This sourdough “turkey” is perfect for Thanksgiving!

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turkey shaped sourdough bread
Credit: Cottage Loaves

I hate to bake, so it's not often that I find myself wanting to break out my stand mixer immediately after seeing a recipe. But that changed as soon as I saw this incredibly soothing video on TikTok that featured sourdough bread getting shaped and baked into a perfectly browned "turkey." 

Dayna, the sourdough artist and content creator behind Cottage Loaves' Instagram and TikTok accounts, says she was inspired to make this turkey-shaped loaf because, "It's fun to create LOaVEs in fun shapes—especially this time of year!" She acknowledges in her Instagram caption that even though we still have several weeks until Thanksgiving, starting now will give you plenty of time to prep. She says, "I know this post is early, but for those of my sweet loaf followers who haven't begun a sourdough starter, here is your motivation! Start now and practice!" (FYI- Here's how to make a sourdough starter from scratch.)

Once you have your starter ready to go, you can make your sourdough "turkey" (our Whole-Wheat Sourdough would be perfect for this recipe, since it already has a natural brown hue). Dayna recommends not adding any flour to your boule after your cold proof since "you need the pieces to adhere to the 'turkey'." 

To create the bird-like shape, start by forming your dough into a circle. Create the "wings" by making two cuts on either side of the dough ball with a pastry scraper (like this one from Williams Sonoma, $10). Next, form the "wings" by folding them forward and in towards the center. To create the "drumsticks," simply cut two pieces of the dough at an angle to create a "V" at the bottom. Dayna recommends rounding the top part and twisting the bottom of your "drumsticks" to make them look more realistic. Then place them against the body of the "turkey" and gently press them down to help everything stick. Dayna says you can help your "turkey" look more brown by sprinkling the dough with a mixture of paprika and cocoa powder, but using a whole-wheat bread dough will also help it look more realistic without adding any extra flavor.

To bake the bread, Dayna recommends using a Dutch oven (like this 8-quart Le Creuset option that's on sale for $299 right now) and baking your bread for 20 minutes at 475 ℉ before taking the lid off and baking it for another 15-18 minutes. She adds, "If your 'wing tips' [become] too golden brown, [you can] cover them with little foil booties!" Her final pro tip? After baking, she recommends "[basting] your 'bird' with a bit of olive oil for a nice subtle shine!"

While sourdough can feel a little intimidating (especially for a non-baker like me), fun holiday projects like this make me want to give it a try. Whether you serve this turkey-shaped sourdough as your Thanksgiving bread course or feature it as part of a vegan spread, your guests are sure to be impressed.