Sourdough Tiger Bread

Submitted by: Karen C
This loaf, with it’s soft and pillowy interior and tasty, slightly crusty exterior, is a favourite around the world, so much so it has numerous names – Tiger Loaf, Giraffe Bread, Dutch Crunch, Marco Polo Bread and probably more. This was a commercial yeast recipe, which was converted to sourdough. Read more about converting recipes and this experiment There is a small catch to this bread, traditionally the topping is made using (gasp!) commercial yeast 🤭 .. I experimented making a topping using both commercial yeast one using only sourdough starter. You can see the difference — the batard shaped sourdough crust is much lighter in colour, whereas the round commercial yeast version almost burnt. They were baked at the same time, the same sourdough bread recipe. Since this bake, I have slightly tweaked the recipe for the sourdough version topping to compensate for this lack of color by changing the ratios and adding a .5 tsp of Marmite. The sourdough paste was also less thick than the original yeasted version so I have pretty much eliminated the extra water – I have not had time to retry it as yet. At this point, the topping has not been perfected. If anyone is up for giving this recipe a go, we can try to get this closer to perfect. Despite this, the bread was super soft and really delicious.



  • 450 g Strong White FlourI used Canadian White
  •  250 ml Warm WaterMade with 168ml cold + 82ml boiling
  •  20 ml Toasted Sesame Seed OilI added this as I felt the bread lacked some of the characteristic nutty flavour
  •  100 g Active StarterI used Apple Yeast Water Starter @ 100% hydration
  •  1.50 tsp Salt
  •  1.50 tsp Brown Sugar
  •  15 g Butter Equiv of 1 tbsp
Paste Topping
  • 60 g Rice Flour
  •  85 g Starter
  •  28 ml Warm Water(Made with 21 ml cold + 7 ml boiling) This may not be required. You just want a thick, spreadable consistency, like peanut butter.
  •  1.50 tsp Sugar
  •  1.50 tsp Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
  •  0.50 tsp Marmite / Treacle / Molasses


Feed starter, when at least doubled around 4 hrs later. Start dough by adding the flour, salt and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour mix using light fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add water, oil and starter for the bread into another bowl, whisk well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and bring the dough together roughly.

The Dough will look quite rough and shaggy at this stage.

Cover and leave for 20 mins.

Stretch and Folds

Perform a couple stretch and folds until the dough becomes more smooth, elastic, and tightens up. Cover and leave for 20 mins.
Repeat stretch and folds x3, with 20 mins intervals.

Leave the dough to bulk ferment until it has almost doubled, around 80% bigger. Approx 7 hrs if your starter doubles in 4 hrs in the same environment.

Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface

Perform book fold, cover eith a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 10 mins

Shape as appropriate for the shape of your banneton. More info on shaping here

Place into well-floured banneton seam side up.

Second Prove
Cover with a shower cap and put in the fridge overnight, this will retard the second prove time.

In the morning, take out the bread, we need it to be about 70% bigger, slightly underproved. Doubling at this stage will probably mean the dough is overproved. if it has not increased in size enough, leave the dough out until it gets there.

Tiger Paste
During this time, mix together paste topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl, cover and set aside.

Preheat oven to 200°C (220°C for non-fan). 2. Add a small amount of moisture to the oven, water in a small ovenproof dish works.

Using a palette knife coat the dough’s surface with the Tiger paste, covering the visible top and sides. It seems like a lot of paste, I spread as thickly as I can, but always seem to have some leftover.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is cracked and golden brown. I find the topping mix really changes how brown this gets.

Cool on a rack, the crust may continue to crack a bit as it cools.


Disclaimer: Whilst we hope the information provided is helpful and informative, we cannot guarantee that all details will be 100% accurate.  There are many schools of thought and conflicting ideas on many of the sourdough processes and methods.  This site is simply meant as a broad guide to baking sourdough, and is not a scientific reference.

Also, please forgive the mixed US and UK spellings throughout. We have a team from various countries working on this site.This site may contain affiliate links. 

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A special sharp knife, or tool which holds a razor blade, in a curved or straight manner. You use it to score the dough before baking.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is generally understood to be a covered earthenware or cast-iron container for cooking casseroles. They are ideal for bread as they can accommodate bread dough and be covered to help generate the steamy environment requiredto encourage the dough to rise. Enamel roasters with a lid, covered pyrex dishes, or even a flat tray with a bowl over the top of the dough, are equally effective.

Bakers’ Percentages

Sometimes called baker’s math, this is a method to express the different ingredients as a percentage of the total amount of flour. It makes scaling a recipe or building a recipe very easy once you know the total weight of the flour, and also allows you to know the ‘hydration’ of your dough.

