners - the basis of this heart shaped sourdough bread is a round boule, so it's easy to shape, even if you're a sourdough beginner!
You Don't Need A Heart Shaped Banneton - while heart shaped bannetons are wonderful, sometimes you don't want to buy extra equipment. This recipe is perfect because you can use your existing round banneton, or even a bowl if you don't have a round banneton.
Share the Sourdough Love - this is unique and fun way to share the sourdough love, whether it's for Valentine's Day or just because!
How To Shape a Heart Shaped Sourdough Bread
Shaping sourdough bread into a heart isn't too difficult. You'll need a large kitchen flat bladed kitchen knife, a small straight lame or scalpel, some parchment paper and aluminum foil.
Before you start, take a large piece of aluminium foil and fold it over and over until you have a thick strip of foil that you can fold in half and use to keep the shape of the dough while in the Dutch Oven. You can see a photo of what I've used further down the page.
Start by tipping the sourdough out of the round banneton and onto a piece of parchment paper.
Take some parchment paper, fold it in half and cut out a heart shape (I don't draw the heart I just cut it free hand).
Wet the paper heart and place it onto the top of the sourdough.
Use a tea strainer or small sieve and dust rice flour over the dough.
Once it's covered, carefully remove the paper heart.
Now, using your knife, cut a triangle shaped piece out of the top of the dough (use the heart template on the top of your dough as a guide). Then cut the two sides of the dough to form the triangle bottom of the heart. You'll end up with three piece of dough removed from the round sourdough.
Now, use your lame or scalpel to gently release the dough at the top of the heart. A small cut is all you need. Then use your fingers to shape the dough at the top of the heart.
Now use your scalpel or lame to cut the shape of the heart out. This forms your score and will help the dough to keep the heart shape. You can add more decorate scoring if you want to - I've chosen to keep mine very plain.
When you're ready to put the sourdough into your hot Dutch Oven, you'll need to use the aluminum foil that you prepared earlier to keep the shape of the top of the dough. You can wrap the aluminum foil in parchment paper if you want to (this can help to stop it baking into the dough) but it's not essential.
Heart Shaped Stencil for Sourdough
If you're not up for shaping your sourdough into a heart shape, you could also use some heart shaped stencils to create a pretty design on your dough.
For the loaf below, I dusted the banneton in rice flour. I added the stencils to the top of the loaf once I tipped it out (I just cut them out of parchment paper) and then I dusted the loaf in cocoa powder.
This created a pretty contrasting color and pattern.
Heart Shaped Sourdough Bread
- Mixing Bowl
- Digital Scales
- Round Banneton (see notes below for size options)
- Round Dutch Oven (I've used a Lodge Double Dutch Oven)
- 500 g Bread Flour
- 350 g Water
- 100 g Sourdough Starter
- 10 g Salt
PREMIX THE DOUGH
- Weigh out your sourdough starter and water into a large mixing bowl and mix together briefly.
- Now add your flour and salt and mix whole lot together to form a dry dough.
- Cover your bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and let it sit for around 1 hour.
FORMING UP THE DOUGH
- Bring the dough together into a ball. Pull the edges of the dough into the centre until it's smoother and more formed.
- Once the dough has formed into a smooth ball, pop the cling film back on and let it rest for 30 minutes.
STRETCH & FOLD PHASE (STRENGTHENING PHASE)
- Over the next few hours you need to create some structure for your dough by "stretching and folding". Aim to do around 4-6 sets of stretches and folds. For each set, stretch the dough up and over itself 4 times. Leave around 15 minutes in between each set. Again you do not have to be exact with time, but you need to do at least 4 sets over 2 hours.
BULK FERMENTATION (RISE PHASE)
- Once you've finished your stretch and folds, place the cling film or damp tea towel back over your dough and let it rest and ferment at room temperature (a plastic cover is a better option for this stage). You want the dough to double during this stage.
