This section contains semileaven recipes, which are recipes you can use when your starter is very young. They contain sourdough starter, flour, water, salt and a small amount of yeast. They are also useful when you wish to make fluffy breads which still have flavour.

Semi Leaven Bread Recipes

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Yeasted Bread Recipes

Semi Leaven BreadsSemi Leaven Breads have many aliases - 'yeasted sourdough' breads, 'pre-fermented' breads, 'time dough' breads, 'artisan' breads, 'semi sourdough' breads - and there are many others. I've always referred to them as 'semi leavens', because they are part sourdough (leaven or levain) and part yeasted breads. A fully leavened bread, therefore, would include regular sourdough, by this terminology. Just in case you were wondering.

Semi Leaven breads also can take on any texture - you can make very light breads with this method, or loose textured continental style breads, and even rich and full flavoured wholemeals.

Because of the faster fermentation, crusts can be baked to be either quite thin (which can be hard to do with regular sourdough) or thicker. You can also use the method as a 'shortcut to sourdough' technique, for times when you don't have a lot of time. In every baker's life, too, there are times when the poor old leaven just isn't up to the task. Again, a little yeast, and away you go..

Surefire success follows.



Continental Bread (Semi Leaven) Recipe

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Yeasted Bread Recipes

Continental Bread was one of my family's staple breads. There are numerous variations on the theme of a traditional yeasted sourdough recipe. I call them all 'Semi Leaven' breads, because they contain some sourdough starter and a tiny amount of yeast, which creates a light yet flavoursome bread, with the kind of crust that's typically Italian.

This 'Continental Bread' recipe comes from my old bakery, Quinton's Artisan Bakery, in Leura NSW, which satisfied Leura folk for a decade, as it was always a best seller there in the chilly mountain regions. Also a popular bread at many Grower's Markets around NSW too. This dough recipe makes great crusty bread, and will go really well in a 'batard' (vienna shape) or a tin.

Italians culture a biga, which is a lightly yeasted starter. The French use a levain in many yeasted recipes, and the Germans use various starters as standard practice in many white and rye bread recipes. Even in Australia, I know a lot of old time bakers who used their old yeasted dough in up to 15% of a new dough, to make the dough mature more quickly. This technique has been used by bakers for a very long time, and has numerous nom de plumes by which it operates.


Light Wholemeal Bread (Semi Leaven) Recipe

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Yeasted Bread Recipes


Light Wholemeal Bread is derived from the Leura Wholemeal Bread recipe which was a popular bread at our shop in Leura NSW. Again, it's a  'Semi Leaven' bread, because it contains some sourdough starter and a tiny amount of yeast, which creates a substantial bread, with a thick but soft crust.

The beautiful thing about this bread is that while it's quite a substantial bread, it's also quite soft and a little bit sweet, courtesy of the honey, which also helps leaven the bread. You can also substitute malt flour if you can get it - this gives the bread a lovely earthy colour, but not the same pronounced taste of honey.


French Country Bread

Written by Warwick Quinton. Posted in Yeasted Bread Recipes


French Country Bread

French Country Bread is a another light rye recipe which was popular at our Leura Bakery back in 1995 to about 2000.  It's a  'Semi Leaven' bread, because it contains some sourdough starter and a tiny amount of yeast, which creates a substantial bread, and which has just a hint of rye for colour and flavour. The rye also provides a great

crust - not too crisp, but chewy and with a distinctive earthy colour.

All light rye breads have their origins in northern Europe and Canada, where only rye grain can survive the cold temperatures experienced in winter. Because it's blended with about ten parts wheat, the rye flavour is very subtle, and contributes to the greyish colour and open texture. Rye flour is enzyme rich, and really does provide a good basis for leavening the bread.

Still much faster than the typical sourdough recipes - this one can comfortably be made at lunchtime in time for dinner. There are only ten or fifteen minutes of actual handling time.

