Le Pain Tordu

Well it’s the Bread Baking Babes again getting me to try a new bread. I attempted their chickpea flour sourdough bread last month to limited success until I added yeast. During discussion on Facebook I was encouraged to try full on sourdough bread again. Results were not great. But, I had a starter going. And I it so happened that late this week I was feeding it daily. So when this month’s bread was posted, I read about few things that made it attractive. First, you could ignore the long fridge rise. Second, it was an easy dough to work with. Third, that it was sourdough, but with a bit of yeast too which helps guarantee a better outcome. For me at least.

Pain Tordu

So I plunged ahead. Tordu means twisted. These loaves are formed and twisted before baking. There was talk of couches too, which means I could use my cheat method of lining my batard pan with parchment. See picture to the right. This works well with soft/wet doughs.

I found that yes, the dough was easy to work with and fairly quick to make for something in the sourdough realm. I couldn’t figure out the twist so I braided the first one. Then I remembered there was a video that Kelly posted. So, the second on, on the right, was twisted.

I’ve taken multiple recipes and techniques and mixed them together. Using a much hotter bake from Kelly than the recipe originally said.

Braided on the left. Twisted on the right. Both pretty, but the braided looks better and frankly was easier.



  • 500 grams strong white bread flour
  • 300 milliliters water (approximately)
  • 3 grams instant yeast
  • 10 grams salt
  • 125 grams sourdough starter


 Mix the flour, water and yeast for 5 minutes on low speed; this helps to obtain the right texture ‘when you need more flour you add a little. This is called contre-frasage, or ‘counter-mixing’.

Knead for 15 minutes: Add the levain and once incorporated knead for another 10 minutes at medium speed, adding the salt 5 minutes before the end. The dough should be at 73°F.

Leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour: The dough is always left to rise in the mixing bowl. The time varies according to the temperature in the room.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into balls. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, you shape it. You take a round ball and fold it over to make it a long shape; you flour it, and with a wooden rolling pin you separate it into tow long rolls. You turn it over, flour it again, and press down with the rolling pin to separate the two rolls well. Then you turn the dough on the diagonal, passing one roll over the other and you make the corkscrew shape by letting the twist by itself. There are tordus with one turn and tordus with two turns. The rolling pin is quite slender, like a broom handle, and 70 cm long. The tordu is 80 cm long.

The two rolls coiled round each other are now put into a parchment lined batard pan or a couche if you’re going that route. Let them rise until properly proofed, about 45 minutes for me. You can go the fridge method and proof there for a more flavorful method, but I’m not sure there’s consensus for how long. The original recipe says 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F, preparing it for steaming. I put an old ¼ sheet pan in the bottom of the oven and pretty much leave it there always. It will get warped and basically unusable for anything else. A sacrifice for bread.  I’ll put a cup or two of ice in it as I put the bread in. It will make steam for the first minutes of the bake giving a crustier crust.

Put the batard pan in the oven & turn the heat down to 450ºF.  Be sure to either create steam via my method or using a spray bottle to spray the sides of the oven ever couple of minutes. Bake for 10 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes without steam.  The crust should be a deep golden brown.


  1. Elle

    Gorgeous crust and twist Scott! Love the idea of a sacrificial sheet pan for making steam. You are a true breadhead! Thank you for baking with us. You are truly a great Buddy!

  2. Elizabeth

    Brilliant!! The crust colour is beautiful, and the crumb looks perfect.

    How cool to be able to contrast and compare the twisting methods. Many thanks for doing that.

    (Heh. Just to throw out another challenge, next time you do the twist, you should try omitting the active dry yeast.)

    1. Scott Davis

      I’ve still got my 100% sourdough training wheels on. But I’m getting there. I still don’t have any guilt about using commercial yeast.

      1. Elizabeth

        I don’t have guilt about using commercial yeast. I just don’t think it’s necessary if there is a viable sourdough starter involved. (I also like the flavour of the bread better when it doesn’t involve commercial yeast. It’s a little more complex.)

  3. Kelly

    Beautiful crumb and color! Awesome bake, so glad you joined in. The twisting really was a challenge. I think the wringing like a towel makes the twists too indistinct, I really had to flip/twist around to get them to not just nestle right into each other and disappear. I like your batard pan, I should see if my brother still has his and swipe it! (He never bakes bread anymore.) Also like your sacrificial ¼ sheet pan idea, I should watch the thrift stores to see if one pops up.

  4. Elizabeth

    I can’t decide which version looks prettier. But both crusts look great! The colour is terrific. And the crumb looks good too. Zowie.

    Many thanks for baking with us, Scott!

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