Example: If you build your dough with 1000 gram flour, 670-grams water, 20-gram salt, and 8-gram yeast. According to bakers percentages, that will be 100% flour (the amount of flour is always 100%), 67% water, 2% salt, and 0.8% yeast.
You divide the amount of the different ingredients with the amount of flour.

Banneton / Brotform / Proofing Basket

A type of basket or container used to provide structure for shaped loaves of bread during proofing. Banneton baskets are also known as ‘Brotform’ or ‘proofing baskets’. It is normally used for doughs that are too soft or wet to maintain their shape while rising. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for ones that fit the size of loaves you want to bake.

They are often made of natural rattan, or wood fiber. You can also use any container lined with a well-floured tea towel.

Oven Spring

The final burst of expansion of dough upon being introduced to a hot oven and where the yeast activity is increased during the first few minutes. At approximately 60C/140ºF degrees the yeast is killed off, but up until that point, dough can expand in the oven in the first phase of baking if it’s not over-fermented and still has dough strength. Many factors can impact oven spring including the length of fermentation, gluten development, and the hydration of the dough.


An alternative to traditional kneading used to develop gluten. The process is performed periodically in the bowl throughout the bulk fermentation. Take a side of the dough and gently stretch it up and over, to fold it upon itself, rotate the dough 90º, and repeat, then turn the bowl 45º and the same stretch and fold. Once all four corners of the dough have been stretched and folded, gluten development and a smooth, elastic dough are underway. Also, see ‘Folding’ and ‘Coil Folds’.

Bulk Ferment

Most loaves have two fermenting cycles. One before and one after the loaves are formed. Bulk fermentation is the first cycle, with a long fermentation period of the dough after the initial mixing of flour, water, starter, and salt and often comes during and after a period of kneading or ‘stretch and folds’.During this stage we are aiming to create dough strength, structure and flavor. The dough should feel alive, strong, airy, spongy and the surface shouldn’t feel sticky.

The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature, unless otherwise noted in the recipe and is a longer period of time (4 -12 hours) than the final proofing period. This step may be referred to as the first prove or first rising. Acetic acid, an organic acid is produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang. The warmer the environment, the faster the development of the dough will be

Window Pane

The window pane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently stretched and folded your bread dough. Pull a small piece of the dough and using both hands and your fingers stretch the dough very thin if it holds its shape without tearing the gluten is well-developed and your dough is ready to be pre-shaped, shaped and rest for it’s final prove.

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

A mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. Made either by inoculating with an established colony of bacteria or by capturing wild bacteria and yeasts over a longer period. Sometimes also called Leaven / Levain.



Autolyse (pronounced auto-lees) is a process in which a portion of (or total) water and flour in a bread recipe are gently pre-blended and set to rest for a period of time.

This resting period gives the dough special processing characteristics and improves the overall quality of the baked goods.

During autolyse process, several events can occur in the pre-mixed water/flour mixture:

  1. Continued flour hydration. Water molecules work their way into damaged starch, intact starch granules and proteins.
  2. Protein bonds continue to develop as a consequence of adding water, creating more gluten strands without mechanical work. This leads to better gluten structure and gas retention.
  3. Flour enzymes (mainly proteases) acquire time to adapt and work on the gluten by breaking down protein bonds.Protease activity is higher at low pH (acidic conditions). This is why autolysed doughs that contain yeast or pre-ferments (e.g. poolish) often experience greater protease activity. Such doughs are more extensible, weaker, softer and show less resistance to deformation than autolyzed non-fermented doughs.2
  4. Finally, as a result, the dough feels less sticky and very smooth after the autolyse.

As a general rule, the longer the autolyse time:

  • The shorter the dough mixing time (less mechanical development of gluten-forming proteins in needed). This means less energy consumption during mixing.
  • The shorter the dough stability duration
  • The less tolerance to overmixing. Breakdown is more pronounced once peak (maximum strength) is attained.
  • The smaller the P value in the alveograph test
  • The more extensible and less elastic the dough becomes at the end of autolysis
  • The better the sheetability and machining of dough during lamination of croissants
  • The easier and faster the dough expands during oven spring (better volume)
  • The lower the need for dough conditioners
  • The better the flavor and aroma of the finished product
Leaven/Levain/Sourdough Starter
  1. A substance, in this case a wild yeast starter, that is used in sourdough baking to make dough rise.
  2. Some methods of baking, such as ‘Tartine Method’ require a sourdough leavening agent be made from a sourdough ‘mother culture’ (aka your Starter). This technique is often employed to boost the yeast activity of the sourdough starter by feeding a small amount of starter a larger quantity of flour and water. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter, a leaven can be prepared 8-12 hours before the dough will be mixed by combining 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter with ½ cup flour and a scant ½ cup of water. This leaven can then be used as the sourdough starter and will be quite active come baking time.
  1. cause (dough or bread) to rise by adding leaven.