The Light Rye Semi Leaven Bread from this recipe is very suitable for daily use, especially good with cured meats and salted fish, strong ripe brie, avocado, salmon, marmalade or other tangy jams. It looks very rustic on a plate, served with dips or flavoursome pastes, and the list goes on. The flavour is milder than a sourdough, but still you get that sensational aftertaste, making you just want to eat more.

This bread can use any form of starter you have - liquid or dough sourdough starter. Just remember to adjust the water level a bit, according to how dry or wet your starter is.

If the flavour of rye is still too much, it's worth experimenting with using half as much, and giving the balance of flour weight to the white flour. Yes, even 50 grams of rye makes a difference!



French Country Bread

You'll need:

1kg of organic white flour (regular white flour will do if you are unable to access organic flour, or are a cheapskate, like me, at times...)

100g of organic rye flour (rye can be hard to get so try your local health food store)

300 grams of sourdough starter - old dough, wet starter, leftover dough, whatever you have.

550 - 750 mls of warm water

12 grams of dried yeast.

24 grams of cooking salt

You'll also need:

Two Bread Tins. This recipe makes two Loaves of about a kilo each. You can experiment with tin sizes until you find one that suits this slightly-lighter-than-sourdough loaf.


Mix almost all the fairly warm water (warmer than luke warm) with the Starter, old dough or whatever you have, stirring them together to combine with a heavy whisk or a fork, till it's softened all the starter. You can leave this to stand for ten minutes if you like.

Sprinkle about 200 grams of the light flour over the mixture and add the yeast. Whisk it all together to form a loose paste with a heavy whisk or large spoon.

Allow to stand, covered, in a warm place for an hour to form a sponge. I put mine on top of my coffee machine.

Add in the rest of the flour and combine the wet and dry ingredients. You may need a splash more water to do this, but be sparing - at this stage the dough looks dry, but it will soften soon.

Knead with both hands roughly till they form a big chunk of dough, no matter how rough. Rough is good. Cover, and leave in a warm place. If it's too tight, you can work water through the dough in this phase. It'll come apart, so add gradually - just a tablespoon at a time. This dough will soften as it hydrates, so it's better to start with a stiff dough.

Allow to rest for an hour or so. I've rested this before adding salt for hours, and it's been fine - though there doesn't seem to be much benefit in a long sponge.

Add salt by wetting the dough with either a spray gun or wet hands, sprinkling the salt over the top of the wet dough. You will notice a dramatic transformation from the rough chunk you left an hour ago to this smooth thing in your hands now.

Knead it in until combined, which will be when the salt can't be felt as you knead. Round the dough, and leave with the seam on the bottom.

Let the finished dough rest and rise for about an hour or two, depending on the season. It's ready when you poke it and there is little, if any, resistance. It feels like it has given up. Your finger marks will stay there for a while. If it resists, it isn't ready. If the weather is warmer, resting times will decrease, so keep an eye on it.

Now cut the dough into two chunks of roughly one kilogram each. Round them, with the seam at the bottom. Rest for an hour or so. Again, if you poke the dough and it resists, it isn't ready yet. If it feels like it is giving in, it's ready.

Form into two cylinders, just by squeezing the bottom in with the outside of each of both hands, as if you are holding an open book in both palms. Spray or wipe with water, and dust with semolina or wholemeal flour or bran. Place dusted dough in a pre oiled bread tin.

Slash in a diagonal direction two or three times. Allow to rise, covered, for about an hour - this bread rises quite a bit, and if it's been made tough to start with, the more the better. When the tin is broached by about a quarter of the dough inside, in other words when the dough has risen well out of the tin, it's ready for baking. If you've made good dough, you can achieve a good height in this loaf.

Bake at 160 - 180 degrees in a prepared oven (see 'how to use an oven properly') for 45 to 60 minutes.

This recipe tends to be a winner every time - keep it in mind when you're a bit time pressed, or want to use some starter which might not be ideally ripenened. Because of the small amount of yeast, the state of your sourdough starter is largely irrelevant to the result.

Happy Sourdough Baking!