Sourdough Discard: Gros Pain

This is a bread that I made pretty frequently last year but haven’t made since I got into sourdough. It’s been a while and I’ve wanted to expand my use of sourdough discard as a flavoring for my bread so I decided to start experimenting with this recipe. It’s one of the most basic bread recipes, using just flour, salt, yeast, water, and time. The original recipe is from Jacque Pepin’s “Essential Pepin” cookbook. I love to make this bread because it’s a very classic bread recipe with a crunchy crust and a fluffy inside. I don’t make it as much at home because my father has a penchant for sandwich loaves and if I do, my brother has a habit of consuming at least half in one sitting. It’s pretty impressive and I’m glad that he likes it that much.

So as I’ve started to experiment with adding discard to my regular recipes, I’ve learned that its a finicky process. My sourdough starters is 100% hydrated which means that there’s an equal ratio (weight-wise) of water to flour. With that in mind, you’d think that if you added a half cup of discard, you could just subtract a quarter of a cup of flour and water and be fine. This is what I thought as I started the process and have come to realize that it really just depends on the texture of your discard and how long it’s been in the fridge. Discard that’s been in the fridge for a longer period of time is just tougher and requires more liquid. So if my discard has been in the fridge for 2 or more days, I’ll usually just omit the corresponding amount of flour and keep the same level of water. It’s a much trickier process than I thought it would be but I encourage you not to get discouraged if you’re trying it for the first time. I’ve really had to encourage myself to experiment in my baking; to me, the nature of baking is very precise and I’m not as comfortable experimenting with flavors and additions as some people. However, if you have the time, go ahead and try something new. If it goes wrong, then it does. If it goes right, you’ve discovered a delicious new way to make something. So I encourage you to try this recipe and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Sourdough Discard Gros Pain Recipe

  • 113 grams discard sourdough starter (1/2 cup)
  • 480 grams bread flour (4 cups)
  • 7 grams instant or active-dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 350 grams warm water (1 1/2 cup)
  1. Mix the dry ingredients then add the water. Knead until smooth and the dough springs back to the touch. If you’d like one big loaf, put it into a lightly greased bowl and let rise 3 hours. If you want two smaller loaves, divide the dough now and let rise in separate greased bowls and let rise 3 hours.
  2. Punch out the air and reform the dough into a ball. Make sure the dough is stretched tightly and very smooth. Shaping the dough now is your only chance to determine its shape. Place on a greased pan, put a bowl on top and let rise for 2 more hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 425F and place a pan with sides on the bottom rack of oven. Ensure that the rack where the loaves will be baked is also in the bottom third of the oven.
  4. Flour the top of the dough balls and score with a knife. Scoring here is important to allow the dough to expand in the oven.
  5. Bake at 425F for 20 and then at 400F for 25 minutes (this doesn’t change if you make one big loaf or two small, but for two small, watch closely during second half of bake).
  6. Remove from oven and check for doneness. If you can knock on the bottom of the loaf and produce a hollow sound, it’s ready to be taken out.
  7. Let cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy. (Let these cool completely, the moisture will escape if they haven’t cooled completely and the bread will go stale much quicker)

3 thoughts on “Sourdough Discard: Gros Pain

  1. Hi! I made JP’s gros pain 2 weeks ago. 2nd rise overnight in the fridge but the transfer from bowl to baking sheet was…deflating. Good bread but I like a less hydrated dough. I tried your version the other day. 2nd rise overnight in fridge in the baking pan. This one is perfectly shaped and delicious but not at that sweet spot between close and airy that I want. Probably because of the hydration of my starter. Undaunted, I’m going to try again, but hold back 1/2 a cup of flour during the mixing and knead in more as necessary. Thanks for the sourdough adaptation! Have you tried subbing whole wheat for part of the bread flour?


    1. Hi Elena! I’ve also had issues with getting the “airy” part of baking bread as well. Let me know how holding back flour goes. I don’t generally substitute whole wheat flour because it’s a bit dense for my taste but a mix of both whole wheat and all purpose may be a good thing to try in the future! I’ll let you know how it goes! (I’ve also found that this bread deflates very easily when moved…not a fan!)


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