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Feb 16, 2020

Pain Tordu (Twisted Bread)

Pain Tordu is a sourdough French country bread where the dough is divided and twisted around itself before baking.

Pain Tordu (Twisted Bread)

Pain Tordu is a "crooked" bread that is twisted into a corkscrew shape.

To get the twisty corkscrew shape, you need to use a French rolling pin or a wooden dowel to press the dough that has been shaped into a batard down the middle.

You will have two sides of bread dough connected with a thin film of dough, like with pain fendu. Next, you twist each end of the divided dough to create a long spiraled loaf.

My original intention in making this pain tordu was to have two distinct pieces of bread twisted around each other, but once this dough hit the oven, the oven rise was incredible. I had no idea that the dough would expand so much.

Pain Tordu (Twisted Bread) slices

According the book, French Regional Breads by Mouette Barboff (affiliate link), where the recipe calls for an industrial sized amount of ingredients, "The five-pound pain tordu was what people on farms used to eat after the war; there were a lot of large families and people ate a lot of bread, In the morning we used to cut it into small pieces and dip it in the vegetable soup."

Evidently, this bread was originally intended to be a communal loaf.

Sourdough pain tordu

Ingredients in Pain Tordu

This is a basic country bread recipe, which is mostly white flour with some whole wheat and whole rye added for a little flavor. You can use either dark rye or pumpernickel for the rye.

The recipe for this bread also calls for a good amount of active sourdough starter, although you could probably use sourdough discard if it hasn't been too long since you've fed your starter. The recipe also includes a small amount of instant yeast, so you are not completely dependent on your starter.

Finally, I added a small amount of diastatic malt to the dough. It's supposed to promote a strong rise and oven spring in the dough and help the crust get nice and brown. This ingredient is optional.

Sourdough pain tordu crumb

Steps to Make this Pain Tordu

First, you mix the flours and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it for just a minute or two, and then cover the bowl and let it sit for 20 minutes. This step is called autolyse, and it helps the flour absorb the water, develop gluten, and become easier to manage. Plus, any resting time helps develop flavor.

After the autolyse, add the levain (sourdough starter), salt, and the yeast, and mix for 3 to four minutes.

Next, let the dough rise for about 90 minutes, performing two stretch-and-folds, one at the 20 minute mark, and one at the 40 minute mark.

Sourdough pain tordu dough
Dough after Mixing

Once the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and let it rest for 15 minutes before shaping it into an oblong.

Using a dowel if you have one, or a French rolling pin (affiliate link), roll the center of the dough, dividing it in half, until you have a thin film holding the two sides of plump dough together. You can see photos demonstrating the shaping on Feeding My Enthusiasm's site (she is the Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month).

Next, twist the dough halves around each other to form a corkscrew shape. Let the dough rise until puffy and then bake in a steam oven for about 40 minutes. You can also divide the dough in half to make two smaller corkscrew loaves. Baking time would be more like 30 minutes.

I baked my loaf in an enclosed long covered baker instead of on a baking stone with a steam oven.

Sourdough pain tordu slices

While my twists grew together, you can still see a little swirly pattern in the crumb, right?

This pain tordu is perfect for toast, hearty sandwiches, and tuna melts. It has a wonderful mild sourdough flavor.

Pain Tordu (Twisted Bread)

Sourdough pain tordu (corkscrew bread)

This month, the Bread Baking Babes are making pain tordu, hosted by Feeding My Enthusiasms. She and the rest of the bakers presented multiple variations for this recipe as everyone put on their research hats. Some versions had rye and some were all white flour.

I played around with the recipe too, cutting it down to one large loaf, and adding a little whole wheat along with the rye.

Sourdough Pain Tordu

Sourdough Pain Tordu
Yield: 1 large or 2 small loaves
Pain Tordu is a sourdough French country bread where the dough is divided and twisted around itself before baking.


  • 500 grams unbleached all purpose flour
  • 29 grams whole rye flour
  • 29 grams whole wheat flour
  • 340 grams room temperature water
  • 140 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast


How to cook Sourdough Pain Tordu

  1. Combine the flours and the water in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix with the dough hook until just combined, one to two minutes. Cover the bowl and let rest (autolyse) for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Add the sourdough starter, salt, malt powder, and yeast.
  3. Mix with the dough hook on second speed for about four minutes.
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about 90 minutes, stretching and folding the dough at 20 minutes and 40 minutes.
  5. When the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl and shape it into a ball. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shape the dough into a batard, and then, using a dowel or narrow rolling pin, press down on the center of the dough almost down to the work surface and then roll the pin back and forth to create about a 3 inch wide thinner dough between the two larger pieces of dough, lightly flouring and flipping the dough over half way through.
  7. Twist the two larger pieces over each other by grabbing the ends of the dough and turning in opposite directions.
  8. Place the dough on a floured couche, tea towel, or piece of parchment and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel to rise. I placed mine in the covered baker lined with parchment paper.
  9. Proof the shaped dough for 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled.
  10. Heat the oven to 500 degrees F. with a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan on the lowest rack (skip this step if you are using a covered baker).
  11. Place boiling water in the steam pan and place the loaf on the baking stone. Immediately lower the temperature of the oven to 450 degrees F.
  12. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the interior of the loaf reaches about 200 to 210 degrees F.
  13. If you are using the covered baker, bake covered for 20 minutes, remove the cover and bake for about 20 minutes more, until the interior of the loaf reaches about 200 to 210 degrees F.
bread, sourdough, pain tordu
Bread, Sourdough

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Created using The Recipes Generator

Check out the other Bread Baking Babe’s posts for inspiration:

Feeding My Enthusiasms – Pat (Host Kitchen)
Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy
A Messy Kitchen – Kelly
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
My Kitchen in Half Cups – Tanna
Bread Experience – Cathy

Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh boy, that is just the quintessential country sourdough. Just beautiful! And yes please, tuna melt sounds brilliant!

  2. Like we've always said: once a Babe, always a Babe. This bake proves it!
    I'm entranced with your color: the golden brown loaf ... and your red baker! I really think I need a red one.
    I did think the loaf rose beautifully in the covered baker!
    Lovely loaf and crumb.

    1. The baker is such a specialty item but I couldn't resist!

  3. What a beautiful loaf. Lovely color and texture. That's a great photo of the stack of bread slices. Makes me want to grab a slice and slather it with butter. Nice to have you baking with us again.

  4. Very very nice, and I love the little twists you added to the recipe (pun was not intended, but gave me a laugh once I noticed)

  5. Beautiful!! And that IS really cool that the twists can be detected in the crumb.

    I'm so glad you baked with us again, Karen! What a good idea to use a covered baking container. I'll be sure to use our large oval cast-iron covered casserole dish next time.

  6. Gorgeous results with that beautiful red baker. Fun that you used the whole wheat and rye recipe and sourdough starter. Great looking crust, too. So glad you are baking with us again!

  7. What a lovely bread! The crumb is beautiful.... I can definitely see a tuna melt. (I won't tell any French people that)


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