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How to Make 3D Sourdough Art

Looking to spruce up your sourdough? Try this 3D sourdough art technique where you mix flour, water, & salt, and then color it and create any design you want!

3D Sourdough art of Squidward Bold & Brash design

I always look forward to making bread because not only do I get to eat it, I get to try out different scoring patterns, paint different designs, and now, my latest obsession, make 3D sourdough art

I first saw this technique by Penny Che, who shared pictures of her beautiful loaves with 3D flowers on them. She mixed flour and water until the dough became clay-like, then colored it using different powders. After seeing her posts, I knew I wanted to apply this technique to my own bread. Naturally, I decided to make one of my first loaves Spongebob-themed, hence the “Bold and Brash” art.

Making the 3D Dough

Photo of ball of dough in a bowl and various gel food coloring bottles

To make the 3D dough, I kneaded together 100g all-purpose flour, 60g-70g water (added enough to get the consistency I wanted), and 2g salt. This made plenty of dough, and since my design was simple, I most likely could have gotten away with making half the amount. I then arbitrarily split the dough into the number of colors I wanted and added gel food coloring. (Note: alternatively, you can use powders to color the dough, such as turmeric, butterfly pea, cocoa, etc.)

I kneaded each dough ball to incorporate the food coloring, which was quite messy—my hands were blue and orange, and required a lot of handwashing. I covered the 3D dough balls with a towel to avoid them from drying out as I made one shape at a time.

Adding the 3D Design

Photo of my chocolate sourdough, then my split colored dough

After I had all of my colors ready, I turned my sourdough loaf out onto a parchment-lined board and started preheating the oven. I sprayed the top of my loaf with water so that when I added the 3D dough, it would stick. Every time I added more layers of 3D dough, I made sure to wet the surface beforehand.

For the background, I rolled out the orange dough into a large circle and placed it on top of the loaf. To make Squidward, I rolled out the green dough and cut out his body using a paring knife. For his eye, I used my hands to form the shape. In order to neaten the sides of Squidward’s body, I used a small silicone tool (Wilton’s silicone scraper) to press along the edges. Lastly, since I had a lot of leftover dough, I made a rope braid with the green and white doughs to create the border.

My unbaked chocolate sourdough with my Bold & Brash design on top.

Bake!

My baked sourdough with the 3D art on top.

I baked my sourdough in my preheated Dutch oven at 450°F for ~50 minutes with the lid on top the entire time. In my first baking experiment, I found that removing the lid caused the 3D dough to become really discolored. Leaving the lid on still resulted in a great crust—it was crunchy and had plenty of blisters on the surface. If you’d still like to remove the lid, or if you bake on a baking steel/stone, I highly recommend covering the 3D art with aluminum foil the entire time.

Side view of my sourdough, showing beautiful sourdough blisters!

I really enjoyed making this loaf. Seeing the crumb was extremely satisfying! It was a dark chocolate marbled loaf sweetened with maple syrup and filled with fudge M&Ms. I was hoping the M&Ms would make more of a rainbow effect on the bread, but it was hardly noticeable due to the marbling. Also, out of the 3 M&M’s bags I had, 90% of them were blue and green!

Cross section of my baked sourdough

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and that you also try to make 3D sourdough art. If you do, I’d love to see your creations—tag me at @bitesbybianca / #bitesbybianca! You can also email me at bitesbybiancafernandez@gmail.com.

Additional Notes

Here is the first loaf I made using 3D art based on the movie Up.

Pre-baked loaf with 3D bread art of Up! design on top

Unfortunately, the 3D dough changed colors after baking. This was because I removed the lid to my Dutch oven, exposing the dough. Check the photo below to see the major color difference!

My baked sourdough—the colors changed after baking and weren't as vibrant.

Of course, it was still delicious. It was a regular sourdough loaf, but had purple marbling by coloring half of my dough with butterfly pea.

Cross section of baked sourdough with purple and white marbling.

Maybe I’ll remake this loaf in the future—who knows!

Update: Here’s another loaf I did mid-2022.

Thanks for reading and I hope you try making 3D sourdough art sometime soon!

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