SHAPE THE DOUGH
- Once your dough has finished its first ferment, it's time to shape it so that it will fit into your round bannton. It's this shape that will form the basis of your heart shaped loaf of sourdough.Try not to use any flour for shaping (it's ok to use a light dusting, but you'll get a better shape if you don't use any at all).Sprinkle a little rice flour or semolina into your round banneton. Use a plastic dough scraper to ease the sourdough out of the bowl and flip it onto the counter top so that the sticky, underneath of the dough ends up on top and the smooth side is on the counter (this will help you manoeuvre your dough much more easily).Use your hands to gently ease the dough out into a rough rectangle, with the short side opposite you.Now, flip the top of the rectangle down.Take the right side of the dough and flip it in and then do the same with the right side. This is creating structure in the dough.Now pick up the bottom of the rectangle and gently roll it upwards, creating surface tension as you come to the top. As you reach the top, gently roll the boule so that the seam is positioned underneath.Now, tighten the surface of the dough by gently putting your hands on the back of the dough and pulling it towards you without taking it off the counter.Now pick up the dough and flip it into the floured banneton with the seam at the top. Use your fingers to bring the base of the dough together to create a tighter seam if you need to.Lift your dough around the edges to pop a little more rice flour if you feel it needs it. Just try to handle the dough as little as possible and be really gentle as you really want to preserve all the gases and air bubbles that have formed during your bulk ferment.
- Now you need to allow your dough to proof - we generally do this in the fridge. Place an elastic food cover over your dough (shower cap) and place it into the fridge.Try to leave it in the fridge for a minimum 5 hours.
PREPARE TO BAKE YOUR DOUGH
- Once you're ready to bake your sourdough, you'll need to preheat your oven to 230C/450F.Place your Oval Dutch Oven or Cast Iron Loaf Pan into the oven when you turn it on so it gets HOT. Leave your dough in the fridge until the very last minute - placing a cold dough into a hot oven will give you a great "spring".See notes for alternative ways to bake your sourdough Christmas Tree bread.
CUTTING AND SCORING INTO A SOURDOUGH HEART
- When you're ready to bake your sourdough bread, you'll need to cut and score the dough into the heart shape before placing it into the oven. You can see the process I use to cut and score the dough into a heart in the post above, complete with step by step photos.I find that a large, straight edged knife is best for cutting the dough into the basic heart shape and scoring the heart with a small scalpel.
BAKE YOUR SOURDOUGH BREAD!
- Carefully take your dutch oven out of the oven. Place the sourdough into the pot using the baking paper as a handle. Put the lid on and place into the hot oven.Do not spritz the dough with water before baking as it will dissolve the white flour and you'll lose the decorative effect on your heart shaped sourdough bread.BAKE TIME:30 Minutes with the lid on at 230C/450F plus10-15 Minutes with the lid off at 210C/410F
LET YOUR BREAD COOL
- When you remove your dough from the oven, carefully remove it from the dutch oven as soon as possible and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Notes on Flour: This recipe is written using strong Bread Flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than All Purpose flour. If you choose to use All Purpose flour you may have a different result because of this. You can read more about the differences between All Purpose Flour and Bread Flour here.
- Notes on Sourdough Starter: This recipe is based on you having an active starter that you have fed a few hours before starting your bake. For info on how to make a sourdough starter, go here.
- Notes on Stretch & Folds: If you are going to do the stretch & folds on your bench top, spray your surface with water mist rather than using flour. You can leave the dough in the bowl if you want to. Wet your hands to stop the dough sticking - although it shouldn't be too sticky. It will get less sticky as you do your stretches and folds. For more information on how to do stretch and folds, go here.
- Notes on Bulk Fermentation: If your home is warm then your dough will ferment a lot faster and could be done in as little as a few hours. If it's colder, it will take longer. You will know your dough is ready to move to the next stage when it has *just* doubled in size. It will be fairly wobbly and full of bubbles. You should be able to see large air bubbles under the surface of the dough.
You don't want to let it go any further than doubled as it will be over fermented.
You'll find more information on these topics here:
When is my bulk ferment finished? What is the difference between cold ferment and bulk ferment? Why does the amount of starter matter?
- Lodge Double Dutch Oven - I've used a Lodge Double Dutch Oven (32cm or 12.5") to bake my heart shaped sourdough bread. You can read more about the dimensions of this Dutch Oven here. I have used a round Banneton that measures 25cm or 9.8".