Norwegian Thyme and Hazelnut Sourdough


My best friend called me up last week with a very urgent message – had I watched the Hairy Bikers’ TV programme about baking in  Norway, which involves them observing fabulous Sourdough bread being made? ( For those of you who don’t know them here is their website address for their baking tour around Europe :

Needless to say I got on the computer and watched it straight away. I was completely bowled over, as  two masterful Norwegian bakers,  Manu Rang and Oyvind Lofthus from the Apent bakery,  made  soft billowy dough turn into the most gorgeous looking hole filled, light and crusty Sourdough.  Take a look at this youtube clip:‎.

Of course it instantly  made me want to have a go.

The recipe is on the Apent bakery website,  but they have missed out various steps and use rather technical language. So here’s my version. I have used cup measures, which I think  makes it easier. They use a bit of yeast, but the way I have done it works perfectly well with just sourdough.

Essentially I started it last night when I mixed my active sourdough starter with some more flour and water and then made an ‘autolyse’. This is just a mixture of flour and water which is then left to begin to break down.  In the morning I mixed these 2 doughs together and then folded it roughly every half hour for 3 hours, adding salt after the first half hour. Then I left it for 3 hours, folding it a couple more times, until it was ready to shape and add the thyme and hazelnuts.

So have a go and do let me know how you get on.


  • 1 tablespoon of  white fairly firm active sourdough starter
  • 4 1/4 cups white bread flour
  • water
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt + more sea salt for sprinkling at the end
  • dessertspoon of fresh thyme
  • dessertspoon of chopped roasted hazelnuts

Mixing  the Sourdough starter dough

  • mix together 1 tablespoon of active sourdough starter (see previous blog about how to refresh your starter and use to make dough) with 1/2 cup of water
  • add 3/4 cup of white bread flour and stir until it is all hydrated
  • cover with cling film or shower cap and leave over night

Mixing the Autolyse

  • mix together 2 cups of flour with 3/4 cup of water, cover with a shower cap or cling film and leave overnight

Making up the final dough

  • in the morning mix the 2 doughs together
  • add 1/2 cup of warm water (bit warmer than blood temperature) and stir
  • add 1 1/2 cups of white bread flour and stir well and cover

It should now look like this:


Folding the dough 

  • After 1/2 hour add 1/4 tsp salt and fold once by lifting up the side of the dough with a spoon and fold over (see previous blogs for details of folding method)
  • fold again, each time adding another 1/4 tsp salt, until you have added 1 1/4 tsp of salt, then cover


  • fold every 1/2 hour for the next 2 1/2 hours, covering once you have folded it
  • then fold every hour for 3 hours until it starts getting puffy and billowy like this:


Adding the hazelnuts and thyme and folding on the counter top

  • scrape dough out of bowl on to an un-floured (yes, I said un-floured) countertop, by this stage it shouldn’t be too sticky
  • stretch it out into rectangle shape like this:


and then sprinkle on the thyme and hazelnuts:


  • now stretch a little towards you from the bottom and fold so that the folded part covers about 2/3 of the dough
  • now stretch and fold from the top and then do the same from  the right and left sides:


  • then put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave for 1/2 hour

Shaping the final dough

  • pour a little olive oil on your countertop and scrape the dough out on to it
  • cut the dough in half with a dough scraper or knife
  • pull each half of the dough into a rectangle about 1 1/2 cm thick with your fingers
  •  place on prepared cooky sheets lined with baking parchment with a thin covering of olive oil


  • drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt
  • leave for 20minutes, while you pre-heat the oven to 245 degrees C

Baking the dough

  • once the oven has preheated to 245, put a small baking dish with 2 cups of boiling water in the lower part of the oven
  • turn oven down to 210 degrees and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the bread is nicely browned on the top and crisp on the bottom ( I baked each loaf separately)
  • take out of the oven an cool on a wire wrack


then slice and enjoy!



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