Fluffy Sourdough Bread with wild spring herbs

   reading time: 7 min

Today's recipe was heavily influenced by this sourdough bread with oxymel and wild herbs I saw on the German website kruut (meaning "herb").

Since I love sourdough and anything with wild herbs, I'm actually surprised I didn't think of this idea sooner!

So here it is now, a homemade sourdough bread with a crisp, crunchy crust and soft, fluffy interior ("crumb"). As for which wild herbs to use, you can go hog wild (ha ha!) and use whatever edible herbs you can identify. My personal recommendation includes stinging nettle, dandelion, goutweed/ground elder, wild garlic, garlic mustard, stickyweed, creeping charlie, sorrel, mugwort ... or even culinary herbs such as oregano, parsley, dill, rosemary & thyme.

General Foraging Guidelines:

  • You should be 100 % certain you are identifying the correct plant. If you do not know what it is, DO NOT eat it! Do not pick if you're in doubt!

  • Don't harvest from contaminated areas such as busy roadsides, near industrial facilities, where dogs pee, along the edges of agricultural fields, old landfill sites etc.

  • Be mindful & harvest sustainably. Only pick from areas that have a plentiful supply, and never more than 1/4 of a plant, ideally only about 5 %.

  • Leave the harvesting area litter-free.

Great wild herbs for this bread include creeping charlie, stinging nettle, silverweed, mugwort, and dandelion. Herbs like mugwort and dandelion are particularly wonderful as bread seasoning due to their digestive effect!

Baker's Schedule:

DAY 1 (e. g. Friday):

8 a.m. – Build levain. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 10-12 hours.

7 p.m.
Mix main dough. Cover with wet cloth. Allow to hydrate for 30-45 minutes.

p.m. Stretch-and-fold dough every 30 minutes, 4 times in total.

9.45 p.m.
Place dough in the refrigerator to bulk ferment overnight, covered with a wet cloth and a plate on top.

DAY 2 (e. g. Saturday):

9 a.m. – Shape bulk-fermented dough into loaf. Place in proofing basket, covered with a wet cloth.
            Allow to proof for 1 hour at room temperature. Preheat oven for 1 hour.

10 a.m. – Bake bread.

11 a.m. – Enjoy oven-warm bread!
This is an overview of the particular baking schedule I've been preferring lately. If you feel overwhelmed by it, don't panic! Just follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Let's get stretching, folding & baking!

Overflowing mixing bowl after bulk fermenting overnight. // The shaped loaf.
Scored loaf before baking. // Freshly baked loaf!


Preparation time: 2 hours (+ 24 hours resting time)
Main ingredients: sourdough starter, flour, water, wild herbs, salt
difficulty level: easy
makes: 1 loaf of bread
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, wheat-free, nut-free, yeast-free


for the levain:
50 g dry sourdough starter
100 g flour (I use spelt flour type 1050) *

100 g warm filtered water

OR sub 250 g / 1 cup active wet sourdough starter!

for the main dough:

500 g flour of choice *
300 g filtered water
2 large handfuls of stinging nettle
1 tsp raw honey or vegan honee or agave syrup
12 g herbal salt

(optional) 1 tsp cumin

2 handful of wild herbs (wild garlic,
ground elder, dandelion, creeping charlie...)

a digital kitchen scale
a proofing basket / banneton (alternatively, use a bowl or a colander with a heavily floured linen towel)
(optional but recommended) a dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker (or an oven-proof bowl with water)
(optional) a bread lame, for scoring

In this case, I did 180 g whole grain spelt flour, 180 g spelt flour type 1050 (bread flour), and 140 g spelt flour type 630 (all purpose flour).


Step 1: Build Levain (about 24
hours prior to when you want to bake your bread)

Remove dry sourdough starter from refrigerator.

To make the levain, mix 50 g dry sourdough starter and 100 g warm filtered water in a large mixing bowl. Stir using a wooden spoon, a fork or silicone spatula until frothy. 
To this, add 100 g of flour, and combine with the wooden spoon, fork or spatula. The consistency should resemble a thick pancake batter.

Cover with a wet kitchen towel and a plate. Set aside in a warm spot for 10-12 hours
, until bubbly and active.

Step 2: Mix & Hydrate

After about 10-12 hours, prepare nettle-infused water: Place 2 large handfuls of fresh stinging nettle into a bowl and cover with 300 g hot filtered water. Allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Discard nettle leaves and use for cooking (e.g in a soup, lasagne, curry or stew).

Add the main dough ingredients to the active levain: 300 g nettle-infused filtered water, 1 tsp raw honey,
vegan honee or agave syrup, 500 g flour of choice, and 12 g of herbal salt.

Use a wooden spoon or stiff spatula to combine very well until it forms a rough shaggy dough.

Cover the bowl
again with the damp tea towel and plate, and set aside for 30-45 minutes to to allow the flour hydrate.

finely chop 2 handfuls of wild herbs, such as wild garlic, ground elder, dandelion, and creeping charlie.

Step 3: 
Stretch & Fold

Stretch and fold the dough, using a bench scraper or your clean hands (for a detailed instruction, check out my simple artisan sourdough bread recipe). During your first round of stretching-and-folding, gradually add in your chopped wild herbs.
Cover the dough again, and let it rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Repeat this 3 more times, for a total of 4 sets of stretching-and-folding.

Step 4: Bulk Ferment

After the final set of stretching-and-folding,
once again cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and a plate. Place it in the refrigerator overnight, or for about 12 hours. It will bulk ferment and increase in size by about 30–50 %.

Step 5: Shape Loaf & Proof

After bulk fermenting overnight, gently transfer your dough onto a clean and floured surface the next morning. Shape your loaf, following the instructions in my simple artisan sourdough bread recipe.

Transfer the shaped loaf – pinched side up – to a generously floured banneton / proofing basket. Alternatively, you can use a bowl or a colander with a heavily floured linen towel.

Set aside on the counter top to proof for 1 hour at room temperature.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 250 °C / 475 °F for 1 hour with your dutch oven or
cast iron combo cooker inside. If you don't have either, place a rack on the bottom shelf with an oven-proof bowl of water on it when baking your bread.

Step 6: Score & Bake

Once the hour is up, flip the proofing basket onto a piece of parchment paper.

This step is optional but makes for a pretty bread: Score by slashing the floured loaf top with a bread lame (a razor blade with a handle) or a sharp non-serrated knife. I went for a flower in the center, and leaves around the sides. Well, it looks artistic, even though you can't really recognize the flower, haha!

Lifting the parchment paper up by the edges, transfer the loaf into the preheated and super hot (!) dutch oven or combo cooker.

Put the hot lid back on, and pop the bread in the oven.

Bake for 35 minutes with the lid on, and then 15 minutes without the lid.

To test if your bread is ready, carefully turn the freshly baked bread around and knock on the backside with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it's ready!

Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Your bread continues to bake once it is removed from the oven, which results in a nice crumb.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Slice up bread, and serve with butter (or even better, homemade herb butter) and a sprinkle of salt on top, or whatever topping you prefer. Don't worry, this bread also tastes great with a sweet topping such as chocolate spread or my homemade dandelion & orange jam!

Store bread in a breadbox or in a cotton or linen bag for fresh keeping to enjoy throughout the week.

I made a quick and easy wild garlic butter by mixing about 1/2 cup of vegan butter with a small handful of freshly foraged wild garlic and 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix well using a fork, et voilà!

Other "wild" recipes to try: